I grew up as a picky eater. Then I moved to Asia. My eating habits had to change or else I would literally wither away to nothing. Then I met “hotpot”. It is a meal that espouses a wide range of opinions. To some, hotpot is a “meal of the gods”. To others, it is a culinary disaster. This is my story and the “competition” we have created around this unique local food. [Read more…]
Saturday was special here in my neck of the woods. The American men in our city decided to get together and hang from noon on. In this city of many millions (literally), there are only a handful of Americans who live here permanently. My guess is 30-50 in total. This is probably a generous guess, as I personally only of know 22. Of that number, 11 are men.
Ten of the eleven men I know in this city decided to dub the 6th day of last week. . . “Baseball Saturday”. The content of the day was simple; American food and baseball all day. We were to both play baseball and watch baseball in the midst of gorging on red meat and other such American culinary delights.
We met for lunch at McDonald’s (the only “American restaurant” within an hour of where I live). After destroying our bodies, we headed over to a local university in search of a field to play baseball. Between all of us, we have seven baseball gloves, two baseball bats, and four actual baseballs, so “playing baseball” is a pretty generous description of what we were planning.
We found a soccer field, but were quickly dispersed by an official university function.
We ended up finding our way to a dimly lite, closed basketball gym on campus. We decided the place was perfect for our “Plan B”. [Read more…]
As I type this post, I am sitting in a bustling coffee/teahouse. There are people all around me consuming all types and varieties of colorful beverages. Outside, window shoppers are meandering along the fairly crowded street, with bikes and mopeds jostling for real estate. The weather is reasonably nice (we always have gray skies, but today is a brighter, clearer version of gray than usual). I love the hustle and bustle of Asia!
There are times when I struggle with living in Asia. The cultural stresses, climate challenges, and culinary differences just kind of pile up and weigh me down. Today is not one of those days. As a matter of fact, this week has been a kind of personal “Asian renaissance” for me. I have been all over the city for the past week with visitors from Atlanta. It has been a time where I have been able to simple enjoy some of the quirky, fun, and different aspects of living in Asia. Here are a few:
- Big, goofy billboards (and bright, city lights) – Don’t know why, but I love gigantic, even obnoxious, billboards. Throw in high-rise buildings lined with bright, gaudy lights everywhere, and you have a visual buffet around every corner. This is the case with most sections of this city. Definitely one of the distinctive characteristics of cities in Asia and it is a fun aspect which I like.
- Lack of a fashion standard – We in America tend to care much about outward [Read more…]
Last night, I had dinner with a group that was visiting my city from Atlanta. Though I only passingly knew two of them prior to this week, I had a great time with the entire group. As always, it is fun to see Asia through the eyes of those who visit here for the first time.
We had a meal, I showed them around some of the city, helped communicate with their hotel regarding their check out plans this morning, bid them farewell, and then drove back to my apartment 45 minutes away.
On the drive back, things seemed to be in slow motion as I thought about and processed my life here. I live in a massive Asian mega-city. There are more than 2,000 buildings over 20 stories high. I can’t even imagine how many buildings over 5 stories high there are here.
As I drove, it hit me that I had been driving all day in this city (which dwarfs New York in many ways) and I had not looked at a map all day. Not once.
Bottom line. . . I have been here a long, long time. This morning, [Read more…]
Living overseas, it’s easy to focus on what you are missing during Christmas, particularly not being at home with family and friends. However, here are a few things I am THANKFUL for here in Asia during this most significant of all holidays.
This is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good start!
I’m thankful that I miss family and friends during Christmas – Weird way to start out, I know, but this really is something for which I am thankful. I love the fact that I have family and friends I sincerely miss. Family and friends that mean too much to simply blow off and not think about during this time. There are orphans out there. Even more so, there are people with such miserable family lives that they don’t want to be “home for the holidays”. Yes, I do miss my family during this season especially, but I am thankful beyond words for this reality!
I’m thankful for SOME Christmas cheer in the air – My first Christmas in Asia was 1999. There was virtually nothing discernible with Christmas Day from any other day. It was depressing. Our study group of six actually went Christmas caroling in front of the dorms on campus and got some of the strangest looks I had ever received . . . and it was 1999 in Asia where they NEVER saw foreigners. It was beyond comprehension.
Christmas 2012, while not exactly teeming with Christmas cheer, there are signs of the season in a few places. My apartment actually has decorations up. Though Michael Gregory says, “it looks like Christmas threw up in your place”, I am still proud of it. The coffee shop I am [Read more…]