The Places You’ll Go , Mr.Book.

Cruising down the idyllic palm tree lined hallway with various motorbikes and heavy pick-up trucks screeching their horns at maximum decibel levels , playing deadly games of chicken , in between Halong Bay and Hanoi, I was somehow reading my book amidst the chaos. I guess after long enough in Asia , I’ve learned how to cope the the death races on the road. As long as it’s not driving , I’m alright with it. Anyways , as I was reading , I came across a receipt in the book.

Books-A-Million
2105 Levis Commons Blvd.
Perrysburg, OH

$3.00 Sub Total
+ .20 Tax
$3.20 Total

That’s funny enough seeing as how I bought it at

Movie Feast
288 Taikang Rd.
Shanghai , China

30CN¥

but upon further inspection of the book it is revealed that this book started out at

The Free Library of Philadelphia
Lovett Memorial No 43
6945 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia , PA

Tucked on the final page is a hastily scrawled illegible signature , dated 5-30-2008. Who is this mystery person?

Who transported you book? Was it someone I know from my native state of Ohio?

(Oddly enough Google Maps told me how to get from the USA to Tianzifang , Shanghai , China with the vaguely nebulous “traverse the pacific ocean , but didn’t know how to get from Shanghai to Hanoi.)

This book is well-traveled and appropriately enough as it has a Vietnamese author and features short stories taking place in locations such as : Columbia , Vietnam , Tehran , New York City , and Australia.

And where will you go ?

I had a chance to trade it in at the amazing

Hanoi Bookworm
44 Chau Long St
Hanoi , Vietnam

but something kept me from doing it. I wanted to save it and read it again.
One day though , she’ll get set free , and she’ll be free to roam once more.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Whoa. Foreign. Where to start? The last 2 years and 7 months have been exclusively “foreign” photos for me. Horses in the Inner Mongolian grasslands? Yea , not my life before. Towering neon-lit skyscrapers? Couldn’t be further from Mentor , Ohio.

After leaving Tianjin with it’s miniscule foreign population , I would stare at the fellow 老外 (laowai = foreigner) upon arrival in Shanghai.

The most foreign thing become a White Man. Or a Black Man. Whoa ,a White and a Black Man walking together! (I’m totally not saying this in a racist way , in case anyone wants to read that out of context.) I would have a huge shit-eating grin on my face , jaw hanging down to almost the ground , while trying to talk to anybody and everybody about those crazy foreigners! And if they were eating hamburgers , forget about it! I’m floating in the sky!

I’m seriously going to have one huge case of reverse culture shock when I go back.

I’ve tried to pick out a few “foreign” photos from my stack of 10,000 or so.

Here goes.

Upon arrival , ignoring the game changers of language culture , there were some things in China that looked kinda familiar but something was off….

I couldn’t put my finger on it while eating my blueberry chips washed down with a WW2 American army edition Pabst.

Stepping outside though , it hit me.

Is that frickin’ worm?!?

Even my beloved graffiti wasn’t the same.

Slowly though these things became normal. I even started to look back at the States differently.

My thanksgiving feast morphed into this.

Yup , I’ve absorbed China. I live , breathe, and speak China. (Though as a non-Asian you can never truly assimiliate into China.)

Now it takes things like this to me to see foreign.

Hey that barstool in Vang Vieng , Laos kind of looks like Ohio.

*Looks closely* OMG IT IS OHIO! I should probably visit home sometime. Right? Mom and Dad , right?

Instant Jealousy – Foods of Vietnam

Ahh Vietnamese cuisine. So good and so much I didn’t get to try. Cold region foods can seem so bland , lacking in spices , and rich , colorful tastes. Vietnamese cuisine is loaded with the tropical tastes : curries , lime , lemongrass , mint , basil , and that extra zing from fermented fish sauce.

Hanoi is a world-class destination for dining. It’s got it all. From fancy pants former colonial mansions turned gourmet restaurants to the Asian classic plastic blue chairs and coals on the street.

And home of the best Pho I’ve ever had in my life. A steal at a $1.50 a bowl in a hole-in-the-wall place with three things on the menu: Chicken Pho , Beef Pho , and Veggie Pho.

Yummy , let’s dive in!

Highly recommended places in Hanoi

Quan An Ngon

18 Phan Boi Chau Street.

A super bustling restaurant with outdoor seating under tarpaulin roofing. A guidebook hotspot but also popular with the locals , which is a good thing. The jumbo shrimp with lemon , and the fried frog legs are absolutely amazing.

Madame Hien

15 Chan Cam

Gorgeous setting in a former French colonial mansion. Pineapple duck alakazam! I spent $20 for two people with two beers but was going on the cheap side with veggie dishes. Still , compared to the $20 Bob Evans meal you’d get back in the States , it was amazing.

Now enjoy the photos!

Looper – Go East Young Man.

Ignoring all the paradoxes and plot holes that come with time travel, Looper is a cool flick. Don’t think too hard about things and you’ll be just fine.

Right now Shanghai is bombarded with ads for Looper “环形使者” (In Chinese.) This makes sense , cuz well , Shanghai gets a futuristic 2072 makeover via CGI in the movie , and it looks pretty damn impressive. Going past the movie biz’s tendency to over exaggerate things ( I’m waiting for Blade Runner’s 2019 Los Angeles) the way Shanghai looks in the future is totally believable. I’d say more believable than Shanghai’s real life 1990 to 2010 transformation.

Yea , this is real.

I can’t find any pictures of the Looper version of that skyline online right now. (I’ll have to wait for the pirate DVDs to hit the stores any day now.) but here is a Looper view on another part of the HuangPu River .

Without giving the story away , in the future the U.S doesn’t seem to be doing the best with social breakdowns and rampant crime in the cities. Our main characters travels to a glistening and glimmering Shanghai. (For about 10 minutes and then all hell breaks loose and it’s back to Kansas in the past) Oh yea, and RMB is used as a black market currency in the US.

Apparently us viewers in China got treated to extended Shanghai scenes , and scenes with the main character’s wife that were originally cut from the U.S.A version . I’ve heard that we in China missed out on drug use scenes and some toplessness. (Damn!).

I guess everything can’t get through the censors . Although perhaps the only reason the entire movie did was because it showed off a sweet Shanghai considering the government banned time travel shows/ movies

It probably helps that the film was also co-produced by the Chinese.

It would also appear in China we also got customized ads with Shanghai’s skyline inserted into the movie posters even though only 10 minutes or so of Shanghai actually shows up in the film. Cornfields would perhaps be more appropriate.

Chinglish Change Bags For A BOSS

Found in Nanjing’s Presidential Palace but go to any touristy place in Shanghai and you will find things like this.

No words needed. JUST BUY!