"Goodbye China" "Australia" - by Kathrin Goldsworthy (Australia)

From the Web 1.0 days I bring you The Forum. To preserve them for posterity as Geocities can no longer be found but also it's fun to re-read some of them.


23rd February, 2001

Hey you, it’s here, finally, my last day at good ole, world famous for its journalistic integrity, CRI...and I’m thinking back over the past, very weird, 12 months.

Sure I’m going to miss the special treatment afforded to us foreign experts, the chauffer driving me to and from work every day, the sweet girly who comes to clean my room and pick up after me, the “immunity” from everything bestowed on foreigners, or “freaks”, – but godammit, I’m so looking forward to being back in a real country again.

Although, I’m not Australia’s ready for me, and all those bad habits I’ve developed here in the middle kingdom....assuming no one can understand me, so talking about them in front of them, smoking through dinner - or for that matter anywhere I damn well feel like smoking, spitting bones on the table or floor (I have never actually done this, but certain people we both know have) and the good ole Beijing lack of respect for personal space.... shoving and pushing your way through a crowd (there is always a crowd in Beijing), sharpened elbows straight into the kidneys.....

When I arrived, a small town gal from a small country, the culture shock was enormous. I couldn’t read the road signs, I couldn’t understand anyone....and with my very rare kiwi accent, they SO couldn’t understand moi. A saner person would have thought more about just how different China is, and possibly made an informed decision about coming here – but no, I get tiddled and sign myself up (it’s a bit vague, but I THINK that was what happened. Oops)

But hey, look how well I have acclimatised! I can bargin like the best of ‘em, survive the supermarket hordes, order myself a decent meal and obscene amounts of beer all in fluent Beijing-ese (mumble or slur your words. Works everytime.)...and of course I’m up there with the party faithful when it comes to propaganda.
Mind you I don’t think it’s been easy for China, me being here. As one of the first kiwis to work for CRI, my poor colleagues spent months trying to decipher my accent, or for that matter find my country on a map. And as for Beijing taxi drivers.......
DRIVER: where you from?
ME: New Zealand
DRIVER:oh, good, very good...(silence)........where’s that then?
.....and then in my crap Chinese I try to explain that’s it’s just south of Australia, and they drop me off fully convinced that Tasmania is otherwise known as New Zealand...which is why I now tell everyone I’m from Australia – it’s big country, very near NZ, and they HAVE heard of it.

Everyone at work has been so devastated about my impending departure, I’m almost sorry to leave the place. Almost. If I never have to write another story about the evil, and quite possibly US-led, cult Falun gong hoodwinking brainless Chinese again – it will be too soon. And as for President Jiang Zemin and his endless furthering bi-lateral relations into the 21st century – well!! My legacy will live on in the CRI newsroom with every “mate” and “ta, luvey” that is uttered in years to come. (and they can all now find NZ on a map.)

So zaijian communism, and hello the “outside” world. It’s been a blast....spitting, squat toilets, surly Beijing shop-girls, weather extremes, and pollution aside.....I’ll miss you Beijing. Crazy country, crazier people.



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