“In Europe, every family owns at least two cars”

One evening in September 2013, I take a motorcycle cab back to my place. The driver asks me where I need to go. I tell him the name of the closest bus stop (which is also what I would usually tell cab drivers) and get on the motorcycle. While driving, he asks: “What’s the name […]

“How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?”

Me and my coworkers take a cab. One of them recently became a father for a second time. The driver asks him: “How much does it cost to have a second child in Shenzhen?” Coworker: “220,000 Chinese Yuan (around 27,000 EUR or 40,000 USD).” Driver: “Wow, that’s a considerable sum for a hukou*. We registered […]

“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 […]

Is your wife from Russia?

In January 2013, my then fiancé (now husband) and I take a cab. The cab driver starts a conversation with my fiancé, not knowing that I understand everything they say. Cab driver (pointing at the pineapple in my fiancé’s hand): “I love eating these too.” Y: “It’s probably not the right season for it.” CD: […]

Guest post: Unconventional ways of learning Chinese

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Sarah, fellow Shenzhen-expat and the face behind the blog Reclaim Your Fearlessnesss that gives tips on how to live the life you want to live and not let others dictate it. I love her blog and have nominated her for the Liebster Award last month (see her answers here). Sarah has grown up […]

“10 years ago you could buy a North Korean woman for 2000 Chinese Yuan”

At the beginning of July 2013, Y and I spend a day in Yanji. Yanji is a city not too far from the North Korean border and is the capital of the Korean autonomous prefecture in Jilin province. Street signs, advertisements and the like are all written in Chinese as well as Korean. Both Chinese […]

“You can live with me and my wife.”

I have just arrived at Chongqing airport on this Friday in early June 2012 and am taking a cab to my hostel. After the usual small talk the cab driver points at my jeans and asks: “Foreigners really like wearing jeans, don’t they?” I: “We do. Don’t Chinese people like wearing jeans too?” He: “Chinese […]

If you could choose a city, which one would it be?

I took a cab to get to my new flat the other day. Cab driver: “Where are you from?” I: “Austria, and you?” Cd: “I’m Chinese!” I: “But where are you from in China?” Cd: “Hubei. How old are you? Twenty-something?” I: “Yes, I’m 25. How about you?” Cd: “I’m 32.” I: “You look younger […]