Recommending 3 inspiring Chinese culture blogs

Today I am going to share with you three sites that I visit frequently about Chinese languages and culture. In my blog, I have talked about my experiences in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and in England, and my family ties with the mainland China. I have moved from many places. I now eat more pasta than rice. I am known by my English name. However, my connection with my root is still strong. I enjoy reading stories about other people’s Chinese experiences. I read for pleasures, and I also read to be educated.

Surprisingly, most Chinese related sites I visit are written by people living outside of China, or visitors to China. I am attracted to people with an outsider’s experiences, and as a permanent outsider myself, I always find their stories or perspectives fascinating.

1) Behind the Story by Nicki Chen:

Writer and artist Nicki Chen. Her first book, Tiger Tail Soup, will be out in spring 2014.

Writer and artist Nicki Chen.

Nicki Chen is an artist and a writer. She has only written a few posts on her new blog Behind the Story – across the ocean and back and these are enough to captivate me. She lived in the USA, then 15 years in the Philippines with her Chinese husband. Since her husband’s death 15 years ago, tenderly mentioned in her Fame and Invisibility post, Nicki started work on her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, a historical novel that tells the story of a Chinese woman struggling to survive the Japanese invasion of her homeland and the book will be out next spring. Nicki is now working on a second novel about a woman who in her eagerness to follow the advice of a fertility doctor, convinces her husband to move to a small island in the South Pacific.

I like the ways that Nicki shares her many unusual stories. She reveals to us in the most calming manner the China that she visited and knew in the early 80s when it was opening up after decades of isolation. Her description is truthful. You will not find any sensational or exaggerating description about China in her writing. This soothing effect is very attractive to me, as a lot of foreign writers get absolutely hyperactive or even hysterical when describing China.

In No Room at the Inn, when Nicki visited Xiamen in the south of China for the first time with her family, as a non-Chinese, she was not welcome to stay at the hotel. However, Nicki grasped the situation well. She did not fall into the obvious trap of labelling the Chinese people as uncivilised or racist. Nicki was eager to understand China, where her late husband came from, to connect to his world, which has also become hers.

2) Hari’s Got Tales! by Hari Qhuang:

Hari from Indonesia writes about food and culture.

Hari from Indonesia writes about food and culture.

Hari Qhuang is a young man from Indonesia with a catchy blog name, Hari’s Got Tales! Sharing My Culture, Stories & Other Things I Love.

Hari shares how Chinese festivals are celebrated in Indonesia, and how the people, though suffering from discrimination, and even anti-Chinese riots as recently as in 1998, they still keep their tradition alive. Hari writes with a kind of youthful energy that is very infectious. In Mid Autumn Festival, Hari introduces various types of mooncakes, sharing the symbols relating to the food and his memory of his grandmother. Hari speaks a little Mandarin Chinese, however, his understanding of the Chinese traditions is outstanding. Hari makes trivia cool. He also shares with us various Chinese languages (Hari called them Ghetto languages) spoken in Indonesia, and how they are different from the norm.

In All (Most) Indonesian Chinese Folks Have Two Names, I had a great discussion with Hari about the usage of Chinese languages in Indonesia, and Hari makes me understand his name formation in the history context, as Chinese language was forbidden in Indonesia from 1966 to 2001.

Hari occasionally comes up with some strange Chinese Quizzes. He is informative and fun. It is very moving to see a young man like Hari, who is discovering his own culture with such joy and energy.

3) Jasmine Tea & Jiaozi by Herschelian:

Jasmine Tea & Jiaozi blog by Herschelian

Jasmine Tea & Jiaozi blog by Herschelian.

Herschelian writes in her blog, Jasmine Tea & Jiaozi. Jiaozi is a Chinese dumpling consisting of meat and vegetable fillings. Herschelian has been living in Beijing for two years with her husband and is also learning the language.

The fact that Herschelian is actually learning the language, including the characters, makes her discovery about cultural differences more interesting. I love reading about her culture shock, which goes beyond common stereotypes, such as “Chinese people are loud and rude”.

In A Lesson on Domestic Violence, Herschelian shared how she was horrified by a story about domestic violence in a Chinese textbook. A Greedy Wife could not stop mentioning the food and her husband was fed up. One day, the Greedy Wife used a simile and described the snow was as white as milk, and as deep as a pancake. Her husband then hit the Greedy Wife in the face. The wife used more similes and was hit again and again by her husband.

I could understand how Herschelian was horrified by this text, which seemed to have trivialised domestic violence faced by thousands of Chinese people. Her teacher, however, saw this wife-beating story as a joke. You can see how observant Herschelian is and she ended the post with a message that “Domestic violence should not be a ‘private’ crime.”

Conclusion:

Of course there are many more blogs that have enlightened me about Chinese history, culture and languages, and many of them are written in Chinese, including the marvellous writer KL from Singapore of From Dusk to Dawn. The three English writers I recommend in this post show unique perspectives in their writings about their Chinese experiences. They show me how they approach and connect with the Chinese culture with a genuine intention to understand it. Like me, they often wonder and ask questions. Through their searching and writing, I am fortunate enough to learn from them.

This post was inspired by Blog Exercises: A Link List Post to Dazzle Readers by Lorelle VanFossen. You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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18 thoughts on “Recommending 3 inspiring Chinese culture blogs

  1. Behind the Story

    Janet, this is such a great privilege to be recommended by you. Thank you. I look on your blog as one of my best models and you as my kindest mentor. You’ve been extremely generous in helping me learn how to blog. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn.

    Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Nicki,

      Your posts take me into another world — the China that I don’t know of. I love your writing and your astonishing paintings.

      Regarding blogging tips, Lorelle on WordPress is the right place to go to. You blog has attracted a great audience, and you must have done something right!

      Reply
  2. Hari Qhuang

    Hi Janet,

    I feel so honored that you recommend my blog.
    I see my blog as a media for me to write whatever that crosses my mind: stories my Grandma told me when I was a kid, our silly superstitions, my favorite foods and trivial things that I happen to know.
    Being recommended by you, one of the most intelligent bloggers I follow, makes me feel so over-appreciated. 😀

    Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Hi Hari,

      I love your stories from your Grandma. Your silly superstitions, authentic food and those trivial facts about Chinese culture are very interesting! I’ve enjoyed learning so much from you. The Indonesian Chinese had a hard time in modern history and what you share is so positive. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Lorelle VanFossen

    You always find the most fascinating people to share with your readers, my friend. Truly fascinating.

    Sorry for my brief absence. I owe you great gratitude and public displays of affection – coming soon as I get my health and work a little more back on track as I want to dedicated myself to the task of complementing you with as much energy as possible. 😀 Hugs!

    Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Lorelle,

      I’m so pleased to see you getting back to your nest again. I know there are reasons why we sometimes disappear or need to go away briefly. Your ideas and challenges are always refreshing, and they always motivate me. Thank you and welcome back!

      Reply
  4. 国樑 KL

    Really glad that you are introducing From Dusk to Dawn to the English readers. I hope they do find something meaningful in this blog where most recent articles are written in Chinese.

    Reply
  5. gdr224

    I’ve been in China for well over two years now and your great insights into Chinese culture and the mentality of Chinese people still managed to take me by surprise!. Right now I work for this company called Teaching Nomad, and I write a good deal of content about living and working in China. If you don’t mind I’d like to use some of the ideas in your blog and explore them further. Great Job!

    Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thanks for your message. I’m glad you found my articles useful. Please share with us what you’ve discovered about the Chinese culture and their way of life. It would be interesting. All the best to you.

      Reply
    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you Debbie. Your website looks refreshing – very different from other ‘travel’ blogs, and I’ll make sure I have a thorough read later.

      Many thanks and I like to continue sharing good resources. Hope you continue enjoy your discovery in China and share your stories with us.

      Reply
      1. Debbie

        Thanks Janet. I appreciate your kind words. My blog is very new but I do have a wealth of info and stories to share after living in my adopted homeland of China for so long. I don’t really think of it as a ‘travel’ blog, more a site to show a side of China to the world that people don’t usually see. or that’s the aim! It’s nice to ‘meet’ you.
        Debbie

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