A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

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Hong Kong Getaways: Pristine Beaches, Lush Golf Courses, Old Fishing Village

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June 14, 2014

Hong Kong is a city of soaring skyscrapers, gleaming shopping centers and noisy, jam-packed streets. Not far away, however, are quiet, scenic escapes from the urban jungle. I took a bus tour along the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, a route that passes by beautiful beaches, lush golf courses, posh country clubs, green mountains… Read More ›

Think U.S. Bureaucracy is Bad? Try China

If you think U.S. bureaucracy is bad, don’t ever live in China. China has a rule or regulation for everything. Opening a bank account can take hours. Getting a visa extension can take months. Getting a drivers’ license can take years. Tons of paperwork. Long lines. Endless instructions. It’s a libertarian’s nightmare. I got another… Read More ›

Dragon Boat Festival Features Rice Dumplings, Arsenic-Laced Wine, Egg Balancing

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival, a colorful Chinese holiday that commemorates the death of the celebrated poet Qu Yuan in 278 BC. According to legend, he was so depressed by the capture of his ancient state by a rival kingdom that he drowned himself in the Miluo River. People raced boats to the site… Read More ›

General Tso Wouldn’t Like His Namesake Chicken

Don’t bother looking for chop suey, General Tso’s chicken or egg rolls on your typical Chinese menu. They’re all American versions of Chinese food that most people here have never heard of. When I came to Zhengzhou last year, I looked in vain for some of my favorite “Chinese’’ dishes. I quickly learned that, like… Read More ›

Chinese Students Eat, Drink and (Sometimes) Sleep With Foreign Teachers

A few nights ago, I ate a delicious home-cooked meal at my colleague Darren’s apartment. But it wasn’t cooked by Darren, who like me can barely operate a toaster. The multicourse feast was prepared by three of Darren’s female students, who turned his kitchen into a four-star restaurant. At our school, it isn’t unusual for… Read More ›

Rich Chinese Savor Tiger Penis Soup, Tiger Bone Wine

Tiger lovers, beware. What you are about to read will make you sick. One of the ways that China’s nouveau riche get their kicks is to watch an endangered tiger being slaughtered before dining on its fresh meat. It’s part of a big industry in China that includes the sale of tiger bones, eyeballs and… Read More ›

New Semester Off to Chaotic Start at Henan University

Trains run on time in China, but other schedules aren’t so precise. The start of the new semester at Henan University of Technology was more chaotic than a Pussy Riot concert. Students were scheduled for multiple classes at the same time, teachers were sent to the wrong rooms, textbooks never arrived and class rosters were… Read More ›

Feels Strange To Drink Tap Water, Drive Car Again

I’ve been home for two weeks now after spending five months in China, and I’m still readjusting to life in the U.S. It feels strange driving a car, drinking tap water and sleeping on a bed that doesn’t feel like concrete — all things that I never did in China. It took a couple of days… Read More ›

Getting a Dose of Reality in Dirty Zhengzhou

After spending two weeks visiting some of China’s most beautiful and historic sites, Pat is getting a dose of reality in Zhengzhou. Zhengzhou is the traffic-snarled, dust-covered, smog-filled capital of one of China’s poorest provinces. It’s also where I’m teaching English for 10 months at Henan University of Technology. During our three days here, we’ve… Read More ›

Pat Gets a Glimpse of My Disgusting Bathroom

  I’m back in Zhengzhou after an eventful two-week tour of China with Pat. We’re going to spend three days here before flying to the U.S., where I’ll recharge my batteries for three weeks before returning to teach another semester at Henan University of Technology. I’ve already shown Pat the highlights of my home away… Read More ›

Dancing, Singing in Beijing’s Heavenly Park

On a bone-chilling morning in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven Park was bustling with activity. Elderly couples were dancing to traditional Chinese music, groups of amateur crooners were singing Peking Opera songs, early risers were practicing tai chi and others were playing jianzi, a game in which you kick a weighted shuttlecock. The 660-acre park… Read More ›

My Tai Chi Looks Like a One-Legged Chicken

Tai chi may never be the same following my public exhibition of the Zen-like martial art yesterday morning at Yangshuo Park. When I see Chinese people doing tai chi, I think of a graceful swan. I looked more like a one-legged chicken.

Long-Haired Lady Unfurls Bun at Dragon’s Backbone

Yesterday we took a two-hour van ride from Guilin to Longji, where a guard in the tourist office was watching Spurs-Grizzlies highlights on TV. From there, we transferred to a bus that took us up a winding mountain road overlooking the famous Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. The area is home to two ethnic groups, the… Read More ›

Foot Massage Fails to Find Common Sense Gene

After three wonderful days in Shanghai, Pat and I flew southwest to Guilin, about 950 miles away in a region bordering Vietnam. The Guilin area is a major tourist destination because of its natural beauty. The city is surrounded by karst peaks, which resemble jagged, triangular mini-mountains. Within a few hours drive are the famous… Read More ›

Too Much Street Food Causes Big Bellyache

  I’m just getting over the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had. Suffice it to say that I’ve spent more time in the bathroom this past week than anywhere else. I don’t know what the culprit was, but there are plenty of candidates. I’m always buying food from street vendors whose sanitary conditions… Read More ›

Chinese Phone Calls Turn Into Guessing Game

In China, phone calls often turn into a guessing game. That’s because most callers don’t identify themselves. I’ve given my cell number to hundreds of people in China, including many I’ve met just once or twice. So when they call and don’t give me their name, I usually have no idea who I’m talking to… Read More ›

Like Groucho Said, Let Students Sleep in Classroom

Sometimes my Chinese students remind me of those Florida retirees who line up for blue-plate specials at 4:30 every day and are in bed by 9 every night. Most of my students follow a similarly rigid routine when it comes to eating and sleeping, particularly in the afternoon. They eat an early lunch, usually at… Read More ›

Hometown Feeling at Chinese BBQ Restaurant

Last night at a Zhengzhou restaurant, I met a teacher who grew up near me in the Philadelphia area, a bar owner who went to high school near the city where I worked on my first daily newspaper and a Ph.D. student who goes to college near my home in New Jersey. Talk about a… Read More ›