Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Best Photos from Yunnan

Most of these are on my Facebook already, but for continuity's sake, and since my whole trip log is here, I wanted to post here as well - albeit more than a month late. 

Flying Tigers wing at the Kunming Museum

Tibetan mastiff up north close to Tibet

A French lady, one American, an Aussie, and two Israelis hike to Yubeng Cun.

Along the way to Yubeng Cun

Temple in Yubeng Cun

Rock shrines made by others who went before us on the hike in

A bunch of prayer flags near the sacred waterfall

More Yubeng Cun

Hiking out

Yak attack!

Tiger Leaping Gorge

show off

The scrub brush in "heaven's first bathroom"

Sign asserts that, seriously, this bathroom is heavenly (it had a great view)

At the bottom of the gorge

This lady sold me honey

Delicious noodles made of very mild cheese

This lady sold me cheese noodles

This man sold hair (I did not buy any).

Pretty sure this is one of those inspirational signs brought to you courtesy of the local CCP.  Maybe one day I'll get motivated and translate it.

Goat cheese fried in honey? Yes please.

Another shrine along the sacred waterfall hike

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Wrong Wallet

In coming weeks, I'm going to post a few odds and ends about my trip. First order up is - what is the exact kind of wallet you should not bring on a four-month journey through Southeast Asia?

The answer: a wallet that looks like a giant wad of cash.

I brought this wallet because my normal one is a big purple pocketbook thing, too cumbersome for travel. Plus, I wanted to keep it simple, I knew on a day-to-day basis I would only need a bit of cash and maybe one card.

The wallet was a farewell gift from a friend in Beijing. She also gave me a couple stamps from North Korea (she was privy to my obsession).

I didn't realize my wallet looked like a huge wad of cash until I was in Vietnam and the guy renting me my scooter said, "Oh - I  thought you had a lot of money!" At that point, I had about six weeks left in my trip and probably should've traded it out, but I was cheap and lazy.

I was also inobservant. Since my friend had given me the North Korean stamps, I assumed the wallet was done up like North Korean money - it actually looks like an old Chinese Mao-era bill. People continued to ask about it as I made my way through Vietnam, Laos and southern China and I always gave the wrong answer, "oh this is what North Korean money looks like." Finally a Chinese person pointed out to me that, "it looks like old Chinese money..." Then I really took a look at it, and they were correct.

I wish I'd noticed earlier, because I got the most reactions to the wallet in China, and it would've been nice to contextualize them. Almost all of the reactions were positive. A lot of these reactions were just in passing, so people were maybe just being friendly. But I definitely got a few congratulatory (nostalgic?) old people, "this is very good!" Which is always a bit strange, since as a Westerner you learn from those ninth grade world history courses onwards that the Mao Era was categorically horrible.

I got one emphatic negative reaction. I didn't pay it any mind at the time because I still thought it looked like a Korean bill and I was in a hurry. I'm pretty sure the guy was some kind of driver. He was in his 30s or 40s. "This is bad." He said it two or three times, to be sure I heard it, and shook his head. Now I wish I could've picked his brain a bit.

Luckily, I never had any incidents. No one tried to snatch my not-that-giant wad of cash. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm on The Hairpin

I interviewed my Mom for The Hairpin about the Better Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award she received in high school. Check it out here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In America

I know my blog neglect makes it looks like I'm still in Yunnan, but actually I've been back in America for almost a month (!).

Last week I took my first road trip to somewhere outside Oregon for the first time in five years. Try that on for crazy. I went to Chicago for a wedding last October. Those two trips are it though. I'm so excited to start exploring and re-exploring my home country.

Since I'm solidly in my mid-twenties, obviously last week's trip was also to attend a wedding. A really sweet, wonderful one in Sacramento. So good to see so many friends I haven't seen since college.

On the way back, James and I drove up 101 (here he is in some forest or whatever - pretty puny trees, right?).

Part of the reason I haven't blogged is, in the back of my mind, I've been trying to think up something succinct to say about China and leaving China. But, after working in media there for four years, it's hard to find something that hasn't already been said. I don't feel like I have much to add to that dialogue. There are a lot of obvious good things about China and about an equal measure of bad ones. I could live there again, I might have a reason to someday, but I'm absolutely thrilled to be back somewhere with a vibrant, free, open dialogue that promotes arts, science and culture. And by that I mean, I'm absolutely thrilled to be back in a country with fabulous television.

Here on out, I'll try to keep the blog updated at least once a week through summer. I think. I'm not sure what I'll do with it now that I'm back in the US. I like it as a means of communication with family and the handful of other folks who care what I'm up to. On the other hand, my writing and creative energy is monopolized by other projects, so I don't think this will or can be the best representation of my thang. I think the compromise will be I'll keep the site, keep updating - however mundane - but de-link from my portfolio site. Meh. To be determined.

Summer on the Oregon Coast is fabulous. Two years away, I forgot how lovely it can be. One more time, it's good to be back.