Jaruwan Records Yunnan's Story with Sincerity

On April 13, 2023, the D887 "Fuxing" cross-border passenger train dressed in olive green slowly departed from Kunming South Railway Station, then accelerated, and shuttled through the mountains and rivers of Yunnan. Looking through the window, magnificent mountains and waters, seas of blooming flowers, green fields, and towering bridges kept flashing by.

Inside the carriage, the bright sun shone through the spacious and bright windows. Thai Chen Muyun (Jaruwan Udomsab), dressed in traditional Thai attire, danced to upbeat music, delighting her friends. The train was filled with a brisk and joyful atmosphere, with melodies and laughter interweaving in the air. 


Chen Muyun dressed in traditional Thai attire and danced on the China-Laos Railway Cross-border Passenger Train. Photo provided by the interviewee 

"Sawatdee ka (Thai greeting meaning 'hello')! My friends, today is a special day. It is the New Year in Thailand and Laos. What also can be specially noticed is that the first cross-border passenger train on the China-Laos Railway has been put in operation. Come to Yunnan and embark on a great time by taking the China-Laos Railway!" Chen Muyun said so in fluent Chinese, facing the camera with relaxing facial expressions. She posted a short video on her social platform, inviting everyone to experience the colorful and attractive Yunnan.

The Thai Chen Muyun, who is active on various social platforms, came to Kunming for the first time 13 years ago with the initial intention of pursuing education. However, to everyone’s surprise, she opted to stay for 13 years, embracing the city as her second hometown.

Fascinated by small-pot rice noodles

In August 2010, along with two big suitcases, Chen Muyun set off from Phuket Island in Thailand. Although this journey was rather long and lonely, her heart brimmed with anticipation for the life in Kunming. After a lengthy flight, she finally arrived at Kunming Wujiaba International Airport (it is out of use today).

The weather embracing Chen Muyun that day was not pleasing as she expected. When she walked out of the airport gate, what greeted her was not the beauty of a "Spring City", but an accidental downpour. "I was struck by Kunming on the very first day." Recalling the scene when she first arrived in Kunming, she frowned slightly and said.

Fortunately, a Chinese friend of hers drove to pick her up, allowing her to escape this terrible weather. Seated inside the car, Chen Muyun couldn't help but exclaim, "Am I really in spring-like Kunming like others depicted?"

However, the challenges that awaited Chen Muyun in Kunming were far more than that. As a newcomer, Chen Muyun had encountered so many discomforts. For instance, it may be down to high altitude reaction, Chen Muyun often felt drowsy and was unable to keep energetic. She said with a smile: "At first, I simply thought it was because the weather in Kunming was too good!"

During that period, it was relatively difficult to find Thai restaurants in Kunming, and there were no subways or shared bicycles. Chen Muyun was not able to speak Chinese well, and could not understand the local dialect at all. She pondered, "I will be going home as long as I finish my studies."


Chen Muyun captured moments of her journey through photography while visiting Yunnan. Photo provided by the interviewee 

People have similar eating habits and tastes in both Yunnan and Thailand. Although it was a bit challenging to adapt to the local Kunming food at first, "The rice noodles in Kunming and Thailand share alike characteristics on some level. I fell in love with Yunnan cuisine after trying it a few times." As for Chen Muyun, her favorite dish is small-pot rice noodles. She said: "I usually eat small-pot rice noodles at least 4 times a week!" When it comes to Chen Muyun, her colleagues and friends will naturally mention that she is a fan of small-pot rice noodles!

On weekends, Chen Muyun will also invite some of her friends to cook delicious food at home together. Just like the locals, she enjoys visiting the market early in the morning to buy fresh ingredients. In her eyes, the market offers an abundance of fruits and vegetables at affordable prices. "You can even buy a spice that is often used in Thailand—lemongrass!" Chen Muyun exclaimed. "We usually creatively make dishes with Chinese and Thai features. For example, it tastes amazing when wild mushrooms are cooked in Tom Yum Goong soup."

In addition to being her shopping paradise, the vegetable market is also her treasure spot to improve her Chinese. She smiled and said, "I take this opportunity to practice my Chinese. Everyone here is pretty enthusiastic and helpful. They will answer my questions patiently." Chen Muyun likes to chat with native merchants when purchasing vegetables. After going back and forth, she not only bought ingredients for cooking successfully but also had more chances to communicate with locals.

Chen Muyun enjoys traveling as long as she has free time. She has explored many parts of China. However, "Only Yunnan is the one I still yearn for in the end." Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Xishuangbanna… those cities particularly fascinated Chen Muyun, "These places are incredibly beautiful as if Yunnan is a heavenly realm on earth, resembling a picturesque painting."

The natural scenery of Yunnan seems to make life "slow down". Mountains, rivers, lakes, the chirping birdsongs, and the fragrance of flowers, all of those calm people down without effort and fill their hearts with a sense of refreshment. Chen Muyun marveled, "I can really sense that the people living here are very happy."


Chen Mujun learned Dongba script from the locals in Lijiang. Photo provided by the interviewee 

The unique ethnic culture and architectural style of Yunnan also considerably appealed to Chen Muyun. Seeing the buildings of the Bai people's three houses with one front wall, touching the Dongba script printed on the paper, and drinking a sip of salty and sweet Tibetan buttered tea... All of these experiences have brought her endless surprises: "I can always get a new type of feeling every time I travel to Yunnan!"


Chen Muyun captured a photo with a local elderly grandmother. Photo provided by the interviewee 

Both the flavorful food and impressive scenery of Yunnan truly attracted Chen Muyun, and she was deeply obsessed with the local warmth and precious kindness here. "I have fallen in love with Yunnan!" she exclaimed with excitement, a slight upturn of her lips and a sparkle of determination in her eyes.


Chen Muyun experienced the ethnic minority festivals in Yunnan. Photo provided by the interviewee 

Become a digital "slash youth" in Kunming

In June 2018, Chen Muyun, who was studying for a doctorate degree in digital economy at Kunming University of Science and Technology, successfully completed her graduation thesis defense. Although she was very confused about her future career path, she had one thought in her mind - to stay in Kunming.

After submitting a lot of job resumes on the recruitment website, Chen Muyun received a call from the Kunming Hi-tech Software & Information Security Testing Laboratory. However, because she previously had already received many disappointing interview calls, she didn't hold high hopes for this call either, "I potentially thought that this company was not suitable for me. So, I casually agreed to attend the interview over the phone, but deep down, I wasn't prepared to go," Chen Muyun said with a smile.

When the agreed interview time came around, Chen Muyun did not show up for a long time. Thus, after waiting for a whole morning, the HR department of this company dialed Chen Muyun again to inquire about her absence. "I had to come up with an excuse that I couldn't find the way to their company." Chen Muyun said with an embarrassed smile, "But I could indeed feel their sincerity, so in the end, I quickly rushed to attend the interview."


Chen Muyun was interviewed at her work office. Photo by Tan Shiyan 

Chen Muyun's current leader, Dr. Li Jian, director of Kunming Hi-tech Software & Information Security Testing Laboratory, praised her: "Chen Muyun is very humble, down-to-earth, and willing to do practical things." 

Proficient in Chinese, Thai, Lao, and English, Chen Muyun can assist the company in communicating with clients, which greatly improves the efficiency of cooperation between each other. "She often brings us a lot of novel insights and viewpoints at work." Li Jian gave her thumbs up.

Chen Muyun gets along well with her colleagues and everyone loves this friend from Thailand. "Chinese friends are very enthusiastic. They always bring me some delicacies during festivals, such as zongzi and moon cakes." Chen Muyun said with a smile.

Later, due to her excellent work performance, Chen Muyun was selected as a member of the Chinese "Talented Young Scientist Program" and "Yunnan Intelligence Union Program-Young Scientist", and worked with Chinese experts to research the cooperation between China and Southeast Asia in the field of digital economy.

Chen Muyun is particularly interested in smart tourism. She has studied the technological logic behind the APP "Go-Yunnan", hoping to promote these digital economic technologies to Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries in the future, making local tourism services more intelligent and advanced.

"I recently started a new project to study how to promote China's new energy vehicles to the taxi industry in Laos and Thailand." Chen Muyun hopes to build a new energy vehicle taxi platform in Laos and Thailand to develop a sustainable transportation system.

"Only by learning new skills in Kunming can I better serve my hometown." Chen Muyun believes that the implementation of the new energy vehicles for taxis project will contribute to the greening of urban transportation in Laos and Thailand, reducing pollution and energy consumption, and will further bring more advantageous development opportunities for the local taxi industry.

Narrate authentic Yunnan stories with sincerity

In addition to handling work matters in the professional field, Chen Muyun also takes on the roles of a social media influencer and an overseas communication "ambassador" for the Yunnan International Communication Center for South and Southeast Asia. These "cross-border" identities uniquely shape her.

"Later, the COVID-19 epidemic broke out, and the situation was pretty severe." Chen Muyun recalled. Her family was very worried about her health and hoped that she could return to Thailand as soon as possible. But Chen Muyun said: "Actually, my life in China has not been affected too much."

To objectively present her living situation in China to her family, Chen Muyun began recording her daily life in Kunming with her mobile phone, starting with her daily commute to work.

In her first video, you can see that the weather in Kunming was a bit chilly in the morning, with drizzle falling, tall and straight ginkgo trees standing vertically on both sides of the sidewalk, and a row of blue shared bicycles neatly lined up beside the road. Chen Muyun's voiceover began: "Shared bicycles are frequently used in China and are welcomed by everyone."

Not long after, Chen Muyun arrived at her destination. "The temperature in Kunming is not high, so it is very comfortable to walk to work." She turned the camera to herself and said with a gentle smile.

Gradually, she discovers that making videos is interesting. It transcribes her own daily life, but more importantly, it facilitates more people to know about Yunnan, which she loves from the bottom of her heart. The videos released by Chen Muyun cover a wide range of distinctive local Chinese customs and cultures, including graceful Yi ethnic group dance, joyful celebrations for the Chinese New Year's Day, and superb acupuncture techniques... All of which made overseas netizens greatly marvel at the profound Chinese culture.


Chen Muyun learned about tea culture on the China-Laos Railway cross-border passenger train. Photo provided by the interviewee 

Since the China-Laos Railway was operated, she was oftentimes invited to conduct interviews and record her riding experiences through videos, and posted them on social media as well, which attracted great attention and interaction from many international netizens. Many of them commented: "I hope to travel to China by taking the China-Laos Railway train in the future" and "After the opening of the China-Laos railway, the communication and connection between the people of China and Laos are getting more convenient."


Chen Muyun wore Thai attire at the high-speed railway station. Photo provided by the interviewee 

In Pu'er, Yunnan, in order to better understand the history and culture of Pu'er tea, she visited a Pu'er tea factory to have a close watch on the production process of Pu'er tea cakes. At the same time, she recorded the whole procedure carefully. "Sawatdee ka! Today we are here to witness the making of Pu'er tea cakes. From pressing to packaging, every step has its own unique skills and details." Chen Muyun elaborated in her introduction, allowing more netizens to comprehend the transformation from fresh leaves to tea cakes in detail.


Chen Muyun considered the process of Pu'er tea was very delicate. Photo provided by the interviewee 

"Pu'er is a good place. Many foreigners had no idea of it before, but since the China-Laos Railway operates, Pu'er has also become one of the stops on a popular tourist route." Chen Muyun believes that the China-Laos Railway has triggered new development opportunities for Pu'er tourism. As far as Chen Muyun is concerned, more people will come to Pu'er through the China-Laos Railway, and experience Pu'er cultural charm and customs along the classic tourist routes such as the "Green Triangle" original ecological tour, making Pu'er a tourist attraction in the minds of international tourists.

Chen Muyun's videos have sparked strong interest in China's development and culture among many people. "Whether being a social media influencer or an overseas communication 'ambassador', I believe that the key to communication is sincerity." According to Chen Muyun, Chinese culture should be presented objectively in a way that Thai people can accept, and what she sees and hears should be truthfully shown to international friends. Only then can China's story be truly narrated and Yunnan's voice be spread.  

In the future, Chen Muyun will continue to engage in research and practice in areas such as the "Belt and Road" Initiative, digital economy, explore hot-topic issues of the digital economy in cooperation between China and Southeast Asia, and strengthen communication and exchanges between China and Thailand as well as other Southeast Asian countries in the field of science, technology, and culture. What is more, she will still keep a record of her life using photos or videos. Through her small screen, the purest emotions can be conveyed, inviting more international friends to understand Yunnan and further perceive China. 

Click here to view Chinese report

(Editors: Carina, Rachel)

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