The ancient merchant trail

Chinese characters allow for elegant naming. Just take a character from each destination and add what it is. The highway from Jiading to Songjiang: 嘉松公路 (JiaSong Highway). The bridge from Suzhou to Nantong: 苏通桥 (SuTong Bridge). And there’s the HuiHang Ancient Road (微杭古道). The Hui is from Huizhou (徽州) in the Anhui province, the Hang […]

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Borders within the country

When you take a PCR test in China, it’ll take 3 to 12 hours before the result comes out, so before our trip to the Shandong province, I several tests in Shanghai to ensure I always had a 24-hour result when I left my living compound, took the train to Suzhou, and to take the […]

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Food in the trees

We saw plenty of cicadas in the forest and Weihai — louder and bigger than in Shanghai. In many parts of Shandong, cicadas are eaten, and we spotted several people ‘angling’ for them — using a rod with some dough on the top — to be taken home to be fried. Everyone asked said they’re […]

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True places in Weihai

After a few days in rural Shandong, Weihai (威海) hits different immediately as we get off the train — people and suitcases everywhere. It’s full of an obvious type of people: tourists. And immediately I wonder if the people in those rural areas who cited covid for the lack of tourism are just wrong, and […]

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A wall, a mountain, and the people that climb it

The Great Wall of China was built over centuries and one of the oldest segments ran through the Shandong province, from Jinan (济南) to Qingdao (青岛): Great Wall of Qi (齐长城). It lacks the fame of the Great Wall in Beijing built in the Ming Dynasty (this is the one that comes to your mind […]

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Big sister sends us to Luziyu

So after Tai’an (泰安) our next stop is the city Zibo (淄博), although more by name rather than perimeter.  Luziyu (鲁子峪) is a small town on its own, made up of several villages. From Tai’an we choose to take the taxi instead of the high-speed train. It’s slower and pricier, but the scenery is a […]

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Beneath and inside the clouds in Tai’an

Mount Tai (泰山) dwarfs the city of Tai’an (泰安) and is the central attraction. In the park we take the bus to somewhere midway — cheating, I know — but it’s already passed noon and several people told me the whole trip takes ~8 hours. In the bus we’re with other couples, mostly university students (sitting together […]

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Hells Bells

We tried to visit the 贺九岭 temple in Cangshu (藏书) Suzhou (famous for its lamb meat), but it was closed. Because of covid? Because of it being Saturday? Not sure, but we couldn’t go in to burn some incense. Next to it is a mountain though. Eva decided to stay in the air-conditioned car but […]

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June Yellow

The many hairy crab fishers of Yangchenghu (阳澄湖) in Suzhou — or at least their boats. Casually refueling their jerry cans while smoking. It’s late in the crab season and there aren’t any big ones left — just “June yellow” (六月黄), the younglings with a thin shell, and lots of yellow meat (tomalley). In the […]

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A Canticle for Leibowitz review

This book isn’t easy for readers for who English is a second language (especially the middle part, or the religious ramblings), but 63 years after being published, it still feels like an important and relevant book. Science-fiction nowadays is usually about some rebellious A.I., but here it’s about nuclear warfare and humanity’s inevitable quest for […]

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