The paradox of living in China

As I quickly approach having lived here for one calendar year, the frequency with which a single question occurs grows exponentially.


It seems like no one likes it here. Well, I should say, no non-Chinese really like it here. There is a ton to complain about, and considering that is what this blog has pretty much devolved to, I will simply put a quick list up instead of going into details

  • Suffocating pollution
  • Rude people
  • Terrible food
  • Horrendous traffic
  • Terrible alcohol
  • Toilets I wouldn’t let me enemies shit in
  • The degradation of the English language at every turn


  • The paranoia that comes from never being sure of any product purchased, and the conviction that you are indeed being ripped off.

And that is just naming a few. Why oh why would anyone be here?

The other night I met up with my friend, who is a native of Greece. Here he has a rather respectable job at a law firm (he is a lawyer), and lives fairly well. I asked him if he had any desire to go back to Greece, to which he answered with a nice firm ‘Οχι’.

That of course means ‘no’.

A similar question was thrown to my boss who gave me a reply that made sense. She stayed here because the incredibly low cost of living combined with the relatively high salary. Nowhere else in the world would we be paid so well to do this job, and nowhere else in the world would this money stretch so far.

I think I share this answer with her. I have suddenly found myself incredibly and unexpectedly well off. I can afford a new laptop, I can afford a new phone, I can afford a whole slew of things that I could not afford previously, and I have managed to put aside a bit of money as well. And then another friend asked me a pretty good question; “what are you saving up for.”

There is little to actually spend my money on here. The alcohol is so terrible that I cant really have a proper night out. The restaurants are god awful, and I avoid them regularly. If you go to the supermarket you won’t find a decent cut of meat even if you offer your soul as payment. You’re also convinced the food is poison. The computers are often inferior, and full of malicious bloatware. Ditto for the phones. Movies are banned, as are many websites.

The paradox of being in China is that. You finally have the resources with which you could in theory do things, and you find that you can’t do them because China has obstructed you.

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