Underneath the stars

My favorite place in Shanghai. Every visit feels spiritual. We all come to watch the river, to cool down our bodies. Most of the people here are migrant workers, but underneath the stars, we’re all the same, and the view is identical for everyone.   (Near 向阳村.) I saw another cyclist sitting down, a young […]

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Chuansha before the heat

Chuansha (川沙) in the morning, before the heat strikes. Any calories I burned off while cycling, I probably more than compensated with this single oily scallion pancake (葱油饼).

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What is literature, and why read the books we read?

Yesterday I finally got to reading Iron & Silk, about Mark Salzman teaching English in Changsha (长沙) in the early 80s. And even though Salzman seems like a great guy, he does not make for a great writer, and to me, his book feels more like a bundle of anecdotes rather than literature. This isn’t […]

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Iron & Silk review

This book is a memoir of an English teacher in China, so a parallel to Peter Hessler is easily made. Mark Salzman’s book could have been the more interesting one, because he lived in China in the early 80s. Both Iron & Silk and River Town consist of loose stories, but Hessler binds them together […]

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How to get a job in China

There are a ton of application sites out there but I think they’re all horrible. I searched for jobs three times: 2014 (before graduation), 2016 (desire to change jobs in the Netherlands), and 2018 (desire to move to China) — and from those three runs I do not doubt that I’ve sent well over 100 […]

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Rules and not-rules

China is extremely safe and full of cameras everywhere — but the irony is that still people break the rules all the time. Some of these are laws, but most are just rules or norms. For example, some people (and I emphasize: some) are loud in the very early morning, at like 6 o’clock. Others, […]

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The lone tower

The bell tower of Lujia Catholic Church (陆家天主堂钟楼), in the town of Zhelin (柘林) in Shanghai’s Fengxian district. It was built in 1891, and the wing was used for livestock in the late fifties, and destroyed a decade later. The tower was stripped of its bronze bell, but was spared because it had the word […]

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Vesper Flights review

Like H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald’s work is poetic and full of wonder about the world around us. I’m not a huge bird fan or anything, but this book is about more than birds and nature. It’s a way of looking at the world, of finding magic. And like H is for Hawk, Vesper […]

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An abandoned church in Pudong

The St. Francis Church of the Eastern Shi Family  (东施家圣方济各堂), built in 1896. Historic Pudong wrote about it before, but I never knew where it was. Then Eva cycled past it and sent me the location, but she didn’t dare to enter alone because of stray dogs. I couldn’t see those stray dogs today, but […]

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Inside the factory

I rarely share anything about my daily working life here. It’s almost like a double life I live. (Although I did share about working in Zhangjiang (张江) before.) But here’s perhaps something cool to share; how Pimax’s electronics are made, and for that matter, many of the world’s stuff. Last Tuesday, with a colleague, I […]

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