China: So Many Little Emperors

Some instincts are universal. That virtually all parents want a better life for their children is one of them. Our journey continually bears this out irrespective of the cultural and socioeconomic context of the regions we visit.

But in China, something extraordinary has happened. Two decades of economic growth, an exceptional cultural emphasis on family, and the one-child policy have all conspired to yield a generation of only children accustomed to the full focus of their family's emotional and financial resources.

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Bouillabaisse in Beijing?

Think that Beijing is all about moo shu pork and Peking duck? Think again.

Tapas, paninis, sushi – even all-you-can-eat massage parlors. If you can name it – and eat it – you can probably find it in Beijing.

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A New Breed of Dog?

Tiger Striped Dogs in China

Dogs with tiger stripes?

Is it the next new Chinese dog breed coming your way? An experiment in genetic modification that escaped from the lab with the help of an ambitious entrepreneur?

Or do the stripes wash off after the first bath?

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Landing in Lhasa (or A Closely Watched Plane)

Lhasa. The name has a particularly mysterious and forbidden ring to it these days. Maybe it’s images of Tibetan cowboys on the high plateau or flashes of defiant monks protesting in the face of Chinese police last March.

Recently, the Chinese government reported that the situation in Tibet was “back to normal” in preparation for the arrival of the Olympic flame there. Even with the Olympic torch safely relayed through Lhasa this past weekend with an escort squadron of blue track-suited torch guards, Tibet still remains closed to foreigners.

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China: Pictionary to the Rescue

So there we were: I was sketching an amorphous menagerie – a sheep, a cow, and a chicken – along with a simple carrot, all on small pad of paper, while Dan offered a few charades and barnyard audio cues – a chicken dance, a moo, and a hearty “baaah” – to help bring the animal farm to life. (Thankfully, charading a carrot was beyond Dan’s abilities.)

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A Tibetan Pilgrimage

When we missed the last direct train of the season from Urumqi to Dunhuang, China, we didn’t realize that lady luck was actually smiling on us. We skipped the Buddhist cave paintings of Dunhuang, but landed smack in the middle of a crowd of Tibetan pilgrims visiting the Labrang Monastery for a cham (Tibetan monastic opera) in the town of Xiahe.

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