We will be spending the next four weeks, commencing the 22nd, visiting Singapore/Hong Kong/Macau/China and I have been working on an itinerary for mainland China by researching travel sites.

I came across an informative – albeit, lengthy – trip report by an Australian woman who visited China with her husband relatively recently. The excerpt below is quoted verbatim. It should be noted that her overall report about China was quite balanced even if the excerpt is somewhat critical.

Those who know me can relate to the minor trepidation I felt after reading her report given that I, too, am likely to have the same problem as this lady’s husband! It is hilarious to read – although the lady’s husband was less than amused!

I was particularly struck by the guide’s blunt explanation of why her husband was attracting attention – no attempt to sugar-coat the issue. The final sentence of the excerpt is amazing!

“The only major problem we experienced was that my poor husband (who is average height, average weight and never usually gets a second glance in public) was stared at continually. This occurred in both major cities and in the smaller ones. This was not a ‘Hey, that guy reminds me of Brad Pitt’ kind of stare it was more ‘Check that freak out’ kind of stare. Initially we thought it was because he was wearing shorts and it was autumn in China. However even when wearing long pants this still continued. We eventually asked one of our tour guides what the issue was and she said it was because he had hairy arms and looked like a gorilla! I should point out here my husband feels the heat terribly and NEVER wears long sleeves he always wears polo shirts or similar even in winter. He is dark haired and therefore he does have hairy arms but no more than other people of that colouring. I really started to feel sorry for him as the stares were very blatant and they would start about 10 yards away from him and continue as the people passed him. On a subway the complete row opposite would stare for the whole journey. On good days he tolerated this but on days when we were tired and/or lost it really got to him. A couple of times people actually reached across and touched his arms which he was not happy about.”

Any thought I may have had about swimming in any public setting while in China rapidly vanished after reading the above!! 🙂

5 Responses to “China, here I come!”

  1. Rory says:

    I had something similar happen in Vietnam. The ocal kids who hung around the bars and restaurants, selling chewing gum and suchlike, tended to gather around me and giggle to one another. Eventually one little girl, who was braver than the rest, gestured that she wanted to touch my arm. Slightly confused, I nodded and she ran up, yanked on the hair and then ran away again, together with all her friends, completely convulsed with laughter. Enjoy the trip, garnished with the odd amazed stares! Rory

  2. saira says:

    Papa…definitely no swimming for you! You’ll have to stick to long sleeve shirts with your swishy pants!

  3. TJ says:

    Rory & Saira, what is interesting is the sea-change that has taken place in terms of how body hair is viewed today even in the West compared to the 60s’. This is before your time, but Sean Connery as James Bond would proudly display the hair on his chest in “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love” and it was considered to be part of his macho image. In recent years, I cannot recall a movie in which the lead actor shows any body hair – they are all clean-shaven!

  4. Pravin Radia says:

    Hi Thomas


    This story brought back to memory another incident that is worth sharing with you.
    An English woman , a very keen knitter, would look for attractive motifs or patterns to incorporate in sweaters she knitted for herself. In China town one day she saw some writing on a shop window she thought just right for a new sweater she was about to knit. She copied the writing and knitted herself a sweater. Her friends were impressed and complimented her on the choice of the pattern.
    She then decided to show off her skills by wearing the sweater and took a walk in the China town. She was attracting a great deal of attention and even polite smiles and nods. She felt pretty good about herself.
    But later a bunch of teenagers had burst into laughter when they had seen her. Now curious she asked one of them to explain. A girl came forward and said’ The Chinese writing you have knitted across your chest translated in English reads ‘ Fresh Milk Sold Here ‘.



  5. Ashok Muthalaly says:

    I suppose the response to body hair or the lack of it, depends on factors such as the way the average Joe or Ching looks, their race, age group etc, because beauty is judged partly by the aspirations of the people and their role model. Today’s Bollywood actors, spend a lot of time before filming, shaving their bodies, whereas the earlier generation of Bollywood and Hollywood heroes of the 60’s and 70’s were proud to display “their jacks” (a school slang for hair on the chest…if you had it, you left your top 2 shirt buttons open, to show off); but even there, tolerance limits existed. A school boy is too hairy and he get nicknames like ‘grizzly’ and ‘Rip Van Winkle’…..you must have ‘it’ just right!
    I’am sure that trends on ‘body hair levels’ will change like the fashion for trousers…. tights, drainpipes of the Beatles era, to bell bottoms, flares and baggies, so don’t let a few Chinese stares, spoil your lunch!
    This too will pass and your day will come, with Chinese women falling over each other to welcome “a real man”!
    Where have all the cowboys gone?
    You and Minni, have a terrific holiday.

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