inside thoughts on China and beyond

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Hong Kong – Pearl of China (HK.3)

 

Pearl of ChinaRecent protests in Hong Kong caused me to reflect once more on my short stay in this Pearl of the Orient. If Honk Kong was dreading its return to mainland China in 1997 for political reasons, with the battle of Tiananmen Square less than a decade earlier still looming over its people as the threatening dark clouds of Mordor, the anticipation of wealth that would be flooding its streets and shops and households surely made up for it. The bitter-sweet, decades-old Chinese medicine of ‘two systems, one country’ would do the trick, it was assured. But what good can come from an affair with an abusive husband? Read the rest of this page »

Hong Kong -Whatever You Want (HK.2)

Hong KongTsim Sha Tsui is home to an amazing large collection of exclusive brand shops and endless shopping malls. While delivery trucks, tour buses, Masserratties and Bugattis congest the long streets and narrow allays, mainland Chinese visitors crowd the sidewalks and shuffle through the malls. All along the famous Canton Road, entrepreneurial Indians scout for tourists and every 10 steps one would come up to me with a you’ve-always-been-my-most-precious-friend-client-and-it’s-so-nice-to-see-you-back-again-and-do-I-have-just-the-right-suit-for-you talk. They will try to tailor your suit; line your trousers, renew your cuffs, repair your collar and sometimes even sell you your Rolex watch back. Friendly though they are, they prey like vultures. One by one, they pick out Caucasian tourists and as such, for all my faults, I am quite outstanding. Read the rest of this page »

Hong Kong Hassle (HK.1)

Hong KongHong Kong has always been an intriguing city. With its rich colonial history, its endless skyscrapers and neon signs, its ever present hilltops and, of course, the dizzying busyness between Kowloon Bay and Victoria Harbour, it was the Crown Jewel of the British Empire for most of the last a century. It was the optimum of opportunities for daring entrepreneurs and the dream of many. It was the ultimate sensation of the Orient. Hong Kong has, as Prince Charles once said, “created one of the most successful societies on Earth.” Hong Kong, in short, is a place you had to have seen before you died. But for all its magic, I tell you, never go there after Chiang Mai. Read the rest of this page »

Photo Story – Our Thailand

Photo Story – My Thailand

March 2014

My Thailand -yes, one more ‘beyond’ story!- as I wrote in my previous blogs, wasn’t the Thailand you read about in the papers. It was much more; much better! After we travelled north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train and tricycle and were greeted by friendly chauffeurs and scary temple dragons, we were engulfed by a Thailand drenched with liveliness, religion and the color orange… (read more)

My Thailand (TT.5)

My ThailandI found his home on one of my biking trips along the river. A small white plank high in a tree had his name scribbled on it in red paint. Theo Meier. I had no idea who he was, but the lush garden that surrounded some old teak buildings aroused my curiosity. Read the rest of this page »

Guest (TT.4)

GuestI was staying at a guesthouse that was nicely tucked away along the eastern shore of the Ping river and under the shady canopy of an ancient tree that fully umbrellaed the grounds here, and that of at least 3 neighbors. Everyday during breakfast a Dutch radio channel announced the day’s traffic jams Read the rest of this page »

Cabbage and Condoms (TT.3)

Cabbage & CondomsStirred by what we learned in Cabbage and Condoms, we planned a 2-day trekking trip. “A traditional scorpion-tail boat will slowly bring you up the Kok river to an old Karen village where elephants would await you on which you will ride to the next village. From there, a long walk through the jungle will bring you to the first Lahu village, where you will set up camp with the local tribe, etc., etc., etc.” Adventure pur sang! -if you believe the promotion folder. As we did, for just a short while. Read the rest of this page »

Golden Triangle (TT.2)

Golden TriangleWe checked in our guesthouse, left our luggage and hit the streets, finding ourselves in a street of massage shops and bars. Both rampant businesses. Both with an obvious unlimited pool of short skirt women of all ages picking their noses and long-nosed men, eager to pick up a short skirt but instead lurking around not able to make up their minds. Read the rest of this page »

Thailand Express (TT.1)

Thailand ExpressLet’s start by saying that we are in the year 2557. That’s about how old Buddha would have been had he still been around, which, in many ways here in Thailand, he still is. We -my family members and I- haven’t really changed a lot since we left China in the year 2014, but gosh, it does feel ages ago. Read the rest of this page »

Tropical Tales from Thailand

Tropical Tales I’ve written it before: there are those moments you just need to escape Chengdu, or, as in this case, China. It just becomes too much. And that’s how we ended up in northern Thailand. But we weren’t alone. Read the rest of this page »

Wonderful Wuhou

For most, the attraction of Wuhou, an area just west of downtown Chengdu and sandwiched in between the ancient Wuhou temple complex in the north and the campus grounds of the Minority College to the south, is that it has traditionally always been the Tibetan quarters. A little bit of Tibet in center Chengdu, complete with a good supply of beggars on every street corner, never tired of reminding you of the ancient tradition to give to the poor -and to those pretending to be. But for me, there is more. Read the rest of this page »

Chengdu Shopping

 I don’t know about you, but if there is one thing that wears me out before it has even started, it is shopping.  What traumatic experience ever caused this apparently unique disorder, I don’t know, but for as long as I remember, for me, shopping is an endurance race. And after the first 3 shops, it is right out torture. And so when my wife, daughter and son banded together against me to devote the rest of the day on shopping, I categorically refused and stuck my heels deep in the Chengdu soil. This time I serious; I wasn’t going to give in. Not me, not now. Read the rest of this page »

Migrant Workers and The China Dream (part 2)

Chunjie is a moving business in quite the literal sense of the word: everyone is moving, and most are moving home. And like all previous Chinese New Year holidays, records are broken. Now, an estimated 200 million trips will be made -all in about 2 weekends. Should be enough to topple the earth, if you ask me. And this time, Da Erzi told me, he joined the crowd.  Read the rest of this page »

Migrant Workers and The China Dream (part 1)

Things aren’t always as they seem. Especially when it involves my son. Just when I was mesmerizing about the fate of the migrant workers whom are the embodiment of China’s ambitious urbanization plans yet unwelcome and marginalized by every city, Asher came home. All fired up and ready to talk. That doesn’t happen to often so the migrant workers and their urbanization have to wait a while. So tell me, Asher, what’s up?  Read the rest of this page »

Cosmetic News

Just after 6 this morning I was awakened by a soft but surprisingly inviting sunlight that pushed its way through the curtains of our bedroom. And by a sound that was equally astonishing: the sound of silence. Take it from me; this is a rare combination in these parts. Truly a day to remember! It was the last day of the holiday and I suddenly fell fresh and energized. It happens. And if you’re like me, you will understand; it is like the excitement that tickles somewhere deep in your belly just before departing on a long anticipated holiday, all on a Sunday morning. Surely a day to take the family out and about!

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