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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


China, December 19, 1999

The Seafood's Shells Are Never Wasted

You better eat that entire shrimp or I'm gonna steal the tail tip!

You think I'm gonna waste a single rice grain?
Shells have calcium!
Okay, Laos is not on the sea, but it is where I first encountered what I consider 'seafood' in Southeast Asia. I was fresh of my flight from Bangkok, where I'd only been for a few hours, and I was hungry. Walking over to a riverside cafe along the Mekong, I pointed at the fried rice and random weeds everyone else was eating, and gestured that I wanted a bowl too.

A few minutes later, I had my meal. I was in the middle of stuffing my face when I noticed there was a small river crab, cooked whole, in my bowl. Picking it up with the chopsticks, the cook laughed as I studied this odd addition to my meal. The staff motioned that I should eat it whole, and after some consideration, that's exactly what I did.

Yes, it was crunchy, but not more than your average thick & crispy potato chip. From then on, I was happy to munch on the random crustaceans that found their way into my bowl. I ate a few crawfish and more tiny crabs before I left the inland country for coastal Thailand.

It's there that I noticed the locals eating shrimp whole. Okay, the main shell covering the head is removed, but the rest, legs, tail shell, and flippers at the end, are consumed whole. After trying it once, I'm hooked. Now I do as the locals, bemoaning all those tasty shrimp tail tips I left on my plate over the years and stealing any tips my hapless friends happen to leave on their plates.

China, December 4, 1999

I Don't Like China's Time Zone

All this land, but only one time zone to play in! Eating Street Food in the dark Even Laos has three zones! and Mongolia, better sunsets I am in yet another Beijing taxi, this time caught in the apex of rush hour. Please don't ask me why I am here,...

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China, November 30, 1999

Oh No, Not A Train Ride!

Be sure to take ear plugs on a Chinese train The Beijing-West station At least the station is clean Haven ridden from the Atlantic to the Pacific on all manner of Iron Horses, including a few in my home country, I'd like to think of myself as an expert on...

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China, November 29, 1999

I Want Out, But Am I Allowed?

Can I dislike China and still be cool? Not my temple of heaven Keeping the kids in line The Soviets were here too I wanted to write about how cool Shanghai is. How it is everything Beijing isn't; cosmopolitan, liberal, exciting, and filled with foreigners, but I'm not. Shanghai is...

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China, November 23, 1999

Chinese Don't Have Any Manners

There's a lack of manners in China No, Buddy, wait your turn! Hence the blank page....

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China, November 22, 1999

Easy Come, Easy Go

Don't even think of being a foreign expert in China! Able to poop small mountains Bye-Bye kids! I'll miss play time! Well that was quick. In less than one month, Beijing Review, or at least the publishing house behind it, exceeded my bullshit quotient and forced me to walk away...

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China, November 15, 1999

The Silk Road in a Back Alley

Islam in China? Yes, if you follow the Silk Road all the way from Istambul to Beijing Mad musician at his day job They look Finnish to you? I heard the sounds of the Silk Road tonight. Yes, I know it once passed from Beijing to Istanbul, so I'm not...

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Mysteries of Chinese ISP's

Something fishy is going on with my ISP The cages protect the birds For one whole week in November, I emailed back and forth with my website host about problems I was having trying to upload new pages onto my website. I thought they'd changed login parameters on me, or...

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China, November 10, 1999

Learning a Language Isn't Easy

My first Chinese word, "mayo" is still the most important! I should've gone here first No language skills needed here Just nod your head, fool! Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with one of my workmates. She and I were talking about traveling and she was surprised that I'd traveled...

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China, November 7, 1999

Just Ping-Pong the Day Away

Watch Out! We're playing Ping Pong here! The one and only dominators The sun lazily drifted through the window, illuminating delicate puffs of dust as the focused combatants swirled around the table. Quickly, they darted from side to side in the pale light, never allowing their opponents to achieve what...

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China, November 1, 1999

Buying a Ticket Is Easier Than Anyone Says

For a ticket, just go to the train station to get whatcha want I'm gonna ride the train! The first Hong Kong ticket Today I went looking for a train ticket to Hong Kong and I'm not sure which is harder, buying a train ticket in Russia or asking someone...

Open the F#*%ing Doors!

Never be late for a train in China The lucky ones who made it I don't wanna start pointing fingers, cuz I only have ten, but lets just say a comedy of errors, including a few of my own, preceded my mad dash across the Beijing West train Station Thursday...

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China, October 25, 1999

Finally, I'm back!

What ya'll have been waiting for, the new me! Too much party-time! The band at my night job. I know the silence has been deafening for ya'll, and many thanks to all those who have written asking if I was still alive, especially an avid reader asking if she needed...

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China, October 18, 1999

I Done Got Me a Job!

I'm an editor! Can you believe it? The Beijing Review I done got me a job, and you never gonna guess what I do! Somehow, some way, I'm now a 'foreign expert' in China, and appointed the Senior Editor of Beijing Review, China's only national news magazine published in English,...

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China, October 15, 1999

I Can Smell the Censorship in China

The Party knows best for the Chinese Ever read 1984? No one talks about it here, so it must not happen in China, but I can feel the censorship permeating the society on a daily basis. After Russia and America where the presses are free (or at least free for...

China, October 14, 1999

Thicker Than Pea Soup: Beijing Smog

Beijing should be called Smog City Noon, but can you tell? Wangfujiang on a clear day! Its midday in Beijing, but you wouldn't know it by the shadows. Even though there are no clouds in the sky, the sunlight isn't bright enough to indicate the time of day. No, I'm...

China, October 12, 1999

At Least The Music Is Cheap

Everybody wants to steel you a CD! Better than Tori Amos! VCD! VCD! CD! VCD! Look, look, I have CD! This is what ya'll hear if you look Western, as I do, and you walk anywhere in Beijing. Unlike Moscow, where they have a specific pirate CD market, it is...

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Beijing Traffic Is A Complete Nightmare!

Beijing is one giant parking lot at rush hour Time to beat 'em with a stick! Looking at the meter, its been exactly 11 minutes since I fist climbed into this taxi, but we've only gone two km, and all of that at a crawl. OK, so you may not...

China, October 11, 1999

Getting Domestic

Chinese housing isn't so bad, if you've lived in Russia Home Sweet Home My backyard! Today I spent the afternoon getting domestic. Yes, I have a fixed address again, but unfortunately, I can't pronounce it to save my life! I only know how to get here from the University I've...

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China, October 4, 1999

Counting Change in China

I made it across the Chinese border, right into culture shock Pretty, eh? Yes, its China! You can't imagine the crowds Yes, I'm in China now, and in complete culture shock! I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe something like an oriental version of Russia, but I like the...

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China, October 3, 1999

More Bicycles Than You Can Shake A Stick At!

I ain't never seen so many bicycles in my life! Time to beat 'em with a stick! The special bike-lots Even lined up outside my door! China is the land of the bicycle. I swear there are more bikes than people, and they are everywhere. You cannot imagine the volume...

China, October 1, 1999

Mr Tom Lee & Friends

Tom rocks the boat with a little help from his friends Tom's Style Adjustment Before After The first time I met Tom, he didn't believe who I was. He'd read my website after a trip to Russia and offered to host me when I first arrived in Beijing, but when...

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China, September 30, 1999

I Hate the Sound of Spitting

The center of the sound of spitting Even at the Beach! Spit there and die! I wish I had enough cash for a Sony Digital VideoCam. No, I don't want to bore you with bad home movies; I want to record China's national sound in the making. In Russia, I...

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China, September 28, 1999

Learning all at Beijing Language and Culture University

Nothing like wandering around a Chinese university campus The best in Chinese education The Uni's Bla Bla Bar 28 September, 1999 A year ago, a guy wrote into my web site about his summer spent in Moscow. He sounded cool, and after a few emails back and forth, we became...