SUN WEI WEI: I like the movies of Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow. I don’t really like the theatre or traditional opera. Sometimes after watching a movie, I dream about walking up the walls and flying up in the sky.
One day I dreamt I had a fight with my best friend from my childhood. When we were kids we used to fight a lot. I don’t remember what happened in the dream, I just remember that we were fighting. I was running and then suddenly I was flying. I didn’t want to fight, my parents always told me not to fight and I listened to what they said. So I stopped fighting and ran away. I was jumping up and down a bit, and then suddenly I was flying. There was a wall on the way and I just flew over it. It was a very beautiful feeling. Very fast.
Then I dreamt I was running and running and my friend and another boy caught me. I had no choice but to fight with them. But they weren’t really my equals, I beat them easily.
I often dream about fighting after hurting my head. When I hurt my legs, I sometimes dream that I want to run away but I cannot move.
I came to Beijing in 2003 and stayed there until 2006, for three years. I was working in a restaurant in the district of Nankou. The owner of the restaurant was from my hometown and his mother had made the connection for me. I worked there for three years. In the beginning I only washed the dishes, I had just finished school and didn’t know anything.
At first I missed home very much, sometimes I would cry at night, I didn’t want to cry in front of other people. At the end of those three years, I didn’t miss home that much anymore. The people who worked with me were all from my hometown, they took care of me. The restaurant closed after 3 or 4 years. Then I went back to my hometown.
Later I went to Shenzhen, on my own. My grandfather has a friend who lives there, and one day he called me and asked me if I would like to go there. He said he could get me a job at an electronics factory. But when I went there it turned out the factory didn’t want to employ any people, so I tried to find a job on my own account. I had been working in Beijing for three years, so I had some work experience and I thought I could find something for myself. My grandfather’s friend tried to help me find a job, he would go around after finishing his daily work, and I would go around during the day. After a few days I found a job at a factory, the salary was 1100 or 1200 RMB. They said the factory would provide the meals but actually they took money off the salary. We had to work 8 hours per day and we also worked overtime. The factory wasn’t very big and they didn’t pay very well, only around 1100 RMB. We often had to do overtime, it was very exhausting.
After two years in Shenzhen, I went back home for the spring festival for ten days. I didn’t want to be a factory worker for the rest of my life, I wanted to learn something. So I was thinking day and night, wondering what I could do to earn money. I have a friend who is a welder, I thought maybe I could learn from him. I called him and he said that at the place where he worked they were looking for people, I could go there and learn to be a welder, so I went there.
Actually, before that happened I had changed my job in Shenzhen. I had started working in another factory, but I didn’t like it any better. The owners were people from the province of Yunnan, they ate potatoes every day, I couldn’t stand it. Sometimes the rice wasn’t well cooked, just 70 or 80%. I couldn’t get used to that. The salary wasn’t very good, either. That was the point where I decided I wanted to learn some craft. So after I called my friend, I went back to Shenzhen to quit my job at that factory, and after I got the last salary I came here to my friend’s place.
At first I stayed here for a few days without working. I felt quite uncomfortable to be living at my friend’s place, so I asked him to help me find a job as quickly as possible. I don’t like owing anything to other people, it makes me feel uncomfortable. After two days, my friend told me about a factory that made safes, he said it was a good factory, so I started working there. I thought, as long as I learn something, I don’t care about the salary. At the beginning, the work was not too hard and I didn’t have to do much overtime. Actually, now I remember that before starting in that factory, my friend introduced me at a factory that made ship propellers. I worked there for ten days and I turned all black because I was working outside in the sun. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought: “Who is this? Is that me?” I had been pretty white when I came to Beijing.
We don’t have many places to spend our spare time here. I used to just watch TV after work before I found out that there was a place to go dancing. I often walk around the neighbourhood with a friend of mine to see if there’s something going on. Once we saw a place that had bright lights and music, so we went in and found that it was a dance hall. So now we come here quite often. We can play table tennis and badminton here as well. They are also building a skating rink, but it hasn’t opened yet. Our factory has a TV in the common room so we can watch TV, too. If we don’t watch TV, we can just take a rest or go out for a walk. Anyway, my friends and I usually come here to dance and play table tennis or badminton, and then after 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening we go back to the factory and watch TV.