More recently, the couple has built up a business selling blankets in a rainbow of brilliant hues — and is gaining a following for the beauty and quality of their Tibetan-style products.
How did it all come about? Kimberly has graciously written a guest post sharing the story behind Shema-lep Tibetan Style Blankets.
If you’d like to learn more or make a purchase, you can connect with Shema-lep Tibetan Style Blankets through WeChat (by scanning the QR code in the photo below) or through Facebook and Instagram.
As a foreigner living in a minority area in China, I have had the opportunity to enjoy traditional handicrafts around every corner. I’ve also had the chance to spend time with and observe other foreign visitors to the area. One thing we all seem to have in common is an admiration for traditional Tibetan clothing.
Having married into a Tibetan family has also taught me a lot over the years. I’ve been able to get to know people in my husband’s hometown and the surrounding area, see how their lives are, and watch the rapid changes happening there.
The idea for our Tibetan-style blankets came to me after realizing a few different things.
Even though the traditional robes Tibetans wear daily or for special occasions are beautiful and readily available for purchase, they do not make very good souvenirs or gifts for visitors. This is because there aren’t many opportunities to wear them once visitors go back home. I wanted to provide something similar to these robes that everyone can use, display and enjoy.
I have learned a bit about Tibetan tailors in my husband’s hometown area. Most are elderly; young people are not learning the trade. The culture has changed in recent years due to shifts in the economy and education. Now, instead of patching up old robes or asking tailors to make new ones, people buy new premade robes in shops. This means less and less work for local tailors.
By employing seasoned village tailors to make blankets in the style of their Tibetan robes, we can improve their incomes while providing useful and cultural home furnishings. It is our hope that our success will help Tibetans realize the beauty and value of their traditional crafts, and inspire an interest in preserving them for future generations.
At the moment, our main tailor Tsoko is working on the majority of our blanket orders. At the same time she is providing for her 80-year-old mother and middle school-aged son. As a single parent and sole caretaker of her mother, she is the only earner in her family. She has been working odd jobs to make ends meet. We are happy to be able to provide her with a more regular income and to reduce the strain on her family’s finances.
Because our blankets are so beautifully colorful, like butterflies, we chose to name our business Shema-lep, the word for “butterfly” in the Amdo Tibetan language.
Shema-lep Tibetan Style Blankets lets customers choose from a variety of colors, materials and sizes. All of the materials available are the same materials Tibetans use to make their modern-day robes. Now real sheep and lambskin blankets are available as well. We are pleased to be able to provide something that is both authentically Tibetan and beautifully useful in any home. We are looking forward to growing and helping more tailors in the future. We enjoy sharing Tibetan culture through textiles and stories. Thank you for reading our story.
A huge thank you to Kimberly for sharing this story! If you’d like to learn more or make a purchase, you can connect with Shema-lep Tibetan Style Blankets through WeChat (by scanning the QR code in the photo below) or through Facebook and Instagram.
As summer vacation has begun, this time of enchantment, love and travel feels like the perfect time to focus on a couple whose lives truly symbolize the spirit of the season — Australian Janet DeNeefe and Balinese Ketut Suardana, the duo behind some of the most magical dining and hospitality businesses in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
A native of Melbourne, Australia, Janet DeNeefe found herself captivated with Bali when she first traveled to the island with family in 1974, and on a return trip in 1984, fell in love once again — this time, with a particular person, as described by an article published on the Four Seasons:
She met a Balinese man named Ketut, who at the time owned a successful art gallery and was studying political science in Denpasar. Within five years, she had moved there, the pair had wed, and they had opened their first restaurant, Lilies, on Monkey Forest Road.
DeNeefe had also fallen in love with Ubud, its people and the idea of helping visitors find their own love of her adopted hometown. This passion would transform DeNeefe into a tireless mini mogul, in a town where most expats are on permanent holiday.
Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana went on to open Casa Luna and the Indus Restaurant, both premier dining spots in Bali, along with the top-rated Honeymoon Guesthouse. DeNeefe also launched the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in the 2000s and, more recently, the Ubud Food Festival. Some have dubbed her the “Queen of Ubud” and even compared her fairytale life to the acclaimed memoir Eat, Pray, Love (though it’s worth noting Janet DeNeefe wrote her own memoir titled Fragrant Rice).
In an interview in the Honeycombers, DeNeefe speaks of how the love between her and Ketut has evolved over the years:
Ketut, my husband – he’s around somewhere! We survive by staying out of each other’s hair. 80 percent of stuff we agree to, the other 20 percent we definitely don’t! You’re never going to be completely in tune after all. As you get older, it’s a different sort of love; it’s a deeper, more solid sense of security – where you know that you belong. It’s about having a family and being happy together.
I can laugh my way through anything, which works in Bali because there’s a real kind of ribald, slapstick humour here. After meeting my husband, our businesses grew, our families grew, and that was that!
You can explore the creations of Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana by visiting the websites for Casa Luna (which served up some of the most memorable meals I enjoyed on two trips to Bali), the Indus Restaurant, and the Honeymoon Guesthouse. To learn more about Janet DeNeefe, visit her website or pick up a copy of her memoir Fragrant Rice.
What do you think about Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana?
Among the many talented foreign women who happened to marry Chinese men, there’s Kenyan Ruth Njeri, who rose to fame – and found love – on the stage in China.
Njeri is also known in China as “非洲茉莉花“ (fēizhōu mòlìhuā, the “African jasmine flower”), a nickname she received from the country’s former president Hu Jintao after meeting him and singing together with him the Chinese folk song “茉莉花” (Jasmine Flower) in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2006, which landed her in the national TV news in China. As China Daily reported in an April 7, 2013, story titled Chinese Tones:
Njeri’s patience and persistence in learning Mandarin paid off in April 2006 when Hu Jintao, then China’s president, visited Kenya. Because of her progress in Chinese, she was selected from the Confucius Institute to meet him.
“I was quite nervous meeting him, and I heard my voice trembling while talking to him. He is actually a nice person who is very approachable and likes to chat with young people.”
Njeri completed her studies at Nairobi’s Confucius Institute in June that year and moved to China to pursue a degree in language and literature at Tianjin Normal University a month later.
She also received a scholarship for her studies, thanks to winning the Chinese Bridge Competition in Kenya.
In the next several years, she went on to appear numerous times in TV shows on networks all across China, including the country’s prominent China Central Television, or CCTV, which named her one of the most influential foreigners of 2007.
But her greatest moment – the one that changed her life and love forever – came with her high-profile singing performance in the 2011 Spring Festival Gala, or Chunwan, China’s annual Chinese New Year’s Eve show broadcast across the country on CCTV on the most important night of the year. That year, she shared the stage with Ya Xing, a Chinese man she first met in a Shanghai:
Ya, 40, hails from Luoyang, an industrial city in Central China’s Henan province. He met Njeri, 34, from Nairobi, Kenya in a restaurant in Shanghai while she was studying on a Chinese government scholarship. At the time, they were both participating in the World Expo and met again a month later in Shanghai just before sharing a stage during the CCTV Spring Festival Gala in Beijing in 2011.
“It was fate, Yuánfèn“, Ya said.
The two of them would go on to perform together on TV many times.
Njeri also sang for the 2013 Spring Festival Gala as well (a year that saw Celine Dion perform for the event).
Three years ago, Ya Xing married Ruth Njeri before his friends and family in China. He is considered brave among his peers for starting a new life in Kenya but the ebullient entrepreneur, once a TV host, does not think so.
“I am in love,” he said. “It might look complicated to marry into a new culture, but I think people think too much of it.”
Read the full story — and see a photo of the delightful couple — at China Daily.
German Esther Haubensack (Hao Lianlu, 郝莲露) is best known in China as the American wife Diana in the popular Chinese TV series “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” (外来媳妇本地郎), which has aired since 2000 and tells the story of a Chinese family in Guangzhou with four sons and their “outside” wives (whether from outside their region or outside the country). She has impressed many viewers by her ability to speak excellent Cantonese in her role, a language that some consider even more challenging than Mandarin.
But she has also captured the hearts of the Chinese public for another reason – in real life, she married a local Beijing taxi driver.
But while she was a student, she also met Wang Hongye, a Beijing taxi driver. At the time, she wasn’t so familiar with Beijing, and Wang was happy to serve as her “guide,” showing her all around the city. An article published in Chinese on Sina talks about how their courtship and eventual marriage, and here’s my translation of that excerpt:
Every time they went out to dinner, Wang Hongye would actively pay the bill. Hao Lianlu [Esther Haubensack] would feel embarrassed, and beneath the table would secretly stuff money [into his hands]. Hao Lianlu said, “I knew he didn’t have money in his pocket, but I also couldn’t allow him to lose face.”
After she finished her studies at Peking University, she decided to marry Wang Hongye. This international love really wasn’t as romantic as imagined. Hao Lianlu said, her husband had never said words like, “I love you.” The two of them together was just one small bit of everyday life.
Esther Haubensack and Wang Hongye got married in 1995. Nowadays, they reside with their two children in Guangzhou, where Haubensack has taken on a number of TV roles including Diana in “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” (外来媳妇本地郎). She credits Wang for being a very supportive husband, as chronicled in this report:
She said, “Luckily, my husband is always there with me. He cooks for me, shares the chores, and takes care of the children when I am busy. To help me adhere to breast[feeding], he took the child to travel around with me during that period of time. Sometimes, I would go to the studio at 8:00 am and come back at noon to feed the child; if I get no time to come back home, he would take the child to the studio, so that I can make time to feed the child. Without him, I couldn’t have pulled all this off. He is always there for me.”
In a China where many still believe men should be the major breadwinners in the family, it’s refreshing to see a guy like Wang Hongye truly stepping up so his wife could still have her career.
If you would like to watch Esther Haubensack in action, take a look at these videos on Youtube and QQ video.
Have you heard of Esther Haubensack before or her marriage to taxi driver Wang Hongye? What do you think of her story?
If you’ve never heard of Lita (also known as China’s cookie queen on WeChat) you’re missing out on some heavenly desserts. Especially her pie cookies.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Lita came to China looking for adventure, and found a husband here as well as her groove in the baking business. She opened Sweet Tooth Confections and now sells her delectable cookies across China, with plans to start a “cookie of the month” club. Lita’s pie cookies — the goodness of a homemade pie, baked into a convenient cookie size — are a big reason people keep coming back for more.
Plus, it’s not hard to love Lita, who shines happiness upon everyone in her friendly little corner of WeChat.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to Lita and Sweet Tooth Confections through this interview. To order Lita’s cookies on WeChat, just scan the QR code below and add her on WeChat (her WeChat ID is “Chocolatasian”). (Note: delivery limited to residents of China.)
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Shalita, but most people just call me Lita. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After high school, I moved in with my grandmother and attended Georgia State University. During that time my grandmother developed uterine cancer, and in my senior year passed away. Nine short months later, my mother passed away. I was just turning 21. Maybe my mother knew that she didn’t have much time left because after my grandmother’s funeral, she made me make her two promises if anything was to happen to her. Promise number one was to not let anyone separate us and promise number two was that my brother and sister get an education. At age 21 I became guardian and mother to an 8-year-old and a 13-year-old who had no parents and no grandparents. I dropped out of college and devoted my life raising and loving them. Many years later after the kids had grown and gone, I found that I didn’t have much of a life. I had never even had a boyfriend. They had become my everything. A decision that I have never regretted. What I did regret was that I hadn’t spent enough time building a life for myself. I had been working for the government for 9 plus years. I had a good job with great benefits. I was good at my job, had a nice apartment downtown, but something was missing. So I went back to school, which led me to China and led me to my husband. I always told my brother and sister, we are not defined by the pain and loss we have suffered, but shaped by them to become better people. I never allowed them to feel sorry for themselves, to wallow in self-pity, or to use excuses. Now my brother is married and the proud father of four. He is a very successful military man. He has done very well for himself and family. My sister is a professional chef and mother of three with two degrees. As for me, I am creating and living my dream.
How did you first come to China?
I first came to China in 2006 on a study abroad trip through my university. It was a great experience and I not only made lasting memories, but I also made some great friends. Afterwards, I went back to life as usual, but I knew that I wanted to someday return. In 2009, I reconnected with a friend from that time and she asked me when I was coming back. Long story short, a few months later I was back in China, this time as a teacher instead of a student and embarking on a new adventure.
You reside in Yiwu with your husband, who is Chinese. How did you two meet?
I met my husband at church. I was working in Jinhua at the time, which didn’t have an English church service. A friend told me about services in Yiwu. So, every Sunday I would travel by bus to attend the service. My first Sunday there, the Pastor asked me to teach classes after service. I agreed and started teaching that very same day. My husband was in that class. The topic was about being single and waiting. My husband made a comment about how he had lost faith in love because Chinese women were only concerned about money. I asked him if they were blind, crazy or both, because he was so handsome. He smiled and that was it for me. Love at first smile. Let him tell it, it was the same for him. I continued to visit the church and become quite active. I harbored feelings for him the next years and a half. In 2011 he was moving to another city for a job and the only person alive that knew how I felt about him decided that he should know before he moved away. It turns out that he felt the same way. We were married the following year in 2012.
How did you start your business, Sweet Tooth Confections?
I was always baking and posting pictures on my moments on WeChat. My friends would comment on how delicious it looked and several suggested that I start a business. I had thought about starting a business but I was really having a hard time personally. I hadn’t been back home in over six years and I was constantly battling homesickness. My husband and I were also trying to overcome serious cultural differences that were putting a strain on our marriage. I wanted to start a business but I was not in the right frame of mind. So, I let it go. During that time a good friend, Jo Bai moved to my city and I took a much-needed trip back home. She gave me a well-deserved kick in the butt. My trip home rejuvenated me and gave me clarity and perspective. I came back to China with a new attitude. Months passed and I had no idea how I was going to start. Initially it was going to be a joint venture between myself and Jo, but even that seemed to move slow. Then during the holidays, I promised that I would make her a pie because she was feeling a bit homesick. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances it burned. When I told her about it, she was so disappointed. I knew that I had to make it up to her so I decided to make her something special and surprise her. She loved the pie cookies that I made her and shared pictures in our group and on her moments. Consequently, I also made some for other members of the group as a gift. Right away I was asked, “When can I buy more of these?” That was the beginning.
What is it like behind the scenes, when you’re putting together batches of cookies for your customers? Is there something interesting or surprising that people might not know about your business?
I make every batch of cookies on my own. I usually get up at 5 and start baking by 6. I must have everything organized and laid out before I start. I can be very strict about my tools and area. I have an entire ritual when I am baking. It involves a lot of music and dancing. I believe that whatever attitude or spirit I have at the time of baking inevitably makes its way into my cookies, so I like to fill my kitchen and prep area with lots of joy and love.
How has your husband helped support your business?
My husband handles packaging and shipping, which enables me to focus solely on baking. After I finish a batch, he prepares them for shipping. Because of his help, it allows me to spend more time on what I do best.
What are some of your most popular cookies?
Right now my most popular cookies are pecan pie, lemon pie, sweet potato pie, and salted caramel.
Could you share some of the sweets or desserts that are off the menu — you know, things you like to bake for yourself or people you love?
That’s easy. When I am baking just for us, it’s always carrot cake, chocolate cake, or apple pie.
Thanks so much to Lita for this interview! To order cookies from Sweet Tooth Confections on WeChat, just scan the QR code at the top of this post and add her on WeChat.
Monkeys and Mooncakes. American Steph (who has a husband from Anhui, China) is a thirty-something mom to three lovely kids and she devotes her blog to helping children love Chinese language and culture at home. Parents will love her posts such as kids books about Chinese food.
Wo Ai Ni. Rhiannon, an American woman who met and married her Chinese husband in the US, creates a whimsical collage of an intercultural family on her site. It’s a snapshot of daily family life — including two blonde-haired children from a previous marriage, and four young half-Chinese kids.
Chocolate Chick in China. This African-American blogger is an English teacher based in Wuxi, and you’ve got to love a woman who writes this in her About page: “I have always been fascinated by the 5000 year old culture and also all the handsome single Chinese men that may never find love due to the fact that they overpopulate the women. so off I go to China to find a different way of life and maybe a husband too.” Wishing her the best in Fuzhou!
Jess Meider. American Jess Meider is a Beijing-based singer-songwriter who has been named one of China’s best jazz vocalists. She’s also married to composer and bassist Gao Fang. Jess and I were on CCTV; she also did an interview for my blog. You can check out her blog, where she posts about her upcoming gigs, press coverage, and her interest in traditional Chinese medicine.
*NEW*Joke Tummers. She’s a Dutch woman living in Guangzhou with her husband and family, and her China adventure is filled with music. A former member of the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, she now teaches musical instruments to young children at her own school and others in the region. She posts about her teaching and family on her blog; you can also learn more about her through this interview posted on my blog last year.
*NEW*The Joyful Dumplings. Britany, an Aussie gal from Brisbane, writes, “If someone had told me four years ago that I would be married and living in China I wouldn’t have believed you.” She now resides in Xi’an, where “an extremely handsome and happy-go-lucky Chinese man called Peter swept me off my feet, using orphans and pandas as his wing-man but that’s a story for another time.” You can read more about her here. Look forward to more from Britany!
Sincerely, Shalom (Formerly Jew Knew).Eileen’s blog is so lovely and touching, like her pictures of smiling, long-haired women in dazzling rainbow colors. She is married to a man from Taiwan and after living with him in Shanghai and Taiwan, they’re back in the US. Her posts are often quirky and fun, such as this A to Z list of things she loves (A is for “amazing tofu”!).
Many foreigners come to China hoping for opportunity and a little adventure. But how many can say they joined a symphony orchestra here? Or ended up running a music school in China?
For clarinetist Joke Tummers, China adventures mean making beautiful music with others (including her husband Haiwen, who manages the JT Music Academy along with her). I talked to her to learn more about how China shaped her career as a professional musician and later entrepreneur/instructor.
Joke Tummers has lived in Guangzhou for 8 years. The first five years she served as an associate clarinet in the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. After the birth of her first daughter, motherhood and orchestra proved not to be a good combination. After a short break and the birth of her second daughter, it was time for a new challenge. She and her husband took over a music school. Joke is now the artistic director of the JT Music Academy where she also gives private lessons.
We met in Holland at my part time job a youth hostel. I was in charge of giving residents an evening snack and doing the dishes afterwards. Haiwen had just arrived at the hostel to start his job in the area. The company had given him the choice between a hotel and the hostel where I worked at. They told him that it would be much easier to make friends and meet people at the hostel. Hahaha, prophetic words!
I was urging the residents to eat a bit faster as I needed to go to a rehearsal of my wind band because we had a concert the next day. Long story short: Haiwen came to listen to the concert and we started dating soon after.
How did you and your husband come to move to China?
I was finishing up my Master of Music studies in Amsterdam when Haiwen suggested we go to China. He felt he had been abroad for a long time already (he studied in the UK before coming to Holland) and he wanted to return to Guangzhou.
I on the other hand was ready for some adventure as teaching at a local music school where all classes are only 25 min long didn’t sound very appealing. Orchestra jobs were really hard to get in those days and the situation has only deteriorated since then, with a lot of funding for the arts being cut.
You were the associate principal clarinet for the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra for 5 years. What was it like?
It was an interesting experience for sure. The cultural differences in how to approach and make music were huge. I’m used to showing up to a rehearsal knowing my parts, but my colleagues saw rehearsal time as their personal practice time. Management was very rigid and that is a big problem in the creative arts, where expression and flexibility are very important. It was very hard to communicate with my colleagues about how to play together better because most players were my seniors and they felt that they didn’t have to listen to me anyway. Music is all about communication so it was really hard for me to play in this stifling structure. After the birth of my first daughter I went back for a few months but decided to quit at the end of the season.
How has China influenced your career as a musician?
In China I got the chance to play in a professional symphony orchestra. Of course it wasn’t always a smooth ride but I still had great experiences. I got to play many repertoire pieces and also played in many different concert halls, both in and outside China. We had many guest conductors and soloists and it was fun to get to know them. As one of the few foreigners in the orchestra I felt a bit like an ambassador so I would always go greet them and welcome them to China. With my colleagues I had a woodwind trio. We played at various locations and even did a concert in Taiwan together. That was a lot of fun.
Tell us about how you came to open your own music school in China, and what it’s like running your own school.
After quitting the orchestra I became pregnant with my second daughter so I was home to take care of her. When she was a few months old my husband and I decided to take over a music school in our area. We didn’t have a specific one in mind but hubby worked his Internet magic and found a school 2 bus stops from our house. We did it this way to avoid having the additional start up costs and also to already have a name and teachers working for us. We added myself into the mix so to say. I teach clarinet, saxophone, flute, piano and music theory. This is a direct result of being in China: in Holland I would have been limited to clarinet only as that was my specialization. I had to get out of this frame of thinking and that was easier once I realized that I would teach the kids more about music and not just the specific techniques of their instruments. The added benefit for me personally is that my teaching days are very varied, just the way I like it.
It is rewarding to run the school and to teach kids at a level they cannot easily get outside of our school. Since woodwind specialists are quite rare over here I’m in a good position to attract eager students. It helps that I speak Mandarin as some kids aren’t comfortable with English. Of course there are also parents that are happy that I can teach their kids in English to improve their language skills as well. With a lot of students I use a mixture of Chinese and English. Once I’m sure that their English is quite good, I switch to English only.
What do you think it takes to be a successful musician here in China?
As a classical musician I find it a bit hard to say. I usually join an orchestra or play chamber music concerts that my friends organize, I’m very lucky that way. As with every kind of artistic profession in China the problem is the outward fixation of many people. As long as it looks good, it must be amazing, right? The actual skills seem to be of lesser importance.
I think that some not yet established musicians may feel that they need to be very commercial and only play standard repertoire, preferably with Chinese songs mixed in to catch the attention of the audience. I’ve seen some change though as I went to listen to a contemporary music concert a while back. The music was very avant-garde but the hall was full of people. I thought that this was really cool and I hope that people will start listening to more and different kinds of music.
Thanks so much to Joke Tummers for this interview! To learn more, you can follow Joke on her blog, LinkedIn, and WeChat (JT_22_QK).
Two Wongs Make it Right is more than just a clever take on that old saying. It’s also the name of a funny new AMWF vlog on Youtube hosted by Chinese American “Sum Ting Wong” and his white American wife “Never Wong” (not their real names). If you’re looking for videos that explore cultural differences in a relationship with lots of humor, you must subscribe to 2 Wongs Make it Right.
A channel about the life of an interracial couple, as people like to call it AMWF (Asian Male Western Female). Like every couple, we have our differences. We want to explore the differences in our culture and background and share with you all in a fun and entertaining way. 这是一个亚男西女情侣 (AMWF) 生活的频道。像每对夫妇，我们有我们的分歧。 我们会用一个充满乐趣的方式和大家探索我们的文化和背景的差异。
I sat down with Sum Ting Wong to ask a few questions about 2 Wongs Make It Right – from how he and his wife decided to start the channel to how humor can play an important role in discussing cultural differences.
P.S.: This is just the start in what I hope will be an ongoing series about vloggers out there. If you’re a vlogger and would like to be featured here – or know a vlogger I simply must interview – please contact me today!
Well, actually it was thanks to my sister. She recently started watching a lot of YouTube videos about the quirks of Asian Americans and it resonated with her. She encouraged us to start our own YouTube channel with our own interracial experiences. My wife is relatively shy and I wasn’t sure if she was up for it. Surprisingly, she thought it was a great idea. It has been a fun way to bond and learn from each other.
I love the name of your channel, and also the fact that you call yourselves “SumTing Wong” and “Never Wong”. LOL! What’s the story behind it?
HAHA. The Wong last name gave my non-Asian friends all sorts of opportunities to make fun of me. And of course, I always feel like I am a bit abnormal from the rest, hence “Sum Ting Wong”. Also, a wise friend of mine once told me the secret to a happy marriage is a wife who is always right! ;D
When we first started our channel, we wanted a theme rather than a collection of random ideas. We have a lot of differences (both culturally and personality-wise). The good thing is that we are both very open-minded and willing to learn and accept our differences. And we always try to approach life with a healthy dose of humor. Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself a bit! This is especially important in dealing with cultural differences because something normal for one culture might be totally offensive for another. That’s why we aim to keep it entertaining while still being respectful.
What do you hope people learn from watching your videos?
Our main goal is to share differences between Eastern and Western societies through our eyes. We hope this can bridge some gaps and clear up misconceptions between our cultures while making it fun and entertaining for our viewers. In the end, love has no color. As long as you are adventurous and open minded, the opportunities are limitless.
Michelle Maisto. Pretty much anyone in a Chinese-Western cross-cultural relationship will invariably find themselves having an occasional disagreement about a simple question: “What should we eat for dinner?” That’s the subject of Michelle’s memoir titled The Gastronomy of Marriage, which explores how she and her Chinese-American husband managed to make room at the table for all of their different eating preferences. Her blog is loaded with lots of Chinese food porn (naturally!) but also stories about being a mom to their little girl (who she’s teaching Mandarin — yes!).
A Broad Abroad. JQ, an American woman who used to live Qingdao with her Chinese husband, toddler and new baby girl, isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. She and the family have moved on over to the USA and are enjoying their new lives over there. Wishing them a wonderful time on the other side of “the pond”! 😉
AMBW Families and Relationships. This is one of the best sites spotlighting AMBW (Asian men, Black women) couples and their families, filled with beautiful photos and stories of real families out there. It’s run by a black woman married to a Chinese guy (they met and married each other in just three weeks, wow!) who have two kids. Definitely worth bookmarking!
Olivia’s Choice. If the community had a magazine, chances are Olivia Lau could easily be the covergirl. This beautiful and stylish woman from Spain was living in Hong Kong, where she met and married a local man and also ran her own online fashion store. They’ve moved back to Barcelona to work in Olivia’s family store, but still make regular trips back to Asia (such as these dispatches from Tokyo and Hong Kong). In 2014, they welcomed baby Liam into their lives – he’s the star of their Xmas pictures from 2015.
Wo Ai Ni. Rhiannon, an American woman who met and married her Chinese husband in the US, creates a whimsical collage of an intercultural family on her site. It’s a snapshot of daily family life — including two blonde-haired children from a previous marriage, and four young half-Chinese kids.
Madame Huang’s Kitchen (Formerly Out to Lunch). Carolyn J. Phillips doesn’t just have a Chinese husband. She loves to eat too, and shares her passion with the world through some of the most authentic and mouth-watering recipes for Chinese food on the web. Don’t read on an empty stomach, and be on the lookout for her upcoming illustrated book on all of China’s great cuisines. Called All Under Heaven, it will be published by McSweeney’s in August 2016. She also came out with a fantastic downloadable Dim Sum Guide. To learn more about Carolyn and her work, check out my 2012 interview with her.
*NEW*Betty Has a Panda. Betty is an Austrian woman in her 20s in an intercultural relationship with a Hong Konger in Vienna. She shares all of the funny, frustrating, interesting and strange stories on her blog. Betty shared one of the biggest frustrations about her relationship in a guest post for me titled Why We Are Not Married (Yet) – and as it turns out, the Panda proposed to her in late 2015. Congratulations on their engagement!
Chocolate Chick in China. This African-American blogger is an English teacher based in Wuxi, and you’ve got to love a woman who writes this in her About page: “I have always been fascinated by the 5000 year old culture and also all the handsome single Chinese men that may never find love due to the fact that they overpopulate the women. so off I go to China to find a different way of life and maybe a husband too.” Love that she took the time to bake her students Christmas cookies.
Malatang. American Amanda loves China and she loves to eat (including the tantalizingly spicy dish that is the namesake of her blog, subtitled “A Vermonter’s Adventure in China.” She’s blogged about her life (and delectable meals) in some of the most beautiful corners of China, including Lijiang and the wilderness of Sichuan. She has also loved a Lijiang local along the way (which she blogged about in this insightful post titled Dating in China: Cultural Differences).
Selly’s Little World. Sarah Heintze is a German gal residing in Wuhan, China who describes herself as a “Music lover with a weakness for 王力宏 Wang Leehom. Quirky. Cheeky. A butterfly flitting between ideas. In love with exercising, 小笼包 (xiaolongbao) & 热干面 (hot dry noodles)。” She posts on what’s on her mind and what she’s doing — I enjoyed her post on her trip to Shenzhen!
Sincerely, Shalom (Formerly Jew Knew).Eileen’s blog is so lovely and touching, like her pictures of smiling, long-haired women in dazzling rainbow colors. She is married to a man from Taiwan and after living with him in Shanghai and Taiwan, they’re back in the US. She had a wonderful 2015 – wishing her an equally wonderful 2016!
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