VPNs and the Great Firewall

For foreigners, life goes on as normal until a national holiday or politically sensitive anniversary rolls around. That’s when the VPNs stop working. I never could get used to how eerie that felt – you think the VPN is the workaround, the sneaky backdoor around the Great Firewall, but then you find out they canContinue reading “VPNs and the Great Firewall”

What’s Suzhou Like? (Part 2)

The last post discussed Suzhou in very general terms, so here’s the good stuff – inside details on where to go, what to do, and where everyone hangs out on the weekend! (The focus here is on places that are maximally accessible to non-Chinese speakers like myself.) Suzhou Center is so obvious it has toContinue reading “What’s Suzhou Like? (Part 2)”

Seoul’s Quarantine Experience

In late June I flew from the tropical, U.S. military-laden, coronavirus-free island of Okinawa to Seoul, capital and largest city of South Korea. You know, the place where all the planes fly in. I spent the next two weeks in a non-optional, government-designated quarantine facility, as did everyone who arrived in South Korea on aContinue reading “Seoul’s Quarantine Experience”

Diving In

Oh, man! The first few months in China were chaotic, and therefore a rousing good time. (Those are ducks in the picture above, by the way.) My definition of a good time, mind you, is sheltered and quirky and rather skewed, and if you haven’t met me, now is probably the time to warn youContinue reading “Diving In”

Welcome to the Story

Two years ago, I was in the too-early morning Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport, with a backpack and two black suitcases as old as I was, looking with awe at one-way tickets to Shanghai with my name on them. I finished a Starbucks coffee and pastry on a stomach not ready for anything, waved goodbye to myContinue reading “Welcome to the Story”