Life for Expats in Polluted Chinese Cities

Over the past few years living in China, the air pollution conundrum (among many development issues) has been a major concern for expats and locals alike. Just last month (October 2013) an “airpocolypse” shrouded the city of Harbin in northeastern China at a level of around 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter! That’s off the charts and about “40 times the safety level recommended by the World Health Organisation” reports the Guardian newspaper.* Obviously this is (and will be) a major cause of lung cancer in the future, along with the effects of circa-1950s attitudes toward smoking.

Read More

Back in America, one month on

Weirs Beach, NH ~ Fall 2013

On September 24, 2013 I started my repatriation experience after 8 years of Asianliving (mostly in China). Before leaving China I was told numerous times by foreign, non-Chinese friends and colleagues that I would be back in 6 months… tops… and I told them all I wouldn’t just cave and go back any time soon.
So, how am I holding up…?

Well, after a month in NH and Boston I’ve had a lot of time to prepare for a new career and new living situation. It’s been GREAT seeing my family and helping them whenever possible. I would never take that back. But there have been times when I’ve really missed China.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.*

Read More

Food Deserts and Sterling Farm Markets

Wendell Pierce @ Sterling Farms

NBC Nightly News ran a report recently about “food deserts”, which is a phenomenon that occurs in low-income, rural areas of the country. (See 2004 article about Pittsburgh, NH) A food desert is where a fresh produce market is 1 mile or farther away from any given neighborhood. For many in this kind of situation, locals often do their shopping in expensive mini-marts or convenience stores. And the health implications of food deserts exacerbate various weight-related issues.

Read More