It’s been well over a year since the last post here at Lost Laowai, and for that I probably owe an apology. Which, admittedly, is an odd way to start a post touting the fact that Lost Laowai has been in existence for 10 years this month.


The truth is, the last couple years have been a blur for me, this site’s primary (and frequently torpid) engine of movement. A lot of changes have occurred to both this site and myself since, in the mid-naughties, I started it all in earnest. While there have been many starts and stops, the most recent stall has by far been the longest and most neglectful. But I’m working on turning that all around.

As many laowai friends and long-time readers may know, I packed my bags and left China shortly after my 10th Chinaversary last year. With a growing family and an ever-pressing need to set down roots (preferably in cleaner soil), the move was somewhat inevitable. So it is, I now write to you dear reader from the beginnings of a new-ish life back in my homeland, a laowai no longer.

The move out of China created an existential crisis of sorts when it came to running a site about being an expat in China. At first the break was meant for me to get settled, and then it turned into realizing I was quickly becoming irrelevant to the subject of this site. Unable to stomach saying goodbye to this thing I’ve poured countless hours and love into, a place where I’ve met great friends and made baseless enemies, I left it to flounder.

But no more. My hope is that the site–with the help of its nearly 50 contributors, 860 posts and nearly 8,500 comments–has outgrown the geographical trappings of a single human. And while I am still very much enamored with the laowai community I was apart of for over a decade as well as the country that hosts it, I think Lost Laowai can continue to be a platform for expats in China to share their stories, opinions, gripes and more.

However, it’s going to require help. We need contributors, whether you’re newly arrived or still kicking around, if you’ve got something to share, please get in touch. It’s also going to take work, by me, a father knee-deep in children and a full-time job. I have an ambitious list of todos sitting in front of me, and I’m eager to get started on them. They may come in fits and starts, but watch for announcements as they make their way onto the site.

Meanwhile, I have some reviews and interviews on deck that are sure to interest while I wake up the gerbils and get the wheels running here again.

So, to those that have been with me since the beginning of this journey, and the ones that have stumbled here along the way, thank you. It’s your readership, contributions and commentary that make this place something I couldn’t give up. I look forward to continuing the conversation with you. And to those that are just discovering Lost Laowai for the first time, welcome. I look forward to getting to know you.


  1. Good for your Ryan,
    I lived in China between 2005-2013 and the experiences I had there were truly amazing. I often checked in with Lost Laowai and the Hao Hao Report to get a sense of how other China-enthusiasts were getting on. You’re passion definitely provided a light for a lot of expats and will continue to do so.

    While I’m back in Boston, full-time, I find myself looking back fondly at those memories too. My wife is Chinese Indonesian and traces her roots back to Fujian. I know we will go back to visit some day. And when we do, I’ll be coming back to Lost Laowai to touch up my understanding of modern China. But until then I do hope to see the expat community in China contributing their gems!

    Thank you – Ben

    • Thanks Benji. Likewise, my wife is Chinese and the brood are all partly so, thus I’m sure we’ll be back as much as we can all stomach 15-hour trans-Pacific flights together.

      Oh, fair warning, the Blue Jays are coming for the Red Sox 😉

  2. The whole “blog” thing is gone. Its whole purpose has been obliterated by facebook and twitter. The idea wasn’t really to post, not really. The idea behind blogs was to get attention, comments, and reposts (which are all actually the same thing if you think about it). Since facebook and twitter provide all of this, but in a far faster manner, blogs are dead. Just look at this post, it’s all me, me, me.

    The China Blog Era is history. I liked it while it was happening, but it’s over now. Honestly I forgot about this blog a while back but since I stuck it in my RSS feed a long time ago, it still popped up. And what use is a blog about China by someone who doesn’t live in China? Imagine a blog about Paris written by someone who used to live in Paris.

  3. Hi Ryan, great photo, looks like my neighborhood in Wudaokou on weekend evenings.

    I am now in my 20th year on the mainland and frankly don’t how I have been able to stick it out for this length of time. Many of my foreign friends have flown the coop for greener pastures or to return to their native lands. I am happy in my work which has branched out from corporate training, (which I still do) into Chinese history, culture and opera. I do a lot of translation from Chinese to English and edit many poems from Tang Dynasty and small pieces on ancient China. It gives me the work/life balance that most of us talk about but seldom reach. Travel also helps to maintain my equilibrium – so all in all, no complaints except for the thing that plagued us all — the weather and the inevitable smog, dirt and smell of Beijing air.

    My best to you for a happy life and fulfilling life. I hope your family has been able to make the transition with little or no difficulty.



    • 20 years is no small thing! Travel and food are the two things I’ve been missing the most about living in China, and two excellent reasons to endure the 15-hour flight back over. I think you nailed it with finding some sort of solid work/life balance. Of all the people I know that stayed long-term, finding that thing was essential. Though I do know a lot of wanderers that use the country as an excuse to drift through low-end jobs and drink cheaply, I think that laowai lifestyle is changing a bit as the cost of living goes up. I’m guessing many will end up migrating to S/SE Asia as they are priced out.

      • To be honest I really don’t understand why any wanderer who just wants to drink cheaply would now choose to do so in China. South East Asian countries are obviously better options for that. Not only are they cheaper, but they have better weather, better scenery, cleaner air, friendlier people and less xenophobic authorities. The only reason I am still in China is that I have a meaningful job here. If I was just an English teacher, I would be out in an instant.

        Oh, and best of wishes for your new life, Ryan. I’ll see if I have the chance to write anything for Lost Laowai.

        • I agree. But the size of the Chinese market for ESL teaching gigs is still attractive. Definitely better options, but more competition, in SE Asian countries. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but I know teaching in Thailand was a fraction of the money, required a lot more weekly hours and had a dress code — and better credentials. All things that surely make sense, but for the lazy boozy expat, all red flags 🙂

          • Teaching in Thailand might still be a fraction of the money (but so is rent). However, when it comes to credentials the authorities have got very strict in China too, and teaching without a work visa carries real risks. It’s not the way it used to be.

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