Feeling Famous! No glitz or glam needed.

Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like you were ‘different’?   We’re a typical family of four Canadian caucasians who also happen to be tourists in China.   Sounds pretty straight forward and simple, right?  But it’s not what we expected.  We feel ‘different’ here.

Since we’ve arrived, we’ve noticed that people talk about us, stare at us, point at us and even photograph us.  Many, if not most, try to be discreet and steal a quick picture using their cell phones when they think you’re not looking.  Others come forward and openly ask for a picture.  We started to feel a bit like celebrities!

Jacob posing with a boy on the city wall of Pingyao.

Jacob posing with a boy on the city wall of Pingyao.

I knew that we would have to deal with some of that when we arrived, but the quantity was a bit unnerving.  Strangers were snapping random pictures of Emma and Jacob.  Worse yet, we’ve had people casually run their hands through Jacob’s hair or stroke Emma’s cheek.  There was one fellow who examined Jacob’s hand with intense curiosity.  Hello!!!  Momma bear here is thinking ‘no touchy’.

The kids felt intimidated.  Although they were merely curious, they had stepped into our personal comfort circle.  Now we were uncomfortable….Yikes!

The kids playing cards in the courtyard of our hotel was a nightly attraction for whichever tour group was staying there at the moment.

The kids playing cards in the courtyard of our hotel was a nightly attraction for whichever tour group was staying there at the moment.

We decided to made a game of it.  When they whip out their cameras, we whip out our camera and take a picture as well.  They seem to love it, it diffuses the awkwardness for us, and it gives the kids a fun way to deal with the situation.

Smile, Emma, just a few more shots and you'll be free.

Smile, Emma, just a few more shots and you’ll be free.

Posing for the camera in Pingyao.

Posing for the camera in Pingyao.

The kids are more comfortable now. They’re even using their iPads and Google translate to communicate with the locals.  It is pretty amazing what technology allows you to do nowadays.

Jacob and Emma use a translation app to communicate between English and Chinese.

Jacob and Emma use a translation app to communicate between English and Chinese.

This group totally cracked me up.  Check it out….

It started with just one girl (photo missing). When her friend appears, she wants to be in the picture as well.  So they take another shot.

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And then a few more appear….

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Let’s not forget the other friends!  GEEZ!  Eventually, we had to bow out and move one.

Group shot, everyone!

Group shot, everyone!

And let’s not forget the cook at the restaurant who apparently loves children and has to show his wife that he served some kids from Canada today.

Our cook spoke English quite well and it was a pleasure having our picture taken with him.

Our cook spoke English quite well and it was a pleasure having our picture taken with him.

It’s all good, if not a bit of an ego boost when the man across the street blows kisses your way.  Or the elderly gentleman smiles and tells you he loves you.  There was also the boyfriend who swapped me in and his  girlfriend out for a quick picture.  Luckily, she took it well…phew!

Even on the train in our private sleeper compartment.

Even on the train in our private sleeper compartment.

Apparently, we’re quite the novelty.  Perhaps it’s because we stand out from the usual crowd here.  Our faces are smaller, our facial features are different and our bones are bigger, or so I’ve been told.  Maybe it’s because we been blessed with two children in a one-child society.  I’ve also been told that we are lucky and have good fortune by having one of each, a daughter and a son.  I’m not totally sure.

Thankfully, we’re not famous back home!  I don’t know how real celebrities cope with it.  We’ve received a fraction of the attention a celebrity would receive and that’s probably all we could handle.  This would become exhausting really quickly!

9 responses to “Feeling Famous! No glitz or glam needed.

  1. Hey Mike,
    See any of the huge factories that crank out the iphones, etc ?

    we’ve never been to China before, I’m curious, do you use local currency or US $ ?

    Nickolas has a question for Jacob… is soccer called football there if so, what do they call football ?

    Have Fun !!

    Norman

    • Hey Norman,

      We’ve been trying to avoid the big factories. We are staying in the center to west of the country. We did go through Datong which had some really big power plants and factories. Much bigger than anything we’d see in BC.

      Money is pretty straightforward here. There are international ATM where we can withdraw money directly from our canadian bank accounts. It comes in in RMB or yuan (two names… not sure why), which is the local currency.

      I’ll get Jacob to reply on the sports questions.

      Take care, Mike…

    • Hey Nickolas,

      Soccer is called “zúqiú” which is Chinese for football. We’ve been to the big city stadiums for soccer, but haven’t seen any for American football. Thanks for asking. If I see anything on American football, I’ll let you know.

      Jacob

  2. What’s so interesting about this post is that you are truly learning what it means to be “other” – when you and your kids come back home to Canada, you’ll know what it really feels like to be in immigrant. For people who are used to space, tons of it (Canadians) it is weird to have people invade your personal space but this is so common to cultures outside of European/North America culture. Wait til you get to India!

  3. Wow,what a learning lab you’ve walked into! I love how you’ve handled it, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to us, given the adventure you’ve undertaken. Enjoy your notoriety. It’s better than being completely ignored. No chance of that I suspect.

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