Marcos Lombello: Fall in Love with Quanzhou
    2012-12-21 14:03:19         Web Editor: Wang Wei

Marcos Lombello (front, center) poses for a group photo with members of his band "The Shards". [Photo: Courtesy of Marcos Lombello]

Brazilian native Marcos Lombello works in Quanzhou Normal University in Southeast China's Fujian Province. He works as an English teacher, the kind of job many foreigners pick when they come to China.

Marcos came to the city of Quanzhou in 2002. He soon fell in love with this cozy Chinese city. He has been staying in the city for 10 years and chose to build his family here.

Let's follow Shen Ting to see what fascinates him so much about this city.


Marcos Lombello was born in Brazil. He received part of his education in the United States, and after graduation, he became an English teacher in his home country. But 10 years ago, a job offer from his brother brought him to Quanzhou, a small and beautiful city located in southeast China's Fujian Province.

Marcos had always wanted to come to China, and he had imagined what Quanzhou, a traditional Chinese city, might be like. But after he arrived, he found it was beyond his imagination.

"It was quite different from what I thought. I was expecting something more rural, something more Maozedong, people riding bicycles and things like that. And that was what I thought. So at that time I was surprised by how developed and how urban it was, and how the economy was booming in 2002. It was like a miracle."

Like many other foreigners, Marcos couldn't understand or speak much Chinese when he came to the city, let alone the local dialect. But he told me that he didn't find it very difficult to get integrated into the culture because of the friendly people in Quanzhou.

"Many Western people find that when they come to China, it's difficult to interact with the locals, maybe because of the language barrier. But in Quanzhou, it seems to be easier, although not everybody speaks English. Less than half of the people speak English, but they have that smiley thing. Quanzhou is a city of smiles. People in Quanzhou smile at you. In other parts of China, they smile at you but less often or in very special situations. In Quanzhou, people sometimes smile at you for nothing. I like that."

Also, thanks to his love of music and the diversified music culture in the city, Marcos made many friends through this universal language. He also started to understand the language and the culture through music.

"There are a lot of musicians in Quanzhou. There is a musical culture around the city and in the city. They have the Minnan (South Fujian) Opera, and they have the rock scene and the folk scene. I quickly integrated into these different kinds of musical movements. I made friends in the beginning, I communicated and I started understanding the culture mostly through music."
In this sense, Marcos regards himself as not just an English teacher, but also a musician. He wrote songs and composed lyrics, and he even made versions of some Chinese songs he heard in Quanzhou in his native language, including "The Moon Represents My Heart", a famous song performed by Taiwan pop diva Teresa Teng.

"I like Chinese music. In my work with music, I used some of the Chinese elements. I want to try this mix of Chinese music and Western music. And you get lots of Chinese music here in Quanzhou."

In his spare time, Marcos loves to hang out around the city. He even got a Chinese driver's license, which helps him explore the city more freely and conveniently. He found many interesting places in Quanzhou, including some favored by many foreigners, just like Beijing's Sanlitun and Houhai area.

"There are some places where you can see more Laowai than others. For example, the restaurant buffet at the Yuehua Hotel or Quanzhou Hotel, or the guest house which is nearby. But I think the most popular place with the foreigners is Bobby's Lounge. It is The Embassy Lounge. It's a bar that belongs to a Canadian. His name is Bobby. He's well-known in the city. And there is another place which is bar street, the new bar street. It's called Ling Show Da Di (Live Show Wonderland). Lots of people go there. You see many foreigners almost every night."

Despite those bustling area, Marcos also found many more natural and peaceful places in Quanzhou, places that are suitable to perform and record his music, like the Quanzhou Forest Park, Donghai Bay, and even a small mountain or the quiet riverside in the university where he works.

And the two completely different sides give Quanzhou a unique character combining both modern and traditional features.

"Every city has its character, like a personality. Like a person, we may look alike, but we are different inside. So are cities. There are many things that are unique about Quanzhou. And I think the mix of modern and traditional is very strong. I believe Beijing is a little bit like that too. But Quanzhou has that on a smaller scale. It is much smaller. Quanzhou is still quiet and, in a good way, quite provincial. It's a good place, as good as any other, so I don't have any feelings like "oh, it's too small, I want to move out." I don't think that."

For most foreigners in Quanzhou, the city is traditional and modern. It can meet their needs to lead a comfortable and convenient life, as well as satisfy their desire for the traditional charm of China.

For CRI, I'm Shen Ting.


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