“Big rural village” indeed. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Tianjin: China’s #1 most livable city! I can’t believe it. Our very own Tianjin, which is so beautiful that you can look at the sun and it doesn’t hurt your eyes, took top honours among Mainland cities this month in a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
So our Canadian home is the most livable city in the world, and our Chinese home is the most livable city in China. If anyone has more info, please pass it along. I’d love to know how Tianjin scored this.
Below is the intro I never used for the “Tianjin-friendly New Year’s Resolutions for Laowais” magazine article last December, followed by links to some of our best Tianjin stuff.
Yeah yeah, in Tianjin we know how in Beijing you look down us for being old school and undistinguished, and how in Shanghai you think you’re better than, well, everybody, but the intro below from an upcoming local expat magazine article explains why Tianjin kicks all your butts!
If you disregard your first impressions and look at it from the proper angle, it’s not hard to see that Tianjin is a romantic city with some exciting nightlife. Stop sniggering; I’m serious: romantic, with exciting nightlife. I’ll also add – traffic and public transit aside – warmhearted. I’m glad it’s not Shanghai or Beijing, and I’ve got good reasons.
Tianjin is a big city with a small town feel. Beijingers might say it’s unsophisticated and really just a big rural village (大农村), but they don’t know what they’re missing. Tianjin’s the kind of city where your neighbourhood bike repairman and his buddies will call you over to sit on those little stools, share some báijiǔ (白酒；white lightning) and play Chinese chess, even though you can barely ask for the bathroom in Chinese. It’s the kind of city where, when you’re reading your Chinese homework on a bench in the park, someone will eventually come sit next to you and make polite conversation. It’s the kind of place where you open your door to find the new neighbours you haven’t met yet standing there with a plate full of steaming dumplings for you and your wife. Or it’s a place where a stranger might join your picnic lunch, where people sing out loud biking down the road, where your taxi driver will talk your ear off if you let him, where couples tango in public, and where the parks are bustling with happy activity from after dinner until late.
Language barriers and vast cultural distances won’t stop the local lǎobǎixìng (老百姓；regular folks) from giving a warm welcome to the foreigners in their midst. Foreigners are still a little special here, but we’re not so unusual that people can’t relate to us normally-enough. Sometimes the biggest problem is the foreigners themselves; we miss out on many of the best aspects of Tianjin because we inadvertently make ourselves unavailable by living lifestyles that are incompatible with the main streams of local Tianjin life.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that pretty much none of Tianjin’s foreigners want to completely abandon all of their foreigner ways and living habits. Thankfully, that’s not necessary. Even just partially adjusting to the rhythms of local life can yield some meaningful relationships and experiences. Making ourselves available to the more meaningful aspects of local Tianjin life will greatly increase our enjoyment of this city and its people, and New Year’s resolutions are as good an excuse as any to get after it.
- Getting fire cupped in a Tianjin bath house (or) Losing a wrestling match to a giant octopus
- Staying Alive and On Your Bike in Tianjin
- Tianjin: more colourful in the rain, more marriable in the sun
- This week in Tianjin (photos)
- Photos from a Saturday bike trip around Tianjin
- Watching the Opening Ceremony with a few thousand Tianjiners! (video)
- Tianjin’s “Old Hundred Names” on the Olympics (video)
- Reduced to Memories: Tianjin’s hutongs
- The Tianjin “Incident”
- A little taste of Chinese New Year in our neighbourhood
- January’s propaganda: museum style (Tianjin Museum)
- Sex, drugs, and Tianjin University students
- Putting the OMG! in Smog
Tianjin is a fine place to be a China-loving lǎowài. (Never mind that Business Week rated it the 13th hardest “hardship post” (2nd worst in China) for foreign workers on account of the pollution, disease & sanitation, medical facilities, physical remoteness, and culture & recreation. Sissies!)