A Jersey Guy's Excellent Adventure in China

Travel rss

Farewell to Cheap Massages, Cute Kids, Squat Toilets, Dirty Air

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June 17, 2014

Cruising 35,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean on my flight home to the U.S., I’m thinking of all the things I’m going to miss about China – and some of the things I’d just as soon forget. Things I’ll Miss: My students: Their English was lousy, but they really tried to learn. They treated me… Read More ›

Hong Kong Highlights: Peak Tower, Light Show, Bruce Lee

  I left Zhengzhou on Wednesday and flew to Hong Kong, where I’m spending four days before going home. It’s been 26 years since my last visit to Hong Kong and 17 years since the British returned control of the city to China. But it remains distinctly different than the mainland –- a Special Administrative… 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 ›

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 ›

Zhengzhou Cabbies Try to Take Me For a Ride

Zhengzhou’s cabbies tried to take me for a ride when I returned from Taiwan. I needed to go from the airport to my apartment, a trip that should cost between $25 and $30. But when I approached the first driver in the taxi line, he wrote 500 yuan ($80) on a piece of paper. When I… 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 ›

American Teacher Can’t Find China on a Map

Here is my 2014 nomination for Ripley’s Believe It or Not! I was talking to a 20-something American teacher the other day when she mentioned she had to go to Hong Kong to get her visa extended. She told me she was going by train. “That’s a long trip,” I said. “I think it only… 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 ›

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 ›

Former Tent Dweller, AIDS Volunteer, World Traveler Join English Program

Three new teachers, all Americans, have joined our English program at Henan University of Technology. The additions have greatly lightened our course load, which became a serious problem last semester after two of our teachers had to leave – one because of a family illness and the other due to visa problems. We now have… Read More ›

Bittersweet Return to China and My Revolting Bathroom

Returning to China after a three-week break is a bittersweet occasion. While I’m eager to see my students, colleagues and friends again in Zhengzhou, it’s hard to leave Pat, Koji and Solo behind in New Jersey, knowing I won’t see them again for another five months. Koji never left my side the past three weeks,… 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 ›

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 ›

Goodbye FaceTime, Hello Pat

f I’m flying to Shanghai tomorrow to meet Pat for the start of our 15-day China tour. It’s hard to believe we’ve been apart for 4½ months. Pat says I miss our dogs more than her, but she knows that’s not true. I miss them equally! I don’t know what I’d do without Skype and… Read More ›

Snowflakes, Typewriters and Dinosaurs

I saw my first Chinese snowflakes today. We got a brief dusting in Zhengzhou this morning that quickly disappeared when it warmed up in the afternoon. It does occasionally snow here, but major snowstorms are rare. Zhengzhou’s climate is very similar to New Jersey’s. There are four distinct seasons, though the winter is a little… Read More ›

Descending Perilous Mountain Path in the Dark

Many readers have asked me to post a photo of the perilous mountain path my friends and I descended in the dark. So here it is. Looking back, it’s a miracle we’re alive.