When we knew we’d be moving to Kunming, I was already thinking what many friends would soon ask me. “So, will it still be Small Town Laowai?”
Yes, it will, and it is. Here’s why.
1. Years of small town experience
Moving to Kunming doesn’t erase all the experiences we had while we lived in a smaller city and a little county town. Many of those experiences are stories I still have yet to write, especially since I didn’t really start posting regularly until about a year ago. There are still plenty of small town stories to come.
2. We’re not done with small town life
Because of our work with minority groups, we are planning to still visit smaller towns and villages. These trips will inevitably bring more small town stories, too.
3. I’m still small town
This probably reflects a lot of the culture shock I’ve been going through as I adjust to life in a city with Uniqlo and Burger King, but my heart still feels like a Chinese hick. I feel more at home when I walk by tricycle carts and run-down mianbaoches than I do as I pass Porsches and BMWs. It makes me happier to see the nainai carrying a live chicken onto the bus than it does to see the meinü carrying the Michael Kors handbag into Starbucks. I am getting better at not having my mouth hang open when I see the newfangled city slicker stuff, though.
4. Kunming is still small town
Apparently, Kunming is still considered the boondocks by a lot of Chinese and foreigners. I’ve now heard from Guangzhou, Beijing, and Chengdu expats that coming to Kunming feels like a significant downstep in terms of transportation, restaurants, and amenities. In fact, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about expats “living further off the beaten path.” The author interviewed a guy who lives in Kunming, which apparently counts as “living in China’s remote corners.” Um, okay.
To top it off, I just met an older couple who recently moved to Kunming from the U.S. They said they’d been warned by friends that “Kunming is really backwater.” Uh, no. No, it’s not. But, I do agree that it’s far less Westernized or cosmopolitan than those bigger cities are. So, while this is probably the least compelling of these reasons, it still is a small contribution to why I’m keeping the “small town” moniker.
5. Carved in URL stone
And, on a purely practical level, there’s the fact that the domain name is paid for, and there’s only a gazillion links I’d have to change if I went with a new one. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, there you go. I’ll still be blogging as Small Town Laowai for a while. I appreciate you reading along, no matter where life might take us!