After 8 Years in China, I’m moving to Boston

Me, Benji Ming
Me, Benji Ming

2 years ago I told a troop of Duke University students visiting China that I intended to give my current projects (via Huajie Group) another 2 years to float or sink before returning home. This summer being the 2 year mark, I’ve decided it’s time to move the Benji Ming show back to the USA, for now. It’s not easy to leave a place that has been my 2nd home for such a long time, but I have decided that my real home and family are what matter more than anything.

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1/3 of World’s Cigarettes Smoked in China

Two guys smoking
Two guys smoking

A blog that totes the wonders of Asianliving should really offer a fair slice of the other side: the health problems suffered in Asia. Suffice it to say the global news media frequently reminds us of the air quality issues across China, I decided to take it one step further and opine on the love of smoking here.

As Andrew Hales recently noted on his visit to Chengdu (where people use umbrellas in the daytime “like in the olden days”), China in the 20-teens seems much like America in the 1950s. Smoking is everywhere, all the time. And if you aren’t smoking, you will still smell (inhale) other people’s smoke. Restaurants, bars, shops, bus stations, train stations, bathrooms, and schools. There are virtually no tobacco-free zones in China, although in 2009 a policy was passed to “ban smoking in all health administration offices and medical facilities by the year 2011.”* That’s right, smoking in hospitals was common even just a couple years ago. City-specific legislation is still being carried out slowly across the country.*

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Asia’s Safer Ways to Make Salad

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a detailed study earlier this year about the Attribution of Foodborne Illness in the United States between 1998-2008. As mentioned by Modern Farmer in a recent article, a majority of the cases reported were due to uncooked greens and under-cooked meat products. Although beef and poultry can be cooked longer for a piece of mind, the consumption of raw vegetables is a greater challenge.

It’s common knowledge in the US that eating raw vegetables is “healthier” than eating them cooked- it’s also much more convenient this way…  The downside is that we are more susceptible to pathogens carried on leafy greens. This is probably why my Asian friends prefer to ordering dishes that contain veges that have been skinned just prior to cooking, like potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, etc. Anything that looks the same straight off the farm (like lettuce, spinach, bok choy, etc) are less likely to be cleaned properly in the restaurant kitchen.

Different countries have their own traditional ways of prepping salad. In countries like China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand the hygiene of its preparation is often questioned. In most cases copious amounts of garlic, peppers, lemon, ginger or other ingredients might be used in order to help naturally kill whatever is catching a ride on the leaves. Here are some samples of “salad” according to Asian tastes.

Thai-syles:

GreenMangoSalad
Green Mango gives this salad a kick!
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Red Envelopes for Better Health Care

red envelopes
Red Cash – courtesy NPR

My colleague’s wife had a baby last Christmas in a Chinese hospital in Zhuhai. It was a typical scenario. Meet your doctor in advance and decide whether to have a natural birth or a c-section. In this case, the choice was to go c-style at a planned date (that was not on an unlucky date, mind you. No number 4s.) Of course, there is a relationship that develops naturally with an expecting couple and their doctors, but in China there is an additional consideration to be made: how painful do you want this birth to be? That’s when red envelopes start to appear.

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(Mostly) Winning in Macau and Chinese Luck

Jumping off the Tower
Jumping off the Tower

Yesterday I finished my work early to visit Macau with a colleague turning 36. Taking me by surprise was that he felt it was time to try nose diving off the tallest bungy platform in the world. Dropping over 750 feet (233m) in just a few seconds costs thrill-seakersHK$2,500 or about $320 each time. Although it looked like an experience of a lifetime, I decided to just cheer him on from the observatory desk. Actually, my thrill for the day was at the Galaxy Resort and Casino which is just a bridge hop over to Taipa from Macau.

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