Culture

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Vancouver: The Food

Besides discovering that my friends are aging (as am I) and taking gorgeous photos of my hometown, remember her? Vancouver is proving to be a great pit stop for me to let go of baggage, literally. I sold Miz Chanel to a Japanese fellow wanting to do the West Coast Trail. It was hard though, her and I have been through so much together. The chaotic, teeming streets of India, or the laid back island mentality of Taiwan, and my beloved France — where I dress to impress, basking in atmosphere and staggering history. I actually hugged her before letting her go. The Japanese guy laughed at my strange attachment issues. It’s kind of pathetic to grieve over a pack, but she held the contents of my life — all lanky 62 litres of her. So to mollify my pain I’ve been consuming food like crazeee! And it’s working. I miss her less and less every day, but my waistline is in full protest. Who cares, pass the mashed potatoes, please. […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Canada, Culture|24 Comments

The Culture Givers of China

I’ve counted down the months of teaching and this is my 19th month teaching overseas, my 6th teaching pilots. I realize I’ve written very little about my teaching exploits, but my last teaching post was less than good. The pilots are different. We always laugh. They are basically older students, ones that have already graduated from university, therefore more focused on their goals. I teach English, they apply to flight schools and try to pass ICAO — an English language proficiency test strictly for pilots and air traffic control. It’s a refreshing blast of air compared to the last student body that was composed of mobile phone addicted, indifferent (barely showed up, really) kids who had done poorly on the gaokao, yet were pressured by their parents to just get it together already. […]

By |January 22nd, 2014|Culture|24 Comments

China in Instagram for 2013

Reality hit me hard and I realized the other day I’ve been in China for about 2 years. That’s longer than most of my recent relationships. I may have trouble committing to a man, but a country seems to be an easy conquest. In those 2 years, my Instagram became a photographic commentary on daily life in China, all that I’ve seen or experienced. To pay homage to my last year in China and usher in 2014, I’ve amassed 12 of my favorite images captured through my Instagram feed and the stories behind them. […]

By |December 30th, 2013|China, Culture|23 Comments

My Favorite Photos from Malaysia

In all the excitement of the Asian Women’s Empowerment conference I did manage to experience a little taste of Kuala Lumpur. Forbes describes Malaysia’s growth as a “bubble economy”, due to a government and household credit bubble, but on the street level my taxi driver described Kuala Lumpur as “stable, it is growing all the time, the government is rich.” The taxi driver then talked about driving the owner of the Petronas Towers one evening, how nice he was and wanted the driver to find a decent restaurant to eat at.  My taxi guy reenacted his shock and horror.  Me?  How could I know where to take the boss of Petronas?? But he did and apparently the dinner was a cool $200 USD. Tip, people: if you want to know anything about a place, strike up a conversation with your taxi driver.  They see and know all. What I saw of Kuala Lumpur was a different kind of richness, one in the form of hijabs, salwars and a set of shorts and a tank top. People of varying religious sects and ethnic groups sharing the sidewalk, eating at restaurants together or sitting close as friends. Ethnic and religious violence hasn’t occurred here since the 1960’s, which is unprecedented to me. In India, those coals burn underneath the surface and singe every so often. I wished there was more time to explore all of it.  The alleyways, the markets and the food. Sigh. This will have to do. […]

By |November 21st, 2013|Culture, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|37 Comments

Sanya: The Beach Spot in China

“Oh, in Sanya, the water is clean!” said Memory. Memory was dressed in the perfect note of hilarity.  A former student of mine, we ran into each other in the hallway, among the hordes of Chinese kids bobbing and weaving around us, their voices drowning out Memory’s cadenced English. It was his appearance rather than his words that held my attention, his thin frame gulped up by a Michael Jackson inspired red, pleather jacket and his compact legs melted into a pair of acid wash jeans. His hairstyle was the most eye-catching, a teased mass of orange hair, combed over to one side of his head. It was difficult to picture Memory’s flamboyancy on sand dusted paths, tanning beneath an ocherous sun in Sanya. “In Sanya, many Chinese go to swim and eat fish,” he uttered with enthusiasm.  His moniker fit him — what filtered in his mind —  indeed, he had a good memory of his time in Sanya. […]

By |October 28th, 2013|Culture, Sanya|27 Comments

Nanjing Massacre Museum: A Worthy Trip

Remember last week when I whinged about my trip to Purple Mountain and Nanjing? Well, I did give Nanjing another try and visited an important monument. In the 1920’s, Nanjing had been anointed the capital of China by the Chinese Nationalist government. This modest city of 250,000 suddenly swelled to over 1 million. On December 13th, 1937, Nanjing fell to Japanese troops. Japan had already been a presence in China since August of that year, when they first destroyed Shanghai. Any power players of the Kuomintang had left Nanjing to fight a war of attrition, leaving the city governed by an international committee. With mainly untrained Chinese soldiers defending the city, panicked ones fleeing from failed battles, and refugees arriving in the aftermath of Shanghai, taking Nanjing proved relatively easy. The subsequent massacre that took place over the course of six weeks involved beatings, executions and rapes. Businesses were looted and burned, people feared for their lives every waking moment. By the end of the six weeks, 300,000 Chinese soldiers and citizens were killed, 20,000 women had been raped. The municipal government erected the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in 1985, in an area called  Jiangdongmen, near one of the mass execution and burial sites, called ‘pit of ten thousand corpses’. For years, Japan denied the massacre occurred, but eye-witness accounts and the diaries of Japanese soldiers eventually surfaced. In 1995, Japan officially acknowledged their war crimes, but to this day Japanese nationalists are accused of revisionism, even though the The International Military Tribunal for the Far East and the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal confirmed the massacre was not an imaginary event. The Memorial Hall is staggering, occupying 3,000 square meters of floor space and uses various mediums to recount this woeful tale in history, such as video, archival objects, historical records and sculptures. The use of sculpture was prominent on the grounds and extensive historical photographs gave a visitor an inescapable visual reference. You must think I’m some trippy goth girl, because of my visits to Dachau in Munich and the Bone Church in Prague. That I religiously watch Dexter or something. […]

By |September 19th, 2013|Culture, Nanjing|12 Comments