Thursday, 19 November 2009

Culture Shock! - Tales from China

The first time I went to China (1999), I went with Master Liming Yue and a group of his senior students. (Incidentally, if you ever get a chance to go to China, GO! You will not regret it.) Many of us were students from different classes, so we did not meet until the airport.

One chap was a proper northern lad called Keith. He was a larger-than-life character, who had done a lot of martial arts and was discovering tai chi. Keith was a tough guy. He did not do breakfast. He liked to get up early and go for a run. Generally, we did not see him until after breakfast.

After staying in Beijing and Jiang Jia Jie forest park, we met up with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei in Handan. We were to undergo a week of training in a hotel there.

None of the hotel staff spoke a word of English. Most of us did not know Chinese. Generally, we got through the language barrier well, until one morning. We were having our breakfast in the hotel restaurant, minding our own business, when there was a loud commotion in the entrance hall. The next thing we saw will stay with me for the rest of my days.

Keith was being comically dragged into the restaurant by five small chinese waitresses. The noise was quite amazing. keith was shouting: "Tell them.... will someone tell them I don't do breakfast..... I just want to go for a jog".

They just didn't understand. They were only worried that he was going to miss his breakfast. Liming hastily explained to them. They finally let Keith go.

I laughed so hard, my ribs ached for the rest of the morning.

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