How many minutes?

We’re climbing a hill today and it’s warm. A fellow hiker is coming downhill, and Eva asks how much longer to the summit: “Twenty minutes”, says the lady. After ten minutes of walking, Eva asks another hiker, and it’s the same answer: “Twenty minutes”. Another ten minutes of walking go by as we pass an […]

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Benidorm and Baduka

We just randomly picked a lake on the map in Changxing (长兴) and somehow we ended up in a sort of Benidorm. Lots of seniors from Shanghai. The place is named 水口茶文化景区 (Shuikou Tea Culture Scenic Area), but locals here even refer to this place as 上海老人村: Shanghai Elderly Village. Lots of tea, herbs, and […]

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Pots and time

Yixing (宜兴) is like many lower-tier cities, in that it has an old city center and then a new part. The two halves haven’t yet grown enough to be fully merged, so for now they still feel like two separate cities — despite sharing the name. Obviously, we’re visiting the older part. Shushan Gunan Street […]

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The mess that is school district houses

Example of China’s hukou — or actually, school district houses (中国学区房) — in China. But it gets a bit complicated. Friend is a single parent, living in a house registered in his parent’s name (his parents live with him). His son goes to a primary school near that house. Let’s call it House A. Then […]

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Forbidden gardens

Taped posters in Chuansha (川沙) telling people not to create vegetable plots here. And yet people can’t resist or simply don’t care. In some unsighted areas, there are fresh crops. Eva pulls an ugly carrot out of the ground: “If they can steal the land, well, I think I can steal a carrot.”  

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The new old street in Tiantai

China is so big. Even though we’re just traveling in one corner of Zhejiang, new cities I’ve never heard of keep popping up on the map. It’s as if you could use A.I. to generate cities, and they keep appearing in a ton of variety. Today, Tiantai (天台), which is part of Taizhou (台州). And […]

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Flowers and stepping stones

Quotations of Chairman Mao on a door in Shengkeng (胜坑村), about the Japanese enemy. It’s a pretty village, with flowers and stepping stones everywhere. Some houses are beyond repair, others maintained well. Mostly inhabited by seniors and swallows.

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Flowers on the trees

At first, I thought they were flowers on the trees, but it’s loquat fruit (枇杷), wrapped with tiny bags to protect against birds and insects. You see these trees like this all over Xiangshan County. In Suzhou, people use huge nets for the loquat trees.

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Next to the highway

Shepan (蛇蟠乡) is so small that even though it’s next to a highway, its exit is named after the service station — not the town itself. There are some boats, plenty of fantastic seafood restaurants, and a muddy shore full of tiny crabs, razor shells, and mudfish. I somehow love this place.

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