Saturday, May 13, 2017

Baby Baby Baby

You know what my overwhelming impression of the expat scene in Beijing is?

Baby carriages.



I don't actually live in Beijing, I live an hour or so away, but I visit frequently. As I write this I'm having breakfast in a popular expat breakfast nook. There are about nine tables occupied by expats; five of them are couples with small children.


And I'm talking young-ish expat couples -- Americans, Italians, and Russians by the sound -- not a Chinese wife nor a bloated former whoremonger father in the bunch.

This trend is also in view at my workplace; most of my colleagues are married and have young children or babies, and only a couple of them are married to Chinese women. (The ones that are married to Chinese women tend to be married to ethnic Chinese raised in a western country.)

There are some former hellraisers in the bunch, guys who have been in China a long time, and they talk about the old days with me over quiet after-work drinks. The usual stories: "Whores and English groupies everywhere." "Drunk every night." "All the teachers were bedraggled old whoremongers or young dudes on the prowl." "Our salaries were low but everything was dirt cheap."

And then around 2009, 2010, 2011, things changed, they tell me. Also a familiar story -- it became harder to get Chinese work visas without qualifications, while more and more qualified non-alcoholic teachers poured into Chinese international schools as it became harder to earn a good living teaching in America, England, and Australia. The cheap and cheerful and boozy hutongs were bulldozed and replaced with shops and malls and modern apartment blocks.



Of course, I am now viewing the world through middle-aged goggles, and the amount of time I've spent studying for my Master's Degree in Education has limited my going out, but as I walk around, what do I see?

Baby carriages and healthy sober good-looking young couples.

And they are untroubled by the ghosts of the drunken old whoremongers and off-the-rails young party dudes.

But where did they go, the ones who couldn't or wouldn't sober up? What country do they hide in? The lucky ones who have pensions probably retired to Thailand (which, when I visited in February, looks to be turning into the world's largest retirement home.)

And the others? Probably working out in the sticks someplace, away from major cities where there are a lot of expats.

But what will the boozy  whoremongers do in a bold new world without booze and whores?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you marry your Russian girlfriend and bring her to China?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating issue, essentially unanswerable since the true burn out cases won't be reading this. Still, I would love to hear some stories.

An ESL teacher has to be fairly well-educated, a cut above the military/contractor grunts, despite what X might claim.

Scenario: A burnt out case moves back to his home country and after a bout of near homelessness becomes a high school substitute teacher.

Scenario 2: The burn out moves home and gets some horrible disease he can't afford. Ends up living in sort of state funded accomodation. Inherits a house from a relative. Continues to drink heavily, dies.

Scenario 3: The burn out moves home, sobers up, pays rent with a retail sales job, gets a degree and moves back abroad as an international development specialist.

All rather prosaic I suppose.

englishteacherx said...

It all gets down to "adapt or die" I suppose...

Anonymous said...

Yes! I wonder how many literally die? Most party people wind up with kids and divorces, then jobs in sales, though of course some go in the other direction and fall apart. Then you must have some ESL teachers who return to their home countries and decide to go for it. In the end, the percentage is probably slightly above the general population.

Anonymous said...

So it's true? China is no longer the premier ESL teacher's pooshy paradise? The good ol' days are gone forever! Make China Degenerate again! #MCDA

X - what's your take on all the Trump supporting ESL teachers? Here in Japan, ESL teachers are a mostly male, older crowd, and though liberal leaning, are sort of the "Japanophile" conservative "Japanese culture is great!" variety. From your take though, the ESL scene is gradually being taken over by liberal millenials. Is Russia the last refuge and land of milk of honey for the old school degenerates?

englishteacherx said...

i can't say for sure, but I doubt Russia is very good for foreign English teachers any more, either. Even the girls I used to know who were English groupies are constantly lecturing me about America in Syria, etc. I still know a few people who live there; they agree it's "not what it used to be" although none of them are American.

When I was in Thailand in January, I also saw a lot of Russians, and my impression of them WAS much the same as Beijing -- baby carriages. You used to be able to recognize the Russian girl by the cigarettes and the high heels; most of the ones I saw in Thailand were pushing baby carrIages and following behind their angry husbands.

Maybe some place like Colombia is still degenerate?

AlbyMangels said...

As someone who has lived in Colombia for 5 years and was travelling there regularly since 2001, Colombia has changed quite a bit as well. So, in my opinion, it's another "not what it used to be" place. The foreigners in Medellin, in particular, have a terrible reputation and most chicas will assume you are a monger even if you live there. Cartagena has become much more expensive compared to 10-15 years ago. Bogota is probably the best place, at this point, to live a life of debauchery where you can blend in and still have a good time. The weather and urban sprawl is a problem for some, though

Tom said...

I was in Cambodia/Thailand this past winter and Cambodia seemed entirely degenerate. I actually almost took an international school job there, but I was afraid I'd die. Plus the salary was shit.

I'd imagine the extremely low-rent ESL teachers just take progressively worse jobs before ending up someone like Cambodia, where they overdose or drink themselves to death.

Do you talk to your ESL coworkers from Thailand? I was wonder what happens to ESL lifers who stay in lower wage countries. Are they just stuck working until they die? I've heard you can't even teach in many countries past 60.

englishteacherx said...

Those Thailand guys were mostly not the type to Facebook or Linkedin, so I never knew what became of most of them. There were 10 - 20 years older than me, mostly, so they'd all be retirement age now.

Anonymous said...

Do the expat children generally learn to speak Chinese while they're growing up there? Would be very useful in future. As the first commenter said, you should marry your Russian girlfriend, bring her over to China and raise a couple of trilingual English/Russian/Chinese-speaking kids who would end up ruling the world.

englishteacherx said...

Yeah most of the expats like the idea of their kids growing up speaking several languages.

Trying to bring the GF here; I will write about that later.

Darzin said...

There are still places for them don't worry, if you go to Cambodia you'll fins the types that Thailand was to expensive for. No degree is required there either, that plus an abundance of meth and whores leads to some epic burnouts.

China is to rich to strict and to sedate for true old school crazy mongers. China has a part scene but it's for rich Chinese, bar and clubs are expensive in China because of the demographic that goes there is the wealthier class, a fifty year old guy who cleans up nice might like it, but a disheveled monger? Naw he's going to feel pretty out of place in a ritzy joint like that. And who is he going to go with? The Chinese government has the resources to occasionally crack down on illegal teachers and false documents. Whores? Sure China has a lot but less in the open then southeast Asia. Most of them are run out of KTVs which makes them difficult for mongers to access washed up old dudes like sitting in bars, not singing ear splitting karaoke. Plus to go to KTV you need local friends which people like that almost never have.

That's not to say the crazies are gone they are still around. But many of them are pushed out to the sticks like you said. They kind of go nuts there with little interaction, as these type of foreigners almost never speak Chinese and there are few foreigners way out there. I've met a couple of these guys lonely and crazy slowly spiraling to alcohol and drugs.

That's not to say there isn't a party scene here there is just not one for those types. If you can carry yourself well and can afford a 7 dollar beer there are plenty of establishments to party late into the night.

As for girls dating in China is still really easy for white guys, Because Chinese like big noses and white skin (and also ladyboys seriously etx you should do an article about Chinese attitudes to ladyboys their very odd) Anyway you can almost always punch above your weight here, a 60 year old dating a twenty year old, no way. But a guy whose forty and girl whose twenty seven, no problem. I think part of the reason less guys are dating and marrying girls here is that more and more women are becoming expats and as the male to female ratio of westerners stabilizes, people are just finding it easier to stick with people of their own culture. Incidentally this is a common pattern, in both Spain and India, the British and the Spanish both intermarried with the local women... until they had enough of their own women to stop.

Anonymous said...

*fewer* guys

Anonymous said...

“There are still places for them don't worry, if you go to Cambodia you'll fins the types that Thailand was to expensive for. No degree is required there either, that plus an abundance of meth and whores leads to some epic burnouts.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2690006/Mystery-American-teacher-strangled-death-garbage-dump-Cambodia-estranged-Thai-wife-reveals-victim-feared-him.html

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/harris-binotti-british-teacher-has-fled-burma-after-the-death-of-his-colleague-gary-ferguson-a3389391.html