“I’m very unlucky to have ended up in Siping”


It’s February, 2015. I go to a hairdresser in Siping. The hairdresser starts talking with me. He asks where I cut my hair the last time. I tell him about my experience:

“I went to a hairdresser near the university. When he was done cutting my hair, he told me that this kind of hairstyle doesn’t suit me.”

He laughs: “Have you told him that he doesn’t suit cutting hair?” He goes on: “No, honestly. Hairdressers near the university don’t actually cut hair. They practice cutting hair. University students aren’t picky, as long as it’s affordable, it will do. If you’re in a bigger city like Shanghai, hairdressers near the universities cut hair well, but not here in Siping. Where are you from?”


“I’ve cut hair for a French and an Australian here in Siping. Your hair is very similar to that of Russians. When I lived in other cities, I used to cut a lot of Russian’s hair.”

“Which cities have you lived in?”

“Beijing and Harbin. I’m originally from Harbin.”

“How did you end up in Siping?”

“My wife’s from here. I’m very unlucky to have ended up in Siping. If only I’d met a woman in one of the bigger cities. There’s not much going on in Siping. I go to work in the morning and come back home late at night. That’s all my life is about right now. Unlike the bigger cities, people here don’t go out in the evenings. There isn’t anywhere you can go to, anyways. Life was much more fun in Beijing. It’s very lively there in the evenings.”

Where do you live and how do you like it there?

Follow me on Facebook.


Hi, I'm Ruth, welcome to China Elevator Stories! I have been living in Kunming and Shenzhen in the past and am now staying in Northeast China with my Chinese husband and our baby and toddler son. Join us on our journey bridging worlds!


  1. I like where I live. It’s a small beautiful town next to the ocean and near a beautiful city, Seattle. I go out more often during the daytime. In the evening I can always go to a movie or play or visit friends. Do you find enough to do in Siping?

    • That sounds lovely.

      It’s better now that I work here and get to meet some people. There isn’t a lot to do here, but for this phase of our life and for our son, being here is much more convenient and less stressful than if we were living in one of the bigger cities in China.

  2. I have lived in both Chengde (Hebei) and Beijing. I much prefer living in Chengde because the lifestyle is more laid back and the environment is better. Locals are also quite friendly and rather traditional (which can be both good and bad, imo). Living in Beijing was stressful, though at times exciting. There are a lot more opportunities there, but you really have to fight for them. And commuting sucks! Here I can walk or take a short taxi anywhere.

  3. robert

    Your hairdresser is still lucky, I think – at least people can move where they or their spouses want to. My girlfriend’s father was assigned from Zhejiang to Chengde (really lovely city by the way!) during Mao’s time, and that’s where he stayed. I think he got lucky though – there are worse destinations.

    My first destination in China was Beijing – I liked it more than Shanghai. It felt a bit more relaxed but also more like an adventure. In Shanghai everything moves much faster, but everything is more Western and convenient, which can be an advantage at times. I still miss Beijing though, and having cheap Beijing noodles for lunch.

  4. I love the cultural diversity of Los Angeles, but I miss the mountains and the greenery of the East Coast of the United States. I’d love a small town in New England. (That hairdresser would hate it.)

  5. I think small, mid-sized cities are good for families; but if you’re young or like going out, then it’s kind of hard. I moved from Shanghai to a suburb here in LA, and it was such an adjustment. I really missed just walking out, turning a corner, and being at my favorite bar/cafe. Now it’s hop in the car, battle traffic, and maybe arrive at the restaurant after an hour’s drive if I can find parking.

    Do you have any big cities near Siping or is it quite remote?

    • Yeah, it really depends on what you currently want/need. Siping is just an hour by fast train from both Changchun and Shenyang, and less than two from Harbin. It’s ok for us at the moment because we value good quality air more than bars at the moment. But I’m sure I would have never come here if circumstances were different.

  6. Alana

    Nice article. After all of my travels and living in Korea for three years, coming back to the U.S. and still traveling I have come to realize how important it is to LOVE where you live. Just for your overall well being it takes so much stress off your body and thoughts to really enjoy where you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *