German Woman Makes Lantern on Mid-Autumn TV Special in China

Sabrina, a German woman with a Chinese husband who has lived in China for eight years, appeared on a TV special on China Central Television Channel 4 to mark the Mid-Autumn Festival. In the segment, which lasts 3 minutes and 30 seconds, she makes a traditional lantern and then showcases her handiwork during an evening walk in a park, all while speaking Mandarin.

You can watch the segment here on Youtube. Or, if you’re in China, catch it on the CCTV website here.

And for those of you in China currently on holiday, wish you a wonderful National Day!

Tibetan-Style Blankets: Cross-Cultural Couple Creates Colorful Business

A few years ago, I discovered Kimberly, a white American woman married to a Tibetan man in Qinghai, and later shared her story in the post Love on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Konchok and Kimberly.

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.

Pictured, from left, are Kimberly’s daughter, Kimberly, Tsoko (the main tailor for their business), Tsoko’s son, and Kimberly’s husband Konchok.

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.

Tsoko at work on a Tibetan-style blanket.

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.

The Magical World of Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana in Bali, Indonesia

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.

She also told the Honeycombers she considers her sense of humor vital in life.

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?

‘African Jasmine Flower’: Ruth Njeri Finds Success, Love on Chinese Stage

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).

And as for Njeri and Ya:

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.

Bilibili has a more recent video about Ruth Njeri’s life in Kenya, including highlights from her performances.

For people in China, here are links to Ruth Njeri’s performances on CCTV, including this CCTV performance of Ruth and Xing, and this other CCTV performance by the couple

You can learn more about Ruth Njeri at Baidu Baike (written in Chinese).

What do you think of Ruth Njeri?

German Esther Haubensack, a China TV Star, Married Beijing Taxi Driver

Esther Haubensack
A screenshot from “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” featuring Esther Haubensack as Diana.

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.

Esther Haubensack studied Mandarin and ancient Chinese at Peking University in the early 1990s and learned under the legendary cross-talk artist Ding Guangquan, who also mentored Dashan (aka Mark Roswell), one of China’s biggest foreign celebrities.

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.

Esther Haubensack
A screenshot from “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” featuring Esther Haubensack as Diana.

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?

WWAM of the Month: Felicity Miller – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM! just published my interview with fellow WWAM BAM! contributor Felicity Miller. What’s WWAM of the Month? It’s our monthly column spotlighting one of the fantastic women in the AMWF (or as we call it, WWAM) community.

Here’s the introduction:

Some people were born to tell stories, and you can count Felicity Miller (one of our contributors to WWAM BAM) among them. If you’ve ever spent any time around this Scotland native who married a Chinese man from Gansu, you’ll find yourself fascinated with her tales — whether it’s a harrowing story of a family in China wracked by domestic violence or a touching post on a Chinese great-grandfather’s amazing adventures in the UK during his first-ever trip outside of China. (It’s hard to believe that WWAM BAM is Felicity’s first-ever foray into blogging!) So it was only a matter of time before we were all longing to know the story behind Felicity, hence crowning her our WWAM of the Month.

To learn more about Felicity, head on over to WWAM BAM! to read the full interview. And if you like it, share it. 🙂

P.S.: If you’d ever like to be featured as WWAM of the Month, just send an e-mail to WWAM BAM! at contact(at)

Interview with Lita, China’s WeChat Cookie Queen

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.

2017 Blogs by Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

New blogs for 2017! Top row (left to right):WWAM BamBunny and PandaLiving In China With Kids. Middle row: The Dutchinese CoupleSecrets of a World TravelerThe Joyful Dumplings. Bottom row: An Oven, a Wok, and a FamilyJoke Tummers; and The Daily Susily.

It’s March and we’re about to celebrate International Women’s Day. That means it’s time to update to my list of blogs by Western women who love Chinese men!

This year, my list includes 53 different blogs! I’ve still grouped the blogs loosely according to their focus, and tagged first timers on this list with *NEW* for your convenience.

Like last year, the same housekeeping rule applies — blogs must have been updated within the past year to make this list.

So, without further ado…(insert drumroll of choice)…here are the blogs!

Family and Kids
Personal Stories


Behind the Story. American writer Nicki Chen married her late Chinese husband in 1967, the same year that the US Supreme Court finally made interracial marriages legal in the US. She’s led a fascinating life indeed, so it’s no wonder that her blog has become a repository for many of the real-life stories that inspire her novels, including this post that chronicles her lovely family. Her debut novel Tiger Tail Soup hit the shelves in 2015 and it’s perfect for anyone who loves Pearl Buck’s wartime China stories. Check out my interview with Nicki from September 2014 to learn more about Tiger Tail Soup.

My Half of the Sky. Jana McBurney-Lin, who has a Chinese husband and children, penned the novel My Half of the Sky, which also is the namesake of her writing- and family-focused blog. But as a Tai Chi enthusiast, I loved this older post about trying out this venerable martial art.

Madame Huang’s Kitchen (Formerly Out to Lunch). Carolyn J. Phillips loves to eat, 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. She’s also the author of the Chinese cookbooks All Under Heaven and the Dim Sum Field Guide. To learn more about Carolyn and her work, check out my 2012 interview with her.

Susan Blumberg-Kason. Once upon a time, Susan was a yangxifu, spending time in Wuhan with her Chinese husband and first child. She’s since moved back to her Chicago roots, remarried and added two more children to her family, but is forever connected to China. She offers tidbits of everything from Jewish Asia to raising multicultural kids, as well as regular reviews on Hong Kong/Shanghai/China-related books. If you’re living in or near Chicago, or passing through, check out her book, All the Tea in Chicago. Last year she released her long-awaited memoir Good Chinese Wife – if you’re new to the book, check out my interview with her. Susan also contributes to the new group blog WWAM Bam.

Sveta’s Book Review Blog. Sveta still searches for her true Asian love, but currently pours her passion into reading and sharing her latest reads on this blog. She reviews a variety of books, including AMWF reads that might interest followers of this blog, and titles celebrating diversity.

Family and Kids

Celestereille. This blog is another proud example of beautiful Blasian love in China, right down to this gorgeous photo of the author kissing her Chinese beau, and this lovely Valentine to him. She welcomed her lovely baby Connor into the world in 2013 and in 2014 she moved the whole family back with her to the US (but still files the occasional post about China, such as Top 5 Things I Can’t Understand About China). Congrats to her on her new baby girl!

China Elevator Stories. This Austrian graphic designer living in Northeast China has a husband from that region – and, since 2014, a mom. Her blog has become a valuable resource about being pregnant in China. One of her best classic posts is 8 things you should know before marrying into a Chinese family. She’s also one of the contributors to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Don’t miss her 2013 guest post for me on love, fighting and finding harmony in her own marriage.

Diaries of a Yangxifu. UK native Sarah met her husband during a marathon in Birmingham (a how-we-met story she generously shared with us all in her guest post on my site). She’s in China now with her husband and their son, writing about everything from what it’s like being a working mom in China to things she and her husband don’t agree on regarding health and well-being. And did I mention she’s also a vegan, just like me?

The Downtown Diner. American Melanie Gao has no pretensions about herself. Her blog is a homey, welcoming little slice of the yangxifu blogosphere, self-described as “Made famous in Beijing, now operating out of Nashville, Tennessee.” She has spoken out about her divorce from her Chinese ex-husband and will always remain my unofficial twin (we really do look alike). She often writes about her two lovely biracial and bicultural children and filed a fascinating post about her experience at the historic Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. Thanks for keeping it real, Melanie.

Ember Swift. This Canadian woman is a singer-songwriter, musician, writer and blogger who writes some of the most fascinating and powerful posts on this list about her life (from her marriage to a Chinese guy to raising their kids). Don’t miss the interviews (one and two) with her that I posted up in 2013 just before Chinese New Year. Her blog has become required reading for pregnancy in China as well as navigating the visa issues of having kids with a Chinese national. Congratulations to her for finishing the manuscript for her memoir in 2016 and completing her MFA as well!

Foreign Sanctuary. Constance is a Canadian married to a Taiwanese man who currently calls Taiwan home — and shares gorgeous photos as well as stories from her life. She just gave birth to a baby boy last year, and wrote about her take on the joys of being his mom. Enjoy her guest post on my site about how she believes everything happens for a reason (even how she ended up finding love and a new life in Taiwan).

Hong Kong Kisses. This blog is written Canadian woman with a Hong Kong husband and their toddler living in Canada. She often blogs about her family life, including her daughter – who is now more than 2 years old!

Living A Dream in China. Finnish woman Sara Jaaksola finished her master’s degree in Chinese language education here in China and now teaches foreigners how to speak Chinese from her new office in Guangzhou, China. Also the mom of a toddler, she’s a great example of how you can balance business and family.

*NEW*Living in China With Kids. This blog by American Charlotte Edwards Zhang aims to help expat parents survive and thrive in China. Anyone raising kids in the Middle Kingdom will enjoy her posts including this one on prenatal checkups and this post on embassy regulations for births abroad.

Lost Panda. Anna was born in Russia and raised in Germany, but she ultimately discovered her love and future in China. In 2014 she dazzled us with her personal stories at The Mandarin Duck, and now she’s doing it again with the Lost Panda, a blog especially dedicated to living in rural China. Some of her cool recent posts include The Thing I Wish I Knew Before Marrying into a Chinese Family and “Sheng Da Pang Sunzi 生大胖孙子” The pressure of having a boy in rural China. Her blog is also a wonderful resource for anyone curious about what it’s like to be pregnant and give birth in a more rural Chinese city. Don’t miss her interview on this blog about being an artist and China TV host.

Mandarin Stories. Orange rain’s blog originally had a dramatic backstory — even though she was already married to a Chinese man, her family didn’t know about it. Turns out, when she finally revealed her secret marriage to the family, there wasn’t any drama over it at all (nor much reaction, according to her). In 2015  she and the hubby had their official wedding ceremony in Shanghai (which her two brothers and Aunt even attended, their first-ever trip to China) and she posted her gorgeous pre-wedding photos (including pics in a stunning red dress). Congrats to her on giving birth to a new baby in 2016!

Mighty Maggie. American Maggie lives with her husband Phillip, the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man, in Seattle with three kids. She’s a stay-at-home mom who blogs about everything from religious issues to parenting. This is an older post, but she brings up an interesting dilemma when she writes about the problem of sending a child to Chinese language school, when she and her husband don’t speak the language well. Also love this more recent post about how the kids learned Maggie blogged about them, and then wanted to hear the stories themselves!

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.

Nama Mama. This was one of the most exciting blogs I discovered in 2014 – it’s not often you come across an American woman married to a Tibetan guy living in Xining, Qinghai (with their baby daughter). You’ll find posts on Kimberly’s blog about Tibetan traditions, such as Tibetan New Year, as well as dispatches on cultural differences in her relationship. Kim is also a contributor to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Be sure to read her guest post here about how she met her husband (who seems like a super-sweet and extra-special guy).

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). Her maternity pictures (she just gave birth to their second child in February of this year) are stunning.

*NEW*An Oven, a Wok, and a Family. This blog is truly a family affair, as both Cassie (a white American) and Zhenyang Hua (a Shanghainese) thoughtfully ponder issues that will resonate with any intercultural family making their way abroad. From wondering if their son will eat chicken’s feet in the Chinese tradition to Cassie’s attempts at learning Chinese. On a personal note, nice to see another couple residing in Ohio, my home state in the US.

Shandongxifu. Ericka, who used to live in Qingdao with her Shandong husband, was known by many of us through her posts at the Lost Laowai blog — where she confidently reminded us that Laowai Girls Love Asian Boys. She rocked the blogosphere in 2014 by bravely coming forward with her chilling story of sexual assault in Shenzhen. Now she resides in the US with her husband and their young son. She has recently shared the experience of raising a bilingual baby.

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.

Personal Stories

1000 Days in China. Ava Ming was born in England to Jamaican parents and is currently living in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China where she writes and teaches English. Some interesting posts of hers cover whether she was brave or stupid to move to China, and her impressions of Chinese food. Ava’s guest post for my site – Larry – a Short Tale of Ignorance or Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding – generated a lot of discussion, so do have a read!

Becky Ances. She teaches English in lovely Xiamen and writes frequently about traveling, her students, and expat life (such as her recent excursion to Shanghai Disney!). But many of you will appreciate her take on dating Chinese men. You can also follow her at her new blog Badminton Becky!

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 to her for having a banner year in 2016, which included their wedding!

*NEW*Bunny and Panda. A blog by the “Bunny”, a British woman just recently engaged to the Panda (a Hong Konger who proposed to her at the Peak in Hong Kong – how romantic!). They both live in the UK, where they are planning to have their wedding later this year. Wishing them an unforgettable celebration!

China Doll. She’s a Norwegian woman who went to China when she was 13 and later met her Chinese beau CC (with whom she had an LDR for some time). She now resides in Beijing with her husband, and in the past year shared some gorgeous pre-wedding photos.

Our Chinese Wedding. A blog by Laura, a British/German woman who married her Chinese beau in 2015, sharing all of the ups and downs in the process of getting married in China (from the issues with bureaucracy to bridesmaid dress horrors to even setting wedding dates). But she also writes about her post-nuptial family life in China, such as this love letter to her mother-in-law. Laura is one of the founding contributors and editors of the new group blog WWAM Bam. Additionally, don’t miss her guest post for Speaking of China on The F-Word: Body Image in China.

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!

*NEW*The Daily Susily. This fledgling blog by Australian Susie Hart, who resides in Beijing with her husband, offers morsels of inspiration (and fun, such as her post titled Donuts are good for your soul). You’ll enjoy her story about her China Love Affair; find more from Susie at the new group blog WWAM Bam.

*NEW*The Dutchinese Couple. Christine is the daughter of Dutch immigrants, Junwen the son of Chinese immigrants. They share their struggles and insights as a “Dutchinese” couple living in Los Angeles in America. My favorite posts include What would attract a White girl to an Asian guy? and this exploration of their own preconceptions and stereotypes.

East West Love Story. Karen is a native Californian who moved to Singapore to marry Jeremy. You’ll find posts about travelliving in Singaporerecipes and even their relationship (such as a wedding anniversary they celebrated last year).

My Hong Kong Husband. Lina, who hails from Poland, currently lives in Ireland with the eponymous husband that inspired her blog — one that has fast become a popular read in the AMWF community. And it’s no wonder, with her funny posts about everything from a survival guide for dealing with mothers-in-law (she calls hers “Momzilla”) to her husband as “pick up artist”. She just announced they’re moving to Hong Kong! Congratulations to them on this new exciting chapter in their lives!

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!

Judith in China (in Dutch). This Dutch woman used to live in Beijing with her local boyfriend but has since moved with him to Wuhan. She blogs about life in China, including the things she encounters every day in the country, such as odd things her neighbors do. Her guest post titled “He Feels Horrible About Me Being The Breadwinner” got a lot of you talking.

Lena Around. Lena is a 20-something Danish girl who is currently working on a master’s degree in Communication in Beijing while traveling in Asia and writing about those travels, China (her favorite place) and love. She’s written about everything from traveling in Southwest China to what it’s like being a student in China. Have a look at her guest posts for this blog, How Asian Will My Future Husband Be?I Shouldn’t Be Dating in My Own Country, and When Tradition Gets in the Way of Intercultural Dating.

Linda Goes East (formerly Linda Living in China). Originally from Germany, Linda followed her heart and passion all the way to China, never expecting that along the way she would end up falling in love with a man from Korea. Now based in Korea, she blogs about everything from life in Korea to AMWF. Don’t miss her guest post for this blog about four things that helped her adapt to life in South Korea.

Life Behind the Wall. The first blog on this list by an African-American woman with a Chinese beau. Jo Gan isn’t your usual expat teaching English in China. An entrepreneur and dreamer, she has become a partner in a bar, started her own band, dated some fascinating fellows (before meeting her sweetheart Jet Liu), and has decided to start her own fashion company. Impressive! Check out her interview for this blog, where she talks about some of her entrepreneurial endeavors.

Marta lives in China. She’s a Spaniard who met her Chinese boyfriend in Suzhou, where she used to work for a manufacturer in the city and now she freelances from the comfort of her home. You’ll love her post on how she met her sweetheart C as well as her many humorous posts (such as this one on How to Survive the Winter in Suzhou). You can also follow her en espaňol on her Spanish-language blog Infinity Plus One.

Mingbai. A Dutch woman with a Chinese husband runs a China consulting and travel business, and maintains a blog written in Dutch mainly about travel destinations in this great country.

Ni Hao Cassandra (in Spanish). Cassandra is a 24-year-old Chilean who studied for a year Mandarin Chinese in Kaifeng, Henan, China. She has long been passionate about Chinese culture, and also has a Chinese boyfriend (who she posts about on the blog). Check out this post on customs regarding couples and love in China.

People Mountain, People Sea. Ashley is not your average American teaching English in Taiwan, thanks to her marriage to a Taiwanese guy (which included a period of time when she lived in the family home). You’ll find her posts on relationships and dating interesting, including this post on what it takes to make a cross-cultural relationship work. Congrats to her on going freelance!

The Ruby Ronin. American Mary (who has a white dad and an Asian mom) has long had a love affair with Asia, spending two years in Japan (and learning Japanese), and then four years in China. She’s now living in California, going to graduate school, and still dating her Chinese boyfriend. Interesting recent posts on the blog include 3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump and Finding Inspiring, Powerful Female Leads In Asian Media.

*NEW*Secrets of a World Traveler. You’re sure to get wanderlust reading this blog, written by seasoned world travelers Chloe (from the Netherlands) and her Chinese American husband Zeyu. Readers of this blog will enjoy their dispatches on China and Asia, such as 12 Tips for Traveling within China.

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. Any expat can relate to her post on the perpetual confusion she feels about where she truly belongs in the world.

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”!).

Talking of Chinese. Chi, an Australian woman who has a Chinese fiancee, blogs about the process of learning Mandarin Chinese (How Can One Word Have So Many Meanings?) as well as lovely posts about her relationship (such as her meditation on what it means to place your partner in a long-distance relationship). She also authored a powerful guest post for this blog titled Odd Questions I’ve Heard About My Interracial Love. As a side note, I’m touched that her blog’s name was inspired by Speaking of China!

When West Dates East. Autumn — who lives in LA with her Chinese American boyfriend – writes: “Some swear it’s a myth:  ‘You’ll find a unicorn before you find a white chick who dates Asian dudes.’ Welcome to my blog on unicorns.” She offers a funny and self-deprecating look into her relationship with posts such as Doggone In-laws and Cuppa Trouble: In-laws Visit Part 3. Don’t miss her guest post for this site titled A “Little” Something Red for My Chinese-American Groom.

*NEW*WWAM Bam (Western Women & Asian Men, Breaking All Molds). The new group blog for AMWF (or WWAM) couples, exploring everything from cultural differences in relationships to stereotypes/racism and beyond. Popular posts include Is Wearing a Cheongsam Cultural Appropriation?, How 5 Chinese men show love to their Western women, and Dear Ms Wai – How Can I Meet Foreign Girls? I’m proud to be a contributor – and you’re welcome to join us by e-mailing the blog at contact(at)

Xi’ananigans. Marissa, an American woman from New Jersey, met her hubby ZJ while teaching English in Xi’an (she married him in China in the most brilliant red gown I’ve ever seen) and in 2014 moved with him back to the States. They’ve navigated the challenges of building a new life for themselves in the US (which has its pluses too) and now are based in North Dakota, where Marissa works for a local paper. She’s expecting a baby this year – congrats to her – and also contributes to the new group blog WWAM Bam. Don’t miss her guest post on my site all about how she met and fell in love with ZJ, or the Q&A I did for her blog.

What do you think? What blogs did I miss?

Interview with Joke Tummers, Professional Clarinetist and Music Instructor/Entrepreneur in China

IMG_0180Many 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.

Here’s her bio translated from the Netherlands group blog

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.

You can follow Joke on her blog, LinkedIn, and WeChat (JT_22_QK).

Joke with her husband Haiwen and one of their daughters.

Tell us about how you and your husband first met.

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.

Joke with one of her students.

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.

Joke along with her orchestra colleagues.

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.

Joke with another musician.

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.

Joke with one of her students.

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.

Joke with one of her students.

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.

Joke and her daughters
Joke and her daughters


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).

Vlogger Spotlight: AMWF Vlog “2 Wongs Make it Right”

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.

2 Wongs Make It RightHere’s the introduction they wrote on their Youtube Channel:

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。

You can also check out this special episode on their vlog to find out how this lovely couple met each other.

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!

Tell us about how you decided to start this Youtube channel.

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.

DSC08599I 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

JJ-0996I’ve noticed you love to explore culture in your episodes. For example, one of your popular videos is all about cultural differences in the foods you both like to eat, and another one discusses differences in how you celebrate the new year. Even better, you do it with humor. Do you think it’s important to have a sense of humor when dealing with cultural differences?

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.

IMG_2589What’s your favorite episode and why?

That’s a tough one. Probably our favorite episode so far has been “Food Talk: Weird Food Your Partner Eats” since food is such a big part of life! The most fun episode to film has been the “Most Embarrassing Moment” episode. We had a lot of fun laughing at ourselves taping that and hope it also brings some joy to our viewers.

IMG_3647What 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.