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Forums > Living in Kunming > Gokunming-Where have all the foreigners gone

JR305, I totally understand your sentiment. I left China a few years ago, although I have continued visiting regularly for business, up until not too long before Covid.

I remember seeing the signs posted on Chinese businesses refusing entry to foreigners, especially people of African descent in the early days of Covid. Such stories went viral on the Shanghaiist and other foreign media. Although these signs seemed to disappear after around the middle of 2020, I think the writing was definitely already on the wall.

I'll always be fond of China, especially Kunming and rural areas of Yunnan, which I'm most familiar with. That being said, although I have some great friends there, most of whom are locals, I find it can be a lonely place to be, if you're staying long-term. Most foreigners come and go. Few remain long-term, other than those married to locals and who own businesses such as restaurants and bars.

Chinese apartments can be nice, but what would be nicer is a big house with a large yard, something that is almost impossible to find in any Chinese city, where 99% of people now live in some sort of apartment and the 1% well to do in a townhouse that is kind of a glorified apartment.

While I haven't faced what you have when I was living in China, I did experience some minor cases of racism here and there. This was especially apparent when I was with another Chinese or Asian woman similar or younger in age to me. One time in Yuxi, south of Kunming, my female Chinese friend was called a whore by a jealous local dude. Even though I felt like hitting the guy, I don't think that would have been a good idea!

I was also verbally abused by an elderly Chinese couple once in a Kunming shopping mall back around 2011.

Other than that, I get the feeling that a lot of locals look down on us as simply being English teachers with few other skills. In nearly every interaction I've had with Chinese, I was stereotyped as an English teacher even though I'm not.

Although there are certain complaints made by expats living in SE Asia that are similar; for the most part, experiences are much more positive than those of China. There are more foreigners in SE Asia, English is more widely spoken and a lot of things look more familiar to us than what we'll find in China.

Going forward, I'd love to visit China again once the borders reopen. I'll gladly visit once or twice a year. I don't know if I'd want to live there again though, even though there are some charming aspects of life that I miss. I love the western cafes like A slice of heaven and the French cafe and similar ones in places like Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la. The backpacker hostels are quite luxurious and their proprietors very nice people. I don't stay in such places anywhere else but China. The landscapes are fabulous and the diversity and richness of the food is almost unparalleled anywhere.

In other words, China is fantastic for travel and short-term business, but not that great as a place to live.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Gokunming-Where have all the foreigners gone

@livinginchina, that occurred to me long ago. Covid is the perfect excuse for governments to keep populations under their grip. Indeed, many countries' GDP is based largely on tourism such as the Maldives. Although they're kind of open, when you have quarantine in the reverse direction (as many places impose on returnees from there) the tourism industry can't be sustained and the entire economy is at stake.

While China doesn't have that problem and it's domestic tourism industry, though large, is mainly made up of domestic visitors, being a hermit kingdom isn't going to do any country any good.

In a globalized community, we need the whole world to go back to normal, not just a few countries (such as Denmark).

Forums > Living in Kunming > Gokunming-Where have all the foreigners gone

Exactly. I just hope the good times return soon. Seeing happy Chinese tourists traveling all over Asia and the world, and vice versa is how I want things to be like again. Splashing their money around.

I think maybe that will start to occur again during the second half of 2022 if China eases off it's "zero Covid" policy, which is shared by Australia and New Zealand. Then by 2023, things might finally start to look pretty normal again.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Gokunming-Where have all the foreigners gone

Moreover, you have to already be in China to take advantage of these employment opportunities. Very few foreigners outside the country are eligible, or want to go through the hassle of returning to China at the moment.

Few employers will go to the trouble of trying to bring in a foreigner from abroad when there is a ready pool of foreign talent locally, not to mention that increasingly, China is looking towards its own talent pool rather than foreigners. This had already been the case long before anyone had ever heard of Covid.

Forums > Living in Kunming > Gokunming-Where have all the foreigners gone

I've noticed a few foreign researchers who've come to Kunming, but usually on short-term 6 month or 12 month postings. Rarely anything more permanent. Many are from SE Asian countries, not necessarily Europe or North America. My dad arranged one of his recently graduated PhD students from Thailand to do some post-doc research at Kunming University. This was a few years back.

In any case, I think it is quite clear that there are fewer foreigners in Kunming and China in general than pre-Covid.

It is not easy to move around right now, so even a Thai, Lao or Vietnamese person has to make the difficult decision to remain in China or go back home and possibly not be able to return to China for an extended period. Quarantines to enter SE Asian countries are very strict, and China is even stricter. Thailand ended it's free quarantine scheme for its nationals on July 1, so now everyone has to pay to return.

It doesn't look like China will be lifting it's quarantine scheme until July 2022 at the earliest. So that tells you how long the borders will still be closed for.


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It's clear who the brainwashed one is in this story - the western traveler (Thor). The locals know that Ebola wasn't what it was purported to be, hence why there was no need to take any special precautions.

Kunming seems to experience more disruptive and severe flooding than low lying cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta. Could be of course that these cities tend to have very predictable rainfall patterns and while their drainage systems are often clogged with garbage, flooding tends to be short-lived and confined to local areas rather than city wide. Upcountry towns located near rivers are the ones sometimes impacted by more widespread and severe flooding, again almost always during the rainy season. Of course there are also various parts of China, particularly in the central part of the country where flooding is a regular occurrence.

Good article but a few inaccuracies. This border crossing opened as an international border to foreigners in possession of Myanmar visas on August 28, 2013, not only 2016. Since then it has been possible to visit this area then proceed to other parts of Myanmar by air (or vice versa). The on-arrival permit system for foreigners without visas is still in place, reportedly the requirement to have a guide (for 1000 Baht a day and payment must be in Baht) is still in existence if you don't have a Myanmar visa, but with the e-visa system now it would seem rather odd not to go for a Myanmar visa even if you're only going to Kengtung and coming back the same way - you'll even save money by not needing a guide. You can always hire a guide for trekking around Kengtung. Of course, a guide may also come in handy if you intend on traveling by car with driver, however, it is not possible to travel west of Kengtung towards Taunggyi by road, except with a permit, though I hear none have been issued since around Dec 2016.

Many thousands of Thais cross the border between Mae Sai and Tachilek daily, so the author is greatly misleading readers when he claims only 5000 crossed last year. If he meant 5000 non-Thai foreigners, he may have been right but there are surely as many (if not more) Thai daytrippers crossing this border as has been the case for years, as Chinese who cross to Mengla or Muse from their respective border towns on the Chinese side. This is partially the case due to Mae Sai being an official border crossing for many years (by comparison, Mengla is not an official crossing even for Chinese) and there is a large market on the Burmese side that Thais like to visit.


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