Laowai

This story from 1999, in my Shaanbei book, already describes a bygone age:

One afternoon, after a couple of weeks in the countryside unable to get in touch with my partner in London, I decide to try and find a phone from where I can make an international call. Yangjiagou still has no phone [like Li Manshan’s village at the time!], certainly not one connected to the international network, so with my colleague Guo Yuhua we set off by foot down the hill towards the district town, almost an hour’s walk.

We find a phone in the post office and, miraculously, I get through. As I pay the sullen assistant, she makes out a receipt, asking what name she should fill in. I tell her not to bother, but as we come out onto the street, I take a look at the receipt: she has made it out to “WOG” (laowai).

laowai

After returning to London I framed it.

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