Amy Lyons records vlog at Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, on March 16, 2021. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
SYDNEY, March 19 (Xinhua) -- In the alleyways of Sydney's Chinatown, one Aussie vlogger is determined to seek out the authentic Chinese dishes that generally go overlooked by Western diners.
Born and raised in Sydney, Amy Lyons makes her living out of exploring Chinese culture, creating an extensive online following with millions of views from around the world.
Known on Youtube as Blondie in China, and on several Chinese social media platforms as Amy, Lyon's appeal comes from being more than a passive observer. The 28-year-old has lived and travelled extensively in China and even speaks Chinese very fluently.
"As an Australian, we don't really have a cuisine. China is a 5,000-year-old civilization. So I felt really attracted to that and to that history," Lyons told Xinhua.
Most of Lyons' contents were created in China, where she has lived for several years. Visiting remote cities, sampling different foods, meeting people, and generally indulging her own tastes and curiosities.
Lyon's love affair with China dates back to 2014 when she spent a time as an exchange student at the Shanghai-based Fudan University. From the moment she arrived she said that people's kindness and willingness to share their culture had her hooked on the country.
"The people were so friendly. I loved traveling there. And I also started learning more about Chinese tea and just different cultural aspects of the country. So that's kind of where my interest and desire to learn Chinese for my future in business became, I just really like this place I want to do everything I can to stay here," she said.
Lyons hopes that through her videos she can challenge outside notions about China, and open viewers up to the food and culture so they can experience it for themselves.
"I hope that if they see someone that maybe looks like them, that communicates like them, eating something, they'll be more likely when they see it on the menu to try it for themselves and experience something new," Lyons said.
Beyond the food, the very landscape of China also came as a surprise to Lyons whose preconception of smoggy cities was shattered by the diverse natural beauty she found as she visited different corners of the country.
"I went to Gansu Province, I went to the corner of Sichuan Province, right on the border of Tibet, and I saw some of the most gorgeous, beautiful scenery I've seen in my life. So I was really surprised by the natural landscapes to be found there," she said.
However the global pandemic found her returning to Sydney to be with family, and forced Lyons to adapt to keeping her channel alive.
"Luckily, here in Sydney, we have a lot of amazing different kinds of Chinese restaurants. So one day I was like 'Hey! Mom and Dad, want to come and try some Malatang with me?'" Lyons explained.
"It's a famous Chinese dish where you can choose your own ingredients and they cook it in a soup for you. And they loved it, and that kind of kicked off our food series together. It was really popular," she said.
She said that like many Australians, her parents had very little knowledge of Chinese food, outside of dumplings and sweet and sour pork. But through her, they have learned to love many different cuisines they otherwise might never have tried.
"For their anniversary dinner, they actually went to one of the restaurants we had filmed with and they ordered the same dishes, so it's cool to see them enjoying it as much as I do. At the end of the day, it's just tasty, good food," she said.
As vaccine rollout and the threat from the pandemic eases, Lyons hopes to return to China to continue vlogging and delving deeper into the Asian country where she has chosen to forge a life and a thriving career.
Spurring her on is the overwhelmingly positive response she has received online, not just from viewers in China but also from Australia and around the world.
"My channel is all about positivity, I don't want hate. I just show a positive side and I get that back. And it's really, really lovely." said Lyons. Enditem