Easily find Peace in Asian Parks

With the West Lake in Hangzhou recently joining the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, it seems like the right time to highlight the value I’ve received by embracing some peaceful hours of relaxation in the most beautiful parks of China, Korea, and Japan.

Let’s start with the West Lake (杭州, 西湖):

West Lake in Hangzhou

Continue reading Easily find Peace in Asian Parks

Macau 2011: Legend of the Dragon Boat Races

Dragon Boat Drummer
An Intense Drummer

Where the Dragons Sleep
Dragons are often thought of as mystical creatures which guard castles and evildoers in western fables, but this is a far cry from the historical presence of dragons in Chinese folklore. Here, dragons are powerful and auspicious (lucky) creatures which have command over sources of water. They are the symbol of countless emperors and appear on dynastic flags throughout thousands of years of history. In modern times, the Chinese people more frequently consider themselves the descendants of dragons, which is a tribute to their appreciation of the mythical creature. And if you can imagine these descendants riding on the back of long, scaled, immortal creatures barreling through the rivers and open seas, then you are ready to be a spectator of one of China’s oldest traditional festivals: “Dragon Boat Festival ” or Duānwǔ Jié [端午节]. Continue reading Macau 2011: Legend of the Dragon Boat Races

The China Guan: Shanghai

The China Guan

“The China Guan” is my way of calling this amazing 2010 World Expo pavilion that still receives thousands of visitors per day in Shanghai. The building is a tribute to traditional Chinese architecture dating back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-467 BC). From this artist’s rendition you can see the “interlocking wooden brackets” which are the most important element of this kind of traditional structure. Although I hadn’t made the effort to visit the Expo in 2010, I felt it was important to see this pavilion before it gets torn down… or perhaps it will be the only building left standing in this expensive downtown location.

The China Guan really impressed me not only because of its unique outer covering, but mostly because of the video exhibit that you are shown in the first hall. After taking an elevator up one of the legs of this massive building you are led into a dome-like video area. The room is packed with people eager to get a dose of modern Chinese culture. The lights dim to black and the show starts. Continue reading The China Guan: Shanghai

Tibet Trip 2011 Caught on Tape!

During the Chinese new year of 2011, I traveled with my brother (Nick) and cousin (Jake) through Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong, Yunan, and Tibet. It was Jake’s first time in Asia and I know he got memories of a life time. It was Nick’s second trip to China and we had always said we would visit Tibet; I’m so happy we kept our word to each other! Trips like the one we had in February are what this blog, AsianLiving.me, is all about: Culture, Food, and Mutual Understanding.

I’ve posted 100s of pictures in my Shutterfly photo albums. You can also see pics of Jake and me in Thailand, which I also wrote about in an article called “A Surprise in Phuket“. I’ve finally got some low-quality videos on Youku. Youtube videos will also go up in the coming week. The following videos were mostly shot in Tibet with our tour guides Gyaltsen and Gyaltsen! They were awesome and really gave us an amazing experience in their homeland. Enjoy our Tibetan music videos too!

Please leave comments below if you have any questions about travelling in or around Tibet!

A bend in the river (Tibet- Southern Friendship Highway) Continue reading Tibet Trip 2011 Caught on Tape!

Vibrating Mode: Earthquakes Around Asia 2011

Recent Quake Location

It seems every couple days there is another earthquake punching holes in the topography of Asia, and across the world too. Zhuhai, where I’m currently living, also has shaken a few times in the past year. I hadn’t felt a tremor before 2010 and nothing like it had happened in this city since I got here in 2006. It was an unusual wobbling which lasted a few minutes… maybe the kind of nauseating shake that Californians are used to… Across the Pearl River Delta, in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, a 2.8 magnitude jolted the area in November of 2010 [*]. What’s strange is that this area is not considered to be on any kind of fault line.

With friends in Taiwan, The Philippines, and Japan, the recent earthquakes have added worry and frustration to many people I know there. (Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, if you are into that kind of thing.) It could be the media reports have come to my attention more recently, or it could be an increase in plate-shifting, or maybe 2012 as my students suggest… Although we can’t be sure, the consistency of recent earthquakes is a little disturbing. Yesterday, March 24, a 6.8 hit Burma and Thailand; March 22, a 6.1 hit the Philippines and Taiwan in the same day; Japan was hit by a 9.0 on March 11; Myanmar got a 5.4 on March 10; Papua New Guinea got a 6.5 on March 9; Japan got a 7.2 on March 9; a few Pacific island countries got 6.0 or higher in March too [*]… and those were just this past month! February counted over twelve 6.0+ magnitude earthquakes around Asia. Continue reading Vibrating Mode: Earthquakes Around Asia 2011

Ben’s Trip to Thailand: A Surprise in Phuket

Jake and Me in Phuket

If Phuket was a sound it would be “Ngaaaaa,” which starts low and gets high pitched. That is the sound walking down any major street near the beach village. What is making this strange sound you ask? That would be the masseuse/working girls which wear the look of a decade’s experience and heavy make-up on their faces.  My cousin and I were curious about the “massage” that was being offered, but decided against it. On a budget, and getting “taxed” as Jake likes to say, the prices of most things in Phuket didn’t allow us a chance to make it rain, so-to-speak. So we had more beer instead. Continue reading Ben’s Trip to Thailand: A Surprise in Phuket

Tibetan New Year in 2011

What we learned from our guide and how he perceives life in Tibet with the top 2 spiritual leaders in exile.

Tibetan man and Me in Lhasa

Talking to Tibetans about how they see modern Tibet is something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now. I often discuss modern China with Taiwanese, because they also live in a politically sticky environment. Superficially, Taiwan is considered a renegade province of China but their license plates say “台湾省” (Taiwan Province). There are also noticeably squeamish times of the year when international sporting events encompass all of Asia. Taiwan becomes “Chinese Taipei” and their flag is often an Olympic symbol on top of a white background. And as Mainland China grows its clout around the world, it is fair to say that fewer and fewer countries will recognize Taiwan as they once did decades ago.

But back to Tibet! The Lonely Planet guide doesn’t recall the Chinese history of Tibet in as bright a light as Chinese history books. For the Chinese, Tibet “has always been a part of China”; for Western historians, Tibet has been fighting foreign powers for centuries to keep its independence. In fact, two separate dynasties of China maintained territorial control over Tibet, and that is why The Party claimed Tibet after the civil war with the KMT (Kuo Min Tang: the previous Chinese government, which fled to modern Taiwan). Continue reading Tibetan New Year in 2011

A Super-Sized Metropolis in China?

A Guess from The Telegraph

A metropolis of humongous purportions is said to be in the works for southern China, although there are reports on this being false. The cities of  Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Jiangmen, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Huizhou and Zhaoqing would merge together, theoretically, amalgamating various public services, including: health care, job opportunities, communication networks, transportation, natural resources, etc. With one big city they would eliminate long-distance calling fees and reduce over-burdened facilities, such as hospitals. Merging into one unit, with a completed high-speed train network, would allow citizens to travel to other city areas when their current location is overwhelmed by local demand. Continue reading A Super-Sized Metropolis in China?

Pre-Tibet Hike to Heng Mountain

Mt. Heng Summit

Staying in the Florida of China for months makes winter a little less bareable each year. So, before leaping into the unforgiving frost of Tibet in Winter (as I’m told its quite chilly up there), I decided to pay a visit to Heng Mountain; the Southern Mountain and one of Chinese Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism. Heng Shan is a 150 km-long mountain range  with 72 peaks.

My post today is coming from a small hotel in the foothills of this historically important mountain. Of course, it’s also a pretty charming spot to visit if you are in the Hunan area. (Southern China-2 hours bullet train from Guangzhou/ +2 more hours light rail from HK) Last Chinese New Year I visited Song Mountain, which is the home of the Shao Lin Temple. It’s considered the Central Mountain of the Five Sacred Mtns. Someday I’ll get to the rest of them! (Northern, Western, and Eastern) Continue reading Pre-Tibet Hike to Heng Mountain

Expat Blogging in Asia

AsianLiving.ME is not really an expat site, although expats can find it useful. The health, lifestyle, and cooking tips are meant for people trying to live a better life in their own country. That is one of the major differences that AL.ME offers to readers.

There are countless blogs that support the expat community around Asia and the World. When I first came to China I was frequently using WuxiLife, an expat site which was always worth checking up on.

Every 1 million+ city in Asia has its own local expat site, so this page is a place for my guests to find the ones with the most content and information.

Expat-Blog.com: A directory of blogs and expat communities around the world! (See our Listing!)

Best Blogs Asia: A directory of blogs from around Asia. (AL.ME is a member!)