A Mixed Girl’s Life in China: City of Changsha

Welcome to Changsha, a city that seamlessly blends elements of modern and old China together.

Located in the province of Hunan, this is a city that’s known for being one of the cultural and entertainment capitals of China. It’s also the city where Chairman Mao studied and lived, and is known to people as a city that never sleeps (or stops eating).

While filming 《湖南 I GET YOU》, my co-host Mack and I had a chance to learn a lot about Changsha.

But what you guys haven’t seen is my own personal side of Changsha.

So this is what I want to share with you below:

The memories I have of this city revolve around the wonderful people I met here. My colleagues helped me improve my Chinese, and my English-speaking friends were the relief when I needed to express myself in English.

During my time here, I also interacted with people on a daily basis. I became friends with the local shopkeepers around my apartment complex, and had conversations with almost all the taxi drivers I met.

I met a taxi driver that knew greetings in Spanish and had been to Venezuela, another taxi driver that had been driving taxis for 20 years, and one taxi driver that gave me some unforgettable life advice. The translation of his exact words were, “When you try to control things that are out of your control, you only get upset.”

Pretty deep, wouldn’t you say?

He was referring to traffic.

But still. Definitely something to remember.

Now the places I usually took taxis to were places to eat. Changsha is known for its spicy cuisine and unique dishes, including mini spicy lobsters (小龙虾), stinky tofu (臭豆腐), and rice noodles (米粉).

And while my favourite food in Changsha was home-cooked Hunanese cuisine, my friends and I opted for different styles of Chinese food when we went out to eat. We had coconut water chicken hot pot, Chinese BBQ, and pizza with frog meat.

Here in Changsha I found my favourite milk tea of ALL TIME. No joke. The orchard milk tea (幽兰拿铁)  from Modern Tea Shop (茶颜悦色 ) comes with whipped cream and is topped with candied pecans. This is no ordinary milk tea, and is only available within Hunan province.

In this video you’ll also see a tiny bit of the work I had the chance to do in Changsha. Working with the production team of the “World’s Eyes on Hunan” television show, I worked behind and in front of the camera.

On the side, I did some promotional work for Apesso. This is a coffee beverage (containing coconut oil and sweetened with honey) marketed to fitness enthusiasts as a pre-work out drink (hence the shots of me in the gym). It’s currently only available in China.

Filming this promo was a blast because I enjoy working out, and had the chance to connect with like-minded people. So getting paid to work out and walking away with free boxes of coffee was a dream come true.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of my Changsha life! Comment below any thoughts, and let me know if you would ever visit Changsha if you had the chance.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

What Nobody Tells You When You Move to China

I just completed a bit over a month here in Changsha!

So you might be wondering how things are going so far…

Do you want the sugar coated version? Because then the answer is that things have been splendid and China is the best country ever.

The 100% honest version?

I’ve learned so much about myself through smiles and tears in the time I’ve been here.

I’ve had days where I’ve felt on top of the world. I’ve had days where I’ve questioned if I made the right choice coming here. I’ve had amazing days exploring the city. I’ve had one slight anxiety attack (so far). I’ve had days where I’ve attended many fun events. And I’ve had days where I’ve felt lonely.

And boy, there are so many things I miss.

I miss my mom and home cooked meals. I miss healthy smoothies and legit brunch (why can’t I find a brunch place here???). I miss my friends. I miss hiking. I miss random neighbourhoods in Vancouver like Gastown and Kitsilano. I miss $3.50 California rolls and non-crowded gyms. Oh, and I also miss breathing fresh air (jokes).

So what does nobody tell you when you move to China?

Here’s a list of my personal favourites:

– The noise pollution is INSANE. As in “wear-earplugs-to-sleep-even-though-you live-on-the-27th-floor” insane.

– Your phone and a portable charger are the only things you need to carry. Forget cash. Wechat Pay and Alipay are your entire wallet and BFFs. Even locals selling fresh vegetables on the street have a QR code for you to scan (which is crazy to me).

-Welcome to the country where you can find amazing knockoffs at great prices. You’ve heard of knockoff designer shoes and handbags, but what about art exhibits? Like the Kusama exhibit I visited in this mini vlog:

-China is extremely safe. Need to walk or bike home at 12am by yourself? No problem, you’ll get home safe. Maybe it’s due to all the CCTV on the streets?

-Smoking is allowed everywhere. And by everywhere I mean in elevators, in hotel lobbies, and coffee shops. This is something I really can’t get used to.

-Healthy, western food is expensive. Good luck finding Chia seeds, Kombucha, and organic Almond milk. And why are nuts so damn expensive here? Somebody please ship me a giant $20 tub of Costco mixed nuts…

So, here’s what I’ve resulted to for my breakfasts:

But overall, my experiences so far have been positive. I’ve been focusing my energy on work and working on improving myself in all aspects.

Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what I have in life, especially this opportunity. I guess I just never realized how difficult it would be moving to a new place by myself.

I’m so thankful for getting to live the life I’m living right now, and the support from the people around me. I’m also realizing and learning (slowly) that everything is about perspective, that nothing is perfect, and to always focus on the positive things in life. If you puked a little reading this, you need to work on being more accepting of my “living life to the fullest” attitude. 

On an end note, let me share with you some pictures of this beautiful city I’m slowly exploring!

Young Chairman Mao statue – He was born in this province!

Graffiti I discovered in the city! Does not feel like China at all…

Arts and Culture Centre in Changsha – designed by Zaha Hadid!

KAWS x Changsha “Seeing/Watching”

Breathtaking sunset at Orange Isle by downtown Changsha

Thanks for reading!