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How do people make friends here? (Guangzhou)

I'm wondering how the other ex-pats here deal with the local culture's attitude towards friendship and socializing, which seems to be very different from that in the West. It's quite strange to me that people don't get together just to talk -- it's assumed, when going out to dinner or for drinks, that there will be an agenda -- a favor to ask that becomes sort of obligation because of the "hospitality."

How do people make friends when there's always that subtext?

In some ways, it seems like expat forums on the web (this one, and I've also looked at Delta Bridges) are similarly afflicted. People talk about business a lot, but where's the chitchat just for fun? What do people do for fun? (Or, do people just not have fun -- is it *always* angling for some kind of moneymaking opportunity?)

Just curious. I've been on the ground here for only a couple of months, and most of that time I was very busy with a project in the US. Now I'm starting to pick my eyes up and look around, and it's a perplexing picture indeed.


Guangzhou Forum