Film review – Refuge

If you’ve been around the blog long enough, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for an apocalyptic tale. Even though I tend to gravitate to zombies, I’m an equal opportunity end-of-the-world enthusiast. In fact, having spent six years living in Beijing (with a population of over 20 million crammed into tight quarters), I really connect…

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Exit, pursued by a bear

For a while, it was all the rage for expats to write a “Why I’m Leaving China” essay on the way out. For Mark Kitto, it was a slightly bitter diatribe about the futility of assimilation. For Charlie Custer, who left in quasi-clandestine fashion, it was more like a heads up that he was gone,…

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Salad bar sociologist

When I was a kid I used to love family outings to Sizzler, although not really because of the salad bar. I mostly looked forward to the soft serve machine adjacent to the salad bar that they (abandoning all sense of logic and decency) allowed children to operate unsupervised. Thanks in part to health and…

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Hello Kitty, goodbye liver

They released an official Sanrio sanctioned Hello Kitty beer in China, and I drank it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome, internet. Rumor is that there are at least 4 flavors, possibly 6, but currently I could only find two of them at my local 7-11. The one on the left is lemon-lime and…

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I scream for ice cream

“Hold on a minute, I’m just negotiating an ice cream budget,” is an actual sentence I actually spoke recently in the course of doing my job. Since then I’ve been traveling around sampling the city’s frozen options (which it turns out are mostly gelato and not ice cream) and taking flavor and ambiance notes like,…

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Repetitive motion

Beijing is perpetually under construction. This isn’t some sort of grand metaphor or anything like that. Spend enough time here and you’ll be able to distinguish the make and model of a drill within three floors of it being used. It’s so prevalent that it took six years of constant noise before neighbors realized that…

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Sorry words, I’ve been cheating on you

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I’ve written the next great American novel via Instagram. I realized recently that I’ve been completely remiss in posting to the site and tried to get to the root of the cause. It turns out that I haven’t bothered writing here since I installed Instagram on…

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When Beijing hands you lemons

By now it’s basically made the news everywhere that Beijing is in the midst of an “airpocalypse” of epic proportions. This past Saturday night the US Embassy air quality monitoring station spat out a terrifying AQI reading of 755. Considering the “acceptable” level is less than 100, and the advisory scale maxes out its severest…

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You are what you eat

Ordering food in China can be tricky if you don’t speak or read Chinese, leading to many a frustrated expat staring into an unanticipated ┬áplate of chopped chicken feet. When I first moved to Beijing in 2005, my Chinese was a bit more limited, which led to a limited set of dishes I could order.…

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