Trekking across the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in Guangxi province

In November 2012, I’m visiting the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in Guangxi province. After a night spent in a guesthouse on one of the hills, I start a 5-hour long trek across the rice terraces to another village. I’m trekking with 3 Chinese guys who have also stayed in guesthouses on the hill. November is low […]

“We don’t laugh like that here”

One day at the end of September 2013, Q, a friend who’s living in Shangri-la, has invited me to come with her to her hometown Weixi, which is located on the hills of a fertile valley in Western Yunnan and is a 5-hour-drive across steep mountain roads from Shangri-la. Weixi is a city surrounded by mountains which is […]

“I’m here even when it rains”

I’m climbing Northern Yunnan’s Tiger Leaping Gorge. I’ve met a German and a French on the bus, and we walk up the mountain together. At one point, we come by a lonely stall high up in the mountains selling fruits and veggies. I point at some leaves and ask the woman selling these things: “What […]

“If they don’t take you, you’ll have to trick them into taking you”

Y and I are in Changchun. Changchun (literally meaning long spring) was once the capital of Manchuria, which was the name of Northeast China under Japanese occupation from 1931 to 1945. Today, it’s the capital of Jilin province and China’s biggest auto manufacturer. After lunch we set out to take a cab that will take […]

Visiting gugu in Northeast China’s countryside

One day in late June 2013 my husband and I visit gugu. Gugu is my father-in-law’s older sister and I like her immediately. She is an elderly woman in her late 70s who lives with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, her grandson and a few chicken and geese in the countryside of Northeast China’s Jilin province. […]

The Chinese grandmother that prevented me from eating raw cucumber salad

One day in the June of 2012 I was sitting in a little restaurant in a mountain village a few hours from Chongqing. The plain white walls were decorated only with a print that showed Mao Zedong in the middle and politicians surrounding him. Although the village was a domestic tourist destination, the restaurant was […]