Leftover Impressions of China

Dongbei, the region composed of three provinces in the very northeast of China, was particularly well-represented in our company for some reason none of us could figure out. A blunt, sometimes rough-around-the-edges people even by Chinese standards, Dongbei-ren (“ren” means people) have stories of icy winters, growing up without a phone in the house, coal-Continue reading “Leftover Impressions of China”

Albanian Wedding Traditions (Interview, Part 2)

“We in Albania have weddings like before, we have it about 8 days, a long week.”  Me: Maybe a day is too short for a wedding. “But a week is too long. You get exhausted.” “Relatives come and stay after midnight, talking, laughing, decorating the house. And each day they meet each other. On ThursdayContinue reading “Albanian Wedding Traditions (Interview, Part 2)”

Interview: A Post-Communist Childhood

Antonella Bogdani (pictured on the left) was born and raised in the lovely mountain town of Korce, Albania. She works as a traveling English teacher to students in the surrounding villages, some of which are quite remote. She lives with her parents and her younger sister Kristina, who works as a radio host for aContinue reading “Interview: A Post-Communist Childhood”

The Chattanooga Food and Drink Scene

…is great, but this article certainly isn’t going to try cover it all! This is an almost completely random sampling of only five spots, based on a recent three week long visit back home. Chattanooga…I love you. Niedlovs Pictured above: blackberry lavender lemon scones, plus salmon and lox. Like most coffeeshops in Chattanooga, Niedlov’s isContinue reading “The Chattanooga Food and Drink Scene”

The Quest for Nakagusuku Castle

Sometime in April, 2020, island of Okinawa, Japan I routed to a small park near the Nakagusuku Castle, hoping to get closer to it and to find some scenic places to explore, as there was a lot of green in that section of the map. After a night of no sleep and a reduced appetiteContinue reading “The Quest for Nakagusuku Castle”

Reverse Culture Shock (or, Why do You Flush the Toilet Paper?)

I’m back home in the United States for a month, and feeling pretty happy about it! Having a wide variety of food options has been fantastic, and the scenery of the Appalachian mountains in the Tennessee valley is beautiful. Catching up with extended family has been great too. BUT I’m also feeling a real re-adjustmentContinue reading “Reverse Culture Shock (or, Why do You Flush the Toilet Paper?)”

An Encounter with the Byzantine

I broke the rules. I took pictures. This happened at the National Museum of Medieval Art here in the Albanian mountain town of Korce, and I started off with such good intentions to follow the rules, despite a temptation as bad as a child in a toy shop being told “Don’t touch.” But then IContinue reading “An Encounter with the Byzantine”

The Guardian Lions of Okinawa

They were everywhere, and I was intrigued. On the garden wall or gatepost of nearly every house was a pair of grimacing lion-dog figures. I had seen giant lion statues outside the sleek downtown Bank of China back in Suzhou, and for that matter at some American Asian restaurants, but these were as common asContinue reading “The Guardian Lions of Okinawa”

Bunk’Art 2

The museum that is Bunk’Art 2 couldn’t have a better, more appropriate setting – a large, concrete, underground nuclear bunker. Like almost all of the much smaller pillbox bunkers littered around the country, it was never used, not even during the fall of communism in Albania in 1992. Bunk’Art 2 is perhaps one whole blockContinue reading “Bunk’Art 2”

Okinawan Turtleback Tombs

Imagine my surprise at meandering down a side street during my first week on the island and finding myself in a small neighborhood of concrete structures vaguely resembling graves or mausoleums! Most of them looked to be from within the last 50-70 years, if I had to make a snap judgment on how old theContinue reading “Okinawan Turtleback Tombs”