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.