Black is the New Pink

I just came back from Bangkok. Usually the city is a swirl of color, from the taxis to tuk tuks. But now, it’s black black. Since King Rama IX died in October, a year long memorial started. Mind you, the love for this king was fierce. If you stepped on a piece of money with his picture on it, you could […]

Think Inside the Box

Duct tape has a lot of cool uses. Getting a kid to speak English is one of them. A new business moved right next to a school, a paint ball court. Yeah, just a slight distraction. But last week after installing the air ducts, the workers dumped  a gazillion huge boxes into the trash. I’m talking larger than life boxes–well, […]

Some things need to be retired. But never are they people.

I cannot eat this apple, I thought as the old lady handed it to me, her beef jerky like fingers trembling, the smile under her hat lighting up the dingy room. “Xie Xie,” I nodded, admiring  her face. Every wrinkle lead to a different story, from China’s Cultural Revolution to her recipe for jiaozi. Why was I at this human time capsule […]

Chinese School

A friend invited Hamburger Laoshi for “Show and Tell” today. She’s an English teacher at a Chinese Public School on the north side of Kunming. Four Thousand students, forty crammed into every class, all wearing the same uniform. The students learn by rote memorization. Check out this video clip of them “getting their English on”. I talked a bit about […]

Wǒ jiào Beetlejuice

  I haven’t seen a rat that big since I lived in Chicago.  It was scruffy, looking like it had better days, huddled next to great wall of soy sauce in my favorite local store. That’s when  universal phrase for “I just saw a rat!” came flying out of my mouth: “SHRIEK!!!!!” A group of young female employees came over […]

WeChat English. YouChat Emojis.

I admit,  I was not the best behaved best high school student. I will be remembered for detention slips and making popcorn during chemistry lab more than my grades. So when I unexpectedly got a message from a teacher in the USA, I thought I was being summoned to the principal’s office. But it wasn’t from my alma mater, WHS,  in Watervliet, Michigan. It […]

The Smell of the Blues

It was a good night for a glass of peanut juice over ice with a splash of Jack. My heart was sad as my life wasn’t turning out like a Julia Roberts movie. I had papers to grade,  forms for my lawyer and Microsoft did automatic updates on my computer, turning all of my software back into Chinese. Then I […]

Hamburger Lao Shi

While many of you call me Ginger,  or Ginge or some even refer to me by my maiden moniker, Sinsabaugh, Byt my Chinese students call me Mai Lao Shi or Hamburger Teacher. And this week, I had a lot of lessons beyond pickles and sesame seed buns. For instance, the fourth graders.  Thanks to them, I had to learn that […]

Local Color

Six bucks a night. That’s cheaper than the rent when landing on Baltic Avenue on a monopoly game. That’s  Sapa,  Vietnam.  A quick trip on a night train plus a two dollar bus ride up the mountain and BAM!, you’ll find yourself in the pages of a National Geographic magazine. The hills are full of surprises, possibly a few landmines […]

Signs gone wrong

Never believe everything you read on the internet–nor the signs you read in China. They don’t sell whales here. Or semi-pregnant lips. Goat crackers? It’s not a bad translation. Just a bad idea.   I think I’ll stick with Ritz. This doesn’t sound like a big business idea to me. China has the best of the worse signage. But the sign […]