small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China

Nesting Again When You’re All Nested Out

We painted last weekend! It’s something we had talked about doing since before we moved into this apartment over a year ago. The walls were dirty and really needed some TLC. (Apartments don’t automatically get painted between tenants here; it’s… Continue Reading →

13 China Mysteries No Expat Can Explain

There’s a lot about China I love, and even many Chinese customs I’d love to see in my own country. Then are also aspects of life here which I don’t particularly like but can understand the cultural, historical, or practical reason… Continue Reading →

Beach on the Ground Floor, Horseback Riding on the Roof

What kinds of entertainment venues do you expect at your nearest mall? A movie theater? An indoor playland for kids? An ice-skating rink? How about a beach and a horse riding arena? That’s what’s now on offer at the mall… Continue Reading →

No Such Thing as a Simple Errand

Anyone else dread going to the grocery store? Actually, in the U.S. it wasn’t something I hated. I actually kind of liked it. But in China, it’s a different story. It’s become a task I really don’t like. It’s physically… Continue Reading →

Like Turtles? You’ll Love Yuantong Temple

Tucked away between the famous cherry blossoms of the Kunming Zoo and the famous seagulls of Cuihu (Green Lake) lies a relatively unknown Kunming landmark: Yuantong Temple. Despite its proximity to two of Kunming’s most famous sights, Yuantong Temple remains… Continue Reading →

Clean Water, Copper Pot Rice, and Blueberries Top our Reasons to Visit Fuxian Lake

Located about an hour south of Kunming, Fuxian Lake is China’s second-deepest lake, Yunnan’s third-largest lake, and one of China’s only clean lakes. Flanked by some low mountains, and enjoying the same mild climate as the Kunming area, it’s no… Continue Reading →

Our Three-Wheeler Just Got a Sweet Upgrade

Half a year ago, our lives changed when this sanlunche (three-wheeler) entered the family. We were ecstatic to finally have a vehicle that our whole family could fit into. Suddenly, it meant we could go on short trips and errands… Continue Reading →

These 9 Chinese Notebooks are All the Inspiration You Need

If you’re looking for a creative boost, a muse to whisper ideas to you, or just something to give you a kick in the pants, look no further than your local Chinese stationery store. Instead of dismissing the bizarre English the… Continue Reading →

Sorry, Stephen Colbert, but I am America

If you’re Chinese and living in a rural area, or even a smaller city, you might have very few chances to ever talk to a foreigner. Sure, you’ve seen them on movies and on TV, so you’re pretty sure you… Continue Reading →

Dragon Boat Festival without the Dragon Boats (but with Captain America!)

This Thursday is Duanwu Jie, otherwise known as Dragon Boat Festival in English. There are various stories on the origin of this festival, usually including the somewhat macabre tale of villagers tossing zongzi (keep reading for what these are) into… Continue Reading →

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