Wearing radiation-proof maternity clothes to get a seat on the subway

One weekend after I find out that I’m pregnant, I go to buy some comfy clothes with a Chinese friend. When we are done with shopping and eat lunch, she says: “You should buy radiation-proof clothes. These are specially made for pregnant women and if you wear such a dress, people will offer you their […]

Chinese Lantern Festival and “you shouldn’t eat too many Tangyuan when pregnant”

On yesterday’s 元宵节 (Yuánxiāojié), translated as Chinese Lantern Festival, which falls on the first full moon of the Chinese New Year and marks the end of the new year celebrations in China, my company prepares 汤圆 (Tāngyuán), sweet glutinous rice balls filled with sesame paste. It’s tradition to eat Tangyuan, which come in the shape […]

“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 […]

“Your breasts are almost non-existent”

This is part 2 of 2 of a conversation with L, a woman in her mid-twenties working at a massage parlor. Click here for part 1 (“Can pregnant women have massages?”). This post is about women’s issues and might not be to everyone’s taste – I’ve warned you. The whole-body massage includes back, arms, legs, stomach […]

“Did you have to use guns frequently?”

One day in the summer of 2012 I’m in Shangri-la at a restaurant with two acquaintances. My friend has to work and has asked them to take me around town. They have both worked as police officers in the past. Now, they are working as personal secretaries for a government official. I: “Did you have […]

“There’s not much I and my husband talk about anymore”

My new coworker and I have lunch together. She is a woman in her mid-to-late 30s and has a two-year-old child. After she asks me about marrying Y, it’s my turn to ask her. I: “You’re married, aren’t you?” She: “I am.” I: “Have you two been together for quite a while?” She: “We have. […]

“Who takes care of the kids?”

I have lunch with my new coworker, a woman in her mid-to-late 30s who has a 2-year-old son. She asks me: “Who takes care of young kids in Austria? In China, it’s often the grandparents who look after the kids, but what is it like in Austria, with people all working?” I: “It’s often the […]

My mother-in-law and the crazy foreigners

A few weeks before our wedding my mother-in-law takes a train to Beijing to help us with some of the red tape. Since it is her first time in Beijing, she also decides to visit the great wall. All the while, my fiancé and me are at work in Shenzhen, waiting for her to tell […]

My in-laws’ old house

Four years ago, my in-laws bought an apartment in their hometown Siping in Northeast China’s Jilin province. Two years ago, they should have been able to move into their new apartment. But the apartment had not been finished at that time. It’s still not finished now, two years later. When my husband and I walk […]

Guest post: “I like men”

Today I’m featuring a story from Laura. Laura is a fellow-expat and blogger who is currently living and working in Shanghai. She blogs at Pausa Monk and will marry her Chinese fiancé at the beginning of October. Congrats! When I take the elevator the other day, one of my neighbours starts talking with me. He: “Hello, […]

“Is your hair dyed or is this your real color?”

Starting from today I will publish posts three times weekly, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Guest posts will be published every second Saturday. Make sure to pay China Elevator Stories a visit on these days! This is the last part of a conversation with a 17-year old girl working at the hairdresser’s doing massages. Click […]

“Do you have brothers and sisters?”

Starting from today, I will publish on a more regular basis. Posts will be published three times weekly – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and on Saturdays. If you don’t want to miss a post, you can also subscribe to my blog via e-mail (see right navigation bar). I also plan to publish guest posts that are […]

“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 […]

“It must be really dangerous working here”

One day after work, Y, another colleague and I go to have dinner at a nearby street side restaurant. The road leading there is surrounded by trees – mainly mango trees and durian trees. On our way to the restaurant, three guys cross our way, each one of them carrying a really huge durian fruit. […]

“I’d like to find my son a foreign wife”

One day in March 2013 my fiancé and I go to the hospital to see a Chinese doctor. We sit down to tell her my ailments and while she feels my pulse my fiancé starts chatting with her. Y: “Are you from Henan? The way you speak sounds like Henan-dialect.” Doctor: “I am. I have […]

“Do you speak foreignish?”

I’m at the supermarket. A little girl who’s probably not older than 5 is playing with the cup you usually use for putting rice into a plastic bag. I ask her: “Can I borrow this for a moment?” She says: “Sure.” And then, after looking into my face: “Wow. Are you a foreigner?” I: “I […]

“This is the only thing we can do for a living”

The first time I go to a blind massage place in China in 2013 reminds me of all the reasons why I hadn’t been to one of these places for a few months: It hurts like hell and is not remotely connected to what comes to most people’s minds upon hearing the word massage. (If […]