Dashan in Shanghai

Ever since he wrote to me, I’ve been in communication with Mark Rowswell (AKA Dashan) via e-mail. Well, this past weekend he came to Shanghai to shoot a few commercials, so we got together for a chat.

As a public figure, he really has to watch his image, and there’s a lot he doesn’t talk about publicly. It was really interesting, then, to meet Mark and hear some of his opinions. We talked about a range of topics, including English education in China, the meaning of the recent loss of the Stanley Cup to Canada (go Tampa Bay! — I guess), what it was like to be a student in Beijing in 1989, and running a website (he manages his site and all its content all on his own).

I spoke with him on the set of his commercial in between shots. I have to say that observing the shooting of a commercial is both interesting and very boring. Once is enough. I’d hate to have to do it to pay the bills.

After the commercial he treated my girlfriend and me to dinner. I never would have guessed where he wanted to eat — Malone’s! It’s quite the expat hangout, and although it’s not the cheapest, the burgers are really good.

I was also curious if he was going to be recognized as we walked the streets of Shanghai. He wasn’t, for the most part, although I did hear some of the staff whispering as we went into Malone’s, “isn’t that Dashan??”

Dashan shooting a commerical in Shanghai With Dashan in a Bar Dashan and me in Shanghai

Anyway, it was good to meet someone so high profile and yet so poorly understood as Mark. We also discussed some small projects we may be collaborating on in the future. Stay tuned.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. how’s his canadian accent?

  2. that’s really cool; sounds like you’re becoming fast friends. I’m searching for the Tamil Dashan, but not many foreigners learn Dravidian dialects. It might be a good gimmick, though I think the pay is much better in China.

  3. Da Xiangchang Says: June 15, 2004 at 1:38 am

    Here’s a question: at Malone’s with you and your girlfriend, did all three of you speak Chinese or English?

    It’s pretty funny you meeting Dashan. It’s pretty cool of him to hang out with you, especially after you and assorted others trashed him (good-heartedly, of course) in earlier posts. 😉

    John, do you ever wish you’d be as famous as Dashan one day in China? I would LOVE to be as famous as him. Don’t see how that would happen, though. 🙁

  4. Hahahahaha. You guys are huge dorks. I love it. Those pictures are classic. So did you ask Mark if he reads Sinosplice regularly? Also, did he give you any new insight on or methods of Chinese study?

  5. habib,

    Oh, the accent is definitely there.

  6. Da Xiangchang,

    Actually, we spoke in English part of the time and Chinese part of the time.

    No, I don’t want to be famous. Not generally famous, anyway. I’d like to be famous in my field, though.

  7. Carl,

    I think he reads occasionally.

    We didn’t really talk about Chinese study, because I didn’t really have anything to ask. I think the “secret” to Chinese study is a lot like the “secret” to losing weight. People like to think that not knowing the secret is what’s holding them back, but the truth of the matter is that all it takes is unwavering determination.

  8. He needs to come to Huaibei. Now, that would be interesting….but forget Malones, but we have many gou rou restaurants.

  9. There is a point we like Dashan is that he always smiles.

  10. Unwavering determination. Crap. I was hoping you would say something like a banana shake every morning and sleep with a chinese book underneath your pillow.

  11. there’s nothing in his drink!

  12. wow, can’t believe u met him in person~~
    still rememer a decade ago, Dashan acted in a 氏擁 on CCTV Spring Festival Celebrity. He knocked at the door and said: “çŽ‰ć…°ïŒŒćŒ€é—šć§…”~~
    Nobody knew at that time he would be a big star nowdays.

    As a Chinese, I awe his almost-native Mandarin accent (sometimes with a bit Beijing dialect). I guess now he’s thinking in Chinese~~ I’ve been learning Englsh for years, I still feel I am a loser when I can’t properly express my meaning, and hell awkward when I can’t follow native speakers’ words and have to ask them repeat it again and again~~
    Is it b/c of the environment? What if I am thrown into a pure English society, will it get better?

    I started learning French several monthes ago. What French to me is like what chemistry & physic to me in the high school~~~
    Learning a foreign language is never easy~~~

  13. confused Says: June 16, 2004 at 3:04 pm

    Damn John. You’re friggin’ tall. Geesh.

  14. Calgary should have won!!!

  15. Is that DaShan with a ganbei pint and PanJi with a half-full pint? John, I expect better next time 😉

    Posted by: Wilson on June 17, 2004 02:58 PM

  16. You know, I liked it better when we could trash Mark with anonymity. Not that I have, but I just liked knowing I could.

    I’m not really all that surprised you guys met up though. The China expat community is quite small. At a recent blog meetup I found myself meeting people who actually made out with Zhang Ziyi.

    Posted by: Adam Morris on June 17, 2004 05:45 PM

  17. I know many people learn english from Dashan,I think he is the most famous foreigner in China.

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