Shanshan’s $550 shoes came from her lover, but the soles of her feet, as hard as leather, came from her childhood. “We used to play barefoot in the village,” she told me. “All the girls in the karaoke bar had feet like this.”
At 26, Shanshan has come a long way from rural Sichuan, one of China’s poorer southern provinces, famous for the “spiciness” of its food and its women. Today her lover, Mr Wu, keeps her in a Beijing apartment that “cost 2.5 million yuan ($410,000)”, and visits whenever he can find the time away from his wife. In his late 40s, and an official with a massive state-run oil company, he was recently in Africa for six months developing an oilfield. Shanshan got bored and decided to improve her scant English by finding a ‘language-exchange partner’ online, which is how she and I became friends this spring.
Shanshan never referred to Wu as her boyfriend; he was her “man”, her “lover”, and occasionally her “uncle”. When she said “boyfriend”, she meant the man her own age back in Sichuan with whom she spent much of her free day exchanging text messages and whom she saw twice a year. Continue…
man, i’ve heard so many damn stories over the years… mistresses? sure, guys with money all over the world do that… probably the one that sticks out for me at the moment, is the popular practice of renting “girlfriends” for the night — or by the hour — over there… lol