Location: Isle of Skye; Small Towns Across Scotland
It’s been a long time coming, but here’s a video of our trip across the countryside. As usual, you can get the video from YouTube or on Vimeo. Pick your favorite, and check out our first foray into drone footage!
Current Location: Viñales Valley, Pinar Del Rio, Cuba
Cuba is gorgeous all the time, but it isn’t always easy to explore. Considering how much it rained while we were in Vinales (it starts at 4pm and continues for 2-3 hours), we were overjoyed to find beauty in the downpour. Even when it rains, there’s a particular elegance to the provincial life there, the way the palm fronds thrash about in the wind. Check out this short video vignette of Vinales rainstorms.
PSA: From September 7-10, Hurricane Irma swept over much of Cuba. Even in a place that is no stranger to severe weather, many homes and businesses were destroyed and lives were lost. Reports indicate that more than 100,000 homes were affected. Construction materials were out of date and sparse even before the hurricane, and prices are out of reach for so many Cubans living in poverty. This post is in solidarity and support for the rebuilding efforts.
I can say with much sincerity that one of the things we miss the most about China is the food and the food culture. Especially breakfast, which I think most Chinese people would agree is the most important meal of the day. One of the most common responses I get to photos from our journey is: “That’s what you guys ate for breakfast!?”
In Jian’ou, breakfast is the time the city hummed with life. Everyone would venture out to one of the hundreds of local breakfast shops to start their day off right (and maybe catch up on a little gossip and get a glimpse of the resident foreigners). More people would routinely eat out for breakfast than lunch or dinner combined. And seriously, what do Chinese people eat for breakfast? If you’re coming to China expecting a piece of toast, bacon, oatmeal, pancakes, or some cereal in the morning you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
When we were living in China, one of the greatest things we noticed were the different forms of exercise. Not having widespread affordable healthcare available to the entire population makes keeping one’s body fit (even into old age!) a huge priority. It was so admirable to see how active elderly people in our community were. They would do play ping pong, pool, or badminton. They would also wake up early to perform Tai Chi sequences on their roofs and climb mountains (often times backwards, as is the tradition in China). They would take advantage of the local terrain whenever possible- living in a mountainous region made it easier- and it was oftentimes a community effort. The best part was, they would always find new ways to make it fun.
Even though it’s been a few months, our memory of Cambodia has yet to fade. The other young people we met at the hostel were kind, generous with their time, and great to talk to. They were some of the first people we spoke to in English after leaving China, and our eagerness to make friends showed. But our experience there wasn’t just about cheap beer, swimming pools, and markets.
Cambodia is home to the Angkor temple complex, an astounding relic known the world over. One can easily spend a week going from ruin to ruin and seeing the testament to human engineering and spirituality. People make pilgrimages to the place for good reason, especially Angkor Wat.
As you know, V and I have been very busy these past weeks. We have left our post in China and moved to other points west, finally settling down in familiar Columbus, Ohio. And as I am sure you have assumed, dear readers, I’ve taken some time to put together a few videos from our time in Southeast Asia. I’m still solidifying the projects, but each of them provides a brief window into our experiences. We saw some crazy, amazing, beautiful things, and I’m really excited to share all of it with you.
However, we’re going to try this a little bit different. Instead of doing the video sequences in the order of our travels, I won’t. These ones are a little more poetic and a bit more varied than the previous ones. As a result, I’ll just release them as they’re done. Maybe they’re short, or long, or about a brick in the wall of a monastery, or an entire city in macrocosm.
I’m also working out a documentary. I’m not entirely sure if it will come to fruition, but I’m scripting it a little bit now. It’s going to focus exclusively on our China experience. Stay tuned.
Taking the train in China is serious business. Especially during the holidays, they are often jam packed with weary travelers. However, they can also be one of the most fascinating ways to transport you on your voyage. You can see a great deal of China’s incredibly vast landscape through the massive train windows. While on our latest adventure, we took many different types of trains (soft sleepers, hard sleepers, sitting, standing, etc.), as well as the high-speed train from Xi’an to Shanghai. We took these trains through many different types of climates, from frigid Harbin to sub-tropical Fuzhou. K made this video to give you a quick sneak peak into our experiences!
“The art of tea is a spiritual force for us to share.” – Alexandra Stoddard
People may think that the British get unruly if they miss their cuppa in the afternoon, but the idiom is “for all the tea in China” for a reason: the tea ceremony is an institution here. It has been for over 400 years. People organize society around it. It is a time of day when families get together and share what’s on their mind.
As you might know, there are few things I love more than tea. And I’m pleased to say, that in China, they do tea drinking right. They appreciate it, they revel in all the flavors, and most importantly they use it as an opportunity to connect. Tea drinking is a communal process. The tea ceremony is a gathering where all of the stratifications of society fall away, and–for a brief moment–all are equal. Everyone has tea, billionaires and beggars alike. People hash out business deals, wedding plans, lunch menus, and so much more over this miraculous little leaf.