Another 5 months in the hole. Swine flu came and went, and I went traveling – Fukuoka, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Sheshan, DC, Antwerp, and Copenhagen, where I’m parked at a quaint Danish café with a live DJ turning vinyl. A few more visits to familiar places – Beijing, LA, Seattle, Hong Kong, Amsterdam. A few journeys left on the horizon – Stockholm, Taipei (hopefully with a weekend jaunt to Taroko Gorge), and Beijing.
Fukuoka was by far the most random of the bunch, emerging out of a Thursday night “man, I need to get away” moment at the local Wagas with my partner in crime, Eugene, followed by a quick call to Northwest inquiring where one could fly nonstop from Shanghai for free the following night. 20,000 miles later, we arrived in this fun little city I’d never heard of by the sea in the southwest tip of Japan, and spent the weekend eating street ramen, Finnish pastries, and local sushi of every variety, throwing back Guinness in a hole-in-the-wall Jamaican bar, and drinking $12 Asahi while belting out the lyrics to a $19 round of Jessie’s Girl at a karaoke joint (yeah yeah, go ahead and take advantage of the visiting gaijin while they’re vulnerable!). I vaguely remember muttering Ohio Gozimas as the locals fell off their food stall bar stools with the sun rising in the background. One last breath of fresh air the following day, then back to Shanghai to kick off another work week.
Places I want to go before I leave China: Tibet, Sichuan, Hainan, Xi’an, Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan beyond Tokyo, Korea on skis, and my ultimate though unlikely-to-happen-anytime-soon fantasy trip to the W Maldives (Malé airport pictured).
Life right now is very much rooted in work, bringing up my level of fluency in Chinese, reading more than ever, physical health and exercise, and travel to new places. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Dopplr, and Delicious, blogging’s fallen off the back. But I plan to be back with a post on ‘China Fever’ and my favorite China-related reads soon, a refreshed local ‘Shanghai Favorites’ post for 2010, and something work-related when my current projects are closer to release.