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”

Being Alone

Being alone is hard, worth it, draining, empowering, and lethal to overdose on. Do it, learn to enjoy it, do it often, and know when to quit. It’s more than just taking yourself out to eat or on a solo vacation. It’s watching major life moments – the happy ones – happen in front ofContinue reading “Being Alone”

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?)”

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”

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”

Perks of Living in China

Many outsiders are unaware of what life in China is really like, and some of the lame stereotypes making the rounds are just silly. Expat life there has its perks, and China does many things well. In the wake of anti-Asian sentiment and hateful, ignorant racism, I’d like to chime in and brag on theContinue reading “Perks of Living in China”

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)”