The power of a smile in China's countryside | Speaking of China

35 Responses

  1. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    Constance - Foreign Sanctuary May 12, 2014 at 9:34 am | | Reply

    That picture of you is absolutely beautiful – the flowers, the mountains, and your bright smile!

    It is so nice to read this – especially about the kindness of people around you and the fact that John has become a confident individual.

    I always say to myself, especially on the days where I feel a little frustrated ‘Any situation can turn into an awesome experience as long as you approach it with a positive attitude and smile.’ And I believe this so much that you will see this quote pop up a lot in my blog posts because a smile goes a long way!

  2. Caroline
    Caroline May 12, 2014 at 9:42 am | | Reply

    So nice. Reading this made me want to hike that mountain and say hi to those sweet persons. It is really a nice and warm place.

  3. chinaelevatorstories
    chinaelevatorstories May 12, 2014 at 9:46 am | | Reply

    I love traveling to the Chinese countryside or visiting friends in smaller cities just for this reason. People there are usually very warm and welcoming and I always miss the atmosphere when I get back to Shenzhen.

    In some remote places, people will even slaughter a pig for the visitor – not just for foreign visitors, but also for Chinese ones. For them, it’s a good reason to celebrate and get some diversion from the hard work in the fields.

  4. Marta
    Marta May 12, 2014 at 7:55 pm | | Reply

    What a heartwarming story! I agree, people are always up for a chat in the countryside, not only in China but also in other countries.
    I still feel weird here when sharing the elevator with a neighbour, in Spain we would say hello, or good morning, or whatever but here you are not supposed to say anything. The same when entering a small shop, I always say nihao or I feel too rude haha.

  5. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen May 13, 2014 at 5:33 am | | Reply

    It’s delightful to hear how friendly and generous people are when you and Jon go for a walk. You must feel really happy when you watch him acting like a confident social butterfly. When my husband returned to his hometown, he’d been away so long that his clothes, haircut and walk branded him as foreigner to the people in Gulangyu. Fortunately, they warmed to him as soon as he opened his mouth.

  6. HadiSS
    HadiSS May 13, 2014 at 5:41 am | | Reply


    I’m so glad to hear the local people are so congenial to you and your husband. Wish some day every body will get such warm welcome in the entire China, not only in your area.

  7. Logan Lo
    Logan Lo May 13, 2014 at 6:17 am | | Reply

    This was a great entry to read; I think the right atmosphere can bring out the best in people – and, of course, the opposite is also completely true.

    I was just at my in-laws this past weekend in the suburbs and I didn’t realize how much I was used to the noise of the city until it went away.

    Glad to hear that you two are doing so well there!

  8. ordinary malaysian
    ordinary malaysian May 13, 2014 at 7:37 am | | Reply

    A wonderful story of the outdoors, sunshine, flowers and and smiles. Of country life and hospitality!

  9. Yuan
    Yuan May 13, 2014 at 10:36 am | | Reply

    I love this post Jocelyn! May I translate it in June,boss haha?
    P.s. love the picture

  10. Eileen黃愛玲
    Eileen黃愛玲 May 13, 2014 at 12:20 pm | | Reply

    Well, this post made me smile. 🙂

  11. Timo
    Timo May 13, 2014 at 3:32 pm | | Reply

    This is is a very nice story.

    I also realized that at least in the countryside parts of China which I visited most people were more friendly than in the city. More often than not we encounter bad comments or even racist ones from Chinese when walking through the streets but this never happened in small villages yet.

    It is often said than going abroad will make you grow further as a person and it appears it worked well for your husband (I think I also developed at least a tiny bit when I moved away from Germany and had to start from scratch all those years ago:) )

  12. Rene
    Rene May 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm | | Reply

    I love hearing about your life in the countryside! But, I’ve got to say – I live in Shanghai and even though you can get the “cold shoulder” – there are still many strangers here that wave, smile, and say hello. I’ve met a good deal of people in the parks here while admiring flowers ~ who are kind enough to tell me more about the types of plants here. There are plenty of people that wave and say hello on my (almost daily) walk to the subway station. Especially if I coo over an adorable dog they are walking! And then there are my regular spots (wet market, fruit stands, a handful of restaurants, convenient stores, and the video store) where everyone always is friendly and chatty!

    When I first came to live in Shanghai my husband said that the guards in our building complex (there are always about 3-5 standing outside directing cars) never waved, smiled, and said hello until I came to live with him. So I asked him “Did you ever wave, smile, or say hello?” To which he replied, “Well, no.”

    I could see the light-bulb go on over his head!

    So, maybe it just takes someone doing it first? It can get discouraging after the 100th time you’ve given someone a big smile and said “Hello!” and they just turn and walk away… but, it’s really worth it those few times you make new friends or have a refreshing chat with a stranger. 😀

  13. Kalvinator
    Kalvinator May 13, 2014 at 10:36 pm | | Reply

    Nice cap!

  14. Sveta
    Sveta May 14, 2014 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    What a lovely story. Yeah, its odd that in cities life tends to be cold, yet from what I know, in countryside there’s warmth towards strangers. Kind of interesting because one would think it would be reverse.

  15. Lina
    Lina May 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm | | Reply

    More I read your about what you experience in China’s countryside more I want to visit it instead of a big city 🙂
    you and John bring a smile to my face 🙂

  16. Ashleigh Son
    Ashleigh Son May 17, 2014 at 12:19 am | | Reply

    Love this post! Glad to hear you have some new caring friends in China as well. That must be nice after you have had to stay under the radar for a while. The picture looks beautiful as well! 🙂
    Ashleigh Son

  17. Sarah
    Sarah June 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm | | Reply

    After staying in my boyfriends rural village in China it completely changed my view of China, The first time i went to China i stayed in Nanjing city, and I felt that it was very impersonal walking on the street and that people really didn’t care about other passerby’s, but when I was in the countryside it was completely different I felt a real sense of community everybody knew each other people were more friendly. So I can totally relate

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