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Escape to Jeju Island

Escape to Jeju Island

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The wind pummeled us relentless, but we didn’t care. The dark blue waves screamed in protest as they crashed violently against the lava formed rock formation we stood upon. Although the dark, unknowing waters of Jeju looked unwelcoming, the fresh and cleansing breeze of the Korean countryside and its pastel, blue sky was more than enough to keep me here. After relentless days of smog and apocalyptic skies of dust and toxic matter in China, the coast of Jeju was like medicine.

The wind whipping my hair across my face, the sprays of fresh, seawater splashing across my open toed sandals, a fresh paint of blue sky: read more

Learn Japanese with Legal High

Learn Japanese with Legal High

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Why You Should Watch Legal High

I know that Japanese dramas aren’t for everyone. It’s like the Home Shopping Network, or Mexican soap operas, or golf—some people love it, others hate it. Hell, even my Japanese friends refuse to watch Japanese dramas, calling them “the garbage of television.” Sometimes, I don’t blame them. The same old plotline of boy meets girl, hospital politics, or police detective nonsense starts to get old. Most Japanese dramas also tend to lack character depth, a plot, and half-decent acting (sorry, Arashi boys don’t always cut it). read more

American in Niigata

American in Niigata

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As soon as I stepped off the train, with luggage in both hands and two Japanese officials at my side, I knew that I was definitely not home in the United States anymore. Thousands of miles away from the familiar and transplanted in a new country, nothing had registered mentally—but physically, however, I was indeed feeling it.

July in Japan. I was hit with a tidal wave of humidity that drenched me senseless. The Japanese government in Tokyo decided to send me to this hot, humid sauna called Niigata, Japan. I was sweating profusely, my body was jet lagged, and there was a ringing in my ears that I would later know as “cicadas.” My eyes were heavy, my legs like water and my heart still in Salt Lake City. read more

Wang Lee Hom Making Asian Men Attractive

Wang Lee Hom Making Asian Men Attractive

Last weekend I saw Wang Lee Hom perform at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

Knowing I love everything Chinese, my aunt bought us tickets to see “An Evening of Chinese Splendor,” a Chinese themed performance by the L.A. philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.  Zong Zu Ying (a famous communist-like folk singer) and Ruby Chen (pianist) were some of the big names to make it on stage, but there was only one singer that managed to get not only the girls, but the boys in the crowd scream in glee: read more

The Headache Inducing City of Kuala Lumpur

The Headache Inducing City of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, why are you so difficult to navigate?  Why do you hurt me so?

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Oh KL, why are you so difficult!?

When I finalized my ticket to Kuala Lumpur following my trip to Thailand, I wasn’t exactly pumped to revisit the city.  Earlier in the year I had a 10 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur thanks to Air Asia, and at that time I managed to see most of the city.  I saw the Menara Observation Tower, visited a zoo–hell, I even had some authentic Malaysian Lahksa (curry) there.  It’s awful to say, but I really thought 10 hours in Kuala Lumpur was enough and I didn’t think a second trip in my lifetime would be necessary. Much like my unlikely and frequent visits to Korea (I’ve been there 4 times wha?), I found myself again revisiting a city I didn’t much care for the first time around. read more

The Modern Ex-Pat Returning Home

The Modern Ex-Pat Returning Home

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I check my e-mail to see the response I have been waiting for sitting there in my inbox, calling my name.  I told my friends this is “my dream job,” even though I knew the chances of me actually snagging the position were to slim to none.  Still, this organization called me in for an interview (to my surprise) and they seemed impressed at my credentials and skills.  Since the position was in Washington DC, I knew the likelihood of me being selected as a candidate from halfway across the country was extremely unlikely, but I still had hope. read more

Being Half Asian in China and Japan

Being Half Asian in China and Japan

Most people are stunned to find out that I’m half Asian half white.  They’re even more stunned to find out I’m not half Japanese or even Chinese:  I’m half Vietnamese (I know, I don’t look Vietnamese at all).

And I’m not only white–my father is 100% Irish.  So I’m a complete 50/50 split of two very different cultures.

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Being a Halfie in the USA

In my hometown (a very small town in Utah) my mom was the only Asian person in town, making my brother and I the only Asians in the school.  Despite how un-Asian I look, I was constantly teased for being a “gook” or a “chink” and never a moment went by where I wasn’t racially profiled.  Me liking Japan didn’t really help improve the situation,  so memories of people yelling “hey ching chong wong” and other such uncultured insults are still a very fresh memory today. read more

Dating a Chinese Man (and the unwanted presents that come with it)

Dating a Chinese Man (and the unwanted presents that come with it)

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“How are things with you and your Shanghai man?” I ask J on the phone as I slurp some coffee and munch on toast.”I hear you have dinner with his family every weekend?  Seems like things are getting serious.”

“Mary, I’m going to have a breakdown,” J sighs heavily on the phone. “His mom did something that REALLY bothered me these last few weekends.”

“Oh no,” I set my coffee on the table and leaned in, almost as if J were really sitting across from me.  “Did she say something about you being a foreigner?  Or maybe about your family?” read more

A Shanghai Summer’s Eve

A Shanghai Summer’s Eve

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I want to recount one of the “livelier” Shanghai evenings I’ve had this previous summer.  This post is really more for my own personal pleasure and to recount one of my better memories here (no real deep personal insight).  In Shanghai you always have strange, random evenings–and summer 2013 was no exception.

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I was on the couch sporting the most unflattering sweatpants and baggy sweater I own, my hair unkempt and my body slouched on the sofa like a slug.  My one hand was holding a cup of tea, the other hand stuffed into a giant plastic bag of dried fruits from China’s northwest province.  I was having the first lazy Sunday I’ve had in weeks–and it felt so good.  I was watching Hanzawa Naoki, cheering on my beloved protagonist with the world’s “hell yea!” and stuffing more Xinjiang raisins in my mouth, when my roommate emerged from her room, wondered what on god’s green Earth I was watching, then looked at me and said: read more