Monkey King

Before your Journey to the East, Read Journey to the West

If you go to the Red Woods, you need to know Paul Bunyan. If you go to Mexico, you should know Catrina. And if you go to China, you should know the Monkey King. Otherwise you may find scenes like this, and there are a lot of them, confusing…
Yangtze River

Yangtze River Cruise: Three Gorges, Two Friends, One Big-Ass Dam

There are certain things you have to do in China. You have to go see the Wall. You have to fumble around with chop sticks at a fancy meal with way too much food, and you have to cruise the Yangtze River. Okay, maybe you don’t have to, but…
The Great Wall of China

Another Chick on the Wall - Hiking the Great Wall from Jinshanling to Simatái

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The thing about the Great Wall is, it’s great.  There are a lot of different places to see it.  I wanted to do more than see it.  I wanted to experience it.  But how do you experience a wall? Hoping for something a little more authentic…
Photo by Ana Paula Hirama.

Falling in Love at the Longmen Grottoes

You already know the must-see sights in China: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Terra Cotta Army.  Prior to going to China, I had never heard of the Longmen Grottoes.  After seeing them, I consider it a site not to be missed. Visiting…

I Should Have Asked: Things to Know Before You Sign Up for a Day Tour

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All four of us in the gigantic silk store were crabby.  The employees were obviously annoyed that we weren’t buying.  And my travel partner and I were not happy to be there.  We had not signed on for this.  At least not knowingly.  It…

Dandong: See North Korea Without Actually Going There

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It’s not that often that you go to one place so you can have a look at another, but that’s what we did.  I had been in China for two hectic months, trying to get the hang of my teaching job, demystify the culture and figure out how to cross…

Feast in the East: Etiquette Tips for Fine Dining in China

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If you spend any serious amount of time in China, you will most likely be wined and dined by Chinese friends who want to impress (and show off) their foreign guests.  This is what happens if you’re lucky.  If you’re unlucky, they will…
Chinese English

Who Speak Worser? – Adventures in Bad English

I was sitting with some Dutch friends by the side of a river in Cambodia.  We were waiting for a guides to arrive with the boats that would take us upstream on the start of a three day trek.  The guides arrived and we climbed into the shallow…
Cafe de Paris, Cooking Class

Overseas Cooking Classes – Your Best Travel Souvenir

Thank you, James Michener! I’ve learned a lot from your books over the years and the thousand pages of Iberia I just finished was no exception, an enlightening tour of Spanish history and culture.  However, I can say without a doubt, that…
Before the big one.

Made in China: A Lesson in Bargaining

For the ardent traveler, buying a new backpack is a serious affair. Proper research is needed, and many factors should be taken into consideration; the size, style frame, fit, and so on before one “takes the plunge.” Nowadays, we are lucky…