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31-01-2020, 09:57   #1
Boards.ie: Niamh
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Now ye're talking - to an Irishman in China

Our next AMA guest is an Irishman living in China. He lives in a city about 800km from Wuhan* so is hopefully safe from anyone infected with the coronavirus, however as a precaution some public services in his city have been shut down and things are a lot quieter than normal for New Year.

You can ask him questions about his experience here.

*Wuhan is a city in Hubei province in China and is believed to be where the novel coronavirus was recently transmitted to humans. The WHO have now declared the coronavirus to be a global emergency.
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31-01-2020, 09:58   #2
Gonad
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How’s the bat soup over there ?
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31-01-2020, 10:04   #3
denartha
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Do you speak Mandarin?
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31-01-2020, 10:35   #4
sonic85
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How did you end up in China?

What's it like living there day to day - are you a fluent speaker, are there any customs you have to follow etc?

Would there be a big contingent of foreigners over there or could you go a while without seeing anyone who's not local?
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31-01-2020, 10:45   #5
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How concerned are you?
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31-01-2020, 12:11   #6
cloudatlas
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Is there a lot of superstition and alternative medicine use around you or is that a misconception?
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31-01-2020, 12:23   #7
Sabre0001
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I'd have so many questions at the best of times, but with the recent news from that side of the world I'm going to barrage you with related questions! Sorry in advance

What were the early reports about Coronavirus like and how has the news/reporting of it changed?

Do people believe that the reporting of number of cases and/or deaths is accurate?

How surreal was Chinese New Year with this ongoing?

What's the general advice being offered in Chinese media and by the Government? Are you staying home or venturing out?

What is the attitude towards this outbreak - are people heeding warnings, are locals more wary than foreigners living in China, does the slightest cough cause panic or nervous laughter, do people think enough is being done to

What essentials did you stock up on? And what's the first thing that stores run out of in events like this (we've learned over the last few years that bread is the first thing to go at the first sign of snow/storms/other in Ireland)?
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31-01-2020, 12:38   #9
gmisk
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Have your family contacted you to try to convince you to move home a lot since the coronavirus thing?
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31-01-2020, 13:34   #10
I'm in China, AMA
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Originally Posted by Gonad View Post
How’s the bat soup over there ?
I've tried some strange food things here, but I do have my limits

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Originally Posted by denartha View Post
Do you speak Mandarin?
I know enough to get by, not fluent by any means. You really need to put the effort in to learn it, especially the characters. I'm always too busy with work to attend proper lessons, though I do hope to do that this year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonic85 View Post
How did you end up in China?

What's it like living there day to day - are you a fluent speaker, are there any customs you have to follow etc?

Would there be a big contingent of foreigners over there or could you go a while without seeing anyone who's not local?
By accident, sort of. I had done some teaching and really enjoyed it. I also love to travel, so basically combined the two in a sense. Why I choose China? Curiosity mainly, but ended up loving it. So much so that I left for China for a year to teach somewhere else and ended up missing it.

Yeah there are a decent amount of foreigners here. How many depends on the city. There would be thousands in Beijing and Shanghai, but for example I lived in a really small city my first year here and there were 6 of us. But most larger cities have a pretty decent foreign community.

Living here in general in pretty easy to be honest. Like every country there are some great things about living here and some downright annoying things. Thankfully the great things outnumber the annoying ones, for me anyway.

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Originally Posted by Neyite View Post
How concerned are you?
I'm not overly concerned at the moment, but certainly wary. Everyone is basically confined to their apartments at the moment, only venturing out to get what they need. Both Chinese and foreign I might add. Why is everyone staying at home? Well, because of everything is closed apart from conveniences stores and most supermarkets. Transport is also severely limited. Plus the fact that nobody wants to get sick, of course. It's a bit of a weird situation to be in, that's for sure. But I will say that they seem to be doing everything they can to make sure things don't get worse. I get my temperature checked every time I enter my apartment complex

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Is there a lot of superstition and alternative medicine use around you or is that a misconception?
Chinese medicine is very common. I really don't know a whole lot about it as I never use it. I always ask for the had stuff if I'm sick. That would be my advice to anyone who ever visits China and gets ill...know what you want before you go into a pharmacy. They will have most popular western medications, but will often give you the herbal stuff. Does it work? Some say it does, I have my doubts. Acupuncture on the other hand, is like black magic. I don't know how, but from my own personal experience that stuff works, and well.

There is definitely superstition, though it's not extremely obvious in everyday life. Numbers, for example. 4 and 7 are considered unlucky. 8 is THE lucky number in China. People will actually seek out the number 8 i.e. living on the 8th floor, having 8's in your phone number etc. But again, it's not something that really stands out and you probably wouldn't even notice these things unless someone told you.
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31-01-2020, 13:48   #11
denartha
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I know enough to get by, not fluent by any means. You really need to put the effort in to learn it, especially the characters. I'm always too busy with work to attend proper lessons, though I do hope to do that this year.
I got berrated on another thread for pointing out how difficult it is.

I was in Shanghai for two weeks back in July, so I have first hand experience of it. I can count to 5 and say thank you, and thats about it.
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31-01-2020, 13:54   #12
nozzferrahhtoo
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How many different forms of moon cake did you eat a few weeks ago?

I should be in taipei for a week for the first time ever this year, so have you been over that way? Any cultural do's or don't I should know about?

And is stinky tofu all I hear it is?
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31-01-2020, 14:03   #13
I'm in China, AMA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabre0001 View Post
I'd have so many questions at the best of times, but with the recent news from that side of the world I'm going to barrage you with related questions! Sorry in advance

What were the early reports about Coronavirus like and how has the news/reporting of it changed?

Do people believe that the reporting of number of cases and/or deaths is accurate?

How surreal was Chinese New Year with this ongoing?

What's the general advice being offered in Chinese media and by the Government? Are you staying home or venturing out?

What is the attitude towards this outbreak - are people heeding warnings, are locals more wary than foreigners living in China, does the slightest cough cause panic or nervous laughter, do people think enough is being done to

What essentials did you stock up on? And what's the first thing that stores run out of in events like this (we've learned over the last few years that bread is the first thing to go at the first sign of snow/storms/other in Ireland)?
I started hearing reports about 2 weeks before Chinese New Year, but at time it just sounded like a local outbreak and I personally paid no attention to it, as did most people. Things started to sound a bit more serious in few days leading up to Chinese New Year, but again I think everyone thought it would just fizzle out.

While I don't necessarily believe that the government are intentionally (go figure), I do believe that there are far more people infected than the number quoted. Why the discrepancy? It seems that the hospitals in Wuhan are only admitting those with serious symptoms as that is all they can cope with. Are they testing every single person with symptoms? I highly doubt that. You've got to remember that in a city that size there are going to be tens of thousands of people every week who are sick with illnesses that are NOT the coronavirus. It's a matter of logistics. I take everything I see online with a grain of salt, especially videos as some of the more popular ones I've seen have turned out to be old. Though this one is particularly eye opening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AI3R41dGnU&t=40s

Chinese New Year was basically non-existent, everything was cancelled. Since last Friday, almost everyone has been at home 90% of the time. Everything is closed, apart from shops selling the necessities. There are about 50 restaurants on the street I live on, none of them are open. For now at least, shops still have plenty of stuff, but as you alluded to, no bread There's been a huge increase in the number of places selling vegetables the last couple of days, apparently organised by the local government.

As for transport, that has been limited a lot. Most bus routes have closed. The subway is till open for now, but shortened hours and you need to show your passport, wear a mask and have your temperature taken. China's version of Uber has closed, that is a big one. To take a regular taxi you need to show you passport also, as well as wear a mask. Everyone is wearing masks. Streets are pretty empty for the most part, just people venturing out to get what they need and then straight back home.

I've stocked up on noodles and rice/beans, just in case. I venture out maybe once a day to get some vegetables and stuff. I have a dog so I bring him out 3 times a day, but just within the apartment complex I live which is pretty big.

I work in an office how, so I can work from home and will be doing so for at least the next 2 weeks, probably longer.

So yes, the boredom is real!!
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31-01-2020, 14:19   #14
I'm in China, AMA
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Have your family contacted you to try to convince you to move home a lot since the coronavirus thing?
Yeah I speak with them about twice a week. As long as I'm not worried, they're fine. They've of course asked if I am going to stay, but have in no way tried to convince me to leave. In a weird way I think it helps that they've been here to visit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nozzferrahhtoo View Post
How many different forms of moon cake did you eat a few weeks ago?

I should be in taipei for a week for the first time ever this year, so have you been over that way? Any cultural do's or don't I should know about?

And is stinky tofu all I hear it is?
I'm really not a fan of moon cakes, so zero I adore the food here, but mooncakes are an exception.

I actually haven't been to Taiwan would you believe, which is actually annoying me at this point as it's one of the few places I haven't been to in east/south east. I've been to a tonne of provinces here in China, Hong kong, Macau etc. But not Taiwan. This year, hopefully.

Good stinky tofu is really nice. Smells terrible but can taste amazing. It's very popular in Changsha, were I lived previously. Unfortunately it can be pretty terrible in other parts of China. That and Durian, you can find them a 100 meters away just using your nose

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Are they a great bunch of lads?
Yes father!
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31-01-2020, 14:45   #15
Loomis
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I got berrated on another thread for pointing out how difficult it is.

I was in Shanghai for two weeks back in July, so I have first hand experience of it. I can count to 5 and say thank you, and thats about it.
Anyone who has a go at you for this doesn't have a notion how difficult the language is to learn for native English speakers. Mandarin (and Cantonese) are classified as Category V languages, meaning it takes roughly 88 weeks (2200 hours) of study (note study, not casual) to reach general proficiency.

Setting reading aside (and the massive difference in their characters to Latin based languages), the tones are extremely difficult to master. My wife has taught me a little, but without actually studying it, it's just very difficult. The few things I can say, probably only she would understand what I'm attempting to say. Without the correct tones, it could be incomprehensible to a native speaker or just as easily come out meaning something I didn't intend.

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Originally Posted by I'm in China, AMA View Post
Chinese medicine is very common. I really don't know a whole lot about it as I never use it.
Just drink some warm water and you'll be grand.
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