Medical Incidentals

I’ve been sidelined from thinking about China incidentals after a brutal battle with jet lag, back spasm, and (surprise!) a kidney infection that required an emergency room visit in Shanghai. I’m finally writing from Vietnam where I began our trip with an eye infection. By began, I mean, the very beginning; the infection went full-blown…

Scan or Be Scanned

Behold the QR Code! In China everyone has one, kind of like a belly button. Unlike a belly button, however, this black and white beauty begs to be scanned with your phone. Your QR code is as unique as your fingerprint or your retina, but better, since you won’t need an eyeball transplant when you’re falsely…

40 Ways to Know You’re Back in China

After a lovely six week holiday in mountainous Utah, I am back in Shanghai. There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I could only come up with forty ways to know you are back in China. Here’s something a little less thinky than the dog meat post. Your yoga class is on…

Tabletop Taboo: Year of the Dog Finally Arrives

The close of 2017 brought an end to a turbulent year for dogs in the U.S. and Asia.  September was an especially beastly month, as Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump traded jabs back and forth. Kim compared Trump’s U.N. speech to the sound of a dog barking, and needled with a response to Trump’s…

The Nasty Bites: Looking Your Food in the Eye

“Cooking puts several kinds of distance between the brutal facts of the matter (dead animal for dinner) and the dining-room table set with crisp linens and polished silver.” –Michael Pollan, Cooked “ … the stew of meat that’s been cut into geometric cubes and rendered tender by long hours in the pot represents a deeper…

Guizhou Rising

“We need to leave.” I spoke with urgency as I looked over at my travel companion. She didn’t seem to be worried about the vibe, but I was. We had just made our way to the end of a short, dirt trail in the mountains of Guizhou Province, and turning a corner unannounced, we found…

Squatting in Zion

I’ve squatted many times in and around Zion National Park. In fact, I’ve squatted my way all across the upper portion of the Colorado Basin, which encompasses most of southern Utah. Typically there was a tent in the distance or a backpack next to me. But on my next trip to Zion, I will apparently…

The Cultural Landscape of China’s Urban Parks

For a city its size, Shanghai had been short on two things—green space and art. –New York Times, 36 Hours in Shanghai, 2017 I have to agree with The Times that Shanghai is short on art relative to many large cities—artists have pesky habits like bucking authority—but green space? I simply disagree. Surprisingly dense canopies of…

Thai Zeed Recipe: A Little Slice of (Lost) Heaven

We’ve finally arrived at the sweet spot of this year, post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas. Admittedly, this is a filler post. I’m working on a longer piece comparing China’s urban parks with America’s, and it is taking me in unexpected directions. It seems I need a little encouragement and some holiday cheer. Visitors to Shanghai are inevitably…

China In Relief

I write this week from Singapore, a city-state that legislates politeness; the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act made it illegal to incite hostility toward most religious groups, and vandalism can beget a caning. Moreover, Singapore fines citizens for jaywalking, importing gum, littering, urinating in public and spitting, misdemeanors that throw China sharply into relief. Singapore is…

The Constant Struggle

In this new century, no matter where you live—the mountains of Tibet or the beaches of Tahiti—you will most certainly have a cell phone. This is especially true in China, a country whose citizens are widely known for their cell phone addiction. If you’re an expat in China, you’ll need to buy an unlocked phone,…

Regarding Wulumuqi

Wulumuqi Lu (pronounced WUL-u-MU-chi) is the heart and soul of Shanghai’s Former French Concession. Linguistically speaking Wulumuqi is without question the best road name I’ve ever heard. If you say the word aloud—and you should—it will be instantly clear that this is another one of those words that grants pure phonetic joy. As streets in…