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Amid a week of “crazy bad” air pollution here in Beijing, the one saving grace has been the beautiful fall colors that can be seen around the city. Once known for being treeless, a pre-Olympics tree-planting campaign has introduced a fair amount of greenery to Beijing’s streets. And the parks and university campuses have always [...]

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Snapshot: Longshan Temple

by Jessica Marsden on November 12, 2010

Taiwan has turned out to be the perfect destination for someone who is rather “temple-d out,” at least as far as mainland China goes. The architecture and atmosphere of the temples I’ve visited here are completely different from your average Chinese temple. The colorful dragons and fish along the rooflines are more like temples I [...]


Doesn’t it look like these carp know that beyond the confines of their pond, Taipei has more to offer their bellies than fish food? I’ve been in Taiwan since Sunday, and the deliciousness of the food is definitely what stands out. Oyster omelettes, garlicky salads, giant hunks of fried chicken… I can’t wait to share [...]

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Snapshot: Amber Fort

by Jessica Marsden on October 29, 2010

In honor of last night’s birthday dinner (Indian takeout, since it was also the night before our final), today’s snapshot is from my first trip to India in April 2009. I say first because it just might end up being chosen for my Spring Festival trip next January/February. Every meal of Indian food just increases [...]


It’s hard to believe that it’s been only three months since Dan and I embarked on our Trans-Mongolian Railway trip. Since then, I’ve been home in the States for the first time in a year, moved to Beijing, found an apartment and started a grueling schedule of Chinese classes. Memories of riding horses in Mongolia, [...]


We enjoyed four or five consecutive sunny days in Beijing at the end of last week, which was the perfect excuse for Dan and me to explore one of the few famous sites in the capital that neither of us had ever been to: the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan (圆明园). Its newer cousin, the [...]


Maybe it’s the effects of a week in Beijing, where two sunny days immediately after my arrival quickly gave way to an as-yet-unbroken streak of opaque skies, but this shot of the Hong Kong skyline has me yearning for bluer climes. I snapped this shot from the Star Ferry back in 2008, when a long [...]


On Canal Street in Chinatown, even the fire station is China-themed. The “Chinatown Dragon Fighters” are otherwise known as Engine Company 9, Ladder Company 6 of the New York City Fire Department, and they’ve painted their garage door to proclaim this to the passing crowds. Excuse the brevity of this post — I’ve just gotten [...]


This was meant to appear last week as the final post as my series on Guizhou, but then I went to Richmond and forgot the charger to my laptop. So without further ado, the dragons and dragon boats of Shibing, Guizhou: Theundisputed highlight of our trip — a visit to the tiny town of Shibing [...]


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip last year to Tongren, in the far east of Qinghai Province. The city is home to two art-schools-cum-monasteries that are, collectively, the capital of Tibetan Buddhist art in China. The monks and former monks paint bright, colorful images of bodhisattvas, called, thangkas, the best of which [...]

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