Step on Villains? A Curious Find While Buying Lucky Red Socks for Chinese New Year – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my most recent post Step on Villains? A Curious Find While Buying Lucky Red Socks for Chinese New Year. Here’s an excerpt:

2020 will welcome the Year of the Rat, the Chinese zodiac sign for some family members, which has prompted me to sift through online stores in search of a very traditional Chinese New Year gift for those about to enter their Chinese zodiac year: red socks.

I always thought that only the color mattered. After all, superstition claims that wearing red in your Chinese zodiac year – from red underwear and red long johns to red jackets and almost anything else painted in this brilliant hue – supposedly bestows luck upon the wearer, along with an extra layer of protection from any misfortune in the coming year.

But then, while perusing the endless red socks listed in Alibaba’s Tmall, I kept noticing a curious decoration on the bottom of many of the options – the characters cǎi xiǎorén (踩小人, step on villains) and an image either of a tiny person.

Read the full post at WWAM BAM — and if you like it, share it!

Christmas on Taobao: 5 Most Popular Online Holiday Goods in China – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post Christmas on Taobao: 5 Most Popular Online Holiday Goods in China. Here’s an excerpt:

When you live in a country that doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas, people are bound to interpret the holiday in both familiar and fascinating new ways. That includes the goods people associate with Christmas.

Alibaba’s Taobao, one of the most popular online shopping platforms, can offer a unique window into how Christmas looks and feels here in China, through online products. And since I’m a frequent Taobao user, I’d like to share the top 5 best-selling online holiday goods in China that come up when you search for 圣诞 (shèngdàn), the Chinese word for Christmas.

To read the full post and discover those 5 most popular online holiday goods, head on over to WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

What It’s Like to Shop Singles Day in China – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post What It’s Like to Shop Singles Day in China. Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Ever since I’ve moved back to China, Singles Day — or Double 11 — has been a part of my yearly shopping routine. And this year was no exception. Once again I was among the millions who participated in the global shopping gala, from buying presale items to even staying up until midnight to be the first to snap up a coveted scarf in short supply (yes, I got it!).

Since I’ve participated year after year on Alibaba’s Tmall platform, it has given me a unique perspective on what has become the world’s largest shopping event (generating more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined). So I’d like to share a few takeaways from my experience, and also some tips for anyone who wants to dig into this event:

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full article — and if you like it, share it!

Eileen Gu, Alex Hua Tian and More: Bicultural Olympic Athletes Switching Nationality for the Games – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published a collaborative post I did with fellow contributor Holly. It’s titled Eileen Gu, Alex Hua Tian and More: Bicultural Olympic Athletes Switching Nationality for the Games. Here’s an excerpt:

When the 15-year-old skiing superstar Eileen Gu announced her decision to switch her nationality from the US to China, so she could represent the latter in its upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing set for 2022, it made headlines throughout the internet. Gu had already racked up considerable wins competing for the US team in skiing, which meant she didn’t need to swap passports for a ticket to the Olympics (though, given China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, she couldn’t keep them both). Some have wondered, why would she give up US citizenship to play for China?

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post. And if you like it, share it!

Henry Golding, Emilia Clarke to Lead Romantic Comedy Film ‘Last Christmas’ – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

Fans of Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke will want to check their calendars for November this year. That’s when the two will lead the new romantic comedy film “Last Christmas”, which I just wrote about for WWAM BAM. Here’s an excerpt:

The movie centers on a downcast young woman named Kate, played by Clarke, who winds up working as an elf at a year-round Christmas store, where she also happens, in one memorably awkward moment, to run into Golding’s character Tom. If the trailer is any measure, his mysterious presence appears to spur a turn of events in her life, including a little romance.

Head on over to WWAM BAM to get the full scoop. And if you’re on Youtube, check out the trailer.

6 Essential Tips for Surviving Long-Haul Flights to/From Asia – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my article titled 6 Essential Tips for Surviving Long-Haul Flights to/From Asia. Here’s an excerpt:

As much as I love living and working here in Asia, my family still resides in the Midwestern US, which means every visit back requires that dreaded long-haul flight. My final destination isn’t a well-connected metropolis like Chicago, so the travel usually translates into at least 17 hours and often as much as 24 hours (or more) in transit.

Yikes!

Still, as a veteran air traveler, I’ve developed my own coping strategies for facing long-haul flights. If you’re preparing to visit or leave Asia this summer by plane, here are my top 6 essential tips for surviving long-haul flights between Asia.

To read the full article, head on over to WWAM BAM! And if you like it, share it!

The Rural Zhejiang Bird-Watching Club: Finding Unlikely Avian Wonders in My Husband’s Village – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

Brown dipper

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my latest post, The Rural Zhejiang Bird-Watching Club: Finding Unlikely Avian Wonders in My Husband’s Village. Here’s an excerpt:

Years ago, when my husband Jun and I spent some transitional months living in his family’s home in rural Zhejiang province, I once joked that we had inadvertently formed a bird-watching club in the process.

We hadn’t intended to turn a gaze to our avian friends in the vicinity during our transition. But every day when we ventured out for a late afternoon walk through the fields and woodlands in the village, sightings of birds became one of the most delightful surprises during that time, one that introduced me to biodiversity I had never noticed before in previous visits.

A walk beside the meandering stream that cut through the village yielded a most magnificent sighting – the dipper. My heart leapt with excitement the moment I fixed upon that bird, because I knew exactly how special it was. Dippers, which live among fast-moving streams, can “fly” underwater, but are also equally adept when winging through the air. In the US, I had only encountered this bird a few precious times during hikes in national parks out west, cherishing every glimpse like a rare stone on the trail. But here we were, only a 10-minute walk from the door of Jun’s family home, watching a dipper flit along the stream. I felt as if I had just won some kind of bird-watching lottery. Even better, we had the opportunity to see it bobbing up and down while perched on rocks, as if performing a brief but amusing dance for anyone who cared to look.

As I began to turn my eyes toward the avian life around us, I found myself continually rewarded with incredible views, including those of bird varieties I rarely had the opportunity to spot back in Ohio, USA, where I had grown up.

Head on over to WWAM BAM to read the full post. And if you like it, share it!

P.S.: The bird in the featured image is a dipper!

The Joys of a Bilingual Relationship – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

It’s been busy in the past week — and as I’m getting caught up on things, I thought I’d point you to a piece I recently penned for the group blog WWAM BAM called The Joys of a Bilingual Relationship. Here’s an excerpt:

You could argue that English and Chinese – translations that is – brought me and my husband Jun together.

We met as colleagues in an internet company in China, where he translated company introductions from Chinese to English and I polished the language. And while our initial interactions happened over work-related tasks, soon we found ourselves collaborating on translations just for fun, such as a set of quizzes I developed in English and Chinese.

Not long after that, our partnership turned romantic – and that love, in both languages, has continued to this day.

Before I met Jun, all of my other relationships with Chinese men had remained grounded in English or Chinese, but not both. With Jun, however, I loved having the freedom to express myself in two languages, as well as the comfort of knowing that, when I needed to speak from the heart in my native tongue, he would understand.

Being able to share our lives, thoughts and ideas in two different languages has only strengthened our relationship. Many years ago, I wrote that “the couple that wordplays together, stays together,” something I still stand by to this day.

Read the full piece at WWAM BAM — and if you like it, share it!

How Are Age and Chinese New Year Connected? – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my post titled How Are Age and Chinese New Year Connected? Here’s an excerpt from that piece:

Years ago, when I went to have my fortune read at the Shihlin Night Market in Taipei, the fortune-teller gave me quite a shock when he declared me two years older than what I considered my actual age.

“But I’m not that old yet!” I insisted. Had this guy misread my birthdate? While I could live with one extra year — something I had become accustomed to from living in China, a culture where you’re considered 1 years old the day you’re born — two was pushing it.

What I never realized at the time, however, was that this “extra year” had something to do with Chinese New Year.

As I mentioned before, I’ve known for a long time that people in China count your age differently, with newborns being 1, not 0, years of age.

So how does Chinese New Year fit in with age?

To read the full post, head on over to WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!

Putting Heartbreak Behind Me in Moving to China – Pub’d on WWAM BAM

The group blog WWAM BAM just published my piece Putting Heartbreak Behind Me in Moving to China. Here’s an excerpt:

Years ago, when I made the serendipitous – and seemingly accidental – decision to come to China, I actually had a fresh start in mind after I signed on to teach for a year at a university.

My college years ended with an explosive breakup so devastating that I spent weeks in counseling trying to sort out exactly what had happened and why I had ended up with this wreckage of a relationship. It helped some when the counselor told me she suspected my ex was bipolar, which then explained a lot of the erratic behavior I hadn’t understood.

But that summer before I left, it was also a great comfort to me that I had China to look forward to. Even though I hadn’t explicitly chosen the opportunity as a means to sidestep my heartbreak back home, it nevertheless offered a golden chance for me to put this nightmare of a relationship behind me and move forward in a new direction.

Ironically, I had even built up China in my mind as this kind of “post-relationship retreat”, where I would get a reprieve from all matters of the heart and finally recover, particularly in light of what someone had told me about China.

To read the full post, head on over to WWAM BAM. And if you like it, share it!