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Is basic/advanced Chinese necessary to live there???

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

JingWei et al - I meant to say this. Stupid edit post thing...

I both agree and disagree on the multicultural counter - but mostly confirm JingWei is spot-on the other comments.

lao_wai (18 posts) • 0

Never said the place was horrific, but my perspective is definitely different from the people who think that Kunming is a fictional paradise lost like Lost Horizon. Having lived here for years, I think my views are a valid rebuttal to those people still enamored by the novelty of a new foreign place. As a photographer, I think you may be a little disappointed that the air quality in the city rivals Los Angeles. Outside is little better as the air is often filled with smoke from burning fields obscuring the scenic views of mountains and valleys, which really are quite beautiful. Dian Chi is beautiful and from the vantage of West Mountain,if the air is clear, you can get some awesome shots of multicolored chemical slicks drifting on the currents. Speaking and reading a good bit of Chinese, I give a lot of credit to anyone who would come here illiterate. Hard for me to imagine that you can eat outside of McDonalds,KFC,Dicos or anyplace else that doesn't have a picture board for you to order from. And travel, that's another story altogether,but,of course, you can always relegate yourself to those touristy places where foreigners abound. Oh Yeah, thanks to the Chairman, taking someones' photograph with out their explicit permission is actually against the law and could result in your camera (and you) getting broken or confiscated. Not trying to dissuade you,just a little info that you might want to take into consideration. I really do wish you (and everybody else) well with your travels.

jules77 (7 posts) • 0

Again,
to most of you,
Thanks...
i'm old enough to know that,in life,
you have to take the good with the bad...
i don't expect kunming to be nymphs frolicking
through waterfalls and fine wines for breakfast,
lunch and dinner...

jonny9 (59 posts) • 0

HI Jules,

my question to you is have you ever stayed for a long period of time in a place where people spoke no English?

if not, you may be better at languages than you think!

I had never studied chinese when i came to china, and i still haven't (until recently)! Yet i can speak and listen well enough to not only do daily errands but have good conversations (though obviously not very profound ones). reading and writing is not very important for basic communication. body language is and a basic vocabulary is.

A few other points:

1. So much depends on your social skills, friendliness and street-smarts. Really! I find it extremely easy to make Chinese friends, and, they are loyal, sincere, people. As one person said above, you will find the kind of people that you look for.

2. Many people that you may be able to form relations with can speak some English. They are not the majority of the population, but if you go to bars, cafes, gyms, universities, art openings, etc, you will meet them.

3. The air quality is truly better than LA in some parts, and on par in others.

4. You should get a basic grasp of "Chinese customs/ways of thinking" before you come, but don't take it too seriously. Many of the things you may hear are wrong or outdated. The basic one that holds true is that many people are not very frank, and may avoid confrontation.

5. The most frustrating aspects of living in China would be working for a Chinese company, or dealing with public situations-particularly customer service. If you can minimize the amount of hours per week that you spend in the middle of those things -you will be much happier.

Certain services here are less reliable or speedy, and the more than you can do by yourself or through friends the better.

6. some people that you deal with have other motives. its important to be able to learn to spot that. once you do, you won't have to deal with such people very often.

7. some people on these forums harp about negative aspects of the society. but, all my Chinese friends harp about the same things. and me and my American friends harp about the bad things in the states too...these kind of frustrations are normal, and Chinese people feel them too.

8. this website exists because of the lagre number of foreigners who enjoy Kunming. So, take heart.

jonny9 (59 posts) • 0

and as per the dying in the street part, its true, but its changing.

But also keep in mind that you would find the same cold shoulder in Japan or several other places.

Vancouver, Canada is ranked as one of the top cities to live in the world, and as l lived there for 5 years i can tell you, the absolute heartlessness and indifference there is way beyond anything i have seen in China.

Anyway, I crashed my motor bike in Chengdu and a young Chinese couple rushed over to offer help. That was great.

Also about the people who are forced to pay compensation-yes its unfair and it does happen. but many of those foreigners who that happens to don't really have to pay-they just get intimidated and break down. its important to be able call a bluff and stand firm.

outsider (35 posts) • 0

@laowai, Not sure if you are British, but you are certainly cynical enough. When you suggested jules77 to go elsewhere, I wondered how you've managed to live in kunming for years, and if I'm not mistaken, you have even taken a local girl for wife, that, must speak more than what you posted.

jules77 (7 posts) • 0

i've no problem with muti-culture...
in fact,
i LOVE it...
tough to ignore these days.
here in the states we have new york,san francisco,
miami...
all sorts of genetic mixing and matching.
i think it's good.
really good.

lawlz0mg (201 posts) • 0

tone down the negative things people say, They are putting things to harshly. The language barrier is there, but every time i have troubles someone always tries to help with the best of their ability. I find it that the chinese are a lot nicer and more helpful than the other foreigners. Just dont expect living here to be easy, it will be difficult. Riding the correct busses to get around, taking taxi's, and ordering/buying things will be near impossible for you to do alone.

gbtexdoc (212 posts) • 0

QUOTE: "i guess my real question is, does the average kunming resident speak/understand enough english to be helpful when a problem arises???"

The answer to that is "usually not."

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