Yup it happened again, except this time I literally caught the pickpocket red-handed. I was taking the bus back from the Yunnan Nationalities Museum (which is a really good museum, and worth making the 1 hour city bus ride trip out to see), and about to get off at my stop. The guy behind me started to push me, which is quite normal in China as almost everyone pushes all the time. Then he started to push a bit more, and I turned slightly then suddenly felt that my pocket was a lot lighter -luckily my cell phone is cheap, old and heavy! I was almost off the bus and the guy was still pushing me down the stairs but I stopped and swatted at my left pocket. It was empty, so I whipped around and stared at him. I looked down and grabbed my phone out of his hand. I was so shocked that I didn't know what to say, and I couldn't remember "PaShou" (the Chinese for pickpocket), so I just shook my fist at him and glared as hard as I could. I think the people at the bus stop noticed because they all started to look. He made a small sound and shrugged his shoulders as if to say "I don't know how your phone made it into my hand, but I wish you hadn't noticed so that I could steal from you stupid foreigner".
This time though my Chinese friends can't blame it on a kid from XinJiang or some other ethnic minority because I clearly saw that he was Han Chinese in his late 40s.
It's a bit ironic that I was thinking on the bus about how things would be different if I had gone to Japan to work instead. There would be no spitting or nose blowing on the street, it would be cleaner, less pushing, and much safer. You can leave a bag on a chair in Japan and it will still be there when you come back -in China it will be gone in under 5 minutes. It's part of the adventure I could do without.
I'm hiding in the youth hostel drinking a Yunnan coffee until I have to take another bus to the train station (the two most likely places to get pickpocketed).