Incidental Celebrity

If you ever been to China and brought with you your teenage daughter or niece or granddaughter then you might relate to this post. Almost two years ago we had a very short trip through China on our way to Kazakhstan, with only about 3 days stay in Beijing. Guess the surprise for my daughter when many Chinese girls her own age would come over and ask to take a picture with her. Probably at least half a dozen times, all in short 3 days! I had my camera ready just in time on couple occasions to get her little ‘incidental celebrity’ status on tape, other went and gone before I could take the cap of my camera. I use to live in China in early 90th and saw similar requests, so it was not super foreign to me, but at the same time I was surprised that this would be happening now, after all, Beijing is packed with foreigners these days, but I guess not many of them are teenage girls. I wonder if it is the same in Japan and other south east Asian countries or it is totally unique to China only.

BTW, no one asked to take pictures with me or my wife Sad smile, haha, we are not cool enough! What about you? Have you ever had situation when total strangers come to you and ask to take a photo with them?

34 thoughts on “Incidental Celebrity

  1. I am laughing as I had the same experience when I was in China. I thought it was hysterical! But I guess a tall blond haired woman, even if she is 40, was enough for some photos! Great post!

  2. The only time I’ve ever had people approach me to take a photo is with me using their camera to take a shot of them together. Which, of course, I’ve always obliged the request. I hope you enjoyed China.

    1. China was great. Twenty years ago I lived in northeast China for a few years, but never had a chance to explore south or south west. Some day I’d love to do that. Great people and great photography!

  3. Great you enjoyed the trip! As a Beijinger, I had a similar yet different experience. It was in the early 90s, when I was still 3 or 4 y.o. kid. A foreign couple wanted to take a picture with me on the street. It had a deep influence on my life and it’s a piece of great memory I cherish.

  4. That’s funny. This happened to me in Indonesia when I was small (1980s). The funny thing is I’m also an Indonesian, I just don’t look like one because my grandpa was from the Netherlands. When I started to speak the local language my “fans” would be surprised and walked away in dissappointment, lol!!!

  5. Hi,
    Great photos.
    This has only happened to me twice, both times in Egypt back in 2004. A couple of young girls, maybe around 9 or 10 years old, were learning English, and wanted to test their new learning skills, after which they wanted a photo.

    One of the young girls said it was the first time she has ever spoken in English to someone that speaks English. When she found out I was from Australia, we talked for nearly 30mins, she done very well, and I complimented her on her skills with her new language. 🙂
    Her parents Thanked me and also got a photo. 😀

  6. When I was in my twenties and living in Japan for a couple of years – yes, sometimes people wanted photos with me. Or wanted to practice their English. I could always tell what the NHK English lesson had been that week, because everyone would offer to help me find my way, or ask if I was lost in the train station, or recommend a restaurant LOL. The worst, though, was junior high aged students wanting to touch my hair to see if it was as soft as it looked!

    1. yes, the touching part, twenty years ago when I lived in northeast China, the city I lived in had probably only a few hundred foreigners. my good friends had a small sun, about 4 years old, blond and cute as a button. everytime we would go to market or anywhere in public there would be at least a few attempts to touch him, most folks in early 90th actually never saw foreigners, called us “big noze – DaPiZe”, or “foreign devils – LaoWai”, good times, sometime I miss those years.

  7. Hi! This is from Hong Kong. I think Hong Kongers do not ask a stranger/foreigner for a pic. Some of them may do that just because they are doing a project or sth. Although there’re many foreigners in China (mainly in the big cites)now, but I guess many of them have never communicated with a Non-Chinese speaker.And ask for a pic is a good way to interact with strangers, isn’t it? thank you for your nice sharing.

  8. I lived in Taiwan for a couple months in 2010, and my huge group of American born Taiwanese friends would walk around speaking English, and EVERYONE wanted to take pictures with us. I can’t tell you how many photos I have with strangers. 🙂 Love it. Love your post. You should visit Taiwan if you can! And thanks for reading my blog!

  9. HAHAHAHA! My friend lived in china for the summer and was telling me how this happened to her all the time but i didn’t really believe her. I guess it really does happen, and not to her i guess

  10. This happened to me in Harbin – although I’m not a teenage girls. My partner and I went to some sort of amusement park, and people would ask us to pose with their kids on the plastic mushrooms – wish I’d asked them to send me the photos, haha.
    (PS: great blog!)

  11. Great post – my wife and I just got back from China. For some reason she gets stopped quite frequently and I’m stuck holding the camera! I can’t blame them, she’s a lot better looking than me! I also find the whole peace sign thing a rather strange anomaly; this happened ALL THE TIME throughout Asia, every teenage girl that had any picture taken had the same peace sign and smile pose. Funny.

  12. Yes its happened to me in India as well. Also in the depths of Turkey a young man reached out to feel my hair, I’m half African and he’d never seen hair like mine I suppose!

  13. Happened to us too! Can understand wanting to pose with your pretty daughter, but we are Asian and an old (well almost) couple to boot! And never quite figured out the victory sign!

  14. In Bangladesh it is very common for people to want a photo with you, no matter whether you are old or young, male or female. It definitely does also increase with teenagers or even younger children.

  15. I live in Taiwan and get asked for photos occasionally. I also got asked for a photo when I was traveling in Vietnam. Often when I am traveling around in Taiwan, people will point at me and say, “Foreigner” in Chinese. I’ve even had people bring their children to meet me several times. There are a lot of foreigners here but we still stand out.

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