Exhibit A: laowai celebrating Valentine’s Day

Here in China, Valentine’s Day is an imported holiday. It’s celebrated only by 1) young couples who aren’t yet married, 2) any restaurant, flower shop, or bar that can make money off of said young couples, and 3) laowai.

Since Valentine’s Day comes from the West, it seemed appropriate to go somewhere Western. (Or rather, “Western,” because it’s the Chinese idea of what Western food is, not anything terribly authentic.)

IMG_20150214_185331We chose a coffee shop. (Or rather, “coffee shop,” because, again, it’s nothing like the coffee shop you’re imagining. They serve “Western” food such as “steak” [nope, not what you’re picturing.] You get the idea.)

After we ordered and the waiter had brought us steaming glasses of water, the laoban came over to let us know they had a special Valentine’s Day game. Throw the dart at a spinning wheel, and get whatever prize or “punishment” your dart lands on. The prizes were things like a free beverage, or a discount on your bill. The punishments were things like carrying your girlfriend around the restaurant piggyback with your eyes closed.


We each threw a dart and we each got the same punishment.

valentines day wheel image (5)

“Kiss with deep feeling, announce with deep feeling.” So, we were supposed to kiss and then proclaim our love. That’s not so bad, right?


So much for avoiding PDA in China.

For some reason, the staff wanted Eric to try one of the other punishments, just for kicks. It was drinking kugua (bitter melon) juice. And for some reason, he agreed. Gag.


So much for avoiding the bad punishments. But kudos to him for being such a good sport.

A little while later, the laoban came to our table with these adorable little cupcakes. “We want to thank you for playing the game. These are on the house.” I think they felt a little bad about us not getting a prize. Or possibly about the kugua juice.


Along with the cupcakes, we had our appetizers: waffles and fruit salad (fruit chunks drizzled with mayonnaise.)


Pretty tasty, actually, though I’ve never in my life had waffles as an appetizer before. Nor cupcakes, for that matter. The rest of the meal was also good, but apparently not worthy of me taking any pictures. Here’s an artsy shot of their cool decor instead.


That’s “brick,” by the way. 

Outside the shopping center, there were people strategically stationed with buckets of wrapped single roses for sale. My husband, being a stud, bought me one, much to the delight of the young vendor and her friends. They whipped out their phones to take pictures of the romantic laowai couple. I forgot to do the same.

Meanwhile, the rest of our town basically ignored Lover’s Day, as it’s known in Chinese, and went on preparing for Chinese New Year (T minus 5 days!). But, for the coffee shop, flower sellers, and us, it was a very nice Valentine’s Day.