L’Amour, Asian Style

I love to travel: the thrill of seeing someplace new, daring to dream and actually do, and most of all learning on an intimate level the ins and outs of different cultures. It’s a fascinating experience every time, truly eye opening. And you definitely learn a lot, particularly if you spend some quality time in one place. For instance, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my short time here it’s this: the Chinese LOVE love.

I mean truly. This is not a land for the weekend rom-commers or sunday kissers. This is hard-core, real-life, throw-your-heart-into-the-fray-and-hold-on kind of stuff. The weak don’t make it, the bitter will fall. The cynics, the down-trodden, the disenchanted – there is simply no place for you here. The streets are jammed with cuddling couples, the malls are packed with babies. In Shenzhen particularly, if you’re not on the way to your wedding, pregnant, or carrying an infant you are definitely out-of-the-loop, and probably gossiped about at Wednesday’s PTA meetings.

Here, as Hugh Grant put it, “love really is, all around.” No matter where you look you’ll find it…

It’s on the billboards:

” I have a dream, to walk hand in hand as the fall rains come,

To harvest our sincere understanding in the autumn.

I have a dream, to enjoy your company with a homely dinner.”

(advertising a shopping mall)

It’s in the sheer number of bare baby bums you see just running around in the open air…

And it’s written on the shirt of the old lady who just passed you on the street: “LOVE SQUIRTS.” True words of wisdom from the elderly.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re going to live in China, it’s best if you don’t hate roses.

So to all of you romantics out there…

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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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One thing I absolutely love, besides Nic of course, is tea. And not just any tea…my perfect morning starts with an awesome, perk-me-up-while-warming-my-tummy pot of green tea. Actually when we were first coming here it was perhaps the thing that I was most excited about. So you can imagine my excitement when, a few months ago, I found myself in one of China’s unofficial ‘tea capitals’: a beautiful city near Shanghai called Hangzhou. The area around this city is filled with beautiful temples, quintessential Chinese villages, and mountains upon mountains of tea fields. It is also the base for one of the most well-known types of teas in China, Dragonwell Green. And for a few glorious days I got to explore the villages, stalk some temple monks, hike the mountains, and of course, sample the tea. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

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