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June 15, 2009 / Mike Su

The Seven People You’ll Meet in Hotel Quarantine

Having now spent almost 3 days here in Hotel Quarantine, and adjusted to life in the Big House, I’ve noticed some common patterns among the types of people I’m encountering and sharing these experiences with. Generally, they fall into one of seven categories:


waddup biotch?

Yo, T.I., hollatchaboy

Why He’s in China:
ABC’s are American Born Chinese. Most of the ABCs are here in China because they heard a friend of a friend of a friend moved out here to teach English and ended up becoming a VJ on MTV and gets tons of tail on a regular basis. His parents love it because they think their little twinkie (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) is finally interested in his cultural heritage, when in fact he’s just interested in going to a club and not being “that asian guy”.

What He’s Like In Quarantine:
After spending his entire adolescent life being the Asian dude that all the girls don’t mind hanging out with but would never date, fighting stereotypes of being a math whiz and battling dumb whities doing the whole Bruce Lee “waaaa taaaaa!!” sounds at him, he is now able take on his long repressed gangsta rapping alter ego. This is a major opportunity for some major street cred, and as he bounces his head to T.I. playing on his iPhone, he thinks to himself, “Yo T.I., I feel ya homeboy. Prison ain’t no joke.” Except, of course, he gets to listen to his iPhone and doesn’t have to be scared of being raped. You can spot him from far across the way by the way he throws that gangsta limp in his walk, and you can hear him using the N word when talking to staff that can barely speak English, much less ebonics.

The family


Couldn’t we just go to Six Flags?

Why They’re in China:
Most of the families here are actually Chinese families with their American born kids. For the parents, this is an opportunity to show their kids their roots. For the kids, this just sucks and they wish they could have just gone to Six Flags instead, like the Feldmans did.

What They’re Like in Quarantine:
If people’s thoughts were written on their foreheads, you would see “FML” in bold and all caps on the parent’s foreheads. For the kids, however, this trip turned out to be much more fun than they expected. Instead of doing a ridiculous hike up the Great Wall in 98 degree weather, they get to stay indoors and watch three times as much TV as they normally do at home, the hotel has turned into their giant hide and seek playground, and their parents let them have all the candy they want since they feel bad for having their kids trapped. If the parents’ marriage can survive these 7 days without a divorce, they will enjoy a long and happy life together.

The White Guy with Yellow Fever


Why He’s in China:
This guy is in China for the same reason Catholic priests start all boys schools. Instead of spending time on eHarmony or, this white guy spends all his time on local Chinese BBS sites, and already has three different dates lined up with local girls. Though his dead end job as a sysadmin for a large, crumbling bank back at home gives him little hope in life, he’s created an image of himself on these BBS’ as a shorter, paler version of Brad Pitt. Meanwhile, the local girls who work crappy jobs as tollbooth workers see him as a one way ticket to the American dream. When they tracked him down to bring him into quarantine, he was found at the night market buying up tacky silk robes with lots of dragons on them. This guy would give up both his legs for one date with Zhang Ziyi.

What He’s Like in Quarantine:
He can be seen walking the hallways in his tacky silk robe, listening to the Rosetta Stone Learn Chinese series. He tries to flirt with staff constantly, he loves the giggling reaction he gets from the girls at the front desk, not realizing that the girls are giggling about the furry dead animal that’s growing on his chest that peeks out from behind the robe. He’s in love with everything about the place, he loves the “authentic” sweet and sour pork that they cook here (even though the staff makes it specifically for the Americans). After he gets out of quarantine, he will fly back to the US, pack all his belongings, and move to China.

The Black Guy

black guy in china

Not a lotta brothas here

Why He’s in China:
He’s in China for pretty much the same reason any other tourist is in China.

What He’s Like in Quarantine:
This is not so much about what the black guy is like in quarantine, but what everyone else around him is like. He’s pretty much like every other person in quarantine. Except that the staff really don’t get to see very many black people. He’s like the Jackie Robinson of Hotel Quarantine. There’s a lot of whispering when he’s around, wondering if he’s Obama, Kobe Bryant or Jay-Z. See, Chinese people are the most racist people on earth. Not only are we racist against other Asians (look down on Filipinos, will never forgive Japan for Nanking), but we’re racist against other Chinese people as well (north vs. south, this province vs. that one). On the bright side, the staff is really more stereotyping than discriminating.

The Student Tour

Great Wall

OMG this is sooo fun!

Why They’re in China:
Ms. Spolanksy from Litchfield High in Litchfield, Nebraska, had been planning this trip since last November. None of the 32 students and teachers had been out of Nebraska, nevermind the country, so they were very excited to bring the kids out to see the world. The excitement was palatable when they drove 198 mles from Litchfield to the airport to fly from Omaha to San Francisco via Dallas to fly to Beijing by way of Tokyo. By the time they arrive, all the teachers and chaperones are ready to kill each other and if they hear one more song from High School Musical 1, 2 or 3, they will hang themselves. But, they are recharged when they finally touch down in China, and the first two days they spend on a whirlwind tour of the Forbidden City and The Square That Nothing Ever Happened At.

What They’re Like in Quarantine:
Seven ambulances show up at their hotel the next morning to whisk away the entire group. The teachers are freaking out, they think they are going to be detained by the Communist government and forced to recite propaganda for seven days. Mindy, the pastor’s wife who is on the trip as a chaperone is their unofficial spokesperson since she’s the only one that has been to China that one time when her and her husband came to adopt a Chinese baby. They have one cell phone that all 32 people pass around and share. The adults are scared stiff, while the kids spend their time in the courtyard reciting lines from Zach Effron’s 17 Again. The kids are excited because they’re getting some press coverage on ABC 10 back at home, while the folks back at home hold candlelight vigils wondering if the US government will send Bill Richardson or Al Gore to help negotiate their safe return.

The Party Cru



Why They’re in China:
F*@#$%* YEAH! We’re in China baby! We are going to tear the roof off this mofo!!! We’ve been drinking from nip bottles the entire flight, they still haven’t checked our ID’s!! This trip is going to be like one extended episode of Wild On E!

What They’re Like in Quarnatine:
There are three emotional stages for the Party Cru:
Stage 1: Relief.
When the people tracked them down, they were 120% sure the government was after them for either the 3 pounds of weed, tylenol bottle filled with ecstasy, or girl at the night club the first night that may or may not have consented since they couldn’t understand what she was screaming in Chinese. They are just relieved that they were brought in for swine flu.

Stage 2: Detox.
For the next 36 hours, they drift around the hotel with slow and deliberate movements and are extremely sensitive to light. Though they can barely make it to lunch each day, they somehow find the inner strength to gel and spike their hair before leaving the room.

Stage 3: Reform.
Having spent the remaining 4 days in the hotel room left alone with their thoughts, each party boy reflects upon their lifestyle and how far they’ve fallen. A couple start reading up on buddhism online, another starts to read the Tao De Jing. All return to the US as vegans and their old friends find them far less interesting. All they’re sentences start with, “Bro, trust me, when I was in China…”

The Swine Flu victim

toootally cool

Dude, it’s just a mild fever, It’s toootally not the swine flu!

Why They’re in China:
This dude/chick has been planning this trip since forever. They’ve bought all the guides on China, have spent countless hours on Google Earth virtually touring all the different places they’ll be. They’re usually not rich, but saved up for a while to splurge on this trip to the great Far East.

What They’re Like in Quarantine:
Two days before the trip was probably not a good time to head to East LA and get sneezed on at the Saturday market. But they’ll be damned if they let a small fever get in the way of this kick ass trip they’ve been planning since the dawn of the ages. So it’s off we go onto a sealed 747 that will double as a petri dish for spreading the new virus. Weee! In all seriousness though, you will never see this guy at Hotel Quarantine. When I went to the front desk to find out if my lab results came back, the said, “If you haven’t been carted off to a hospital by now, you can be pretty sure your results were negative.” Makes sense to me.

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Leave a Comment
  1. George / Jun 15 2009 7:19 am

    rofl, keep up the good spirit, Mike!!

  2. swapna / Jun 15 2009 4:12 pm

    Love it. I’m guessing you’re in the first category 😉

  3. Fawad / Jun 15 2009 9:18 pm

    I totally expect you to be hanging out with The Party Cru

  4. Cap / Jun 16 2009 11:55 am

    Came via Dave’s FB share. This has got to be one of the most hilarious post I’ve read. The pictures are priceless and (possibly) shows the amount of time you have available to you thanks to 44A.

    Read most of the series, so sorry that you’re being screwed out of the GOAP trip but hope the rest of your stay is as enjoyable as possible. Rock on with the blogging.

    • aproductguy / Jun 16 2009 12:20 pm

      yes…if there’s one thing i have in excess here, it’s time. i think i spend as much time finding pictures as i do writing the post. but, makes time go by faster. thanks for stopping by.

  5. wjlkjs / Jun 17 2009 2:20 pm

    Hilarious post! Good job! Has your yellow fever subsided?

  6. MF / Jun 17 2009 9:59 pm

    Is Ray Nagin of New Orleans fame/shame locked up with you? Have you met him? Is he a douche?

    Enjoy the cable TV!

    • Therese / Jun 17 2009 11:55 pm

      Nagin was in Shanghai, not Beijing, and he’s out of quarantine now. He’s a nice guy when you know him personally (having known his family since I was a little girl) — it’s what he does politically that’s douchey.

  7. kareno / Jun 18 2009 5:59 am

    Haha, great post. Love the panda hat too.

  8. Michael / Jun 18 2009 7:31 am

    Too funnyMike
    Love how you have made the experience a positive one

  9. Thom / Jun 18 2009 6:22 pm

    Wow, that was easily the funniest essay I’ve read in weeks. Thanks for the laughs.

  10. Christi / Jun 18 2009 11:37 pm

    This is hilarious, I just got back from Beijing and sat by the school group. The same school group that one of the girls flunked the temperature test the first time and you could almost see the thought cloud above the chaperone’s head thinking, “Oh my god I’m going to be fired for getting the kids quarantined.”

  11. Jake / Jun 19 2009 1:12 am

    > Chinese people are the most racist people on earth. Not only are we racist against other Asians (look down on Filipinos, will never forgive Japan for Nanking), but we’re racist against other Chinese people as well (north vs. south, this province vs. that one).

    As an American I would like to take that title back. We virtually wiped out a the natives when we conquered this land. Then we enslaved a group of people for a couple of centuries just based on their skin color.

    After that was over we setup these “separate, but equal” laws and maintained them for quite a while.

    In between all that we during a time of war we locked up American citizens of a certain descent and we had this “exclusion act” that forbid people of a certain race to enter the country.

    So there, no way can they out-racist us! Ha!

    • Frederick Mates / Jun 22 2009 8:03 pm

      You should add to the list: white-guy-who-can-finally-say-what-he’s been-thinking-all-those-years, but-couldn’t-bc-he’d-be sued/fired/killed-in-his-home-country.

      I meet these guys in Beijing all the time, they are like white Dave Chappelle’s without it being funny.

  12. Denise / Jun 24 2009 10:09 am

    I woke up last night, the night before our family’s big trip to China with a 101 degree temp and sore throat. We had no recourse but to cancel, thank god we took the trip insurance. My family is bummed but I am sure quantine was in our future…hang in there. But I doubt we will consider going back.

    • Gillian Wong / Jul 2 2009 2:05 am

      Hi Denise,

      I’m a reporter with the Associated Press in Beijing and I would really like to talk to you about your change in plans. If it’s not too much trouble, could you please email me at gwong(at)

      Gillian Wong

  13. Ernie / Jun 24 2009 5:12 pm

    This is the best blog post ever in the history of blogging. That is all.

    • aproductguy / Jun 26 2009 10:37 am



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