small town laowai

an Americanish life in backwater China


Chinese culture

50 Smells You Can’t Forget if You’ve Lived in China

They say smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. If I could make your screen scratch-n-sniff, I would, and you’d be instantly transported back to the Middle Kingdom. Chou doufu Mosquito coils Getting caught in a cloud of… Continue Reading →

Mooncakes by Mail

A couple of years ago, I was happy and proud that we made our own mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival. From scratch. By hand. 100% homemade. Like Martha Stewart, but in Asia and without felony charges. They were pretty tasty and… Continue Reading →

9 Preschool Safety Tips from Chinese Youeryuan

I was sorting through a box of old books and happened upon some of the workbooks my kids used in youeryuan (Chinese preschool). One of the books was called Safety Education. It teaches kids some basic safety tips with illustrations… 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 →

Today Marks 10 Years in China

Today is the 10th anniversary of our family’s arrival in China. It came and went with much less fanfare than it would have received had I been more prepared. There probably would have been fireworks. But I did pause to… Continue Reading →

10 Chinese Customs We Should Import to the U.S.

Although every culture has customs that seem crazy to outsiders (throwing rice at the bride and groom, anyone?) every culture also has customs that just plain make sense. Here are the wonderfully logical customs I would love for my passport… Continue Reading →

5 Surprises You’ll Encounter When You Travel to China

Today, I’m pleased to share a guest post with you, written by Yang Yang from Learn Mandarin Now. I’m sure if you have been to China, you can relate to these, and add some of your own. Enjoy! 5 Surprises You’ll… Continue Reading →

Americans drive on the left and other truths I’ve learned

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my Malaysian friend, and we started talking about how Malaysia has a lot of British influence. “We drive on the right like they do,” my friend explained. “Wait, what?” I thought I… Continue Reading →

What in the Middle Kingdom? Lucky red squares

This Chinese New Year, I noticed something I’d never noticed before in China. All of a sudden, cars and other vehicles were sporting little red squares of paper. They were adorning the hoods, front ends, or back bumpers of most… Continue Reading →

Baa-ram-ewe, baa-ram-ewe, to the Year of the Goat-Ram-Sheep be true

So, which is it? Is 2015 the Year of the Goat? Year of the Sheep? Year of the Ram? I’ve had several people ask me, and the answer is easy: it’s all of them. In Chinese, it’s Year of the… Continue Reading →

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