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'Crazy laowai' do business and have fun in China

By Andrew Chin (Shanghai Daily)

09:23, February 26, 2013

Dressed in old Manchu costumes, a group of expats jump up and down in front of a temple in Harbin during Dragon Events' recent Spring Festival outing to the Helongjiang city. (Shanghai Daily)

Key Words: laowai; foreigner; culture
>> What's in the word laowai?

"Crazy laowai" dress up in old Manchu costumes and jump up and down in front of a temple in Harbin - and get together for themed pub crawls and parties in Shanghai. Andrew Chin writes.

Shanghai is a party town that attracts fun-loving expats and locals who get together for pub crawls, parties, tours, adventure trips around China - and goofy stuff like a No Pants Subway Ride in icy weather.

They also don vintage costumes and jump up and down in front of ancient temples in Harbin, taking adventure travel to new and hilarious extremes.

Some of the events are like organized craziness, in which laowai (foreigners) really let go.

The latest bar-hopping by minibus was a Mardi Gras pub crawl last Saturday. The latest excursion was a Spring Festival trip to the Harbin Ice Festival in northeastern Heilongjiang Province and a visit to Changbai Mountains in Jilin Province on the border of North Korea.

Different faces, same Chinese Dream[Special]

The next out-of-town trip is an excursion to Qiyun Mountain, one of China's four holy Taoist mountains, in Anhui Province in late March.

Many of these events are the inspiration of two American MBA graduates, Johanna Hoopes from Boston and Brandon Woods from Tucson, Arizona. They arrived in Shanghai in February 2010, started Dragon Events, and held their first pub crawl in April.

It's believed to be the first organized pub crawl, though there are others today. Drunken Dragon crawls are the most regular and frequent.

They are building up a community of fun-lovers through pub crawls, classier limo "crawls" of nightclubs, boat outings, brewery tours, concert events and both weekend and extended trips.

In December, more than 150 people dressed up in Santa suits and took to Yongkang Road as part of Shanghai Santacon, one of the free "goof" events.

"Santacon was one of my favorites because you could feel us spreading Christmas cheer throughout Shanghai," says Alan Garcia from New York, who was one of the Santas. Many Chinese snapped pictures and chatted with them. Young women also donned red outfits.

"It was a great feeling because it can be challenging to find opportunities to interact with each other in our busy, daily lives," Garcia adds.

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