Adventures teaching English in China

It was the end of another long day teaching English in China. I’d spent the last five hours trying to help a group of ten-year-olds decipher some American common core 6th grade reading and science textbooks. At this point, they didn’t want to learn, and I didn’t want to teach. So, I did what any good teacher would do: I organized a paper airplane throwing contest.

Continue reading “Adventures teaching English in China”

The Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou

The Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou is a sort of holy land for tea drinkers. Longjing tea is smooth, mellow, and can be ridiculously expensive. If you’d asked me two years ago whether I thought I would become a tea drinker or even care about the subtle differences in types of tea, I would’ve spit black coffee right in your face. Now, after living for a year and a half in the land of tea, I can say I’ve been converted. I’m a tea drinker. And my heartburn’s much better now.

Hangzhou, and the Longjing Tea Village, is only an hour or so away from Shanghai by fast train. It was an energizing, non-jitter inducing day trip.

Continue reading “The Longjing Tea Village in Hangzhou”

Oriental Land: on the far edge of Shanghai

Archway in Oriental Land, Shanghai

Oriental Land is a large park located, ironically, on the far western edge of Shanghai. It’s about a two-hour subway ride from the center of the city, dangling on the shores of Dianshan Lake. The metro station has its own Wikipedia page. Oriental Land is full of obstacle courses and is a prime destination for corporate team building delegations from Shanghai. It also has some jets and a replica of an aircraft carrier.

Continue reading “Oriental Land: on the far edge of Shanghai”

Lantau Island: The other side of Hong Kong

Lantau Island is not the Hong Kong you expect. When someone says “Hong Kong” you probably think of glistening skyscrapers stretching towards the heavens, and densely packed urban life. Or, maybe you think of protests. Or maybe even Bruce Lee. I don’t know what goes on in that head of yours.

Lantau Island is Hong Kong, but it’s not that Hong Kong. The airport’s there, and so is Hong Kong Disney Land. But I didn’t go to Disney Land, and I’m not really into hanging out in airports. Instead, we took a taxi to a charming little village by the sea.

Continue reading “Lantau Island: The other side of Hong Kong”

Is Winnie the Pooh Illegal in China?

Is Winnie the Pooh illegal in China? Well, that depends on what you mean by “illegal.” It also depends on what you mean by “in China.” Or what you mean by “pooh.”

The story goes that Chinese President Xi got upset at comparisons made between himself and a certain lovable, yellow bear. Soon, Winnie the Pooh became a symbol of resistance against government repression. The government scrubbed all references to Pooh from China and even banned the new Christopher Robin movie. Western media ranging from South Park to more reputable news agencies have repeated the sad tale of authoritarian paranoia so much it’s become common knowledge.

Except it isn’t exactly true.

Continue reading “Is Winnie the Pooh Illegal in China?”

Inside a Chinese Wet Market

Chinese wet market in Shanghai

Chinese wet markets are large open markets where vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, unpackaged and unprocessed. Ever since the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was identified as an early source of the COVID-19 coronavirus, they’ve been vilified in the Western media. Numerous U.S. politicians and officials are calling for wet markets to be shut down. They’re portrayed as grimy, vile, places full of viruses and disease; seedy dens packed with suffering doe-eyed animals waiting to be slaughtered.

So, of course, I wanted to go see for myself.

Spoiler alert: it was great.

Continue reading “Inside a Chinese Wet Market”

Black Power in Red China

Black power in Red China

I’ve been spending the last week sitting in my apartment in Shanghai watching yet another explosion of anger against racism in American society. This time the epicenter was less than a ten-minute walk from where I used to live. I’ve got a whole mess of emotions about everything that I’m not going to write about here. Instead, let’s learn a little bit about the interesting history of the movement for Black power and China.

Continue reading “Black Power in Red China”

How is China reopening after the Coronavirus?

two men on scooters wear masks, How is China Reopening?

When the Covid-19 virus first hit, we had friends and relatives telling us to come back to the U.S. To be honest, I thought about it quite seriously. But we took a gamble, and we stayed in China. Now, the numbers are slowing to a trickle in China while rising to crazy levels in the U.S. Yet, despite the numbers, both countries are now reopening. From what I’ve been reading, the U.S. approach seems to be to just open the doors and letting what happens happen. So, how is China reopening?

Continue reading “How is China reopening after the Coronavirus?”

The Weird, Colored Temples of Chiang Rai

black house, blue temple and white temple Chiang Rai, Thailand

Most temples in Thailand are beautiful but pretty standard. Sharply pitched roofs with carved decorations, often covered in gold leaf. Inside, you take off your shoes and sit under the high arched ceiling looking at a carving of the Buddha. They’re cool, but honestly, they all started to look the same to me after the first two weeks. But then, I went north to see the three colorful temples of Chiang Rai.

Continue reading “The Weird, Colored Temples of Chiang Rai”