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 ›

Notes on Taiwan: Spotless Streets, Japanese Influence, Baseball Mania

  Some random thoughts about Taiwan following a short visit: The Taiwanese are cleaner, quieter, more polite and more orderly than the mainland Chinese. The streets are spotless, people don’t shout into their cell phones, riders wait patiently in line to board a subway, and drivers don’t try to run you down if you cross… Read More ›

Taroko Highlights: Breathtaking Cliffs, Eternal Shrine, “Water Curtain”

  After spending two days in Taipei, I took a two-hour, high-speed train ride to Hualien, a scenic city on the island’s east coast. It’s a haven for adventurous tourists who like to hike and bike in nearby Taroko National Park. The area is also a popular spot for whale watching, hot-air balloons, rafting and… Read More ›

Day 2 in Taiwan: Phallic Waffles, Staring Bathers, Flower Clock

I started Day 2 of my Taiwan trip with a delicious B&B breakfast of sliced apples and guava, homemade banana bread, and a bowl of noodles with bits of pork covered with fish. Not exactly my typical morning repast of Cheerios and Coke, but it was very tasty and much healthier. I’m staying at the… Read More ›

In “Other China,” Tourist Sees Bulletproof Limos, Rhino Horns, Burning Money

After living in Zhengzhou for nine months, I finally decided to see the “other China.’’ I’m referring to Taiwan, which broke away from the mainland in 1949 following China’s civil war. Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, is a modern, democratic country with an advanced capitalist economy. It’s an island nation that’s roughly… Read More ›

Chinese Tourists Get Bad Reputation For Spitting, Littering, Shouting

Chinese tourists, who are now the biggest-spending travelers in the world, have gotten a bad reputation in many countries for their uncouth behavior. Among other things, they’ve been criticized for spitting, littering, shouting and pushing their way to the front of lines. These behaviors are common in China, but they’re frowned upon in  Western countries and many… Read More ›

China’s Rushmore, Naked Computer Man Highlight Yellow River Park

Henan Province has its own version of Mount Rushmore, a pair of 59-foot-tall head carvings of two legendary Chinese figures at the Yellow River Scenic Area about 20 miles northwest of Zhengzhou. I saw them over the weekend during a group outing with five of my teaching colleagues and five students from Henan University of… Read More ›

Residents of Smog-Choked Zhengzhou Line Up to Suck Clean Air From Bags

Here’s how bad the air pollution is in Zhengzhou: Last weekend, residents lined up for the chance to inhale fresh air from 20 blue bags that were shipped to the city as part of a tourism promotion. A travel agency sent the bags filled with air from Laojun Mountain, about 120 miles from Zhengzhou. The… Read More ›

First Lady Takes Heat Over Family’s China Junket

Michelle Obama is taking some heat over her family’s weeklong visit to China. While I think most of the criticism is trivial, I strongly agree with one point: If this isn’t just a vacation, as the White House claims, then the press should have been allowed to join her on the trip. No reporters accompanied… Read More ›

Beijing Hotel Welcomes Adultery, Offers “Obscene” Views From Balcony

My sister-in-law Linda recently found what appears to be another example of a bizarre mistranslation from China. It’s supposedly a brochure for a Beijing hotel where the manager “tries to have intercourse with all new guests,’’ the balcony offers “views of outstanding obscenity’’ and the chambermaid will gladly “squeeze your trousers.’’ Only one problem: It’s… Read More ›

Discovering Buddhaland, Headless Statues, “Auld Lang Syne” in China

    After living in Henan Province for almost seven months, I finally got around to visiting one of the region’s biggest attractions: the Longmen Caves near Luoyang, capital of 13 Chinese dynasties. Located about 85 miles west of Zhengzhou, the grottoes are a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring ancient Buddhist rock carvings. Lining both… 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 ›

I Almost Had a Great Fall on the Great Wall

  My first steps on the Great Wall at Mutianyu were almost my last. After taking a cable car up to the start of the ancient wall – you can also walk to that point, a climb that takes about 30 minutes — Pat and I started descending some steep brick steps. It was a… 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 ›

Mao’s Wax Museum Body Needs Nip and Tuck

Chairman Mao is showing his age. Lying in an open crystal casket encased in an airtight chamber at his massive mausoleum in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, China’s former supreme ruler looks like a figure from Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Surrounded by a bed of lilies, his body is dressed in his usual drab gray suit and draped… Read More ›

Monk’s 16-Year Odyssey Ended at Wild Goose Pagoda

I was feeling a little travel weary until I read about Xuanzang, a 7th-century Chinese monk who went on a 16-year, 100-plus country pilgrimage and returned home with one of the greatest collections of Buddhist scriptures in history. I learned more about Xuanzang at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, part of the Da… Read More ›

Terracotta Warriors Protect Emperor in Afterlife

When I first saw the Terracotta Army during a national holiday in October, the place was so crowded you could hardly move. The 25-mile bus ride from Xi’an took 3½ hours and, once we got there, my friend Damian and I had to wait an hour in line to see the main exhibition. My second… Read More ›

Pandas Chew Bamboo, Climb Trees, Excrete in Chengdu

When Pat and I walked into our hotel room in Chengdu, the first thing we noticed was the stuffed panda doll sitting on your bed. Nothing could be more fitting in this ultramodern central China megalopolis that’s home to a leading panda breeding and research center and omnipresent images of the cuddly, black-and-white bears.

Will Donald Trump Build Golf Course in Flute Cave?

While searching for new experiences abroad, spontaneity usually trumps planning. Pat and I were scheduled to spend the morning in Yangshuo before heading back to Guilin to catch a late-afternoon flight to Chengdu, home of a renowned panda-breeding center. At the last minute, however, we decided to return to Guilin early so we could check… 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.