Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Meet the Neighbours

Sometimes I hate my neighbours. They are noisy, selfish and dirty. They run down the stairs at 6 am singing at the top of their voices, dropping their cigarettes or orange peel right outside my door.

We have a very efficient waste disposal system including two huge wheelie bins at the foot of the stairs, but they are too lazy to open the lids and so they just chuck their trash near the bins instead of inside.

The woman in the apartment above me had a dog whose bowel habits were highly regular. Every morning outside my front door. Did she ever think to clean it up? Of course not. The dog finally disappeared. I plead ignorance. (Hotpot. A bit of chilli and some rice wine.)

Moving your furniture at 4 am is apparently a cool idea around here, especially if you can’t carry it and have to drag it across the floor above my bedroom.

And it is compulsory to drill holes in your walls at least once a month. Extra points for doing so at 7:30 on Sunday mornings.

Like most people here, I live in an apartment block which looks identical to the apartment block next door. My block (and the neighbouring blocks) are at the end of a lane. I am the only foreigner living in a semi enclosed environment of about 200 residences. I’ve been in this apartment for ten years.

This evening, an old friend (Chinese) who has lost his cell phone and therefore my number came looking for me. He only visited my place once before, very briefly, about eight years ago. When he arrived in the lane, he couldn’t work out precisely where he was or where he was going (there have been a few changes) so he asked everyone he saw “Where does the foreigner live?”

Some of my lovely neighbours denied there were any foreigners living within several miles radius of here; others said there are many foreigners and demanded to know which one he wanted. He finally pressed the intercom bells of every apartment in my block and the one next door, hoping someone would activate the electronic switch to open the electric gate.

Again neighbours berated him for daring to suggest that they would harbour loose foreigners. My immediate next door neighbour ,who knows me well (we live so close i can hear him snore), informed my friend that there were certainly no laowai to be seen here. Perish the thought!

My friend finally rang my intercom by chance and we were reunited.

I want to (genuinely) thank all those neighbours. They were protecting me. Total stranger (to them) turns up wanting to know where the foreigner lives? A bit suspicious. Let’s confuse him.

In fact, they have often protected me and looked after me over the years – even ferrying me to hospital once when I fell and managed to concuss myself with blood running down my face. I don’t remember much about that. But I swear I was stone cold sober!

They have never refused me help and, in fact, usually offered before I could ask.

I just wish they would shut up and clean up!

. This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 at 12:04 am and is filed under Liuzhou Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Meet the Neighbours”

  1. David Says:

    No mention of your racing pigeons crapping everywhere , late night drum practice AND the debauched parties every weekend then….oh , and the crates of empties on the landing..

    Seriously though , like many of us I am constantly charmed and infuriated by Chinese people in almost equal measures and have often yearned to simply (and politely) ASK them why they do some of the things we find inexplicable (as , I am sure , they are too polite to ask us) . With your command of the language , have you ever ventured to enquire why , for instance , you are ‘unseen’ in a queue or the breezy attitude to trash and most importantly , why do they always put bloody milk in the coffee ?

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:


  3. Michael Says:

    Yeah I am right there with you… uh… what?

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