a transplanted life in China 

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Paris, Paris

Published on July 27, 2015, by in Food, France, Travel.

    I knew that Paris would be different – no place stays the same, and with the passage of over 30 years I was a different person than I was in my 20s. There are a lot more chains and franchises now, the ubiquitous Starbucks, KFC, and Subway; the seedy areas I remembered from long ago are now upscale and stylish. There was also a heatwave, with temperatures in the 30s (Celsius), and almost as much English and Chinese spoken as French. It was, after all, the height of the tourist season, and not the optimal time for experiencing “typically French” atmosphere – if, in fact, there ever is such a time in the most-visited city on earth.   I was gripped by melancholy a few weeks before my trip; memories and regrets of my youth , a Christmas spent in Paris with my brother and our mother in 1979, worries that I would confront fragments of my lost self at every turn. Instead, I simply enjoyed myself. Yes, Paris is in many ways just another big and indifferent city, but my focus this trip was to see things I had missed before, and to enjoy the first trip of my life not regulated by constant money concerns. Above all, I wanted to eat.       I was actually in Paris twice, for 4 days each time, bookending my visit to Provence and a week in Marseille in between. It’s just the way it worked out. I stayed

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la belle France

Published on July 18, 2015, by in France, Travel.

 Cafe Le Refuge, Paris     I’m taking a well-deserved break from both the stresses of a new teaching job and the completion of my M.A. dissertation, and spending 2 1/2 weeks in France. It’s a sentimental journey, my first time here since the 1980s, and the sensations and memories are sometimes overwhelming. Paris, Arles, Marseille, and Aix-en-Provence are my destinations – I spent 6 months in Aix as a student long ago – and the whirlwind tour is exhausting me. I’m currently in Marseille for a week, and the heat, humidity, and burning Mediterranean sunlight are sometimes brutal. Just as exhausting is trying to consume all the food I can in this short time – seafood, couscous, bouillabaisse, and Provencal dishes – not to mention stocking up on olive oil and French delicacies. As I slow down my pace a bit, and carve out a bit of time for writing and posting, I’ll shaer some of my experiences and the photos I’m taking with my fabulous new Fujifilm X-T1 camera. In the meantime, here are a couple of selected images.      Metro Sentier, Paris        Saint Trophime cloister, Arles       Mediterranean view, Marseille    

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木渎镇 Mudu ancient town, Suzhou

canal view   Mudu is an ancient water town on the outskirts of Suzhou, accessible at the very western end of the Metro line. It’s a nice afternoon’s outing, but can’t really compete with the other water towns in the area as a tourist destination. It does, however, have a suberb little museum with metalwork, ceramics, porcelain, and everyday items dating as far back as the Han Dynasty. A very enthusiastic museum guide showed me the entire collection, even though I only understood about 10% of what he said in Chinese.   old house entrance     old door with cactus growing above  

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Shanghai, Suzhou Creek, cloudy day

Published on April 15, 2015, by in Shanghai.

  view from the bridge, after a long Shanghai walk

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Tiger Hill, Suzhou

Published on February 13, 2015, by in China.

Canal and bridge, part of the idyllic surroundings in Tiger Hill park, Suzhou.       Tiger Hill Pagoda or  云岩寺塔; the tower was completed in 961 CE during the Song Dynasty. It is 7 stories tall and leans slightly toward the north, making it one of China’s “Leaning Towers.”        The tower leans over 2 meters toward the north; repairs in the 1980s inserted a ring of concrete foundations which stabilized the structure. The tower is a stone and brick version of similar wooden towers. Original curved roofs at each story have disappeared.         One of the most tranquil spots at the top of the hill is this pavilion, sited to catch the passing breezes.       I took advantage of a slightly warmer afternoon to make my first trip to Tiger Hill, just northwest of central Suzhou. Surrounded by a landscaped park, it is the most popular tourist destination in Suzhou. I planned my outing the week before Spring Festival, when the place will be overrun with visitors. The tranquility of the spot was very relaxing, and afterward I decided to walk the length of ancient Shantang Street, itself a famous tourist destination, from Tiger Hill toward the street’s beginning at the edge of town, a little over 2 miles. It’s a quite relaxing hike, except for the insanely crowded street market at the street’s southern end, and the crowded touristy stretch of restored buildings and shops and restaurants. My feet were

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