An anonymous reader who calls herself “Nasty Woman” sent in this story of what she describes as “the absolutely red-hot but short-lived affair I had with an Asian man while on vacation, the sexiest man I’ve ever known.”
Last month, I visited Asia with a friend for the first time. The plan was to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and then Beijing over the course of almost three weeks. Reading all the sweet, romantic love stories on this blog, I feel a little naughty sharing this one, because it’s a story of pure lust and not much else. I hope that’s OK – I figured since Asian men are undersexualized in American culture we could use a story about the absolutely red-hot but short-lived affair I had with an Asian man while on vacation, the sexiest man I’ve ever known. Seriously ladies, buckle up.
I fit the stereotype of the sexually liberated Western woman pretty well. I prefer meaningful, loving relationships but certainly don’t say no to casual sex when the opportunity arises. While in Japan, I downloaded Tinder and did meet up with someone but wasn’t really attracted to him, so that didn’t go anywhere. I was having a great time with my friend so I didn’t care all that much about meeting guys anyway. On our last night in Osaka, though, things changed.
I was getting ready to go out drinking by the river with my friend, and when I came downstairs to the hostel lobby, I saw that she was chatting with a guy staying at the hostel. He was a very handsome solo traveler from Seoul and the friend that I was traveling with was half-Korean/half-Chinese, so they were just casually making conversation. When I found out he could also speak excellent English, I joined in on the conversation and liked him immediately. I invited him out drinking with us, and we had a fun time getting drunk and getting to know each other.
It wasn’t long before he and I started to basically third-wheel my friend. I’ll never forget the moment we were sitting next to each other, across the table from my friend at a bar, and he put his hand on my knee. I had been flirting pretty heavily by then so his touch was electric. I slid his hand further up my thigh and by the time we left, we were groping each other right in between the legs (classy, I know). Because I was drunk I thought all of this had gone unnoticed by my friend but she later told me she saw all of it. Ha ha!
So at this point he and I know it’s going down, it’s just a matter of time. We all get in a cab together back to the hostel and manage to stay civilized in the cab and on the walk back. A few minutes later, we’re all in the hostel bathroom, brushing our teeth, and I hop in the shower. When I get out of the shower, he’s the only one in the bathroom. We just look at each other, and for the first time all night, I feel shy. He’s standing near the door and I start to walk towards the door, maintaining eye contact with him the whole time. When I get near him, he puts his arm on my waist, and in what felt like a millisecond, we were kissing passionately and the clothes were coming right off.
So because this isn’t an erotica blog I won’t get into the details but let me tell you something ladies: even as a sexually free Western woman who has had a handful of partners, I have never felt more like a goddess or more out of my mind with lust and pleasure than I did with this man. He checks off literally every fantasy that you dream about in a sexual partner – giving and sweet but also strong and passionate, adventurous and hungry but also considerate and gentle. It was, without a question, the best sex I’ve ever had. I still shiver thinking about it.
The next day, my friend left for her flight to Beijing, while my flight was booked for the late afternoon. I had originally planned on doing more sightseeing, but instead I spent the whole morning in his arms. Because we had more time and space to ourselves, it was more sensual and slow and loving than the night before. It was almost like we were in love and on our honeymoon. When the time came to head out, he saw me off to the airport and could not have been more of a gentleman. I think I saw an interview where Jocelyn said that Asian men take care of their women – girl, he TOOK CARE of me, in so many ways. Despite knowing him for so little time, saying goodbye to him really did make me sad, and I couldn’t stop thinking about him and wishing our time together wasn’t over.
Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t! We kept in touch while I was in China, and he told me I was welcome to visit him in South Korea anytime. I wasn’t sure if that was ever going to happen, but as it turns out, our China plans were changing. My friend was initially planning to bring me along to meet the Chinese side of her family, but she’d had a change of heart, wanting to go alone since she wasn’t sure if she’d have another chance to see her grandparents. Voila – I had a few extra days in my itinerary, which she suggested I spend in Shanghai. But I had a better idea.
When I think of Seoul, I think of flesh and sweat and sighs of pleasure. The memory of his lips on mine, his hands on my body, still gives me goosebumps. We did do a lot of sightseeing together and he was the sweetest, most considerate traveling companion, but the sex and lust was just so out of this world that the regular stuff fades into the background. We still keep in touch as friends and his apartment is my No. 1 destination for the next time I go to Seoul.
Among the many dark, discriminatory chapters in American history, there was a moment in time where my marriage to Jun, a Chinese citizen, would have cost me my American citizenship. As reported by NPR:
In March of 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act, which decreed, among other things, that U.S. women who married non-citizens were no longer Americans. If their husband later became a naturalized citizen, they could go through the naturalization process to regain citizenship.
Could you imagine the gut-wrenching choices confronting women of this era who fell in love with foreigners? They included Mae Franking (the subject of Mae Franking’s My Chinese Marriage as well as part of the book Eurasian), whose decision to follow her husband to China was clearly precipitated by the harsh and xenophobic policies of the era (a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in full force). Had I met Jun during that time, would I have had the same courage and devotion to sacrifice my American citizenship in the name of love?
…none of these rules applied to American men when they chose a spouse.
“It’s as though she walks under his umbrella. He puts his arm around her and poof! she’s a citizen,” says Linda Kerber, a professor who teaches gender and legal history at the University of Iowa. “She has had the good sense to come out from these monarchies and opt for an American. She’s a sensible woman, we adore her.”
“Whereas an American-born woman who marries a foreign man, oh my goodness, she is disloyal,” Kerber said.
Doesn’t this just reek of entitlement? The idea that American women must only make themselves available to American men, while the latter are more than welcome to “shop around” internationally for their spouses.
This shameful, double standard of a policy persisted until 1940. That’s more than 30 years that American women were forced into a decision nobody should have to make – your passport or your partner.
As fortunate as I am that I was never presented with this choice, the fact that it even happened should make us pause. After all, xenophobia still remains a virulent force in our society today, from Muslim bans and Islamophobia to the continued fears about China. Once you’re willing to oppose the entry of certain foreign individuals to your country, it’s not that short a jump to the draconian Expatriation Act.
We must all remain vigilant and committed to the words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. — that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We must all remember it wasn’t that long ago that marrying foreigners cost American women their citizenship.
Heather Caveney, who blogs at An American Tomboy in Mongolia, was always skeptical of love stories…until she found herself lost in her own love story while vacationing in Mongolia.
Do you have a love story or other guest post you’d like to see featured here on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn more about how to have your words published on the blog.
You know that movie where the woman travels to a faraway place and meets the man of her dreams? Or what about that novel in which the heroine has a midlife crisis and overhauls her entire life? Yeah, that’s the stuff of the silver screen, books, and urban legends, right?
While I have watched plenty of those movies—think Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love—and I still read Jane Eyre regularly (every couple of years), I was a skeptic when it came to love stories. Two and a half years ago I would not have called myself a “romantic.”
I was satisfied with a sedate and ordinary American life in Colorado. I had meaningful work, a loving family, great friends, and a calendar packed with events and commitments. I had resigned myself to the spouse I’d chosen fourteen years earlier and with whom I’d built a life–two vehicles and a suburban home filled with furnishings and all the stuff we seem to want and need in America. The things I had acquired and surrounded myself with seemed they should be, well, enough.
Instead of my life widening out into a matrix of forks in the road, I’d somehow arrived to a dead-end cul-de-sac. To anyone on the outside, I had the good life. On the inside, I was doing time.
Then Mongolia–and Zorig–happened.
It was July 2014–the summer after my 40th birthday. My traveling companion was my father. We’d been planning and saving for this trip–three weeks to explore Mongolia–for more than three years.
It was there, on the wide-open steppe with its absence of fences that something began to crack open inside of me. A ger camp had become our temporary home. It was there that I found myself drinking vodka, with my father and three Mongolian men, that I felt free, and what it meant to be fully PRESENT with others. It was there, under a star-splattered midnight sky, when we paused in a mountain field blanketed with knee-high wildflowers, listening to wolves howl, that I thanked the universe for being free from the tethers of technology. And it was there that I became intrigued by a man named Zorig.
Now, this is not some kind of love-at-first-sight story. Well, Zorig claims it was “love at first seen” for him. But that was NOT the case for me.
I was a married woman. Traveling with my father. Camping in the countryside where there were no showers. Wearing a baseball cap because my hair was greasy. Get the picture?
But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was curious about this man who was our fishing guide and translator. His name—Zorig—made him sound like a superhero, or a sports car. We spent six days traveling and fishing with Zorig (as well as a driver and local area guide) on the Onon River, located in Khentii province, the birthplace of Chinggis Khan.
In fact, you could say that Chinggis Khan got us together!
After many adventures over four days of fishing—including getting stuck in a river, listening to wolves howl back to our guide’s call, enjoying hyam (sausage) and pickles while drinking vodka, hunting for a terrain feature to pee behind, eating marmot, and sharing small shards of our personal lives—something ignited between us.
While I do not condone cheating or being unfaithful to one’s mate, I have to own the choices I made. On that last night before we returned to Ulaanbaatar and prepared to depart Mongolia forever, I made a choice to see if what I’d been feeling—a connection between this strange Mongol man and myself—was real.
I watched my father tuck himself into bed, turned out the light, and then I stepped outside the ger (yurt). Not knowing how to proceed (it had been over 16 years since I’d flirted or made a move on a man!), I watched a brilliant half moon rise up from the horizon, illuminating the steppe before me and the river off in the distance.
“What are you thinking about?” asked Zorig, materializing at my side.
“Chinggis Khan,” I said, simultaneously surprised and relieved.
We spoke briefly about the infamous Mongolian leader before Zorig invited me into his ger. I drank vodka with him, our driver, the local guide, and one of the men that had helped get us un-stuck from the river two days before.
I had been wondering, for days, what it would be like to kiss this wild and exotic man. Yes, I understand the cliché that sits in that sentence. But you see—I was making good on a declaration I’d made as a teenager—“to date someone from every race.” At more than 40 years old, the absurdity of that is not lost on me. What is “every race” to a white girl graduating high school just outside of Gettysburg, PA? It’s laughable to consider now. But as a young adult I had tried to pursue a path in multicultural dating. I’d dated white, black, and Hispanic. I’d kissed a beautiful Norwegian soldier while working in Sarajevo as a photojournalist with the U.S. Army. And I’d hunted throughout my college years and early adult life for an Asian man to date. Or kiss. All hunts had proved fruitless.
It was in Mongolia where he finally walked into my life, and later on–into my heart. He was a hunter, a fisherman, an adventurer. He was brave and bold. He was a man who went after what he wanted.
That night, we hugged. We kissed. And it was a stunning surprise.
My mind raced with thoughts of him being a Cassanova, someone that hit on all his (female) clients, and certainly someone that was looking for a quick something-something. But oh, the kiss was not what I expected (rushed, hurried, sloppy!).
It was tentative.
Soft and sensual.
This man would continue to surprise me at every turn in the road.
The next morning we drove back to the capital, Ulaanbaatar (UB). Zorig tried to hold my hand on the ride. I jerked away, shocked he would be so bold with my father sitting in the front seat. I pretended to sleep the entire eight hours.
After a quick unload and time for a shower and change, Zorig collected Dad and I from the Edelweiss Hotel and we went by taxi to Silk Road, a nice restaurant, that catered to tourists and expats, in the heart of the city. This was a change from our schedule. We were supposed to be eating in the hotel’s restaurant. Unaccompanied.
As we were seated in a small private, glassed-in room at the center of Silk Road it occurred to me that THIS WAS A DATE. However, my dad and our driver (who arrived late and left early) had to be present to make it “business.” We drank two bottles of wine, enjoyed lovely meals, and the men enjoyed after-dinner scotches. We talked and drank and ate for nearly four hours. Zorig put his hand on my knee under the table (my father was clueless!)
When he went to pay the check, I gave Zorig a folded note (basically a Dear John letter–thanks for the fun! and goodbye).
Escorting us back to the hotel on foot, he deftly slipped the note into my jacket pocket. Arriving, he told us the time he’d collect us in the morning for airport delivery, and said goodnight. As we climbed the stairs, I read:
“I wait for you at first floor anyway. If you think of me like friend, come and talk a while.”
Oh, what to do!?! It was 11 pm and we would leave in ten hours. I was in a strange city. A foreign country. My father was going to sleep. I should do the same. But I could not. All I thought was, “If you don’t go, you will always wonder what if!”
I said goodnight to my dad (we had adjoining rooms with our own bathrooms) and told him I was going to the communal computer on the second floor to check on our flights. I grabbed my tiny travel purse, cramming my passport inside.
I arrived to the lobby and saw Zorig standing just outside the front door. When I stepped out he took my hand in his and led me to River Sounds–a live music dance club–located a few blocks away. We had a drink. We talked. We danced. We kissed “in the arena” as he called it; the dance floor, as I know it. At 1 AM I asked him to take me home.
“Okay,” he said, “but every 50 meters we stop and kiss.”
“Okay,” I agreed.
I told myself during that walk all the reasons he was wrong for me, and why we couldn’t work. He was too short. I was married. His hands were small. I lived in America. He lived in Mongolia. We hardly knew each other. Different religions (probably). Very different upbringings. What was that saying about a fish and a bird falling in love? Yes, this was a crazy and fun interlude in a wild place. I had no regrets. But this was, The end.
He paused to kiss me just outside the hotel and declared, “If I have any chance to have your hand, I’m going to take it.”
I thought, “this man is crazy,” and smiled. We kissed one last time and I went upstairs to sleep.
At the airport the next morning, Zorig helped Dad and I get our luggage and ourselves where we needed to be. Soon we were at the gate to international flights. My dad went to shake Zorig’s hand and to give him his hard-earned tip. Zorig refused it. He refused mine as well. My father was flummoxed (he’s a well seasoned traveler and this had never happened before!) and had to settle for hand shakes, hugs, and requests for him to return and catch the taimen which we had not caught. Then Zorig came in to hug me, placing his head on the side opposite from where my father stood.
“I love you,” he whispered into my ear.
Now it was confirmed–the man was insane. He hardly knew me. He could not love me.
I did not love this strange man. But I also did not sleep on that 12 hour flight from Beijing to San Francisco.
When I arrived home on August 6th I had three emails from Zorig and a Facebook friend request.
Over the next four and a half months we got to know one another. We talked about foods we liked and disliked, our religions (or lack thereof), our families, our histories, what we did with our time. We talked about our work and world presidents and hunting. We shared failed dreams and hopes for the future. All of our communications were through email, Facebook messenger, and International texts. We never Skyped or Facetimed. It was all written words. Beautiful words. He courted me like we dream of being courted.
He had a way of knowing and understanding me that was both unnerving and exciting. He was honest and forthright. I can’t say WHY I chose to accept and believe him at face value (this is a question he yet asks me). But I did. There was no game playing. He said what he wanted. Directly. And in that he inspired the same from me to him. He made me fall in love.
While that was happening, I simultaneously filed for divorce (that marriage had ended LONG before I met Zorig), sold a house, moved into an apartment. That dead-end cul-de-sac that had been my life, was suddenly NOT. My future was as wide open as the Eurasian steppe.
On December 22nd I picked Zorig up at the Colorado Springs airport. It was the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received. Our mission: to discover if the love we felt was real. If we had the magic. The chemistry.
As you are reading this in the Double Happiness section of Jocelyn’s blog, you already know the answer.
Within the first day, I knew that I would move to Mongolia. Over his seven week visit, we traveled. First to Michigan to spend time with my father, then to Idaho where he met my older sister, her two children, and my mother (who was visiting from Virginia), and then to Las Vegas where my brother and his wife, as well as my younger sister’s fiancee came to meet him and spend a little time with us. At the end of January, Zorig proposed– and I said, “Yes.” On February 10th I took him to the airport and said goodbye–for now.
We were to spend a second four and a half months apart. Once home in Mongolia, Zorig introduced me to his teenage son, Enkhjin, over Skype and we began to get acquainted via Facebook messenger. I secured a job in UB at an international school. And I sold or gave away everything I owned. I whittled my life down to 21 containers–12 boxes I shipped by container, 4 boxes I shipped by air, and I departed the U.S. with five 50 lb suitcases on June 30th, 2015, for Love and a new life in Mongolia.
In the blink of an eye we were married on October 2nd, 2015, at the Office of Civil Registration. Zorig had made good on that declaration to have my hand!
Over this past Christmas and New Year’s I traveled home for the first time, taking Zorig and Enkhjin along to meet the extended family (we gather once every five years for a Caveney Clan Christmas in Northern Michigan). With the support of my father, we surprised my family and some friends (about 40 people in all) with a wedding ceremony on December 28th. That evening we ate roasted lamb and toasted with Mongolian vodka.
Most days I still want to pinch myself. I don’t know why I got a real life fairytale. But I did. And I’m writing about it here to keep the dream alive. You never know what is going to happen next in life. And in a world of 7 billion people…..it is possible that your match may be living on the other side of the planet. So travel. Be brave. And listen to your heart.
But it’s not always easy to transition to a new country. After all, as Linda writes, “Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food.” I asked Linda to share some of her tips for a smooth transition to life in South Korea – read on!
I’ve always been interested in Asia and its different cultures and nations. China had especially caught my eye and I decided to study Mandarin and even move to China – which I did and it was awesome. Then, I went to California to get my bachelor’s degree, with a plan in mind to move back to China – maybe even for good.
However, something, and I like to argue it were higher powers, had completely changed my path. Actually it wasn’t something but much rather someone. While studying in San Diego, I met a handsome Korean exchange student who instantly caught my eye. We quickly started dating and he is now my fiancé.
After graduating, I did, in fact, move back to China, were I stayed for a year in Hunan’s capital of Changsha. I got to travel the country and experience the local culture to a great extent. However, I wasn’t fully happy there. Being in a long distance relationship was hard and after 1 year in China, I decided to make the big move to South Korea.
Before I met Jeongsu, the only thing I knew about Korea was that its capital is Seoul. I hadn’t even tried Korean food. However, all of this quickly changed and is now a big part of my life. I would like to share some of the strategies that helped ease my transition into living in South Korea.
#1: Learn the Language
Soon after I met Jeongsu, I started learning Korean. I’m by far not fluent but the basics help me fit in the daily life here and make it a lot easier to live here. I signed up at the local YMCA and took a Korean course with other foreigners. The good thing was that I met other foreigners – some of which also have Korean partners.
#2: Eat local food
Food is a key part of every culture. It seems like Korea even takes it to a new level, having a certain set of side dishes for every meal. I remember the first time I saw “kimchi” (the most popular Korean side dish) in Jeongsu’s fridge back in San Diego. “I’m never going to eat that!” I screamed because of the foul smell. Now, I love it and eat it with almost every meal.
#3: Do as the Koreans Do
Koreans work a lot, but also take their free time seriously and love hanging out with friends. Drinking, karaoke or even Korean traditional sauna include only few of the dozens of things Korean take on in their free time. You should also be aware of the strict hierarchy here in Korea. When you treat people older than you in a polite way, you’re going to be much more successful living here.
#4: Make local Friends
Obviously, the reason why I moved to Korea was to be with Jeongsu. Having him here helps me a lot since he can support me when I have problems of communication and he explains cultural differences to me. However, even if you move to Korea alone, you should definitely make Korean friends. You’re Korea experience is going to be so much deeper when you have a chance to see how locals really live.
What are you waiting for?
If you are thinking about moving to South Korea, don’t hesitate too long! It’s a wonderful country to fall in love with. I didn’t know a lot about Korea before moving here but now I am astounded by the country’s vast history and culture. Korean BBQ, KPOP, awesome skincare products and loads of themed cafes are waiting for you here!
Linda writes about life in Korea, her AMWF relationship with a Korean man, traveling around Asia and studying Asian languages at www.lindagoeseast.com . She is also very active on social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
It’s amazing how the smallest decisions in our lives can change everything. A few years ago, American Anne stepped into a Western restaurant in Taiwan, never expecting that evening’s dinner would come with an introduction to her future husband.
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A little over two years ago, I exchanged rings, bows and hearts with my amazing Taiwanese husband. It’s incredible to think about all the changes and twists our lives have taken since our fateful meeting over three years ago in a small city in Taiwan.
I had been teaching English in Taiwan for about four months when one evening I decided I really wanted some western food from one of the only western restaurants/bars in the city. It was a 45 minute walk away. The only people I knew at the time were simply interested in going if we shared a taxi, and on that particular evening everyone opted to just stay home. Whatever. I was going to order a freaking quesadilla! I enjoyed a nice walk to the restaurant and as my dinner was delivered on my table by the foreign restaurant owner (also an American) he introduced himself and we exchanged pleasantries. Maybe because I was a random and uncommonly lone western girl outside Taipei or maybe because he was just that good at reading my character he called someone into the restaurant that was walking by the entry door. That person would someday become my husband. He just happened to live in the apartment complex above the restaurant and had slowly development a friendship with Ernie, the restaurant owner. Ernie made some introductions. I think we were both a bit hesitant with the introduction but we were secretly happy to have chance to meet someone, even if it was just a friend in a safe environment.
He was introduced as Aitch (like the letter H) and told me later he never would have talked to me that night if it wasn’t for the fact that a third party introduced us. He believed it would have been quite rude if he had just started talking to me while I was at the restaurant by myself in the middle of eating my dinner. I’ve had some uncomfortable or just awkward first meetings with Asian men in Asia (having also lived in South Korea for nearly two years) so we were both a bit grateful for some common ground to start off with. We are a strange and unique combination of traditional and independent in each of our separate cultural norms, so the blender of that night worked.
He was still in the military when we met so we decided to officially date after his retirement from the military. We soon realized we shared true feelings and connected with real morals and integrity. If we forgot, we took turns stepping up for our values showing we respect ourselves as individual people just as much as a couple. I think what really set us apart from a failed relationship was our wiliness to communicate and make compromises from our old lifestyles, and to feel that those changes could be positive and not just a necessary evil.
Almost exactly a year after we started dating we were back at our favorite restaurant where we met. He proposed to me just like in all the Hollywood movies by secretly placing a ring at the bottom of my glass. The night we met he ordered me a strawberry margarita, and I guess I should have thought something was up when I saw the same drink placed on our table because I don’t order it that often. In addition, I really had no clue this night would be special because I was developing a cold and we decided we would take a visit to the doctors after we finished dinner — so romantic. I’m a notoriously slow eater and I remember swishing the straw around because all the berries would quickly collect at the bottom. I’m sure watching that was pure torture for him. As I finished my drink I promptly stated “ok, let’s go” not realizing the important contents still in the glass. As I got up he quickly declared “wait, I think you forgot something” and he proceeded to pull the ring out himself and bend down on one knee.
We married at the Shilin court house in Taipei September 28th, 2013. We were both happy and thankful we had a small wedding as I’ve always dreaded the stress of the wedding day and the stress mountain of coordinating and planning for it. We were sure lucky our parents understood and supported a small wedding. Honestly, we decided four days before the date that that was the day to do it. Only enough time to get the witness registration paperwork ready. It was thankfully so relaxed we even took a nap after lunch when we got home!
I would say marriage to someone outside my cultural group was one of the hardest and one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. We’ve both learned so much about ourselves, the world, and what we find the hardest to accept about our past conditioning and what is truly important for our future. Communication is crucial, and it will always be a challenge- we have very different communication styles! I consider myself fairly indirect via American standards, but I’m utterly outspoken to him, and he’s ok with that.
We’ve often talked about how many subtle events had to line up in order for us to meet, and I feel so honored and lucky to have snagged this one. Had I not, I most definitely would have returned back to Michigan after completing my first year contract. He appreciates my personality, values and simplicity, while I in turn love his loyalty, drive and compassion. He makes me feel valued for who I am- not who I was or who I’ll be tomorrow. Though we don’t know where we will plant our feet in the future, we have very recently moved to Singapore and are in the process of learning more and more about ourselves and our relationship in a global community. Happy anniversary, I continue to look forward to walking this path with you!
Until 2014, that is. He had plans to travel to Hong Kong in April and decided to trying fixing up his nephew once again. So, will Fred’s nephew finally find love in the US this time? Read on for part two of this fascinating story.
About two years ago, my wife and I went to Hong Kong to visit my half-brother and half-sister and their side of the family, all of whom are Chinese. My cousin Yew was my half-sister’s oldest child of three. When my wife and I visited him in 2012, Yew was single and approaching his late thirties, unattached and unmarried.
My half-sister was concerned that he still had no marriage prospects in sight. So I offered to help him by arranging for him to date four white American girls if he came to visit me in the US. Before traveling to Hong Kong in 2012, these four ladies had agreed to meet and date Yew if he came to the US. However, before he could even consider this proposition, Yew subsequently developed a strong case of kidney stones and was hospitalized, preventing him from coming to the US.
I then when to Hong Kong myself to visit him and also do some sightseeing, and it was then that I once again proposed the idea of dating these four American girls. He quickly rejected this notion because he felt he was not their equal.
Just recently, my wife, children and I visited Hong Kong from April 2, 2014 to April 12, 2014. We once again proposed that Yew should come to the US and try dating some American girls.
This time, I had hoped that things would be different.
Two of the four American girls from 2012 had since moved on and found boyfriends of their own, making them no longer available or interested. The other two (the nursing student who is my secretary’s daughter and another female lawyer) were still single, available, and interested. These two ladies once again were happy to meet Yew and give him a chance. But again, I did not tell these two ladies about each other, lest they think my nephew is a philandering playboy and refuse to date him. I promised that I would approach him and invite him to visit me this summer so that they could meet each other and seal the deal.
While last time I was the only one recruiting prospective dates for Yew, this time I had the help of my wife. She looked within her circle of single friends and knew of a handful of single girls, a group comprised of white American girls, white Brazilian girls, and Latina girls. She could not promise they would be available when Yew came or that they would give a foreign Chinese man a chance. She would not approach any of them with the idea of dating a foreign Chinese man who is not even in the US until Yew showed he was serious about dating them. She did not want a repeat of the 2012 debacle, where those four American girls agreed to give Yew a chance only to be let down by his refusal to come to the US and date them. My wife was very leery of raising false hopes within her circle of friends for fear of losing credibility. Besides, the girls in her circle could refuse to date him even if he agreed to date them.
So this time we had two white American girls who would certainly give Yew a chance and potentially a handful of other Western girls.
On the third day of our trip to Hong Kong, we met my half-sister, my half-brother and their children for dinner — but Yew was noticeably missing from the table. I couldn’t understand why he was absent. I had informed them over five months ago that I was coming and we had planned well in advance to meet on at least two occasions for dinner.
I asked my half-sister, “Where’s Yew?”
She said, “He’s much too busy with his work and studies to join us.”
I asked her, “When will he be available to meet me and my wife? I have great news for him about how to solve his singleton problem.”
My half-sister said, “Perhaps next week you will be able to see Yew.” We were scheduled to dine with the whole family then before returning to the US.
Next week came. We once again met the family and once again Yew wasn’t there.
So, I asked my half-sister, “Where’s Yew?”
Once again, she said, “He’s too busy with his work and studies.” She added that, “His company’s business had improved much since 2012,” when I last saw him. “His firm wants to promote him, but he needs to pass a course and test in IT. He’s embarrassed since he failed the test and must study again to repeat it.”
I then asked my half-sister, “What about his singleton problem? Does he have any prospects or solutions in mind?”
She said, “Yew is quite secretive about his dating life. Whenever I bring it up with him, he shuns me.” I could not believe it!
I said to her right then and there, “Call him on his cell phone.” I wanted to talk to him immediately about why he was not with us at these two family dinners and also discuss how to solve his singleton problem.
My half-sister called him and then I spoke to him. After we exchanged greetings and salutations, I cut to the chase.
I asked Yew, “Why weren’t you at these two family dinners? We planned them over five months ago.” He had initially promised to attend both of them.
He apologized and said, “Things at my company are so busy that I must work late and study to pass this course.” He never mentioned he failed the test and was repeating it, nor did I want to embarrass him by saying I knew about it.
Then I tried inquiring about his dating life. But wouldn’t you know it, Yew cut me off before I could even tell him about all the girls awaiting him in the US.
I told Yew, “I’m proud that you’re so diligent, hardworking and loyal to your company. I’m glad you’re trying very hard to advance in your career. But what about your future girlfriend or wife?”
As soon as I brought this up, he cut me off. He said, “I’m very busy right now and have to go.”
I tried asking him to give me just a few more minutes, but he insisted he had to leave and then hung up.
I could not believe it. How someone could be so disrespectful to his uncle? How dare he cut me off in the middle of a conversation?
I asked my sister, “What’s his problem?”
She said, “Honestly, he’s embarrassed about his failures in life. Not getting a promotion yet, failing that course and the test, still being single, and not being able to buy his own flat. He even shuns me when I try to discuss something serious with him.”
My sister had suggested he should go to Mainland China and find a woman in a remote village, someone willing to leave her hometown for Hong Kong. But Yew insisted he cannot find a wife until he has attained a certain level of financial comfort, including owning his own flat and having a large bank account. He believes he cannot call a woman his girlfriend or wife without having these things first.
I reminded my sister, “Western women don’t have that kind of mentality, where she’ll only date a man if he’s financially successful. Instead, she will work together with the man and reach success together as a couple. So he really should give Western women a try.”
Plus, one of the two girls I wanted to introduce to him is a lawyer in her mid-thirties with a well-paying job in the legal department of one of California’s largest insurance companies. She also owns a Mercedes and a two-story home. And best of all, she is willing to give Yew — a non-resident foreign Chinese man — a chance. That’s pure bravery and courage! This girl is willing to take a chance with him if has the courage to come to the US and meet her.
But my sister said, “Yew cannot even look a woman in the eyes unless he has some level of financial success.” She then abruptly cut me off and said not to talk about this any longer. It upsets her too much.
In the end, I left Hong Kong without even being able to see Yew or have a meaningful conversation with him. I also had to break the bad news to the two American ladies. From now on, when it comes to dating women, I guess I’ll let him fend for himself.
Fred practices employment law in Torrance, California.
In this guest post, she writes, “Before I decided to marry my husband, I remember thinking: We complement each other, and that’s a good thing. We had a lot in common, too, enough to make our marriage work. But the fact that we were so dissimilar meant we had a lot to learn from each other.” I could have easily written the same about my own marriage. Chances are, many of you will relate to the “whole new world” Nicki captures in her post.
My first martial arts movie was The Big Boss starring Bruce Lee. It was 1971. We’d recently moved to the Philippines, and though Bruce Lee was already well known for his role as Kato in The Green Hornet, I’d never heard of him. My taste in movies ran in a different direction. I’d seen every musical that came to the Dream Theater in my hometown: Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, Camelot … I’d seen them all and memorized most of the songs. What did I know about kung fu movies?
My husband was Chinese however. In his childhood, while I was in the United States reading fairy tales and Little Women and Little House on the Prairie, he was in China living under occupation and reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is not a romance at all. It’s a four volume Chinese classic written in the fourteenth century, a non-stop account of the historical and fabled battles and intrigues that took place between 169 AD and 280 AD when three kingdoms were struggling for dominance in China.
Pompoms and judo
In our teenage years, while I was taking ballroom dancing classes and shaking pompoms at basketball games, my future husband was in Japan, studying judo and kendo after school.
So now, here I was, expanding my horizons as I accompanied my husband to the little theater in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. The Hong Kong version of The Big Boss was definitely more violent than I was used to. It showed, for example, Bruce Lee’s fingers piercing the rib cage of the villain, a scene that was partially cut to get an R rating in the United States. And yet, Lee was a sympathetic hero. And though the evening was punctuated with the sound of our fellow moviegoers cracking melon seeds between their teeth and throwing them on the floor, the movie intrigued me. I could conceive of liking martial arts movies.
Enter the Dragon
The following year Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon came out. I liked them … and sometimes I didn’t. In 1973 we saw Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee’s last movie before his tragic death. This time it was playing in the big modern theater in Makati. We brought our oldest daughter, who was five years old by then, old enough we thought to be introduced to a kung fu movie.
I suppose I’ll never be the biggest fan of martial arts movies. I still prefer a film in which dialog and meaning trump violent action. And yet, I have to admit, a good fighting scene is a pleasure to watch. I’m glad my husband helped me expand my horizons.
The Promise of an Interracial Relationship
Before I decided to marry my husband, I remember thinking: We complement each other, and that’s a good thing. We had a lot in common, too, enough to make our marriage work. But the fact that we were so dissimilar meant we had a lot to learn from each other.
Every relationship provides opportunities to learn and grow, to share ideas and enthusiasms, hobbies and histories. But in an intercultural or interracial relationship, those opportunities are enormous. If both people are open to new ideas and experiences, their worlds can double in size.
Nicki Chen blogs at Behind the Story and is the author of the forthcoming novel Tiger Tail Soup.
Would have, could have, should have. We all have moments in our lives where we look back sometimes and wonder, if I only did this or that, would things have been different? Better?
That’s what “Lisa” wondered about her “perfect” relationship with a Chinese man she met in the US (a fellow who, incidentally, joined the US Army after 9/11 and while he was still a Chinese citizen). Their romance suddenly unraveled after tragedy struck during her stay with him in Texas. Read on for the entire story, and my thanks to Lisa for sharing.
I met a Chinese man while I was living in California and he was visiting from New York. He had moved from Northern China to the US when he was 15, and held a job in sports management. We came to find we had so much in common with each other. Our favorite sports teams were the same, and we shared the same life goals and values. He even related well with my family.
As we continued talking to one another over the phone, I came to understand he had a troubled life because of a tumultuous past marriage that later left him a widower. He felt guilty about the relationship he had with his lost wife and as a result pushed good people out of his life. He also had trouble sleeping at night, which I had noticed.
One day, he was given the opportunity to move to Texas for a job transfer — an opportunity that meant we could live together eventually. It was the first time a man ever spoke to me about marriage. Five weeks later I came to Texas to visit with him for two days. We had a great time together. His parents loved me even though their English was limited. He told me that they were just happy that he had found someone he cared about and made him happy. I honestly believe they thought I would be a future daughter-in-law. Everything was perfect.
On my last night there, it was raining outside. His dad wasn’t feeling well, but he still drove to work that night. Unfortunately, he got into a horrible car accident that was his fault, which we learned when he called us. We dealt with the insurance claim since our English was better. Later that night, when we picked up his mother from work around midnight and told her what happened, she mentioned that her dentist had passed away that day. So much tragedy in one day. I felt so guilty. If we hadn’t been out that day visiting the city, maybe we could have convinced his father to stay home?
Still, that night his mother told me how happy she was to know me. She then gave me a lot of her clothes to wear, and had me try on everything. I flew home the next day and everything still seemed okay. I received a text from him telling me he couldn’t wait to talk later when I arrived home, and that he was still working with his father to deal with the insurance claim.
I landed three hours later and called him, only to discover his attitude had changed completely. He seemed frustrated and wouldn’t tell me anything. I was so confused, and every call became shorter and shorter. One day later, he sent me a text stating he didn’t want to speak to me or anyone. I just didn’t know what to do.
Then I did something really impulsive. I flew to Texas one week later to confront him because I felt like I needed answers. Finally, he told me what happened in a text. His family lost a lot of money from the accident, and he wanted to end our relationship because he had to worry about his family.
I stayed in a hotel that weekend, and he came to visit me there once to give me some money for the plane. He looked defeated as he sat down on the bed. He wouldn’t look me in the eye when he explained what happened, and said I deserved better. I yelled at him and told him not to tell me how to think. But he said it wouldn’t be right to keep me in the relationship during that time. He didn’t want me to wait for him because he didn’t know when he would be ready for me. He sacrificed himself because he wanted me to have a better life with someone else. There was so much guilt and shame in his face. I never saw anything like this. I took out his army tags that he had given me and he told me he wanted to keep them (I still have them to this day). He suggested what to order on the hotel menu and turned on the TV. Then he kissed me and I told him for the first time that I loved him. Before he left, he held me and kissed me again. He said quietly that he wanted to make it work.
I was forced to go back home without him. I felt horrible and alone. I thought about it every day and just didn’t know why he had to leave me over this. It was awful but it wasn’t our problem. I think I was even angry at him for ending something so beautiful. He moved to Texas without me. And from what I have heard about him he hasn’t tried to make a life for himself there and instead lives like a hermit. I heard from a friend that he tried dating but nothing ever worked out. Since moving he has closed up. He told me that once he ends things, it is over. There is no chance he would come around even if he still loved me.
I’ll always wonder what might have happened between us, had his dad not gone to work that night.
This is the story of how Charlotte, “a shy, Midwestern American girl” who is also a writer, mom and blogger at Chinese Potpourri, ended up marrying a Chinese guy — with no traditional proposal, and even no huge wedding banquets. Theirs is a subtle and surprising romance, which includes perhaps one of the most unusual ways I’ve ever heard a man express his true love for someone: “I want to be your slave for the rest of my life.”
And ultimately, Charlotte also shares a universal truth based on her experience: “I’ve realized that even though our story is unconventional and unexciting, it’s special because it’s ours.” Well said.
I love stories that challenge stereotypes about Chinese men. Well, you can’t get much better than this love story, where a white American woman goes to China and ends up falling for a guy she considers the Chinese version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks to Rosalie Zhao for sharing her amazing story, which just might inspire more Western women out there to give Chinese men a chance.
Thanks to a relative’s cute Chinese neighbor, I went through a brief phase of yellow fever in high school. It came and went in the same fashion as most things (Josh Hartnett, Doc Martens) I pined after during my teenage years. I didn’t think my attraction to Asians would resurface, even as I packed my bags for my post-college teach in China stint. Just a week before I left, in February 2005, my cousin Nicky called it, “You’re gonna fall in love in China.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
Fast-forward a couple months later and you’d find me in China, sweating it out at the local gym. I’d never been much of a gym rat, but with a 12 hour per week teaching schedule, virtually no English-language television, and no home internet (remember—this was 2005 and I was in a small Chinese city) all that was left to do was hop on a treadmill.
Me exercising is no picture of grace and beauty, nor is it a time during which I enjoy critique or idle chit-chat. Enter Zhao Ming, seemingly China’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger. As I made my feeble attempts to use five pound free weights, Ming took it upon himself to criticize my form. While I understand now that Chinese people often offer unsolicited advice as a gesture of kindness, at the time I was thoroughly annoyed. Who did this meathead think he was? And he could hardly speak English!
Though awkward, I was relieved by our failure to communicate. It meant Mr. Muscles would leave me alone. It wasn’t but a few days later, while I was on the treadmill jogging, thoroughly red-faced, that he made his second approach. I tried to politely ignore him, but as anyone living in China knows, you cannot politely ignore a Chinese person who really wants something. This guy was on a mission. In a tone that sounded a bit rehearsed, he asked, “Can I with you walk home?”
I decided it was best to stick with honesty. “Oh, sorry. I have to go home and take a shower,” I replied. His face was thrown into a state of utter confusion. He really didn’t understand English. Continuing my jog, I began to pantomime while yelling, “US, NO WALK. ME, GO HOME. SHOWER.” His face lit up; he understood. But a second later his expression collapsed, realizing I wasn’t willing to walk with him.
Over the course of the next two weeks we repeated the same song and dance—him asking to walk me home and me gesturing my refusals. It wasn’t until one night that he cornered me at the gym exit that I finally decided to give him a chance. What was the harm in letting him walk with me?
So we walked, with few words, just his bicycle and our foolish grins between us. He stopped and bought us each a yogurt, then carefully unwrapped the straw and stuck it in the drink, smiling at me widely. I felt my insides melt. When we reached my apartment I decided to run upstairs quickly to grab my Lonely Planet phrasebook. Somehow we fuddled through an hour’s worth of “conversation” before it started to rain lightly. We quickly ran into the building’s stairwell, laughing. Then he kissed me. In that moment I somehow knew that I could, in fact, find love in China. And here we are, eight years later, five years married, and still very much in love.
Ming later revealed to me that his approach at the gym exit was going to be his final attempt to ask me out. I’m so glad I didn’t turn him down. Looking back, I’m not sure why I found the thought of finding love in China so humorous and inconceivable. In a country of 1.3 billion people, the majority of them male, why did finding a boyfriend seem so implausible? My closed-mindedness and arrogance nearly cost me the love of my life. A cautionary tale? Maybe. But more importantly, just a reminder—anything is possible, even love for the single foreign female in China!
Rosalie Zhao resides with her husband in Hebei, China, where she writes a blog in Chinese and English called An American Woman in China.
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