small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China

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Seasons & Holidays

It’s 39°F in My Bedroom, But I Can’t Complain (Seriously. I vowed not to.)

When we woke up this morning, the thermometer showed that it was 39°F (3.9°C). Not 39°F outside, friends. That was the temperature INSIDE our bedroom. Brrr…. But I am not going to complain about how frigid it is because…I promised not to. This… Continue Reading →

Thanksgiving is Bland, Pale & Overly Sweet (and we wouldn’t want it any other way)

When I, an American, see a big ol’ Thanksgiving feast spread on the table, it makes me salivate. It’s a feast I spend weeks looking forward to. I think that’s probably true for most of my countrymen. But to my… 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 →

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 →

Happy 520! China’s Newest Day to Celebrate Love (aka Buy Stuff)

Today is 520 (May 20), which, along with Valentine’s Day and Qixi (Chinese Valentine’s Day), is yet another day for young Chinese couples to buy stuff to show that they are in love. Why is May 20th a day for love?… Continue Reading →

Four Months Later, Kunming is Still Recovering From the Big Freeze

In late January, Kunming was hit with three days of below-freezing weather. While it’s not unusual for Kunming to get some snow every few years, the fact that temperatures remained below freezing for so long was devastating to much of… Continue Reading →

Moms, THIS is Why You Can’t Use the Bathroom in Peace

A magical, mystical, supernatural thing happens when a woman becomes a mother. A bond is woven with the very threads of the cosmos to form an indestructible link between three entities: the mother, her child, and…the toilet seat. Moms, you… Continue Reading →

To Win Chinese New Year, You Must Master Snacks

If you want to host a Chinese New Year’s party, you’ll find plenty of tips and how-to’s online about what dishes to serve, what decorations to use, different Spring Festival greetings to use, how to accumulate enough fireworks to start… Continue Reading →

It’s All Fun and Games until Your Pipes Burst

A giant cold front has been drifting across a big chunk of Asia the past few days. It’s probably not making the news since the blizzard on the east coast of the U.S. is much bigger and badder, but it’s… Continue Reading →

Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys

It’s fascinating to observe how China prepares for their biggest holiday, Lunar New Year. At a time when U.S. retailers have started putting Christmas stuff out in July (seriously?), it’s almost refreshing to see the first signs of New Year’s… Continue Reading →

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