small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China


How To

8 Foods You Never Knew You Could Make from Scratch in China

When we first moved to China oodles of years ago, it felt like all my cooking skills evaporated. Or rather, that everything I had learned to cook so far in my life was no longer applicable in the new culinary… Continue Reading →

The Song of the Knivenswain (Or, How to Get Your Cleaver Sharpened in China)

  Getting your cleaver sharpened in China is well worth the price of admission. It’s not expensive, but it’s quite a show. Especially when law enforcement gets involved. Want to get your cleaver sharpened by a professional in China? Here’s… Continue Reading →

Do You Have What it Takes to Drive in China?

  So, you think just because you have a driver’s license from your home country, it should be a piece of dangao to get your license in China? Think again. To get a driver’s license in China, foreigners must pass… 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 →

How to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies in Just Two Months!

So, your spouse/child/roommate/classmate/self has requested that you make authentic chocolate chip cookies (i.e. NOT chopped Dove cookies). While your cosmic twin expends virtually no effort opening a pack of break-n-bakes in Alternative Universe America, you’ll be whipping up a batch… Continue Reading →

9 Chinese words you’re saying wrong (and how to fix them)

Everyone’s talking about China these days…too bad it’s so hard to pronounce what they’re trying to say. Here are the top mistakes I hear English speakers make, and how to correct them. Important note! I’m a linguist and I think… Continue Reading →

How to make melted wax Easter eggs with no hiccups

Way back in 2011, someone sent me an issue of Family Fun magazine that included this idea for coloring Easter eggs. The basic idea is that you color the eggs with crayons while the eggs are still hot so that… Continue Reading →

How to eat sugarcane like the delicious fruit it is

We live in the largest sugarcane growing region of China, so we’re quite familiar with seeing fields of it, or trucks rumbling down the street piled high with it. We’re also quite familiar with eating it! It’s considered a fruit… Continue Reading →

How to clean a faucet (tap) head in China

Several years ago, a friend was over at our apartment in China. When he was washing his hands, he noticed that there was barely any water coming out of the faucet. We had always assumed that the water pressure was… Continue Reading →

How to hack your bathroom into a clothes dryer

Every year around this time, Eric and I are reminded of what is missing from our lives: a clothes dryer. We do pretty well most of the year with drying clothes out on the line in the sun, but the cold,… Continue Reading →

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