Double Happiness: Love on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Konchok and Kimberly

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Ever since I discovered the blog Nama-Mama back in April, I’ve been dying to know the love story behind it all. I mean, it’s not every day you run across a white American gal who fell in love with and married a Tibetan man. Well, I’m excited that Kimberly stepped forward to tell us all how she and Konchok met!

If you’ve ever been intrigued by life in far Western China, Tibetan culture, or just what it’s like to raise a multicultural, biracial child in an unusual locale, you don’t want to miss Nama-Mama.

Want to share your own love story or other guest post here on Speaking of China? Visit my submit a post page to learn how
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Before I went to live in Xining I sometimes joked to my parents that I might find a nice guy there and settle down. My mother always gave me a disapproving look, which I laughed off because I wasn’t serious. I went back to China because I missed it, and because I had the chance to go to a place out west, where I could be among Tibetans and other minorities.

I met an amazing Canadian woman there and we became really good friends. At the time she was an English teacher for an organization. After she got to know me well, and I had told her that I wouldn’t mind meeting a nice young man, she introduced one of her students: K.

I’d seen him at a couple of gatherings previously but we hadn’t talked. She gave me his phone number and we began to exchange text messages. Then one night when my friend was out of town I couldn’t open her apartment door to feed her cats. I called K to come and help me and he did. We finally got the door open, cleaned up the cat mess together, then I made tea and we put in a movie. We didn’t watch it though, we just talked.

After that we continued texting and going out together on weekends. I consider our trip to the South Mountain our first date. We brought a picnic lunch and found a quiet place among the pines. I told him I was afraid someone was going to steal my boots. Later he shouted “Kim! Your boots are gone!” I scrambled around worriedly looking for them and spotted them right where I left them. The guy had a sense of humor, and I liked that.

Kimberly and Konchok

It wasn’t long before he started to tell his family about me. First his brother, who was quite supportive, and then his parents, who were worried about various things such as the high divorce rate in America and the inevitability of me leaving him once I got homesick for my own country. Though their concerns were valid (they didn’t know me), K did what he always does when it came to his own life: whatever he wanted. And in this case, he wanted to marry me. (I later found out that once a Tibetan tells his family about his girlfriend it means that they will get married if the parents agree. Otherwise, children will never talk about their romantic relationships with their parents.)

He started to talk about marriage three months into our relationship, which freaked me out a little, but if I’m honest, I knew by four months together that we would get married. I told him that we’d have to wait at least one year to be really sure that we were compatible. The months went by peacefully and to this day we have never had a fight. His family has also come to know and like me and we all get along fine.

We are now nearing our second wedding anniversaries. We have a baby daughter who brings us a lot of joy. We are both really relaxed most of the time and take things easy. I can’t imagine sharing my life with anyone else.

Kimberly is an American woman living in Xining City, Qinghai Province, with her Tibetan husband and baby daughter.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Tibetan husbands, dating Chinese pop stars, and other unusual stories of Chinese men & Western women in love

Kumbum Ta'er monastry at Xining, Qinghai China (photo by Remko Tanis via Flickr.com)
Kumbum Ta’er monastry at Xining, Qinghai China (photo by Remko Tanis via Flickr.com)

This week, I’ve stumbled upon a number of incredibly unique stories in the blogosphere about Chinese men and Western women in love. While I’m on deadline these days (and need a break from my usual posts) I thought I would share some of these fantastic blogs/posts with you. Enjoy!

A Tibetan-American love story in Qinghai

Earlier this week, a reader tipped me off to a few new AMWF bloggers — and one of them fascinated me the moment I read the short intro in her blog’s sidebar:

I’m Kimberly, an American lady living in western China with my Tibetan husband and our beautiful baby girl

Wow.

Kimberly’s About page offers a glimpse into how it all happened:

Following my stint in the home of Peking Duck, I went back to the states to get my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. (That’s right, I am a certified librarian.) By then I was itching to get back to China and decided to make my home out west, where the air is cleaner, the food is heartier, and the people are diverse.

I used to joke with my parents before I left that I was going to find a nice man there and settle down. To my surprise and delight (and my mother’s disappointment) it really happened. K and I were married on July 28th 2012…

…and on August 2nd 2012. We had two weddings, one western style in the city and one Tibetan style in the village.

Boy, what I wouldn’t give to sit down with Kimberly and hear the details of how she met and married her husband! Still, since starting her blog in March 2014, she’s already offered a lot of insight into her fascinating and unique life, including why she loves China, what she and her husband eat at home, pregnancy and birth in Qinghai, and local expectations for new mothers. This is definitely one blog to watch.

Dating a Chinese Pop Star

I’ve had my share of relationships with Chinese men (including my marriage to John), but I’ll never know — as Hannah Lincoln has reported on Beijing Cream — what it’s like to date a Chinese pop star:

Xiao Li was part of a gang of pop-folk musicians that included not just his band mates, all singers, but also their brothers and cousins and mentors and girlfriends and gal pals.

I had gone that night to get my culture on and enjoy some folk music. Awkward but uninhibited, I picked off one of the shy ones to practice my Chinese. We were having a pleasant conversation until his strikingly handsome friend cut in. He said I was really pretty and clinked beers with me. When I replied in Chinese, he slapped his hand on his face – “Wah! I didn’t know you’d understand me!” He then asked for my number, said he wanted to treat me to a meal.

…After a few weeks, I looked up Xiao Li’s band on Baidu. Apparently they had won China’s version of American Idol and were a go-to choice for the Party at official events.

Hannah recounts her time as the girlfriend of a pop star in China with honesty about it all, including her own missteps in the relationship. It’s a long post, but also worth reading and discussing.

What one Chinese man thinks of his foreign girlfriend

It’s no secret the the vast majority of stories about Chinese men and Western women in love are written by the women. And if we do hear from the men, rarely is it about a relationship that blossomed in China — one that, for that matter, is still going strong.

That’s why I’ve loved this recent post from C, the boyfriend of Spanish blogger Marta of Marta Lives in China. Here’s a snippet of his post, which reads like a valentine to Marta:

But Marta changed my point of view. She knows what is the real happy life, she prefers traveling to different countries rather than buying a CHANEL, she thinks we do not need to buy a house of our own(sorry but that is still one of my shot-term aims), she prefers walking more than driving a car, she is so kind and so nice to every member of my family, she is always so kind and polite, and she loves music.

Marta, he’s a keeper!

Check out the full post here, including a unique photo of the couple with tropical flowers in their hair.

Have you come across any unusual stories of Chinese men and Western women in love? Share them — or link to them — in the comments!

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We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

Double Happiness: Tunisian woman & Shanghai man live happily ever after

Sabine and her Shanghainese husband.
Sabine and her husband, who live happily ever after in Dubai.

It’s always a thrill to hear from yangxifu around the world, especially countries outside the usual Anglosphere (Australia, North America, the UK). So when Sabine, a woman from Tunisia, sent me a lovely photo of her with her Shanghainese husband, I leapt at the opportunity to share the story of how they met in Tunisia, married, and moved to Dubai.

Wishing this beautiful couple success in the year of the horse!

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I am a Tunisian woman. Seven months ago, I married a man from Shanghai.

The first time we met was in 2012. He came to Tunisia for a business meeting. At that time I was a student and the company that happened to host him was also training me.

While he was visiting the company, we had some conversations. He said he wanted to know more about Tunisia and visit our tourist attractions. We exchanged e-mails. Then we met up a couple of times, where we had coffee together and enjoyed a nice Tunisian lunch. Before he left Tunisia he gave me his phone number in Dubai and his Facebook ID so we could keep in touch.

Within three months, our relationship evolved from normal friends to “shy lovers”. I became so attached to him and found myself falling in love with him. He is always nice, tender, understanding and wise. These qualities are very hard to find nowadays in Tunisian men.

Eventually we decided to get engaged after my graduation. Initially, my family was very surprised with my choice. After they met him, they liked his personality and realized that his values were the same as ours.

We married in Spring 2013. His family couldn’t attend the wedding because of distance and the cost of airplane tickets, but they offered us their blessings. His best friend, however, was able to partake in the celebrations. One month after our wedding, I followed him to Dubai, where we now live together. Next year we hope to visit his family in China.

I would like to encourage single women out there to give Chinese men a chance. While I’ve only dated a few men, I never met a man as honest, committed and affectionate as my husband.

Sabine and her husband are enjoying their happily ever after together in Dubai.

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We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

Double Happiness: How Alex married Fei, and became a wedding planner in Qingdao, China

Canadian Alex calls it destiny. She went to China in June 2010 as an exchange student, never realizing she would leave her heart in Qingdao — and end up becoming a wedding planner together with her husband, Fei.

Today, they run H-Flower together in Qingdao, and their story is as beautiful as the designs they create for weddings and more. Even better, Alex shares her how-we-met-and-married tale in two languages — and has graciously provided a video starring the two of them (with subtitles in English and Chinese). In addition to their company website, you can also follow Alex and Fei’s company on Weibo.

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Our hometowns share an ocean, but are on different continents. We both celebrate a new year, but at a different time. We both have parents, but only one of us has siblings.

I can tell the story of how Fei and I met in two languages. This type of meeting is called 缘分 (yuanfen) which depicts that by fate or destiny two people come together.

Like most foreigners here I began my journey as an exchange student in June 2010. At the same time Fei agreed to help his friend by teaching a class on Business in China. Fei studied and lived in Dublin, Ireland for nine years. When we met it was not in Canada, it was not in Ireland, nor was it in Fei’s hometown Qingdao (青岛). We met in a small suburb outside the city, in an old classroom on the 6th floor.

In class we exchanged cards and arranged to meet later on. We went with several friends for a dinner of roast duck, which led to night market shopping, and further an intimate pot of blue mountain coffee shared between the two of us. After coffee I followed like a puppy to watch a football match in a pub even though I had never been a fan.

Fei

The next day I left to Xi’an. It was painful leaving but the Terracotta warriors, Yangzte River, and Wuhan Dam all distracted me for a little while. As I traveled throughout China we kept in contact every day via text message. Through these short but meaningful first messages we subtly developed our relationship.

We met in a classroom, bonded over coffee, and spent only one week together in Qingdao, China before I had to fly home to Canada. Over the distance our relationship grew closer and commitment solidified.

Today we work side-by-side creating weddings and events here in Qingdao. Everyday we share a cup of coffee together, we make jokes and laugh in both languages, and when I am not at home working we are often crazily texting each other about some little wedding detail or color combination.

Alex, doing a floral arrangement for a wedding.

It feels surreal to think that my small exchange student opportunity has opened up this entire new world. I am fluent in Chinese, married to a wonderful husband, and we are both building our careers and future together everyday.

It’s quite complicated how we came to be in the wedding industry. After we were engaged we of course began to think about how to arrange and coordinate an international wedding party. We also went to check out a few of the local wedding planners (婚庆公司). At first I saw their weddings and just didn’t really understand how there was such a huge T-shaped stage, many different colored lights, and aisle decorations that were nearly touching the ceiling? I thought to myself this isn’t the wedding that I imagined and just doesn’t feel right.

So after some trials and tribulations and meeting the right people, in May 2011 we had our first wedding client (a friend of a friend of course). Our first wedding was an amazing (and frustrating) learning experience about the different between Western and Chinese style weddings. I learned very quickly that creating hand-made seating arrangements for 300+ people just do not work!

One year later I had the chance to design and create our own wedding. I wanted to give my Chinese family and friends the experience of what a western style wedding is like. We were married by the sea, in the yard of a 100 year old building, we ate delicious steak and drank wine, we danced, we ate cake, and we drank some more. It was the best day of my life and Fei agrees it was his too.

Our company is growing, we are learning so much everyday and being challenged in every way possible. I feel honored that I can help other brides and grooms create the same wonderful memories that we had after our wedding day.

我来自加拿大的西海岸, 我未婚夫来自中国的东海岸。 我经常会被问到我们相遇的故事,通常我都会用中文和英文一起来描绘这一段。

2010年春天,我当时的大学组织到到青岛的一所合作大学交流学习。我从没有想到过会来到中国,但是还是欣然接收了这为期6周的越洋学习的机会。我未婚夫的朋友当时请他帮忙来这所大学教一节“在中国做生意”的课,用英文。第一次我看见他,第一次听见他的声音,我知道我喜欢他整个人 。

(photo by TANG VISION from Shanghai www.tangvision.com)

他在跟我们讲经济的时候我当时在凝视他的眼睛… … 之后有一次机会,我们和我的朋友,我们一起去吃饭,然后逛街,一直到只剩我们两个人的一壶醉人的蓝山咖啡。那天晚上,我就高兴的跟着他去看足球比赛(世界杯),在那之前我从来不看足球比赛,但是突然间我发觉紧张的被这项运动吸引了。

那天晚上,Fei送我回到我朋友的楼下,第二天我就要去西安旅行了,一去就是十天。刚刚遇到他就要离开让我很舍不得。 当我游览中国的名胜古迹(也是最热的城市)的时候我们每天都不断的互发短信。 当时我还不确定他对我的感觉,直到当我收到一条消息,说,“我想你”。那个时候我就想马上回到青岛!

我们在教室里遇到,一壶咖啡让我们靠近,在我回加拿大之前我们在一起短短的一周时间。当时的我不知道我们之间会发生什么但是我有强烈的愿望要回来。我们各自恢复了正常的生活,我回到了学校,Fei开始了一家公司(每天我们都用Skype和QQ在网上见面。随着时间过去我们的感情也成长了,秋天的时候,我们彼此知道心里只有对方。现在的我坐在这里看着我手指上美丽的订婚戒指,其他的都仿佛是历史了。

Alex lives with her husband Fei in Qingdao, China, where she is the executive designer, florist and stylist for H-Flower.

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We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

From the Archives: Favorite love stories from Chinese men

While Western women overwhemingly step up to share their stories love found and love lost, some of the most memorable submissions came from Chinese men. As I continue to prepare for my move to China, I’m digging into the archives this Friday to share a few of my favorites. Let’s hear it for the boys! 😉

Double Happiness: Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back. When Shanghai-based writer Chenyin Pan studied in the US, he never expected he would find love with a black woman.

Double Happiness: How A Chinese Man Found Love in Brazil. If you’ve followed this website for some time, chances are you recognize Fred, one of the most active male commenters. Well Fred shared his fascinating tale of how he came to marry a white woman from Brazil.

Double Happiness: Chinese Man Moves to Mexico, Finds Love. How far would you go to change your life? For Hao, his journey took him all the way to Mexico, where he found a new career — and a new love

Why limit yourself? Logan Lo shares his interracial dating story

(photo by kevin dooley via Flickr.com)

Logan Lo wrote, “Life limits you enough, why do it to yourself?” That’s true in many things, including the dating scene he writes about today in his guest post. An Asian-American blogger in New York City who authored the book The Men Made of Stone, Logan stepped outside of his own comfort zone in interracial dating — and eventually met his Irish/Italian-American wife.

Thanks so much to Logan for sharing his story!

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When America was young, the last place you’d expect to be the preeminent United States city was New York. After all, it was solidly occupied by the British for the entirety of the war. It should have been Boston, Philadelphia, or even Charleston.

But a great fire happened in 1776, which burned much of Manhattan; so much so that the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 allowed them to re-map city streets into the current, orderly, grid-pattern. Immigrants – like my parents – who then came to America found that they could navigate the streets, even if they couldn’t speak the language well.

We all have these fires in our lives, don’t we? And we face that choice to let it leave us broken, unchanged, or better.

Essentially, all of your life’s problems can be divided up into three categories: Health, wealth, and relationships. When I was 33, all three of these things took a massive hit. It was my great fire, if you will.

As I tried to right myself, took it as an opportunity to not just get my life back to where it once was, but to make it better.

Health and wealth each probably deserves their own entries so let’s just talk about relationships.

On that front, I realized that, like most people, I just kind of ended up with the people I dated. They were always women that were just hanging around with people I hung around with and we just gravitated towards each other. At 33 years of age, I never walked up to a total stranger and said, “Hi, what’s your name?”

So that’s exactly what I did for few years.

Along the way, in addition to meeting and finding out about all of these really interesting people, I found out more about myself.

For example, I learned that there are a lot of 22-year-old women out there in the party scene. Unfortunately, I also learned that 22 year olds and 34 year olds generally do not have a lot in common.

Something I found out about myself was that I liked girls with colored eyes.

It’s just a thing. Everyone has a thing.

But this particular thing meant that I – as an Asian-American – was often asking out people that weren’t Asian. And I heard something so often that I had a pat answer for it:

Her: You’re the first Asian guy I’ve ever been attracted to.
Me: Ah, you’re missing out. We’re lovely. Plus, wait until you meet the really good looking ones.

Which brings me to the point of this post and the most important thing I learned about myself during those dating years: Life limits you enough, why do it to yourself?

Let me be honest and tell you that the first year or so of me talking to complete strangers was absolutely terrifying. I’d never done anything like that before. I always had one reason or another to do it because it was outside my comfort zone.

After all, things outside your comfort zone are, by definition, uncomfortable.

And when you’re not comfortable, you either stop what you’re doing or stop making excuses and deal with the discomfort. I decided to do the latter.

I cannot tell you the number of times where I’m out with friends and one of them shot themselves down before someone else could.

Him: Let’s get outta here.
Me: Why?
Him: There’re four or five guys to every girl here.
Me: Come on, we’re having a good time. (laughing) Besides, there’re four or five regular guys to every girl here. There’s only one set of you and me. These, my friend, are great odds.

Along the way, I met a beautiful girl who has become my favorite person in the world. She has green eyes, an easy laugh, and a surprising tolerance for all my little idiosyncrasies.

And I was the only non-white person my wife ever dated. And this was true with almost all of the women I dated.

The thing is, I wouldn’t be happily married to my favorite person in the world, nor have met all these people, if I let kept shooting myself down before someone else had the chance to do so.

Do you know the story of the four-minute mile?

Essentially, for thousands of years, it was thought that it was impossible that someone could run a mile in less than four minutes. But in 1954, a fella named Roger Bannister ran it in 3:59.4 minutes.

Since 1954, so many people have broken the “four-minute barrier” that’s it’s gone from an impossibility to “the standard of all male professional middle distance runners.”

Even more interesting is the fact that Bannister did it while he was a full-time medical student! The world limited him enough and he chose not to do it to himself.

So then, I end this entry with a conversation I had dozens of times while I was out and about.

Me: So what’s your story morning glory?
Her: (rolling eyes) Does that line really work?
Me: You’re talking to me aren’t you?
Her: (laughs)

Life limits you enough. Why do it to yourself?

Logan Lo is a native New Yorker who’s been blogging since 2006. In between practicing law by day and teaching Filipino fencing by night, he’s managed to get married and write a popular article on online dating titled “eHarmony vs. Match,” as well as a book on Asian gangs titled The Men Made of Stone. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and his plant, Harold.

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We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

Three Words From a Chinese Father

(photo by somecanuckchick via Flickr.com)

Almost two months ago, while scanning through my inbox, I came across a post called How to be Mistaken for a Prostitute in China. What a title — and what dazzling writing. I devoured the entire post, right down to the byline introducing the author and her forthcoming memoir about her experiences in China.

That’s how I first discovered Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, and I’m thrilled to be sharing her essay with you, titled “Three Words From a Chinese Father”. 

Dorcas’ story revolves around something I’ve touched upon in the past — how Chinese families show their love through actions, not words. She explores this as she looks back on her relationship with her late father, a man who had never told her “I love you”.

Thanks so much to Dorcas for contributing her work! 

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“I miss you,” my father said to me over the phone.

I hadn’t seen him for four days. He had been in the hospital for more weeks than I could keep track of, and had recently been transferred to a specialist hospital about an hour away from home. I was only a freshman in high school at the time, so I had to attend school during the week and could only visit him on weekends. My mom spent most nights at the hospital with him while I stayed home alone.

My surprise lasted only a couple seconds, during which I became very still and swallowed hard. “I miss you too,” I choked out, holding back tears. They were the three most significant words my father had ever said to me.

When he passed away less than a month later, they became the most significant words he would ever say to me. He had never said “I love you” to me. That night was the first and only time he ever told me he missed me.

My father had never been a man of many words. He left that to my mother, the chatty, extroverted half of the pair. For years I barely understood what he did for a living. All I knew was that he was an engineer, which in my young mind meant one thing: trains. I imagined my dad driving steam engines across the back roads of America, always somehow returning home in time for dinner. (He was, in fact, an electrical engineer.) I certainly knew nothing about his childhood in Guangdong Province in China, the few years he spent there before the realities of the new Communist regime prompted his family to send him away to Hong Kong.

I’m sure being the only male in a family with three women—his wife and two daughters—didn’t help. My father would often escape to the garage to tinker with small pieces of technology—a circuit board, a watch, a cassette player. He would take a Chinese-language novel with him to the bathroom or bedroom and remain out of sight for hours. Or he would park himself in front of the television to watch a San Francisco 49ers football game.

By the time I was ten, I had become an obsessive 49ers fan. It had started from curiosity, from a young girl’s intangible desire to connect with her father, but it soon became my own passion. I would pepper my dad with questions about the rules, about certain plays, about this player or that coach. He didn’t seem to mind having his younger daughter impose upon his weekly ritual; I suspect he secretly relished it. We fueled one another’s passions for the sport to the point where we drove my mother and sister a little nuts with our single-minded devotion. I promised my dad that as soon as I was old enough to work and earn money, I would take him to a 49ers game.

I began following my father into other arenas of his life. When my mom and sister went shopping for clothes at the mall, I would go with my dad to the bookstore. I watched with awe as he practiced his pseudo kung fu moves with a wooden rod from a closet. I often stood behind his chair with my chin resting on his head as he and my mom lingered after a meal.

He enjoyed telling corny jokes at the dinner table, jokes that often made my mom groan and roll her eyes. I would always laugh loudly at his jokes, even when I didn’t understand them, and was rewarded by a knowing, just-between-us grin that my dad would send across the table. In those fleeting moments, I may not have understood what he meant, but I felt like I understood him.

It’s hard for me to explain why I felt this way. In many regards my dad was the stereotypical Chinese father. He didn’t trouble himself with the day-to-day details of raising two daughters. He wasn’t the type to shower us with hugs or kisses. He wasn’t the one we went to when we were in need of parental advice. Looking back, I can’t remember a single conversation of deep significance that I had with my father.

But this is what he did do: on one of the rare occasions he cooked dinner for the family, he made salt-and-pepper prawns with so much salt and pepper that my sister and I were raving about it for weeks. (My mother promptly scolded him and switched us back to bland, low-salt food the following day.) He sincerely thanked my sister and me every time we gave him yet another striped tie for Christmas. He watched Beauty and the Beast and other Disney movies with me. He let me into his world and the things he loved on a regular basis. But he just didn’t let me in; he welcomed me and let me know—somehow, without words—that he was delighted to be sharing these things with me.

And finally, just weeks before we had to say goodbye forever, he overcame thousands of years of cultural norms and said aloud what he actually felt: “I miss you.” At the time none of us thought he wouldn’t make it; we were convinced that a cure or a miracle was just around the corner. I wonder, though, if my dad knew he was running out of time, which is why he chose to give me what remains one of my most precious memories of him all these years later.

Those are not the three words that we typically think of in American culture. “I love you” has taken on the status of myth and legend, three tiny words with the power of giants to slay or fairy godmothers to bring enchanted happy endings. We wonder if any relationship can ever feel authentic or complete without these words. Even I have occasionally fallen into this trap.

My dad never told me he loved me—at least, not in words. In the end, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I knew he loved me. And with each passing year that he’s not in my life, I know it with even more certainty.

I miss you too, Daddy.

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Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is a writer and editor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience as a Chinese American living in Shenzhen, China. Learn more at www.transformativewords.com or follow her on Twitter: @dorcas_ct.

Double Happiness: “I Want To Be Your Slave For The Rest of My Life”

Charlotte and Santiago (photo courtesy of Charlotte)

This is the story of how Charlotte, “a shy, Midwestern American girl” who is also a writer, mom and blogger at Chinese Potpourri, ended up marrying a Chinese guy — with no traditional proposal, and even no huge wedding banquets. Theirs is a subtle and surprising romance, which includes perhaps one of the most unusual ways I’ve ever heard a man express his true love for someone: “I want to be your slave for the rest of my life.”

And ultimately, Charlotte also shares a universal truth based on her experience: “I’ve realized that even though our story is unconventional and unexciting, it’s special because it’s ours.” Well said. 

Thanks so much to Charlotte for contributing her story! Continue reading “Double Happiness: “I Want To Be Your Slave For The Rest of My Life””

Double Happiness: “Enter Zhao Ming…China’s Answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger”

Ming and Rosalie at their wedding in 2007 (Photo courtesy of Rosalie Zhao)

I love stories that challenge stereotypes about Chinese men. Well, you can’t get much better than this love story, where a white American woman goes to China and ends up falling for a guy she considers the Chinese version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks to Rosalie Zhao for sharing her amazing story, which just might inspire more Western women out there to give Chinese men a chance.

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Thanks to a relative’s cute Chinese neighbor, I went through a brief phase of yellow fever in high school. It came and went in the same fashion as most things (Josh Hartnett, Doc Martens) I pined after during my teenage years. I didn’t think my attraction to Asians would resurface, even as I packed my bags for my post-college teach in China stint. Just a week before I left, in February 2005, my cousin Nicky called it, “You’re gonna fall in love in China.” I couldn’t help but laugh.

Fast-forward a couple months later and you’d find me in China, sweating it out at the local gym. I’d never been much of a gym rat, but with a 12 hour per week teaching schedule, virtually no English-language television, and no home internet (remember—this was 2005 and I was in a small Chinese city) all that was left to do was hop on a treadmill.

Me exercising is no picture of grace and beauty, nor is it a time during which I enjoy critique or idle chit-chat. Enter Zhao Ming, seemingly China’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger. As I made my feeble attempts to use five pound free weights, Ming took it upon himself to criticize my form. While I understand now that Chinese people often offer unsolicited advice as a gesture of kindness, at the time I was thoroughly annoyed. Who did this meathead think he was? And he could hardly speak English!

Ming and Rosalie in June 2005 (Photo courtesy of Rosalie Zhao)

Though awkward, I was relieved by our failure to communicate. It meant Mr. Muscles would leave me alone. It wasn’t but a few days later, while I was on the treadmill jogging, thoroughly red-faced, that he made his second approach. I tried to politely ignore him, but as anyone living in China knows, you cannot politely ignore a Chinese person who really wants something. This guy was on a mission. In a tone that sounded a bit rehearsed, he asked, “Can I with you walk home?”

I decided it was best to stick with honesty. “Oh, sorry. I have to go home and take a shower,” I replied. His face was thrown into a state of utter confusion. He really didn’t understand English. Continuing my jog, I began to pantomime while yelling, “US, NO WALK. ME, GO HOME. SHOWER.” His face lit up; he understood. But a second later his expression collapsed, realizing I wasn’t willing to walk with him.

Over the course of the next two weeks we repeated the same song and dance—him asking to walk me home and me gesturing my refusals. It wasn’t until one night that he cornered me at the gym exit that I finally decided to give him a chance. What was the harm in letting him walk with me?

So we walked, with few words, just his bicycle and our foolish grins between us. He stopped and bought us each a yogurt, then carefully unwrapped the straw and stuck it in the drink, smiling at me widely. I felt my insides melt. When we reached my apartment I decided to run upstairs quickly to grab my Lonely Planet phrasebook. Somehow we fuddled through an hour’s worth of “conversation” before it started to rain lightly. We quickly ran into the building’s stairwell, laughing. Then he kissed me. In that moment I somehow knew that I could, in fact, find love in China. And here we are, eight years later, five years married, and still very much in love.

Rosalie with Ming and his family in December 2011 (Photo courtesy of Rosalie Zhao)

Ming later revealed to me that his approach at the gym exit was going to be his final attempt to ask me out. I’m so glad I didn’t turn him down. Looking back, I’m not sure why I found the thought of finding love in China so humorous and inconceivable. In a country of 1.3 billion people, the majority of them male, why did finding a boyfriend seem so implausible? My closed-mindedness and arrogance nearly cost me the love of my life. A cautionary tale? Maybe. But more importantly, just a reminder—anything is possible, even love for the single foreign female in China!

Rosalie Zhao resides with her husband in Hebei, China, where she writes a blog in Chinese and English called An American Woman in China.

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We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.

Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National

Alex and Michelle Guo visiting San Diego, California, USA (photo courtesy of Michelle Guo)

Chinese American Michelle Guo — a fellow blogger and personal friend — shares her story of how she went to China and ended up marrying Alex, a man from Henan Province.

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Four years ago when I first came to Beijing, locals asked me what brought me back to China. The question always threw me off, since I was born in Portland, spent most of my life in California, and had never been to China before. I’m Chinese-American and was raised by my mom, who is anything BUT a traditional Chinese parent. My values, thinking, and culture are very Western, which is why I assumed that whoever I married, no matter what ethnicity, would also be American, or at the very least a Westerner.

Sometimes it’s really, really nice to make the wrong assumption. Continue reading “Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National”