Category Archives: Tracing China’s Past

SUNSET MAKES VICTORIA PEAK SUBLIME – Hong Kong Can’t Escape Beauty

April 8, 2008
Hong Kong, China

Eleven years since the handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese government, and crossing the border between Mainland China and Hong Kong is still an ordeal. It took Fiona Zhu and I nearly four hours to travel from Guangzhou to Kowloon, even though they’re little more than a hundred miles apart. The delay is partly because we had to stop at a checkpoint, get off the bus with our bags, and be granted departure from China… then get back on, stop at another checkpoint, get off again, and be granted arrival in Hong Kong.

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MADE IN CHINA – Everything But the Groundhog

April 8, 2008

After two weeks in China’s Guangdong Province, I saw my first day of unequivocal sunshine on April 6th in Guangzhou. It turns out the old Chinese saying about this festival season was wrong: sometimes it does not rain at Qing Ming. But Fiona Zhu told me about another adage: if it rains at Qing Ming, it will be a rainy spring, and if it doesn’t rain at Qing Ming, it will be a sunny spring. In turn, I tried to explain Groundhog Day to her. “What is a groundhog?” she asked.

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POLLY WOLLY YUEJU – A Wannabe Matchmaker in China

April 6, 2008
Guangzhou, China

Fiona Zhu and I took a taxi to an old Xiguan great house yesterday. The house is now a museum, displaying the lifestyle of rich merchants of the past in the Liwan neighborhood of Guangzhou. The old Chinese home was like something out of a romantic novel, not only to me, but to Zhu Zhu, too; neither of us had ever lived in digs even remotely as elegant as this.

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SHOPPING FOR ILLUSIONS OF WEALTH AND BEAUTY – A Holiday in Old Canton, China

April 5th, 2008
Guangzhou, China

Yesterday, Fiona Zhu and I went to the Haizhu Wholesale Market, a giant warehouse where hundreds of stalls sell the trinkets, baubles, kitsch and downright junk of a consumer society. Mainly we’re talking about the things no one actually needs: plastic Godzillas, hand-painted theatrical masks, fake fingernails, plastic flowers, fabric-covered keepsake boxes, fake-jade statues, fine China tea cups, not-so-fine China tea-cups, and trios of figurines meant to represent Joy, Luck and Prosperity. Zhu Zhu had been to this market many times. “Sometimes I don’t buy anything, just look around.”

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DIM SUM & SOME DIN – Spring Fever in Guangzhou, China

April 4, 2008
Guangzhou, China

Yesterday, Fiona Zhu and I walked to Shang Xia Jiu, which literally means “Up-Down Nine,” as in “Up and Down 9th Street.” The long pedestrian avenue crosses the old town center, but it’s also one of the city’s trendiest hangouts. It’s the longest shopping street in Guangzhou, and a perfect showcase of Old China and New China.

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STORKS & STONES – An Island of Foreigners in China

April 3, 2008
Guangzhou, China

It’s another wet, cloud-swaddled morning in Guangzhou, the city’s towers and apartment blocks floating in a bath of white mist. Perhaps it’s for the best. This industrial city might otherwise look too starkly gritty and real in the full light of day. Since I’ve been here, daylight has seemed like the perpetual dusk of a nuclear winter.

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DIRTY LAUNDRY & DUBBED MOVIES – Acclimatizing in Guangzhou, China

If you’ve been waiting for the next installment of the search for my Chinese roots, please excuse the slight delay. As Marcia Brady would say, “Something suddenly came up.” It turns out I can’t manage a travel story every single day, unless I neglect my clients. So, to preserve my honor, and pay my mortgage, lets say I’ll post every day I can. That said, let’s return to China, where I’ve just left behind the small town of Bok Sa, for the big city of Guangzhou, once known as Canton. Once upon a time, this river port was a place where East met West. Now it is a place where the commercial power of the East is rising…

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