Learning Kung Fu in China: The Real Story

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Since I am now acquainted with so many amazing people that have stories from Japan, China and Asia in general, I wanted to start a “My Asia” guest post/interview series every every other Monday where readers and fellow friends can share their fascinating adventures. 

I would like to start with a story that involves China and the journey of an American man going to discover the path of martial arts.

With a few years of tai-chi practice and teaching under his belt, my good friend Cory was convinced that the final step to mastery would be training on Mt. Wudang in China—the birthplace of Tai-Chi itself. read more

Save Over $10,000 a Year By Living in Tokyo

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I know, you think I must be crazy for suggesting you could save over $10,000 a year by living in Tokyo, a city famous for its supposed ‘high cost of living.’

But if there’s one big smack in the face I’ve received from reverse culture shock in the United States, it’s this:

It’s goddamn expensive to live in America!

I want to compare cost of living in America with what most people consider an expensive country: Japan.

More specifically, Tokyo.

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This scenario is based on a single individual working in Tokyo with an English teacher’s salary, which is about 30,000 USD per year and averages out to 2,500 dollars per month. read more

Biking Around Ayutthaya and Feasting in Bangkok

Thailand.  A backpackers haven.  The heart of Southeast Asia.  The land of smiles.  A country that all travelers know they must check off ‘the list.’

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I first became interested in Thailand in much the same way everyone else does:  The food.

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I mean seriously, when a country has food THIS good you can’t help but wonder about the rest of it.  There has to be something unique and special about a country that makes some of the best spicy soup, mind blowing curry, and fragrant dishes to grace not only all of Asia–but the entire world. read more

Revisiting the Vietnam War

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During my visit home over the holidays, my dad and I sat at the bar table sipping white peony tea.  He was nibbling on a cinnamon roll, I was snacking on some leftover Goi Cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls) my mom made earlier in the evening.

My father fought in the Vietnam war.  It’s where he met my mother.

There are a slew of Vietnam veterans scattered throughout the country, but few managed to bring back a local from the war torn remains of Vietnam.   Even fewer of these couples managed to keep their relationship together through the final, and most difficult hurdle: Culture Shock.  Even if Vietnamese woman were to escape her homeland and be with the GI of her dreams in the supposedly “happily ever after” ending following the Vietnam war, many of them experienced extreme culture shock from their new American home and intercultural marriage, and few could adapt to the foreign world they were living  in.  This is best portrayed in the movie Heaven and Earth, where after ten years of marriage the Vietnamese wife of a GI leaves the safe haven of the USA and, eventually, goes back to Vietnam. read more

Going to Bali Alone (and escaping China)

I’m running away from China and going here:

Bali… here I come

I really need to escape China.  Badly.  And I think anyone that’s lived here longer than a year can 100% agree with me.
Beaches.  Rice Terraces.  No masses of people.  No spitting.  No people shoving me every corner I turn.  Sunshine.  Clean air.  Clean water.  Food without fake meat (aka no fox meat substituted for beef).

Oh yes.  Please.

Getting Out of China First

As I type this I’m in the Hangzhou airport.  Since it’s National Holiday Here (国庆节) I decided to take the safe route and come early.  During National Holiday, the roads are usually plugged up with traffic and the wait to purchase a train ticket can take a few hours.  Although my flight leaves for Bali at 11:00 PM, I decided to get my ass out of Shanghai at 2:30 PM and come to the Hangzhou airport early. read more