Category Archives: Travel

A hike up Huangshan: one of the most beautiful places I’ve been

As promised, here is my post on Huangshan, at long last. Hope you enjoyed the last few posts about disconnecting and using a Kindle abroad.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is far and away one of the most incredible places I have visited in my life. In the span of 10 hours, we saw a spectacular sunset, a million stars in a clear sky, and a magnificent sunrise after a pre-dawn hike.
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A few days in Hangzhou

Arrival in Hangzhou

I arrived in Hangzhou (pronounced han-joe) two days ago after my short stay in Xi’an. As cheap as cabs are (<$15), I decided to take the airport bus to the city ($3) and after much pointing at the address of the hostel I’m staying at in Hangzhou that I thankfully acquired while in Xi’an, I found out that I should get off at the first stop on the bus at the railway station. 45 minutes later, I did so and then tried to take a cab to my hostel. No one would take me. I started thinking they didn’t like that I’m white—I’ve been informed the word for white person in Chinese literally translates to “white devil”—but really they just didn’t know the obscure side-street on which the hostel is located.
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30 hours in Xi’an

Update: Now with some more detail.

When I finally made it to Xi’an (flight last night was canceled, stayed in airport hotel in Beijing, and then got here at 8am this morning), I quickly made my way around the sights.

I visited the Terracotta Army (incredible, mostly in quantity), the Muslim Quarter (delicious food – Chinese “pizza” and zongzi), and biked around the City Wall at sunset (13.7 km, or 8.5 mi, long). So much fun! Off to Hangzhou tomorrow.


  • Being whisked past all the lines by the tour guide I hired to see the Terracotta Army. Well, really just cutting all the lines as her insistence. Pretty awesome. Definitely worth the $15 for the two-hour tour she tried to give in English.
  • Making friends with the owner of a sidewalk stall of his wife’s artwork. He worked in government for 19 years only to be fired when he had his second daughter (illegal here). He wants to move to San Francisco, get a green card (feasible within 5 years, he said), and bring his family over to the US. He also said all the jade (popular in Xi’an) sold at the street stalls is crap imitation, mostly glass. No surprise there.
  • Being asked by the manager of the steamed cold noodle place (also popular in Xi’an) to translate some of the items on the menu to English
  • Continuing my tradition of pretending to be a wedding photographer when I saw a shoot going down on the City Wall. The tradition started at least in Luxor, Egypt, if not before. Off the bike I went to snap away. For a short while, only.

An American’s cultural observations in China

I present a list in no particular order of some things I’ve remarked about the country, its people, and the culture. Some may be generalizations that I shouldn’t generalize about based on what I’ve witnessed, so I apologize in advance, but most things seem pretty common. Feel free to call me out if you feel I’m been overly hasty with any of these observations.
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