Do the Chinese of Kunming stare a lot at Laowai?

Needles (4 posts) • 0

How do the locals treat Laowai in Kunming??

Anyone have any comparison stories between how they treat us in Kunming as opposed to other cities like Beijing etc?

Much appreciated! Heavily considering Kunming over Beijing because I like smaller, more tight knit communities, but I'm wondering what to expect.


Liumingke1234 (3297 posts) • 0

Chinese local here don't stare as much as before or maybe I'm just use to it and don't notice it.

blobbles (957 posts) • 0

Depends where you are/live. Around the Wenlin Jie area/YNU/Beichen walking street no one will stare as you are a common sight. I am in the South now and get heeeaps of people staring though.

You will get used to it though, don't consider it a big deal or that your personal space is being invaded. Laugh it off and live more happily no matter where you are in China.

Tonyaod (824 posts) • 0

This topic come up time and time again which makes me wonder every time I see it being ask. If you are so concerned about being stared at, why did you bother to leave your home country in the first place, especially when you travel to a place as different as Asia.

Being different and being stared at is part of the territory when you travel to different places around the globe. It like city slickers wanting to go camping to enjoy nature and then complain about the discomforts of sleeping in a tent in the woods. You can't have it both ways.

Sorry for this rant, it's not meant to offend anyone but just a thought on this issue. Not in the best of moods right now.


OceanOcean (1173 posts) • 0

If I saw a penguin walking down the street, I'd stare. Foreigners in some parts of China are almost as as rare! A quick smile usually transforms the stare into a more pleasant non-verbal interaction. Not always...

Needles (4 posts) • 0

Well actually, I haven't left my home country yet - I don't know what to expect but think I'll get used to the staring after enough time. Although I can't say for sure. But yeah, some good advice here - thanks y'all

tigertiger - moderator (5085 posts) • 0


This reminds me of a joke that one of my students told me.

A policeman sees a man walking down the street with a penguin. The policeman asks where the penguin came from and the man tells him he just found the penguin strolling along the street. The policeman tell the man to take the penguin to the zoo immediately.
The next day the policeman sees the same man, still with the penguin. The policeman stops the man and says, 'Didn't I tell you take that penguin to the zoo yesterday?'. The man replies, 'I did, and we had so much fun that today we are going to go to the movies.'.

aaronb (54 posts) • 0

@ Needles, yes people stare, but usually the staring isn't really the problem, for reasons stated above by others . There are much more annoying things that you should prepare yourself for.

Many people will either proclaim "laowai" as you pass by-loud enough to hear and out of context of any reasonable use of the word. This gets old fast, and may even be done by people in your building complex or on your street who have already seen you multiple times. Far worse though is that people commonly heckle visible minorities (white people, black people etc, probably includes you) with what is known as the "hello joke". Someone will shout "hello" or "good morning" from a distance, using an intentionally strange tone.

They usually do this when with others, sometimes a small group, and then they crack up laughing while moving away from you. The crucial point is that if you try to address them, confront them, or reply to them-even in the friendliest of ways- they will either run away, deny that they said anything, or imply that you might as well move along. I say this is crucial, because it is this silencing effect-you are not supposed to speak back to them-that really qualifies it as harassment and separates it from just rowdy, harmless, behavior.

And it annoys the piss out of me. All in all, you will get used to most of this, and block most of it out. But if you are like me, on bad days it will slip through your defenses and bother you. I think this is because it is compounded by the fairly inconsiderate public behavior and the de facto nationalism that abounds here.

I am sure some dreamer will try to excuse or defend what I outlined above, erroneously thinking they are somehow on the side of "cultural" sensitivity or some such thing. Or maybe some tough guy will deliver some nice bar stool wisdom along the lines of "love it or leave it". This is, after all, an open forum.

tommann (423 posts) • 0

Yes, but it is usually curiosity, and no animosity at all. I nod and say Ni hao ! and they usually smile and say hi back.

Yuanming (3 posts) • 0

They will never stop staring, so you just have to get used to it. People say its just because they haven't seen foreigners before/often, but I've been to rural Japan and Vietnam where the same is true, and guess what? They don't stare. I've also been to Beijing, city with literally hundreds of thousands of expats... they still stare.

Minority nationalities actually tend to stare a lot less, probably because they know what it feels like, and they're tired of being told: "Wow your Chinese is great! Where are you from, Korea?"

And yes, the hello game does get old fast, and I do think it goes beyond mere curiosity into the realm of animosity. The "hello!" shouts are the equivalent of five year-old children tapping on the glass of a fish tank. They don't want any form of interaction, just a reaction.

There are two pieces of good news. One: most Chinese don't act this way, its just that assholes, regardless of where you are or who they are, tend to stand out. Second: a pair of headphones, a pair of sunglasses (the stares tend to dissipate quickly when they realize eye-contact isn't possible for them), and a protective hand on your wallet can block it all out if you're having a bad day and this all starts to get to you.

Don't worry, the weather and the food are great, and the people generally are too. You're gonna have a great time!

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