Pirates, DVDs and Moral Decline

“Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters or take any from you.” — Blackbeard A few years ago, I dropped off a Christmas gift – a small jar of Vermont maple syrup – to a friend in the States. A day or two later I received a thank-you note via email. “What a great…

Dear Japan

I don’t know how else to say this: I’m in love. China pales in comparison to you, (not that I expected it to shine). Don’t feel bad; I’ve always had issues with China. I know you and China have had your differences too, (don’t forget, you’ve had differences with America as well), but you’ve come…

The Tyranny of Chinese Taxis

Ask any Westerner in China about hailing a taxi, and you will be regaled with a story. Everyone in China has a taxi story, and the narratives can veer precipitously (like cars) between hilarious and terrifying. The most common tale is one of passive woe. Hailing a cab can be frustrating for foreign nationals who…

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 on…

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…

Tabletop Taboo

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…

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…