Today is our first in a series of posts I hope we’ll do every Friday, but I make no promises. I can promise at least some Fridays I’ll post an interview with a foreigner here in Hohhot.
Check back each week to “meet” the other expats!
This week starts with my favorite foreigner in Hohhot: my husband, James.
Q:What’s your name, what brought you to Hohhot and when did you arrive?
A: My name is James Judd. I first came to Hohhot in 2005 to work for a trading company. I stayed 2 years, left, and then came back in 2012. I spent a year working on Chinese and then opened a consulting business. We specialize in business consulting, but we’re also teaching some parenting classes and offering Chinese/Mongolian language study help for foreigners.
Q: What’s your favorite local food and where do you like to get it:
A: Hot Pot. I have a strong penchant for Xiao Fei Yang (Little Fat Sheep), but I’ll take it almost anywhere I can get it. My dream is to die in a bowl of majiang.
Q: If you could make one city-wide change to Hohhot, what would it be?
A: I wish everyone would start asking me a better question than, “Where are you from?” It would be nice to have better conversations with more variety when I meet people.
Q: What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced here?
A: I don’t know if it is the funniest, but what comes to mind is a month or two ago one of my friends called me late Friday night. “You have a driver’s license, right? Could you drive my friend’s van so we can pick some people up at the train station?” He was an old friend and I didn’t have anything planned so I thought, “Why not?” I got up early and road my scooter over to the Moercheng area where he lives. He comes down, but there is one problem. No keys for the van I’m supposed to drive. His friend never came through on bringing him the keys, and now his phone is power off. I’m figuring it is a lost cause and I’ll be back home before you know it. We start wandering around his apartment complex, and suddenly he’s like, “I think that is his van.” We look around and there is a phone number on the dash. He calls it, and sure enough it is the guy. Sure we can use his van. Then he says, “The driver’s door is unlocked and the keys are under the seat!”
You can’t leave your bike unlocked, but you can leave your keys in the van…
Q: What is the kindest thing a local has ever done for you?
A: There are a lot of them. In 2013 we had to make an emergency trip home to the states because I needed back surgery. We knew we weren’t going to stay in that apartment, and our lease was up while we would be gone. I put a message out on Wechat seeing if anyone knew a place we could store our stuff. One of my acquaintances that I hadn’t seen since 2007 said, “Sure, I have an extra bedroom you can store your stuff in.” So we did… for 9 months. That is pretty nice for someone you haven’t personally seen in 6 years. I told my friends in the states, “He is nicer to his acquaintances than I am to my brother.”
Q: Where do you go to “escape?”
A: I can’t tell you, or you would go there too and I couldn’t escape anymore. 😉
Q: When your time here is done and you return home, what do you want to take with you?
A: Hopefully some fluency in Chinese and Mongolian. 🙂 Hopefully some good memories of being a blessing to Hohhot and Inner Mongolia.