September 10th, 2007

So my parents are planning to come to Beijing. This is good. The only hassle is, I have lots of stuff to tell them about, some things to warn them about, but I really don’t want to scare them off. Fact is, Beijing is no big adventure these days, it really is settling in to being a perfectly normal, ordinary city, but there’s still a lot of stuff I would prefer them to know about before they arrive. So I’m doing my best, telling it like it is, the good and the bad, but without freaking them out.

Some things are working against me, though: Their knowledge of China comes from a mixture of mostly southern Chinese immigrants to New Zealand and their descendants and the Western press. Beijing would be the farthest they’ve ever travelled from home. The Western press is currently taking a few of China’s problems and blowing them way out of proportion. And they grew up during the Cold War with all the propaganda-baggage that entails. Yeah, I can see how a trip to Beijing would be a big and scary adventure for them.

There’s the other thing: I don’t want to be some patronising arsehole towards them.

So I’m trying to strike a balance here: Here are some of the things you will need to watch out for, but don’t worry, most things in Beijing are perfectly normal and you’re going to be fine and you will be well taken care of.

I just hope they believe me.

3 Responses to “aiya”

  1. subadei Says:

    Don’t approach the issue from the Chinese aspect. Rather, start the conversation with some semblance of “like any big city there are certain protocols to follow…” Very likely (and I’m assuming here) most of what they should should be wary of can be found in any western city. Then maybe slide the cultural bit’s in at the end with a “oh and lastly” or “and another thing…”

  2. John Says:

    I believe I specifically mentioned traffic and pavements to mine mainly because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be hearing stories about may father not paying attention, stumbling on some paving stones, and being run down by a clown in a Santana with tinted windows.

    I think you’re also getting overly fussed about your parents’ visit. You can’t be with them every minute to shepherd them, and they’re going to have to experience things for themselves.

  3. wangbo Says:

    Good advice from both of you, thanks. It was already a bit late, though, considering I’d already sent them a big, long email by the time I posted this.