Well folks, it looks like we will be heading back to the good ol’ USA in the new year. We’ve been away for three years now, and although there have been a handful of trips back to visit family and friends, it feels a little like moving to yet another foreign destination. In the past year alone, we have inhabited five apartments and still have at least two more coming up in the near future. You might think with all that experience under our belt that our next shift would be a simple thing, but alas this seems like one of the hardest moves we’ve had to make. The logistics are fairly simple at this point; all our possessions in the world fit into a total of five suitcases, and we have already secured a temporary apartment in Harlem. I think the thing that is making this move the most difficult is that our lives are in Paris now.
We have met so many great people here, foreign and domestic, and every time we tell one of them that we are leaving there response is, “but you just stay.” Simple as that, just don’t get on the plane. Their response gives me two feelings: one, I feel that we are cared about and apart of others lives and welcomed despite our foreignness and bad French; two, I feel that I am being a little bit of a coward. Why don’t I just stay? In spite of visa issues, bad economies, language barriers, dwindling savings, why don’t I suck it up … Read More
When in Beijing it is of course obligatory to visit the Great Wall of China. We hired a private guide to pick us up at our hotel and take us to a less traveled area of the wall located in the Hebei province. The drive was about an hour and half to the Jinshanling section, which we were told had less tourists. This turned out to be completely true, as we saw maybe a total of ten other travelers during the day we spent there. The Jinshanling section was of particular interest to us because there are segments that are both restored and not restored, so we were able to see what toll the past four hundred years had taken on this massive structure.
Standing on the wall, and seeing no end in sight in either direction I looked, it was impossible to fathom a structure spanning 8851 km which is roughly the distance from the east to west coast in the US. Our guide told us that construction started by making a dirt mound which was then encased in stone. The wall boasts “723 beacon towers, 7,062 lookout towers, 3,357 wall platforms and 1,026 other ruins” according to travelguidechina.com.
Standing on the wall also made me reflect on the man power and years it took to make the wall. It seemed such a futile exercise to put so much effort into building a barrier between a country and the rest of the world. At the same time I thought, it gave a huge population something to do. This made … Read More
Nothing could have prepared me for the scale of Beijing. I feel that usually I can get a fairly good scope of a city I am going to visit by looking at a map. We would pick a destination that we thought would be a 15 minute walk and end up trekking for an hour. This wasn’t helped by the Chinese industrious proclivity for wall building. Arriving somewhere after an hour to find you still have another half hour of finding the entrance to your terminus can be a bit daunting. I recommend to take the smarter approach than we did and learn the extensive subway system.
We stayed in one of the few remaining Hutong’s in Beijing, which are comprised of narrow streets and alleys lined with traditional residences. We found a lovely restaurant near by that we ate lunch at almost every day, and sat and watched soap operas with the staff. We only had one order that was not to our taste. Our choice was met with a questioning look by our server, as no English was spoken, but we decided to give it a try. We got a corn fried dumpling with a sauce that was definitely too advanced for my palette.
Overall we found Beijing to be and extremely interesting city. It was a strange mix of communism and capitalism, poverty and wealth, old and new. Revamped areas in the Hutongs were lined with shops like Häagen-Dazs, H&M, Zara, Sephora, etc…—then the next street over were traditional food stalls and shops. There were massive modern … Read More
New York is a place where every aspect of a developed culture has been carried to excess, and what is left now is the aftermath. It is a place where 90% of the people you meet are atrocious self-promoters, a true stage for the talented and tragically ambitious. I’ve spent eleven years in NY, and have moved to the other side of the world and back. With that in mind, I think it is fitting to make a post about this great city.
My first few years in NYC were spent in a chemical, liquid, physical and cerebral romance. A blur of events, places, people all of the like I had never experienced before. It was amazing being surrounded by every culture, religion, and race all equalized by the struggle for survival. The goal of New York’s citizens is class, wealth and above all recognition. If you have the gift of gab, beauty, genius or luck you may succeed.
I moved to NY ten days before the World Trade Centers fell. I felt horrified and fortunate to be so near a world-changing event. New Yorkers are often characterized as rude, but I got to see that is just one dimension of their persona, all these people from all over the world out for them selves, were full of compassion and action, helping and consoling their fellow citizens. An air of morbid festivity was everywhere awakening briefly the city’s empathy before languishing back into a state of self-preservation.
It would be pointless to say what to do or see in New … Read More