The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts from the “China” Category

Chongqing Noodle Diaries

Posted on August 16, 2015

Introduction It is early but everyone is alive. Chongqing’s famous hillside stairway alleys are hustling with people, barkers, animals, and shirtless porters carrying cargo with bamboo sticks. Climbing these stairs necessitates a constant meandering, hopping, traversing, colliding; it is early but you feel alive too. Shouldering these paths are vendors of all stripes. You know it’s a food joint if it’s enveloped in a cloud of smoke, a noodle joint in a cloud of steam. I am searching for a noodle place with enough customers so that I can see the variety in their meals and then point to the bowl that looks best. This dark stair alley bottlenecks and opens out onto the main drag, chaos of a greater breadth and caliber. We…

Hunan Looking Glass

Posted on August 11, 2015

A young man lifts my broken bicycle into his tiny red truck. The day is ending and he is heading towards town now, and he picks me up nonchalantly like all his other deliveries. The industrious little engine begins to buzz and cough, the wheels roll forward, and the man smiles. You walk into a train station, let’s say in Changsha, and beyond the large words ‘Ticketing Hall’ above the entrance doors, there is no English written or spoken. You are met with a long hangar filled with a thousand echoes. The back wall is covered with an electronic timetable showing arrays of fire red Chinese characters, a code you can’t access. You think you’re a little smart and you’ve got a piece of…

Guangzhou, Again, Somehow

Posted on August 3, 2015

This is my second time in the city of Guangzhou. I was here exactly four years ago. It is not normally a place a leisurely traveler will choose with fierce intention, let alone twice. It’s one of China’s many megacities without much going for it, as far as the guidebooks will tell you, besides its Canton history and closeness to Hong Kong. Both times coming here it was a spur of the moment decision; though the first time was an exciting seizure of the unknown, while the second was fueled by a mellow curiosity and a penchant for the eternal question: How are things different? I remember how much I loved Guangzhou, but beyond this I remember very little. My memory reaches out for…

Kowloon & Around

Posted on August 1, 2015

I had a plate of roasted goose for dinner, Hong Kong style of course, with absolutely nothing on the side. The meat was succulent, dripping in goose juice and soy sauce, paired with a smoky chili oil dip. There was no English menu so an older couple began talking to me in Cantonese, pointing to items while explaining what they were. I didn’t understand anything so I just gestured to one of the roasted birds hanging in the window. They smiled knowingly and yelled my order into the air, and we clinked beers and ten minutes later you already know how it went.∗

On Travel, Coming Home, & Moving On

Posted on May 7, 2012

Dear Blake & Misha: We returned from our epic summer journey through Russia, Mongolia, China, and Nepal with a pit-stop in South Korea late last August. I can sincerely say it was one of the more memorable experiences of my life – it was life-changing, it was path-altering, it was a three-month show of everything good that the World has to offer. I was so happy all the time, even when things were going to hell. As long as we were okay, I was happy. That’s all it took. But you and I both know words can’t really describe it, the enormity of it all, and God knows we’ve tried. I know it’s shocking, but the trip came to an end. Since August, we’ve…

The Best Things

Posted on February 24, 2012

I wish I could build a library and call it “The Best of Everything that is Wonderful Home for Books”. I’d fill it with manuscripts, endless collections of thoughts about everything in the world that is the best: garden gnomes, when babies try lemon for the first time, snow forts, blanket forts, paintball forts, forts of any kind, talented street performers, the window seat on aeroplanes, aeroplanes, people who’ve good grammar, pizza with extra cheese and a slightly burnt crust, South African accents, and so, so, so much more. This list can go on forever, and in my mind, it does go on forever. I have many notebooks filled front-to-back with all the wondrous details in life that make living so unbelievably cool. The…

2011: 12 Lessons in 12 Months

Posted on December 28, 2011

I had little expectations for 2011. I always felt that some of my peers were a little too uptight with everything. Furiously scribbling down resolutions that – let’s be real – won’t get checked off the list, worried about job-hunting, boyfriend/girlfriend-catching, school-excelling, and place-going is a lot of pressure to put on oneself, especially when factors out of their control are involved. So I decided to go with it. That was my goal. To not be completely subject to the moody whims of life, but to accept them with an open mind and the thought that perhaps there is purpose behind the seemingly-random events that we like to label as ‘all of a sudden’. I feel like I did what I needed to do…

The City of Luck: Likeng Reprise

Posted on December 14, 2011

Little Likeng is not lucky itself (this hasn’t been proven or unproven by me, actually), but much luck can be found in the gambling rings hidden in the lazy shops and make-shift restaurants and labyrinthine back-alleys that pepper this oasis among the paddies. I apologize for the random postings. In between projects, my mind is already scattered, you see, and in my defense, it is hard to stop thinking of summertime in China when one has already experienced the utter delight of the place. I also really like this picture.