Opinion / Blog

Foreigner Olympics

By DaqingDevil ( Updated: 2015-06-15 17:25

Last Monday we completed the 7th Annual Foreigner Olympics in Daqing and as it was a long, hot day it all ended as expected with a few cold beers and an exceedingly sore body over the next few days. The events were pretty much the same as last year with 10 pin bowling leading us into a day of our two new sports - badminton and table tennis. The events are scheduled over 3 weeks of Mondays, that being our common day off and the presentations happen at our local bar on the 4th week, usually on the Sunday night after classes so that the Monday can be spent in recovery mode! Week 2 consisted of soccer, long jump and pool, the billiards pool not the swimming pool. Week 3 was made up of basketball, tennis and volleyball.

The sheer number of participants in something like this attracts a great deal of attention in our city. Can you imagine the looks 25 – 30 foreign teachers get from the local population most of whom would stare at just one laowai walking down the street to say nothing of the reaction a mob of 30 foreigners playing exhausting sports in the heat of the day? To some locals we appeared as a massive cash cow, particularly to the old lady that sold bottles of water in Times Square, the main park of Daqing, which housed the basketball and tennis courts. She would sell maybe 10 bottles of water to local park goers on a good day but on Olympics day she simply stationed her cart next to the courts for the duration and ordered truckloads of refills that were needed to replace the perspiration of crazy sports-playing foreigners! Rumour has it that the day after the Olympics she packed her bags and headed to the beaches of Hainan and stayed in a luxury hotel for a week. Good for her.

This year we had 7 teams of 5 players each with about 5 – 7 Chinese assistant teachers making up the numbers. Team names were a little more subdued this year but censorship stops me from naming all but two – Snowflakes and Purple Reign. We are all teachers of varying body shapes, sizes and ages but the competition still gets a bit stiff at times and strong adjudication is necessary to calm flared tempers and that win at all costs attitude. Rules are a bit laissez-faire and can result in quick, on the spot changes as is necessary when a logical query might be raised mid game.

At the end of all the competition which finished with volleyball at the local university and which, incidentally, attracted a bigger crowd than the Chinese Grand Prix, two teams were locked on equal gold medal points. It’s a reflection on the seriousness of the Olympics when it was decided that the gold medal play-off game would be Pub Pong!! This will be held prior to presentations next Sunday amidst the flow of beer, no doubt, and some energetic, alcohol fueled support from the members of the other, unsuccessful teams. I’m not sure if any other Chinese city has this sort of annual bonding and get together of the local foreign teacher work force so it might be unique in that sense.

To end my day I stopped at the BBQ place below my apartment block, it was still daylight, I was in desperate need of liquid replacement and this place had the coldest beer I have ever experienced. It had 3 makeshift tables with two stools per table and did I already say the beer was cold? Oh yeah, well that was the first beer. With the second beer, also cold, I ordered 20 kebabs as I looked after my health with another beer and then wandered into the guitar shop next door where they know me from a few purchases of picks, a tuner and a capo and the occasional playing of one of their guitars. I grabbed a guitar from the rack, borrowed a pick and sat down on my restaurant stool and played a few tunes. I was in fine form after those beers and pretty soon a curious but appreciative Chinese audience had gathered to listen and applaud. It was all but a standing ovation when I belted out Houlai in Chinese. Gee, it was a good finish to my day!

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