Magic, Midnight, and Mayhem

I love being friends with perfectionist overachievers.  I think that it took me all of five minutes to RSVP “yes” to my friend’s New Year’s Eve wedding in Sri Lanka, but even my very high expectations for the weekend’s celebrations were blown away long before fireworks exploded over the Indian Ocean in the first minutes … Continue reading

The Comeback Kid

The southern coast of Sri Lanka was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and much of the country’s 35,000 fatalities (the second-highest death toll of the disaster) were incurred in the south, especially in beach towns like Unawatuna, Thalpe, and Mirissa.  Six years later, the south seems to have bounced back nicely and … Continue reading

Fort Focus

Sri Lanka is an island country of just 25,000 sq. mi. and 21 million people, but it boasts a history varied and rich enough to rival any nation in Asia.  Among its various governing coalitions, which include 8 medieval kingdoms and 3 colonial powers, were the Dutch, who wrested control over Sri Lanka from the … Continue reading

An Asia Foodie: Shanghai Edition

Xiao long bao, soup dumplings, were invented in Nanxiang, a village outside Shanghai.  So, just as Chicago tourists head to Gino’s East to eat deep dish pizza and Memphis tourists get their fingers dirty eating ribs, Shanghai tourists line up for hours for steamers of thin-skinned tongue-burning xiao long bao.  I was lucky to find … Continue reading

Ain’t Misbehavin’

On my first full day in Shanghai, I went on a mission to find the soul of this allegedly glitzy and vacant capital of commercialism. Shanghai had the weather on its side.  It was a sunny autumn day, 60 degrees, with yellow maple leaves wafting down from trees everywhere I turned.  Shanghaiites in the French … Continue reading

Defense Mechanisms

The Great Wall is presented to tourists as a story of ancient China’s great technological skill and power.  However, it’s just as much a story of ancient China’s great folly and paranoia.  Despite the epic amount of labor and resources that went into its creation, the Wall was never finished, and didn’t stop the Manchus … Continue reading