Run from the tourists. YES! We have reached the point where we feel like we are “the locals”. I guess that is only natural since we are in our fourth year of living in Qingdao. We refer to the busloads of Chinese people who aren’t Qingdaoren (locals) as the tourists! When they arrive from other cities, many of them have never seen a foreigners before, and we know that they are going to be overly enthusiastic. The people of Qingdao are probably getting more used to foreign faces, but the tourists literally squeal with delight when they see us. The cameras come out, they start shouting “hello”, and even pick up our child – without asking – for pictures. I really don’t mind too much… But now that Elijah is beginning to stand his own ground, he can make these decision for himself, and most of the time he is just stares at them like they are mad. When he is confused, overwhelmed, or just plain annoyed it manifests in a blank expression, and sometimes a slight frown too. As the month go by, it seems that he is less and less impressed when people pick him up and insist on taking a picture with him.
While we were on XiaoQingdao Island last month, Elijah woke up from a long nap. I unzipped his stroller cover (which has proved to be the best deterrent for unwanted touching and cheek-pinching) and adjusted his backrest so that he was sitting upright. Before we knew it, swarms of tourists were gathering around him for pictures. He was, however, not able to run away, since the poor little man was strapped into his stroller. This didn’t stop the Chinese ladies from leaning in for a picture. One lady was so persistent on getting up close to his face that Elijah kept shoving her away with his arm. This lady even kissed Elijah – wow, you should have seen his face after that! He was not impressed at all.
At this point I stepped in to relieve my poor child, who was clearly not impressed by this attention from the Chinese tourists. The minute that I took him our of his stroller, he took off running. Seriously, the kid was running away from the crowds.
Thankfully not all Chinese tourists are as pushy as the ones we experienced on this day, but we do run into some that don’t really care that Elijah is clearly not interested in the attention. Of course, we are not “the locals” so I never get too upset with these Chinese people, who are clearly just fascinated by us. I hope that, in time, Elijah learns to humor them and be polite. A quick smile and pose really can make them happy, so what’s the harm. I love how much Chinese people adore children, and I try to remember that when they lean in to pick up my son.