Category: Uncategorized

Killing Roaches Naturally

Killing Roaches Naturally

Surprisingly, we never had any pest problems during our time in China until about two years ago. Even when we lived over one of Shenzhen’s most popular (and filthy) food streets, we never had issues with roaches and our pets never had fleas. It wasn’t until we moved into a fancy (for us) apartment building in a new development that we suddenly had roaches and the pets got fleas.

The roach infestation was horrendous. They were absolutely everywhere. We tried everything to get rid of them. RAID, bombs, exterminator quality poisons, traps. Nothing worked. And when we moved to another apartment, the little monsters traveled with us and were even worse! Walking into the kitchen at night was like walking into a den of nightmares. Remember the scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Billy lifts her lantern to discover she is SURROUNDED by bugs? Yeah, it was kind of like that.

So I was of course desperate to get rid of the bugs, but nothing had worked and I didn’t like using so much poison anyway. I have a very small dog and cat and a new baby, so since the chemical poisons weren’t working anyway, I wondered if there was a natural alternative.

And there was! I discovered boric acid. Boric acid is a naturally occurring substance from volcanic regions. The look and texture of boric acid is very similar to baking soda.

While boric acid can cause some mild irritation to humans and pets, it is not toxic, so it is safe to use. Just wash your hands after use. Boric acid works as a sort of stomach poison to the roaches. Even better, they don’t die instantly, but crawl back to the nest to die where the other roaches cannibalize them, thus poisoning the nest-mates as well.

If you plan to use boric acid, be patient! The roaches will not die instantly. You will still see roaches the next day, and probably the next, but over time, the roach numbers will dwindle until one day you say, “Hey, I haven’t seen any roaches lately.” You should notice a significant decrease in the number of roaches you see within a few days and they should be nearly gone in about a week or two.

While there are several “recipes” out there for using boric acid as a bait and poison (like mixing the boric acid with powdered sugar), I have found this to be totally unnecessary. I simply sprinkle a light dusting wherever the roaches seem to travel, like along the back of the counters, behind the microwave, or around the refrigerator. You don’t want to create piles of powder as the roaches will simply walk around it.

Boric acid can also work on other small pests like ants, termites, and silverfish.

If you live in the US, you can easily find boric acid on Amazon. If you are in China, you can find boric acid (硼酸) on Taobao.

Have you tried boric acid or another natural way of dealing with pests? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today I get to celebrate my first official Mother’s Day! Even though my sweet Zoe always wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day, it certainly has more meaning this year. I’m celebrating by spending the afternoon away from the baby hahaha! Zoe is taking me to fancy high tea and then to get a massage while Daddy spends time with his little girl. *bliss*

Friday was our little Tiger’s 5 month home anniversary! I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. We had some family photos taken a couple of weeks ago, and they came out so cute!

Right now, our lives completely center around our little cutie. And I’m okay with that.

Guest Post – Beijing with the Family by Melissa Addey

Guest Post – Beijing with the Family by Melissa Addey

Today’s guest post is by Author Melissa Addey! She recently came to China on a research trip for her next novel, and she was gracious enough to share some highlights from her trip and some tips for your own trip to Beijing!

I recently made a long-awaited and eagerly anticipated research trip to Beijing. It was in part for my Creative Writing PhD and in part for the historical novels I write set in the Forbidden City of the 1700s. These are the things I found out about being a tourist in Beijing that really made the trip the most fun – for me and for my family: husband and two small children aged 2.5 and 5.5.

Get up early! My first day of sight-seeing was a massive disappointment as we visited the Yuan Ming Yuan (The Garden of Perfect Brightness). It’s an exquisite, huge park full of lakes and tiny waterways that used to be the summer home of the imperial family. It opens at 7am but we got there in a leisurely way about 10am, by which time it was already chock-a-block with tourists. It was hard to move around (the walkways are often very narrow), impossible to take scenic photos and quite tricky to experience the ‘atmosphere’ of the 1700s I’d come in search of! I got stroppy and disappointed and worried that the trip would be a disaster from the point of view of my research. I learnt from this. I started rousing the family at 5.30am and getting us to locations by 7am. It was a transformation. We had beautiful locations almost to ourselves and it stayed peaceful for a few hours. When it started to get crowded we frequently hopped onto a little pleasure boat if we were near a lake and escaped the crowds while the kids had fun steering (with us grabbing the wheel to avoid accidents!). It was magical. Then we’d retreat for lunch and a little nap or rest to make up for the early start.

Eat local! Looking back, the best food we had came from the tiniest street stalls.  We experimented with dough sticks and dumplings for breakfast and they were not only delicious but extremely cheap by London standards: you could feed a family of four for less than £2. I found a tiny store near us that made noodles and little breads, some of them stuffed with greens, which swiftly became my favourites for lunchtimes, along with made to order crunchy savoury pancakes at stalls all over the city. We ate in a few fancy restaurants because we wanted to try out specialties like food the imperial household would have eaten or Peking Duck (well it would be rude not to), but mostly we ate simple and local and it was delicious. We rented a spacious Air BnB apartment for about the same money as one hotel room and it made us feel like we had a little neighborhood of our own to explore.

Don’t just gawp at it, get inside it. A popular tourist activity is supposed to be getting a rickshaw to drive you through the hutongs (old and tiny original streets with original housing, some built around courtyards: there aren’t many left) but I found the drivers a bit pushy and the whole notion a bit ‘gawping at the locals’. Instead we walked through quite a few on our way to other locations as well as booking a noodle and dumpling making class in what was originally a home within a hutong and had a fantastic time, fully converting my usually picky son to dumplings. You can also stay in a hutong.

Avoid the obvious. The Forbidden City receives an average of 40,000 visitors a day. This blew my mind. Of course we went, it’s one of my key locations, but instead of walking down the central axis (where all the tour groups go and you could barely move), we meandered off to the sides of this vast location and found ourselves almost alone on occasions, or with a perfectly manageable 20-50 people around rather than literally thousands. Result: I soaked up the 1700s atmosphere and could poke around the areas where the imperial family actually lived, my husband got about a million gorgeous photos, the kids got to pet stray cats and run around safely without getting lost. Also, if you’re visiting, go nice and early and visit the Workers’ Cultural Palace park, located just before you get to the Forbidden City. It’s an unprepossessing name but it was actually originally a temple complex and is filled with beautiful buildings (which everyone back home mistook for the Forbidden City as the architecture is exactly the same style), lovely gardens and hardly anyone around except some older people doing their Tai Chi and sword practice.

Embrace the kids’ stuff. If you have kids, Beijing is very child-friendly and I have to say everyone we met was super-kind as well as very affectionate to our two little ones. Two of our most fun activities were the kids painting ‘longevity’ peaches made of clay in a tiny pottery shop using red gold and green paints on offer for less than £1 to take their masterpieces home and the return trip from seeing the Great Wall: on a toboggan! I’m not kidding. It’s a giant slide to get you back down the mountain, you sit on a little toboggan which thankfully has brakes and zoom down, with mountain goats barely a yard away ignoring you as you zip past them. Authentic and cultured? No. Loads and loads of fun? Absolutely.

Buy something different as a souvenir. I’ll be honest, the souvenirs I saw were in the main pretty awful, made of poor quality materials and not very desirable.  The things we did find to bring home which we loved were the hand-painted tourist maps for key locations that are beautiful enough to frame, the shards from broken Qing pottery turned into jewellery by The Shard Box store and the incense bought from little shops near any of the main temples. Friends and family back home also liked the tea and sweets we brought home: probably run-of-the-mill to locals but their different tastes and packaging made them fun and easy to transport as small gifts. Oh and yes: we did succumb to dressing-up fever and get done up as the imperial family and have our photos taken on lavishly golden sets. Too irresistible.

The trip was an eye-opener for us: having not been away long-haul since our children were born, we realised they are now a good age for starting more interesting adventures again. We did have to pack ludicrous amounts of entertainment and snacks in our carry-on luggage to get through the flights. But Beijing was definitely worth it.


Melissa Addey writes historical fiction set in China and Morocco and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey. She has two small children and lives in London.

If you’d like to try The Consorts, a historical novella set in the Forbidden City and the Yuan Ming Yuan you can get it for free at

What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On

So the main reason I have not been blogging lately is because I have been focusing on my creative writing. So what am I working on?

The Emperor’s Seal: A Touching Time Novel

This novel is already complete. I am basically just waiting on a cover. This is the start to a new series. It is a time travel historical romance. I’m still tweaking the blurb, but here is basically what it is about:

Peking, 1902

The Emperor’s Seal – the divine symbol of the Emperor on earth – is missing. The Empress will do whatever it takes to get it back. 

Jiayi has a gift – she can travel through time just by touching historical artifacts. More than anything, she wants to escape the clutches of the Empress and run away to a foreign land. Finding the Emperor’s Seal could be her only chance at freedom, but is she willing to risk the wrath of the Empress? 

Historian and wannabe archaeologist Zhihao has no love for the Empress or the Qing Dynasty, but when the Empress orders him to find the Emperor’s Seal in exchange for funding China’s first history museum, he cannot refuse. It is only after he accepts the assignment that he finds out the key to finding the seal lies in the hands of a palace slave. 

Murder in the Forbidden City – A Qing Dynasty Mystery

This novel is also complete and the start of a new series. My poor cover artist is under a lot of pressure right now, haha. I am in love with historical mysteries, but I couldn’t find any that were set in China or that had a Chinese heroine, so I wrote one.

Peking, 1870

When one of the Empress’s ladies-in-waiting is killed in the Forbidden City, she orders Inspector Gong to find the killer. Unfortunately, as a man, he is forbidden from entering the Inner Court! How is he supposed to solve a murder when he cannot visit the scene of the crime or talk to the women in the victim’s life? He won’t be able to solve this crime alone. 

The widowed Lady Li is devastated when she finds out about the murder of her sister-in-law, who was serving as the Empress’s lady-in-waiting. She is determined to discover who killed her, even if it means assisting the rude and obnoxious Inspector Gong. 

Together, will Lady Li and Inspector Gong be able to solve the crime before he – or she – strikes again?

The Bound-Foot Warrior Trilogy

This will be my first foray into YA fantasy, so I am working with a developmental editor. The books are still in the planning phase, but I am hoping to have at least the first book done by the end of the year. It is inspired by classic wuxia novels. While wuxia novels are really hard to find in English, if you like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will like this series.

Like most young women her age, Xiaoyu has bound feet. But that doesn’t keep her from dreaming of being a great hero like those she has read about.

When her family is slaughtered and her home burned, Xiaoyu sets out on a quest to avenge her family and test the limits of what a young woman can accomplish when she has nothing to lose.

As the bearer of the Azure Sword of the Dragon, Xiaoyu has the fate of the empire in her hands. She can either overthrow the Emperor or protect him. Which will she choose?


Of course, like most writers, I have tons of ideas running through my head all the time and have so many folders on my computer with little snippets of ideas running around, but these are my priorities and what you will see published this year. I’m so so so so excited and hope you love them. Which one are you most looking forward to?

Two Americans in China Named iCompareFX Best Expat Blog for China 2017

Two Americans in China Named iCompareFX Best Expat Blog for China 2017

Well here was an unexpected honor. Two Americans in China was named the best expat blog for China 2017 by iCompareFX. I have no affiliation with this company and cannot vouch for it, but it seems interesting. Their mission is “to help businesses and individuals save money on fees by navigating the remittance provider options available within their country or region. Only the best are reviewed and compared. No matter where you are in the world, there are alternatives to transferring through the big banks.” Feel free to check out their website to learn more.

What Do You Want To Know?

What Do You Want To Know?

Hi everyone,

I’m trying to get back into blogging here regularly, but it has been a little difficult. Part of the reason why is because I’m not sure what to write about! I know that sounds really terrible coming from a supposed “writer,” but writing creatively is a lot different from writing about real life.

Part of the problem is that I now work from home, so I don’t get out much. My life is pretty boring, at least to me.

But I know many people want to know more about what life in China is like. So what questions about life in China do you have? What would you like me to write about? Let me know in the comments!

Guest Post – Why We Quit Our Jobs to Go to China by Liz Wilson

Guest Post – Why We Quit Our Jobs to Go to China by Liz Wilson

For many, the idea of giving up a great job with a stable income, a home and a comfortable lifestyle to roam the world and live out of a backpack seems crazy.  But for us, the “American Dream” just wasn’t cutting it.  Sure we had good jobs and nice lives in Atlanta, but for what?  Being travelers at heart, we would count down until our next adventure overseas…only to dread returning.  Not because we hated our jobs (although, they weren’t our ultimate dream jobs) but because we wanted to keep it going.  There are so many places to explore, and we just didn’t want to waste time coming back home to work for a few months before jetting off again.  So one day while in Cambodia, we decided that we didn’t want it to end.

It’s Not Things That Matter…It’s Experiences

When we returned from Cambodia, we looked around our house at all the “things” we had acquired, and realized that wasn’t what made us happy in life.  It was our time abroad, making memories together and exploring – that’s what we needed in our lives (and each other, of course).  Together we started doing research, saving up money, and making a plan.  We gave ourselves a little over a year to prepare…then we sold it all and set out on the road and into the unknown.

The Opportunity to Teach English in China

I still remember the day we left Atlanta vividly.  We had an estate sale, and reduced our belongings from a 3 story townhouse down to a few Tupperware bins and a backpack.  The bins were stored with family, and we drove out of town with our backpacks for a cross-country trip.  After exploring the States and Hawaii for a little over a month, we ended up where most backpackers do…Thailand.

We had been to Thailand before, but this time it was different.  Technically, we were homeless and unemployed!  While we were running our blog, at the time it was fairly new and we weren’t earning any real income from it.  Instead, we bounced around Thailand exploring, pondering…and loving every moment of our new-found freedom.

After a while of watching the bank account balance go down rather than up, we figured it was time to consider making some money on the road.  In fact, this was always the plan.  We had done a lot of research prior to our trip and knew that teaching English abroad was one of the best ways to earn income as a traveler.  Josh had always wanted to be a teacher, and with a background in Business, I was quite interested to get some international experience and engage with business leaders abroad by teaching to English to adults as well.

Through our research, we had concluded that China was the place we wanted to go.  The market for native-English speaking teachers in China is enormous, and growing by the day.  We knew that there were plenty of opportunities for teaching jobs in China, and that China offered some of the best compensation for foreign English teachers.  

Making China Our Temporary Home

The speed at which it all happened is still pretty shocking.  Once we decided to find a job teaching English in China, we began doing some online research for positions.  We found a number of openings, contacted some schools, and connected with some recruiters.  In less than a couple weeks, we found ourselves signing a contract and boarding a plane to Guangzhou, China!

It was a little nerve-wracking when we stepped off the plane on that cold December night in Guangzhou.  Of course, we had heard of scams and all that — but we had a good feeling about the group of people we were working with. Sure enough, they were waiting to pick us up when we arrived…with a big smile on their faces!

Over the course of the next week, the same lovely group of people helped us get our new apartment and settle in.  They helped us get our bank account set up, SIM cards for our cell phones, showed us how to get metro cards and use the public transportation.  They even took us around town and showed us the supermarket and some of their favorite restaurants.

Immediately, we felt like we had family in Guangzhou.  And our jobs were awesome!  Right away, we felt at home in China — even though it was such a foreign place. From our neighborhood coffee shop, with the owner “MoMo” who would greet us each day, to “Chicken Guy” who ran a small restaurant just down the road from our apartment (he didn’t speak a word of English but was SO excited every time we came in – and always remembered what we liked to eat).  It wasn’t long before we knew that we could really enjoy ourselves in our little Chinese neighborhood!

Risks Can Make Life Worth Living

It’s true what they say, you don’t regret the things you do…but rather, the things you don’t do.  Many times in life we are hesitant to take risks, to do things that scare us or don’t seem like the “normal” thing to do.  However, we’ve come to realize that those are the risks that you should take!  

Teaching English in China has been one of the coolest experiences of our entire lives.  We had the chance to immerse ourselves in an ancient culture, much more so than we ever could have done on a vacation.  We made lifelong friends who treated us like family and taught us so many fascinating things about China.  

We also have enjoyed the chance to get to know our students — both adults and little kids.  This cultural exchange has been invaluable.  Plus, we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were able to help them with their goals of learning and practicing their English, which can help them in their future.

It’s been pretty amazing.  Not only have we had this great work and cultural experience, but we’ve been able to travel all over China.  It’s a massive country.  And a vacation for just a week or two just isn’t going to cut it for anyone.  As if that wasn’t enough, we were able to save a significant amount of money – more than enough to travel for quite some time.  

In the end, it’s hard to believe that we could have chickened-out and not taken this risk.  Because our lives will be forever changed because of it.  And as travelers, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Liz and Josh have been living and traveling around Asia since 2014.  Currently they split their time between the USA and China, working on their travel blog and assisting those who are interested in following in their footsteps via Career China.

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

Two Americans in China in Japan – Foodie Fun!

As our last hurrah before the baby comes, we went to Japan for the National Day holiday. We went to the Kansai area – Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe. It was amazing. I’m going to have to break up the trip report into different posts because there is just so much to talk about. The first thing I want to share is the food!

Japan in a foodie paradise. Any kind of food you want, you can find here, and so much more! I thought that I would be eating sushi and sake every day, but 1) sushi is not popular in the Kansai area and was surprisingly hard to find, and 2) there is just so much more to eat than that. I wanted to try foods that are unique to Japan, so here are some of the highlights.

Kobe Beef

I’m not a big steak fan, but I’ve been told it’s because I’ve never had “a really good steak.” Well, I can now say I have had the best steak in the world. Many people claim to have eaten Kobe beef before, but Kobe beef is almost impossible to find outside of Japan, and even in Japan it is prohibitively expensive outside of Kobe. So since we were staying in Osaka, we hoped on the fast train and thirty minutes later we were in Kobe, Japan. We went to a restaurant called Steakland and, OMG, the steak was AMAZING.

It really was as delicious and tender as people have claimed. It is melt in your mouth good. If you are ever in Japan, take a trip to Kobe and try this beef of the Gods. Your mouth will thank you for it. There were also a lot of other good looking places to eat, but we were so stuffed with meat, we couldn’t eat anywhere else.

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I really wanted a T-shirt that said “I ate fugu and survived!” but couldn’t find one. My husband refused to eat the poisonous sea creature with me, but I was determined to try it.

Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and it is a specialty in Japan. The intestines, liver, and ovaries of a pufferfish contain a deadly toxin – one that is 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. Specially trained fugu chefs undergo years of training to learn to cut the fish just right. Realistically, you are not going to die from eating fugu. The odds of you dying from fugu poisoning are lower than the odds of you dying from food poisoning in general. But the myth and the mystique of eating fugu persists, and I had to try it.

I opted for the raw fugu sashimi because I wanted the fugu flavor to be as pure as possible, but you can get fugu in almost any style, including inside dumplings or in hotpot. I went to a famous fugu restaurant in Osaka called Zuboraya. I thought the fugu was pretty good. It has a very light flavor and a bit of a rubbery texture. It was very good with the green onions and citrus wasabi they served with it. I would definitely eat it again.


Whale Sushi

When I finally made it to a sushi restaurant, I was surprised to find whale meat on the menu. I had to try it. Whale meat is pretty easy to find at restaurants in Japan and is usually the meat of sperm whales. It is a dark, beefy kind of meat. I wouldn’t try it again though. I didn’t really like it.


Ice Cream Parfaits

Japan is famous for these beautiful and delicious layered ice cream desserts. If you have spent time in China, you might be kind of leery to try them, but don’t be. Unlike Chinese ice cream, Japanese ice cream is delicious. The parfaits come in all different sizes and every flavor combination you can imagine. There are ice cream shops that just serve parfaits and have hundreds of examples on display. If you come across one of these shops, be sure to go in!

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Fast Food

Of course, in order to save time and money, and for some creature comforts, we did check out a few fast food restaurants. I know some people scoff at eating at a McDonalds or Starbucks when traveling internationally (“you should try local food!”), but the fun thing about these restaurants is that they often have very localized foods that you can’t get anywhere else in the world, so we often pop in to at least look at the menus, even if we don’t eat there.

In China, it is very hard to find good donuts (we don’t have any donut shops in SZ or Hong Kong!), so we had to go to the Krispy Kreme in Osaka. They had some Halloween donuts that were cute and delicious. They had pumpkin pie at Starbucks. And we had chocolate pumpkin french fries at MacDonalds.

We actually spent most of our money in Japan on food. If you ever go to Japan, plan to eat EVERYTHING!

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Have you been to Japan? What were your favorite foods? Let me know in the comments.

Two Americans in China in Vietnam

Two Americans in China in Vietnam

For Chinese New Year back in February, we went to Vietnam. I can’t believe how long it has taken me to post this (well, actually I can, it has been a crazy busy year!), but better late than never!

The Hong Kong Airport is surprisingly entertaining during CNY
The Hong Kong Airport is surprisingly entertaining during CNY

We have been traveling around Southeast Asia quite a bit recently since we live so close to the Hong Kong airport, which makes it very quick and cheap to travel around the region. Even though most Americans don’t typically think of Vietnam when pondering vacation choices, I had heard great things over the years about it from Australians and Europeans, so it had long been on my list as a place to check out. While there are many cities to visit in Vietnam, we decided to just go to Hanoi. It is a smaller city but it is only a couple of hours from Halong Bay.

Unfortunately, we went during Lunary New Year, which Vietnam also celebrates (they call it Tết). Similar to in China, the Vietnamese usually travel home for Tết, so most of the shops and restraunts were closed when we arrived! Oops! But thankfully they usually only take two or three days off, so the city wasn’t empty for long.

View of Halong Bay from one of the mountains we climbed in the bay.
View of Halong Bay from one of the mountains we climbed in the bay.

Since there was nothing to do in Hanoi, we booked a cruise at Halong Bay. That was wonderful! Halong Bay is beautiful and crusing is just so relaxing and carefree. I would be interested in going back to Halong Bay just to do a longer cruise. I would also be interested in going on other cruises in the future.

When we got back to Hanoi, things were starting to open up, so we caught a Water Puppet show. I have a weird facination with puppets (I blame Sound of Music) and I have a decent collection of antique (over 100 years old) and reproduction puppets from around the world. So of course I had to go see the dancing water puppets. We ended up going to two water puppet shows at two different theaters in Hanoi. The shows were very similar in story and structure, so if you are in Hanoi and you aren’t sure which theater to go to, I don’t think it matters.

A Queen Fairy and her attendants.
A Queen Fairy and her attendants.

Dating back to at least the 11th century, the Vietnamese would use flooded rice paddies as a stage for wooden water puppets to dance on. This folk tradition has evolved into today’s water puppet shows. The theaters today have waist-deep pools of water as a stage. There is a black screen that hides the puppeteers from the audience. The pools is flanked by musicians and singers. The puppets are made of wood and painted with laquer to protect them from the water. Sometimes the dragon puppets even spout fireworks!

The water puppets shows were some of the coolest things I have seen in my travels and I would definately reccomend them and watch them again (I also brought home three puppets for my collection!). I’m really surprised that I had never heard of water puppet theater before or seen some rendition of it in America. I guess you will have to go to Vietnam and see this awesome cultural performance art for yourself!

Do not buy any paintings in Vietnam. They are all from Dafen Art Village in Shenzhen.
Do not buy any paintings in Vietnam. They are all from Dafen Art Village in Shenzhen.
I beleive this church was dedicated to Saint Samwise the Loyal, who didst carryth Frodo unto Mount Doom to destroyeth The One Ring.
I believe this church was dedicated to Saint Samwise the Loyal, who didst carryth Frodo unto Mount Doom to destroyeth The One Ring.
It's amazing how many dongs you can fit in one hand.
It’s amazing how many dongs you can fit in one hand.
Puppets for sale near a water puppet theater.
Puppets for sale near a water puppet theater.
TV Shows With Chinese Actors You Need To Be Watching

TV Shows With Chinese Actors You Need To Be Watching

In the past few years, there have been more calls for diversity in Hollywood. For the last two years, #OscarsSoWhite trended around the Internet after people of color were completely shut out of the acting categories and most of the categories altogether at the Oscars. But the lack of diversity in Hollywood is not limited to big budget silver screen films. A far more daily reminder of the lack of diversity in Hollywood plays out on the small screen. This is slowly changing, though. There are several TV shows out there right now that feature Chinese actors. In order to see these shows renewed and see more TV shows cast with Asian actors, YOU need to be watching them. Here are four TV shows starring Chinese actors you need to be watching.

  1. fresh off the boatFresh Off The Boat. I’m guilty of putting off watching this one because I was a little nervous about it. I’m not a fan of the comedian behind it – Eddie Huang – so I was worried the humor wouldn’t translate well. But was I wrong. My god-daughter calls it “the Chinese Modern Family.” And after finally devouring the first season in two days, I have to agree. The humor is just as good as anything written on Modern Family and has broad appeal. For me personally, since I have lived in China, Orlando, and was a teenager in the 90s, the show and its humor appeal to me on every level. Even if you don’t hit all those notes, there is something here for everyone. The good news is the show was just renewed for its third season!
    The show stars Constance Wu as Jessica the mom, Randall Park (he’s actually Korean, but that is a different conversation) as Louis the dad, and Hudson Yang as Eddie the eldest son. It follows the Huang family as they move from Washington DC to Orlando in 1995 where Louis opens a steakhouse. While the whole cast is amazing and everyone is funny (even the grandma, who only speaks Chinese) Wu’s Jessica is the real show-stealer. Every scene she is in is laugh out loud funny and she perfectly captures the quintessential “Chinese mother.” The casting also features a whole host of other Chinese and Asian actors. In summary: funny, funny, funny. Definitely check it out. Fresh Off The Boat is on ABC.
  2. rush hourRush Hour. Can you believe it has been eighteen years since the Rush Hour movie came out? Unfortunately, the TV version was canceled after only its first season (which was only a half season), but you can still check out the last two episodes on CBS on Thursday nights. While Rush Hour couldn’t quite live up to the quality and charm of the original, it should have been given another season. The show was funny, the martial arts were decent, and the plot definitely made for a quality hour of television. I will certainly miss this one next year.
    The show starred Jon Foo as Agent Lee (the Jackie Chan role),  Justin Hires as Detective Carter (the Chris Tucker role), and Jessika Van as Kim, agent Lee’s sister. The martial arts are not as good as the original movie, but without Chan and with a TV budget, having the same standard would be an impossible task, but they do what they can. I said after episode 4, “they really need more martial arts in this show,” and then episode 5, Assault on Precinct 7, really went all out. I was impressed. The show had an uphill battle to climb to stand on the shoulders of the original, but it did a really great job and deserved more of a chance. Check it out before it’s gone!
  3. into the badlandsInto The Badlands. If it’s martial arts you want, then Into the Badlands is for you. We are talking Game of Thrones level violence here, and it is amazing! The really exciting news is that AMC renewed Into the Badlands for a second season! The show features Daniel Wu as Sunny, a (smokin’ hot) warrior in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where guns are outlawed so everyone uses hand-to-hand combat, even the women! the only issue with the show is that Wu is the only Chinese actor in it. The two other notable non-white characters are Sunny’s girlfriend, Veil, played by Madeleine Mantock, who is of Black, Hispanic, and European descent, and Sunny’s padawan M.K., played by Aramis Knight, who is of German, Indian, and Pakistani descent. Still, that’s pretty high diversity for most American TV shows today. It also gets a bump and is on this list because the general plot of Into the Badlands is loosely based on Journey to the West, the famous Chinese saga of the legendary pilgrimage of the Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Xuanzang who traveled to the Western Regions to obtain Buddhist sacred texts. I haven’t noticed many similarities yet, but the characters haven’t yet begun their “journey.” Hopefully the series will last long enough to see those similarities come through.
  4. hellonwheels300Hell on Wheels, Season Five. Yes, just season five. One of the only things most Americans know about Chinese-American history is that Chinese laborers were used to build the railroads. Yet Hell on Wheels’ creators must have missed even that little tidbit in history class because for the first four seasons there was not one Chinese character. The show finally makes up for that dearth by making the Chinese railroad workers the central plot of season five. You don’t need to watch the first four seasons to know what is going on. Two railroad companies are trying to be the first to reach California. Most of what happened in the first four seasons is completely irrelevant to where the show is now. And since the show has a penchant for (spoilers) killing off its totally amazing women characters, I would have stopped watching it myself if the fifth season hadn’t focused on the Chinese railroad workers. The final season of Hell on Wheels (which is the second half of season five) will premiere on June 11, so you have plenty of time to catch the first half of season five before then. Hell on Wheels season five stars Anson Mount as Cullen Bohanon, the railroad foreman, Byron Mann as Chang, the dangerous “rice shop” owner who supplies the railroad with Chinese workers, Angela Zhou as Fong, a young railroad worker with a secret, and Tzi Ma as Fong’s father. The plot is strong, the characters are realistic, and the casting is excellent. It’s only too bad Hell on Wheels didn’t include these characters from the beginning. Hell on Wheels is also on AMC.
    Check out this behind the scenes story about the making of season five of Hell on Wheels.

What do you think of these shows? What other shows (maybe non-American ones) featuring Chinese actors are you watching? Let me know in the comments!

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