Beijing: Surprisingly Gritty and Interesting

Beijing-forbidden city from above

The thing about Beijing that struck me the most was how gritty it all was. Gritty to the point that you could taste it when you walked outside. There’s a constant layer of dust that settles in to your mouth with each breath. I don’t say this to disparage Beijing in any way. It’s a …

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Hue, Vietnam is tragically underrated.

Hue, Vietnam Citadel gate

We met a tour guide in Hoi An, Vietnam who was born and raised in the nearby city of Hue. We told him we were staying there for two nights. He frowned at us. “Most people spend four hours in Hue,” he said. “Even a full day is too long.” This seemed to be the …

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Learning Chinese, but Still Tīng Bù Dǒng

Neon lights of Chinese characters in Shanghai, also a McDonald's sign

(click here for helpful resources to learn Chinese) What has been the most difficult thing about moving to China? Culture shock is a real thing, of course. Every culture has its own quirks that take some getting used to. In China, people spit on the street. Sometimes kids will poop on the street. They have …

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China Nice

a carved chinese dragon in a yellow wall

Many years ago I used to work in the meat department of a grocery store. I’d stand behind a counter for eight hours a day serving free-range beef and organic skinless boneless chicken breasts to Minneapolis, Minnesota’s more well off customers. I’m not particularly into meat or serving customers, but it was a job and …

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Linhai and the Pretty Good Wall of China

City Wall, Linhai, Zhejiang, China

Linhai is a small city that seems to be off the radar of most Westerners. It’s a mere three hours on the fast train outside of Shanghai, between Ningbo and Taizhou. The summer rainy season left the surrounding mountains full of bright vibrant emerald green that stood out against the grey sky. So much green, …

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Hong Kong: the Human Race in Concrete

Hong Kong Skyline

Humanity piled on top of humanity. Stacks of human beings in concrete towers, some of which look like they’re on the verge of collapse. There is a bright and shiny Hong Kong. This is the Hong Kong that most people think of. Glitzy glass towers where billions of dollars are traded back and forth in …

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Suzhou: The Pleasantest Place in China

a canal in Suzhou, lit up in the evening.

Ah, Suzhou, the Venice of the East. Or maybe that’s a bit Eurocentric? For all we know, Venice is the Suzhou of the West. Either way, Suzhou is only a half an hour away from Shanghai and makes a pleasant weekend getaway.

Angkor Wat for a Few Quiet Hours

Sunrise, Angor Wat, Cambodia

There is much more to Angkor than just Angkor Wat. The park is a city full of crumbling ruins, with numerous sights where tourists can wander ancient stone temples in various states of preservation. However, Angkor Wat is the biggest and best preserved, and arguably the best. So we did what the guidebooks told us …

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