Ben’s Dragon Year 2012

The Chinese New Year 2012 holidays have finished but I’ve had a great time visiting friends in both Taiwanand Wuhan. (I’ve posted photos in my Photo Album on QQ.) I was told that Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong province ID holders are allowed to visit Taiwan without a tour group now. So, if you are from one of these places, take advantage of your new freedom soon!

And, by the way, Wuhan is hiding most of China’s beautiful women (and handsome men) from the rest of the country!  

 图片   图片 (Alishan, Taiwan)                                                          (Wuhan, Hubei)

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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

High Speed Rail Around Asia


High Speed Rail (HSR) is not new to Asia, although the biggest network is now being constructed in China. HSR has been in Asia for decades and is getting upgraded all the time. As you experience various countries across North Asia, it is important to get familiar with these amazing trains and be sure to work them into your trip! The thrill of legally speeding at 340 km/h (210 mph) on the ground is an awesome feeling.


I was lucky enough to experience the early HSR in South Korea (called KTX), which opened just as I arrived there in 2004. It speeds across the country in just under 3 hours. Of course Korea is pretty small, but the KTX beats the 5+ hours car trip plus $60 tolls.

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