A couple of months ago I had to leave China for personal reasons. Now I am back in Israel which on the one hand is quite awesome because I get to enjoy a much warmer winter, but on the other hand I’m also sad and there is a great deal of things I miss, and I am not talking about food. Here are the main ones:
1. Not Being One in a Billion
In Israel I am just another face in the crowd but in China it’s the exact opposite.
Sometimes I find myself missing that minor celebrity effect. People notice you, they point out your presence to their friends, they are generally nice to you and there’s always a sense of excitement wherever you go. In some areas they still ask to take a photo with you. You look different, and in a country of 1.3 billion people with very similar features it goes a long way.
2. Weird Gigs
This is a derivative of the previous article. Because you look different it’s really easy for you to get into show business. In the seven years I spent in China I got to be a singer, movie extra and I even had a small part in a Chinese play. But my greatest role hands down was portraying a terrorist in a short prequel for Iron Man 3.
That’s me with Fan Bingbing’s double. I was too shy to ask the real one…
3. Teaching English
Weird gigs were a great way to earn money between semesters, but the rest of the time I did what most laowai do and simply taught English. Teaching English is fun as long as you don’t do it full-time. I did it for one hour a day in a kindergarten and it was more like therapy. I got to play games, sing songs and jump around with the most adorable kids in the world.
Working in a kindergarten is also a great ego-boost, because everything you do seems impressive. You carry a small table or two chairs all by yourself and suddenly you have 20 little admirers with their jaw dropped.
4. My Bike
Cycling was my favorite way of getting around the city.
Middle kingdom for a bike A photo posted by RanE (@re_captures) on
I wish Israel had more bike lanes…
5. Pretending to be Darth Vader
This how I used to look leaving the house on a heavily polluted winter day:
When I got tired of Vader I switched to Bane.
It’s funny but when I got back to Israel I actually needed to get used to not hearing the constant noise of construction and transportation.
In Beijing you can always hear that noise. Even in the middle of the night I could hear workers shouting in the distance, or heavy trucks which are not allowed in the city during daytime making their way to delivery points all around town.
7. This Structure
The route to my weekend teaching job went right through the Olympic Green. On that very route I took the photo above of the Birds Nest, but I liked that route for a different structure:
#beijing olympic park at #sunset. #china #chinagram #mychinagram #instachina #thefutureishere A photo posted by RanE (@re_captures) on
There is something about it that makes me feel like I am not on earth anymore, or that maybe I traveled forward in time.
8. People Defying Gravity
No, not Shaolin monks. I mean these guys:
And that’s one of the small ones…
9. Smiling Sockets
Even the outlets are #happy in #china. #smile #laowai A photo posted by RanE (@re_captures) on
In Israel sockets don’t have mouths so it’s hard to tell how they feel…
10. The White Fuzz
Yet another natural phenomenon I wasn’t familiar with which occurs every spring in Beijing.
Every spring, out of the blue (or gray in Beijing’s case) the air is filled with little white flakes which are the dried-up remains of the poplar and willow blossom.
11. Running Track at a Walking Distance
Living in the universities area sure had its benefits. A track free of charge and an Olympic swimming pool at lowest admission rate possible.
A good day to workout at #BLCU #Beijing A photo posted by RanE (@re_captures) on
In Israel on the other hand, the air is way better so I guess it evens out.
12. My Deep End Permit
Speaking of swimming pools, I sure am gonna miss using my deep-end permit.
I had to take a swimming test to get it and it makes the deep end of the pool feels like an exclusive club or a gated community.
Maybe you can help me figure out the author’s intent for this sign.
Ironically enough I found this sign in the men’s room of an English school.
14. Chinese Toilets
When I first arrived in China, back in 2005, both of my kneecaps were severely dislocated. That had meant squatties were out of the question for me.
(Image was taken from here)
A few years later, with a lot of physiotherapy and a whole semester of taiji behind me, and now I too can squat and use Chinese toilets. Not only that, but every time I do so I am filled with a great sense of accomplishment and I am reminded not to take anything for granted, even taking a dump.
15. Big Brother
大哥，Just in case you’re still listening – I miss you.
A photo posted by RanE (@re_captures) on