From the wide-eyed (and occasionally crying) children to the endless requests from strangers to take photos with you in public places, just leaving the flat is often enough to make you feel like a minor celebrity, albeit a slightly uncomfortable one at times.
There isn't always a fairytale ending I have just got back from my free holiday in the Maldives.
But just the fact of being a foreigner in China can make you feel like a celebrity sometimes.My experience of going on the show was an extreme example of a feeling familiar to any foreigner living in China.Chinese dating is a serious business The English equivalent of the show, Take Me Out, is generally light-hearted and casual.Successful 'couples' are whisked off to Tenerife or Cyprus for a date, which is filmed, and the result is shown on the next week's episode.My chosen date asked me on camera to say 我喜欢你 (Wǒ xǐhuān nǐ – I like you) to her in English.
In my anxiety I said ‘I love you’ – something I honestly never thought I would say on Chinese television to someone I’d just met. The matchmaker is still important in China One of the strangest things about the show was how the contestants (both Chinese and foreign) were given very little time to talk to each other directly.For the background video segments, I was told what to say and given several attempts at recording each sentence.By the end of the show, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.In imperial times, there was a go-between in traditional Chinese marriages, who would act as negotiator between the two families involved, a bit like an estate agent.Although things have clearly changed since then, it's still common to hear talk of 条件 (tiáojiàn – conditions) in connection with relationships, as though dealing with a contract.To be honest, though, I was more nervous about speaking Chinese than anything!