A rose by any other name is still a rose, unless, of course, it’s a patented variety in Kunming, China.
It’s not any particular dish, spice, or occasional parasite that makes Chinese cuisine unbootleg-able (unlike phones, movies, or fashion). It’s the ingredients you can’t put in a recipe.
Nóng jiā lè Farm Restaurants
Colonel Sanders, move over. If you want chicken, visit a Nóng jiā lè 農家樂 or farmhouse restaurant in rural Yunnan.
Year of the Octopus
Do students spend more time researching an animal for a report than they do a prospective school?
Guǐ 鬼 Town
instead of wearing traditional Chinese clothing and a silver colander on my head, I would want one where Father Time believed in Daylight Saving Time–make that Daylight Saving Year–Ok, Decade– turning back the clock to when a muffin top was my breakfast choice, not my middle.
I did find the perfect cure for Covid-19: binge-watching HBO.
Dàbiàn 大便(Gotta go)
Where do you go when you gotta go in China? Not here.
Why do I hike?
When I find myself literally at the end of a rope in China, hiking is the ultimate brain eraser. Either I’m concentrating on the beauty or not slipping, totally forgetting that the snack I purchased for my cat was freeze dried baby birds (I will spare you the photo).
What is the price to vote in China? Two Wilma Rudolphs and some Navajo jewerly.
The 26,968 steps to the summit of Mt. Jiaozi were grueling. It wasn’t altitude sickness or the ripping sensation in the back of my calves, but the memories I packed in my backpack. I trekked to the top of this holy mountain once before to make a wish, one that rusted in the wind.
Chinese Hospital Food
I have eaten a lot of strange foods in Asia but this week, my tastebuds ventured to a cuisine that the FOOD CHANNEL has yet to try. Chinese Hospital Food.
二三 èr sān (Twenty-three)
Jing Cheng, like many Chinese boys, is dressed head to toe in Michael Jordan apparel, the real deal, not the bootlegs. He has Nikes on his feet, an 二三 sweatband on his wrist, and a red BULLS jersey that he wears every day, even though it is pushing twenty-five years since MJ put on his for the last time in Salt Lake City.
yān gē (cat-snip)
Without pondering too much if I would have to change the cat’s personal pronouns, I got my cat snipped, the pin yin for cat neutering being, yān gē, which, if pronounced incorrectly, could mean anything from death to singing.
The last thing I owned was a husband. Never listened, left a mess everywhere, thought he was superior. I guess I do have what it takes to have a cat.
I broke something at a Monastery.
I broke something at the Fuguo Monastery. No, I didn’t have to buy it.
Spoiler Alert: my photos of Dali, China, are not as awe-inspiring as those on Trip Advisor.
One step backward.
Want to travel back in time? I’m not talking about reading the latest headlines. I’m talking about heading to DaLi 大理
While Xbanna has more temples than Lucky Charms has marshmallow bits, my favorite thing about this lush city is the bird walker park.
My moment in a motivational poster.
I’m no longer in China. I’m in the land of inspirational posters.
Should we really decapitate the guest of honor?
Food Exchange Rate.
Durian isn’t cheap or photogenic. These two sections, from the day-old rack, cost about 30RMB. Just what could you have purchased instead of a delicacy that resembles large bug larva?
Lunch at an International School
only see in the lunchroom of an international school in China.
I pause for a moment, thinking about the oil and water concoction of abortion and religion.
Masks of 2026
So many things I learned about my students, thanks to a twenty-five cent mask.
I didn’t event this language. I just teach it.
I don’t remember learning grammar. I remember Kathy Lawton throwing up in the fifth grade, Richard Elliot drinking the water in the fish tank, but the rules deciding when to use raise or rise?
Hopefully, someday, Easter will be restored to a holiday where I can enjoy going to church, biting the heads off chocolate bunnies instead of eating frozen pea-sicles, and thinking about the nails of the crucifixion, not mine.
Takes a Washing, Keeps on Watching
My Huawei phone went through the washer, literally, and it still works!
Tombs and Brittle Bones
It’s sad. Folks spending eternity in a cemetery really are forgotten. We have don’t even have a word for them. We have words for the grounds (cemetery, necropolis, catacombs), words for the urns and burial stones, words for that stupid piece of plastic on the end of your shoelace (aglet), but no word for our collective of loved ones that left us their Hummel collections.
Pink fěn hóng sè 粉红色
In China, who knows what the flavor Pink would be. There are firecracker red hot dogs, black eggs, purple rice, orange mushrooms, green oranges, and clear grain alcohol that can clean your clock. But pink?
Parlez Vous Bank Bot?
Banking from China is ludicrous no matter who you bank with. For starters, you have to get up before Five AM to talk with a human, that is, if you are granted the right to talk.
Best Line Awards
I just don’t know the meaning of the meaning.”
Maus Mouse shǔ 鼠
If your school’s reading scores are in the bottom 33 percentile, you shouldn’t be banning books. Do whatever it takes to get your students to read.
Red Earth hóng tǔ 红土
This is not the place you’d want to be during an earthquake. These old houses are made out of mud brick.
Hospice is both the most wonderful and hardest endeavor I have ever experienced.
A week’s worth of Covid Testing in Xishuangbanna. China in order to get a coveted travel certificate.
the only thing that can top earthquake on vacation is a city-wide lockdown for mandatory Covid testing.
Rice 饭 Fàn
his year for Christmas, I travelled to Xishuangbanna, where rice is anything but a bland side dish. There are rice stuffed pineapples, purple sticky rice, speckled rice dumplings wrapped in Bamboo leaves, and rice stuffed bamboo shoots.
Chinese Bird Walkers
Bird walking in China is a popular hobby with men. It’s like car shows. but with songbirds, not T-birds.
Xishuangbanna: The Other Side
I–like everyone else–thought the world would be spinning by now, but no. We are right back where we started, well sort of.
How I worked off my Thanksgiving Dinner
, I was very patriotic this holiday in China. I ate my part. How did I work off those calories so I’d avoid a New Years Resolution of losing a few kilos? I took an after-dinner stroll in the Yunnan countryside.
I went to Kunming’s Museum of Contemporary Art this weekend and viewed what I thought was an abstract poodle. While I enjoyed the art, I found the streets just as colorful. This bean lady at the market reminded me of my mom. I really think it was her. She didn’t have her own booth or her own QR code, but […]
Working at an international school, I have been trained for fires, earthquakes. Hostage Takeovers. But what if a student gets stuck in the bathroom? It was photo day and my class was right after the snapping of pictures. Mars’ bow tie was next to the crayons. Albert’s jacket was on the back of his chair. But Yael’s kitty cat ears? […]
fēi bèn飞起 getting high
Unlike video games that give a hit of dopamine, reading will never make you high. It is work but it will take you places you’ve never imagine.
Pīng Pāng Qiú
Lou, like many of the students at an international school, is a SPAMMER, which some call a Third Culture Kid or TCK. I prefer calling them SPAM. They are a mystery found in every country that’s actually a blend of lots of things.
Shangri La Abugi
My guide, who I swear was a reincarnated goat, does the Abugi trail six times a week, hauling snacks of Baozi and hard boiled eggs for the trekkers and a pack of smokes for himself.
I’ve started a lot of posts that I didn’t finish about Kunming. Oh well. Maybe if I post the photos that inspired them, you can write your own endings.
Nǐ chī le ma?” Have you eaten lunch?”
It was the kid’s version of a drug pat down at an international airport. “Do you mind opening up your milk carton?” The command came from Miss Kindermen, my second-grade teacher, her hair spun into a black beehive while my eyes were mesmerized by her psychedelic dress. She looked like she belonged on Laugh-In, not a classroom. Her blue-shadowed eyes […]
Bat Man 蝙蝠 侠: A mask-less hero
the bat (literal translation of 蝙蝠 侠) has caught over six-thousand thieves over the past forty-two years in Kunming, Yunnan, with this home-made spiked club.
Irritable Vowel Syndrome
You know it’s going to be a long day when the rules for the English Speaking Competition are written in Chinese.
Juan by any other name
What’s there to see in Wuhan China? Don’t expect to find a “Covid Memorial”.
An American in Wuhan
Oh yes I did! I have just completed the Covid 19 Triple Dog Dare. I went on a cruise, ate at a buffet and ended up in Wuhan, then lived to blog about it. Actually, it’s not as insane as it sounds. Since I’m “land-locked” in China this summer, I thought I’d finally see the country. It’s not like I’ve […]
Pokes and Probes
So what’s an expat to do when it’s time to get back on the saddle again–wait–I mean back in the stirrups? Make an appointment at Women’s Angel Hospital for a pap smear and mammogram. Considering China makes more babies than any other countries, maybe it’s time we trust them with other female needs.
Chenglish Shore Drive
Some signs should be changed. But changing Lake Shore Drive signage in Chicago? That’s crazier than Chenglish.
So, just what do you wear to a temple or monastery, even if it’s one for chickens in Shangri La? It depends on if it’s a Buddhist temple, monastery, or the Hundred chicken temple.
Yak and Hack
Does anyone know of a good wine pairing for yak? That’s what you eat in Shangri La. And don’t laugh. Yak is where it’s at. I was referred to this little hole in the wall, a Tibetan version of a blue plate diner. I ordered Diced Yak with noodles and Yak Meat Pie. The crust was amazing. Plus, I had […]
Tweezers are Worth Being Taught
Sometimes, it’s wise to try something new, while other times, maybe you should just uh, not give a pluck.
In China, you don’t have to go to funerals. The funerals come to you.
Born to be like ginger
In America today, I officially turn into human wallpaper. It’s my birthday, or 生日快乐 shēng rì kuài lè, in Chinese. But no Barbie dolls or pin the tail on the donkey games this year. I turned sixty. The big Six-O. In dog years, I’d be dead. In America, childhoods that pre-date Google means you have become as desirable as panty […]
My Dad’s car was a horse
Somewhere over the years, the quest for knowledge has been replaced with a desire for a better GPA. And whatever their Grade Point Average it isn’t good enough.
Chest Pain Preferred
For less than the cost of your monthly Verizon bill, you can get a colonoscopy in China.
Museum of Me
The plate is just one of the relics that followed me back to China, packed in bubble wrap, between Costco size jars of Nutella and cylinders of Parmesan Cheese.
You Care Too Much
The three words silenced my room: “What the hell?” They weren’t from a junior high student, because the utterance would have been in Chinese. The slip of the tongue was from a second grader. From the same kid who doesn’t know his sight words. I looked at a coworker, who heard it too. While I was thinking about school policies […]
There is a famous Chinese proverb: 不到长城非好汉. He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. And after he visits the Great Wall, he picks up a pack of cigarettes. Smoking is huge in this country, even with doctors, including my “no chicken, no OJ, drink broccoli juice” acupuncturist. Before the young doctor light his cigarette, […]
吃货 (chī huò) Foodies
Huǒ guō or hot pot, is to Kunming, China what deep dish pizza is to Chicago. It’s a combination between a meal and a game of Truth or Dare
Never Pick a Cool Name
Bilingual book for Chinese children learning English
My faith started to have hot flashes way before Asia’s potpourri of religions and my imploding marriage. It started unraveling with a dirty doodle.
Chinese New Year is around the corner. In order to avoid crowds at Carrefour and Walmart, I decided to go to the slightly less crowded wet market. A lot of action happens outside of the market. The sidewalks are bustling with delivery bikes. The three-wheeler belongs to a recycler. Recyclers get a nominal fee for the flattened boxes. If I […]
Digging for Gold
My parents always warned me about not sticking a Q-tip in my ear. However, they never warned me about giving a complete stranger the honors.
Buying a chicken in China isn’t that much different than buying it at Costco but paying for it is. Also, my horrendous commute to work.
A Fungus Among Us
I would rather suffer from a parasite than from boredom.
Take two ping pong balls and call me in the morning.
We looked like m&ms tumbling from the plane as our chutes opened in the sky. Below us was a bounty of trees more colorful than a box of Crayolas. It was October, it was college, and I was suffering from a temporary bout of insanity. I had signed up to go skydiving. Despite hours of instruction, I didn’t bend my […]
Nothing motivates a child more to read than the opportunity to throw a snowball at their teacher.
Flying the Coop
Hash Harriers Fundraiser Red Dress Run
The trip from the USA to China is usually long and filled with bad movies and meals covered in aluminum foil. But during COVID? The 24 hour odyssey turns into twenty one days. That’s enough time to hatch a baby chicken. The route? From DTW to SF to PVG in Shanghai to finally, KMG Kunming, the little quaint village of […]
China’s Secret to Beating Covid
And the fries were cold.