In­ter­net star finds a city that tames his pas­sion for travel

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By LI YINGQING in Kun­ming and ZHANG YUNBI in Bei­jing liy­ingqing@chi­

Don­ning a pink wig and pa­ja­mas to match, Jos­selin Sautet­ner, 32, a French­man, ap­peared in a mu­sic video sing­ing a Chi­nese love song in var­i­ous ar­eas of Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince.

The song Sautet­ner sang, Think­ing of You So Much, is a catchy num­ber that has be­come pop­u­lar in China over the past year.

It has ap­pealed par­tic­u­larly to young fe­male singers in mu­sic videos per­form­ing it in cities across the coun­try to pro­mote lo­cal travel at­trac­tions with a spe­cial ap­peal to young lovers.

Sautet­ner be­came an in­ter­net star af­ter his mu­sic video pre­sent­ing the de­lights of Kun­ming be­came a hit on Sina Weibo. The video was played more than 10,000 times just hours af­ter go­ing on the in­ter­net.

Sautet­ner, from Lyon, ar­rived in scenic Kun­ming in south­west China last Novem­ber and was bowled over by its charms.

He calls him­self “a Kun­ming res­i­dent from France”, and he considers the city a haven that has al­lowed him to re­fo­cus on what is im­por­tant in life.

It is not dif­fi­cult to spot him. He is more than 190 cm tall and tends to stand out, as does his abil­ity to speak var­i­ous lan­guages. When talk­ing to China Daily, he ex­changed greet­ings in pitch-per­fect Chi­nese, and his Gal­lic roots give him a charm and vi­tal­ity that seem bound­less.

His pas­sion for travel has taken him to a few coun­tries, and he can speak English and Dutch.

In a pre­vi­ous life he had a steady job in the Nether­lands but the urge to see, to ex­plore, to reach out would not be com­pro­mised. He went to Africa to re­flect on what he wanted to do.

Af­ter re­turn­ing to France his wan­der­lust had prob­a­bly only got worse, he says, and he came to China at the in­vi­ta­tion of a friend in 2007.

He took the op­por­tu­nity to visit a num­ber of cities, in­clud­ing Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Sanya in Hainan prov­ince and Chongqing.

Some­thing was chang­ing; he still had a yearn­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the new, but the des­ti­na­tion seemed to fit his re­quire­ments.

Even with lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of Chi­nese he was at­tracted by the cul­ture.

“Deep in my heart I knew I was go­ing to live in China,’’ he says.

How­ever, he had other mat­ters to at­tend to, and he left, but re­turned in 2011 for a friend’s wed­ding. It was not un­til last Novem­ber, when he ar­rived for a third time, that he de­cided to set­tle in Kun­ming. “Al­though I have been to other prov­inces and cities, I was deeply in­trigued by the cli­mate and en­vi­ron­ment. It is won­der­ful here.”

While in Europe, Sautet­ner Jos­selin Sautet­ner, was de­ter­mined to learn more about China and im­prove his com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills. He searched for Chi­nese-lan­guage songs on the in­ter­net and tried to fa­mil­iar­ize him­self with the lyrics, a dic­tio­nary on hand for any­thing he could not un­der­stand.

Af­ter set­tling in Kun­ming he was even more de­ter­mined to get a grip on the lan­guage and en­rolled in a course.

Now he can com­mu­ni­cate with lo­cals in sim­ple Chi­nese and un­der­stand a lot of what he reads in news­pa­pers, and he spends be­tween four and five hours a day on the four key lan­guage skills: lis­ten­ing, read­ing, speak­ing and writ­ing.

He uses We Ch a t in Chi­nese, he say s , Asked about his on­line fame, Sautet­ner says mak­ing videos is sim­ply a hobby and he has been amazed by the at­ten­tion they have drawn.

“I’m an optimistic and ex­tro­verted per­son… I want to spread my joy by shar­ing videos.”

The wig and pa­ja­mas, he says, al­low him to take on an al­ter ego and be­come con­fi­dent enough to sing in pub­lic.

Sautet­ner said he plans to pro­duce a video ev­ery week and put it on­line. One of­fer­ing, Be­cause of Love, was re­leased on Sept 2.

He prefers di­rect­ing to sing­ing and danc­ing, he says.

While he has no plans to leave Kun­ming, he re­al­izes life can lead you to un­ex­pected places, he says.

He wants to mas­ter the lan­guage and be­come a French­language teacher in China. One ex­pects this will come rel­a­tively eas­ily to him given that he has al­ready done a lot of the hard work.

I’m an optimistic and ex­tro­verted per­son… I want to spread my joy by shar­ing videos.” French singer


Jos­selin Sautet­ner considers the city a haven that has al­lowed him to re­fo­cus on what is im­por­tant in life.

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