When I got back from the UK trip, I found out about CCSF’s Study Abroad program, from a friend whose son had gone on a few trips through this program. Definitely a cheaper option than a typical tour package, plus you get a focused look at the culture, and you learn stuff. Sounded great to me, but the 2006 program did not include Beijing, so I had to add an extension to the trip, giving myself almost a month in China. Spring semester I signed up for a class in Conversational Mandarin, also through CCSF. Why I hadn’t done this earlier, I don’t know; but I figured that at least I would not completely embarrass myself on this trip if I learned some of the language.

So I’ve been blindsided by Yang Warriors and thinking, “Damn! who is this guy?” As usual these days, the web was the place to go. I bought a DVD set of the series on eBay and watched it again. I scoured Chinatown, the fan forums, the online CD retailers — catching up on Su You Peng’s career (almost 20 years of singing, TV dramas, and a few odd and/or forgettable movies). I bought a second, slightly different, version of YMHJ on DVD — note that neither of these have English subtitles — and a couple of other series that did have subs. And some without.

One can pick up a few useful phrases watching Chinese martial arts films and listening to Mandarin pop music. My best bets so far are “wo bu ming bai” and “ni kuai bu kuai le.” There is also lots of useful information on TV dramas, music, etc. to be found through the internet fan forums. I have generally been an online “lurker” even when I’m digging for information, but this time I found an English thread (Voices of International English-speaking Fans) on Su You Peng's official web site, which had lots of news and clips and whose members seemed like a particularly friendly and grounded bunch of people. I logged on to send my thanks for all the links and files and stuff, and stuck around. To my surprise, my new friends were all very shocked to learn that I am not Asian. Although I guess it makes sense that someone with limited career exposure outside China would be unlikely to find a fan base among non-Chinese speaking Caucasians, I was still appalled at the ignorance of my race.

Card from VoicesHere’s where it all started to get very ... interesting. Su You Peng, a particularly intelligent artiste who loves to challenge himself, decides to do a play. In Shanghai. In June. Seven performances, ending the day I’m supposed to arrive in that city. So I move my travel itinerary up a few days. Can’t buy tickets outside China ... so I appeal to the Voices group, who arrange with local fans in Shanghai to buy play tickets for me, get me a hotel room for the extra nights, and then decide that I should represent all of the English-speaking fans by presenting flowers to SYP after the performance .... I offered to design a card for the presentation and collected messages to be included.

... and so there I was, on my way to Shanghai.

I Leave My Heart in Shanghai
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