Our Foreigner

So the other day I was at the little streetmarket in the alley near my apartment, and I saw crazy little melons I couldn’t recognize. I asked the seller what they are, but my language skills are at a weird place where I can ask “what is this?” but I can’t really understand the answer. I did pick up “very good” and “not cook” so I figured I’d buy one and see how it tasted. The man told meit would cost 18 kwai for one. That’s $2.16 for those who don’t do the conversion instantly. And for those who do, can you give me a quick mental formula for the kilo-to-pounds conversion?

It goes without saying that whenever I’m outside there is a small crowd following me around to discuss my clothes and purchases. Before I could tell the vendor that $2 for a melon is way too high, a women from the lao wei-following crowd jumped in with a paragraph of rapid Chinese. I couldn’t make out much of what she said, because she spoke quickly and with a local accent. And because my Chinese is awful. I did catch “bu” (don’t, not, isn’t, un, no) and “wo men de wai guo ren” (our other-country person), and then the vendor turned to me and offered me a melon for 2 kwai!

I think she was saying “Don’t cheat our foreigner!” but she could just as easily have said “Don’t bother, our foreigner never has any money.”

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0 Responses to Our Foreigner

  1. time bandit says:

    The question is, did you enjoy the melon?

  2. Anonymous says:

    One pound roughly equals half a kilogram (gong jin); but in markets I suppose most vendors would use the weight unit “jin”, which equals about one pound. Also, one “jin” equals twenty “liang”, a weight subunit.

    To sum up,

    1 kilo = 2 jin = 20 liang = 2.2 pounds


  3. Stuart says:

    I see you’re one of those Chinese language purists who likes to separate words by characters. Wai guo ren “other country person” instead of Waiguoren “foreigner”. I guess if it helps you learn… Cheers.

  4. The Humanaught says:

    @Meg: Hey… out of curiosity, was it about the size of a pear and roughly a similar colour (pale green)? If so, they’re called Xiang Guo (??), or Good Smell Fruit. I think they’re in season now because my girlfriend brought some home the other day.

    @Stu: Sorry, that should be xiangguo. 😉 I don’t know if you can use “language purist” and Chinese learner in the same paragraph. For me it always helps to think of the characters as seperate things as it helps me remember them. I, of course, can’t speak for Ms. Eclipse, but I think it just adds a bit of humour to making sense of things:
    Ni shi na guo ren?
    1. Where are you from?
    2. You is which country person?
    #2 wins hands down for comedic points.
    Xiao Xin!
    1. Be careful!
    2. Small Heart!
    Again… #2 is the clear winner for funny mnemonic.

    @fuzz: man, you know your weights.

  5. Wabres says:

    Ok, So after this, how long till your class starts to sing songs from the 60’s?

  6. Meg says:

    Thank you, Fuzz!

    Side note to Stuart: I wish I could call myself a language purist! I think of each character as a separate word, although I can rarely match a charater to pinyin to English. My chinese is like a train wreck (speaking of which, Humanaught, I thoung he was saying “xiang gua” as in “want melons”)

    The xiao xin cracks me up to no end. Whenever I see the Chinese for “little heart” over “No Bumping Of Heads” or “Take Care No Fall”, I have to giggle.

    And Eric, what are you talking about?

  7. The Humanaught says:

    Hey Meg, you’re absolutely right in that it’s gua (?) not guo (?), but I’m pretty certain it must be the same fruit. Not my favorite, but aside from cantelope, I’m not a big melon person (yeah, I see how I’m opening myself up for just a load of PUNishment with that statement).

  8. Pastey White Guy says:

    Haha… I was going to chime in the the 2.2 lbs thing, but looks like I was beaten to it. My name is Nick and I also live in Yantai (next to Yantai University…sorry I mean Yantai Da Xue). I run a factory out in Muping Qu. I like your blog. Very funny.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Interesting website with a lot of resources and detailed explanations.

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