Seriously, Bayannuur, what the hell? (also, sheep)

Here’s a trick for you. The next time you find yourself in the mountains, or specifically find yourself leaving the mountains, make sure to bring a loaf of bread. Pack it nicely so it doesn’t get smooshed in your luggage, and then open it up at sea level. I did this recently when I left Lanzhou….

Lanzhou night market – sweet egg milk

Hello from Lanzhou! This is the big industrial city of the Northwest, once known for its horrific pollution. Now that the pollution is mostly cleaned up, I’m not sure what it’s known for, but my guess would be noodles. Every city has at least one Lanzhou beef noodles shop. Since I am pretty tired of…

Qinghai – and the best yoghurt in China

Someone call Professor Oak, because I’ve officially caught them all. I had already traveled through most of China in the late 1990s, but Qinghai was the last one – the one place I had never been. I finally made the trip last week, and just to celebrate the occasion, the gods of travel decided to…

Milk of Mongolia

Did you know that I am very interested in milk? Most people who have spent more than two minutes with me tend to become aware of that, at which point they decide that two minutes was already more than enough, thank you. I am still in Hulunbuir, having had a very eventful couple of weeks,…

Back in Hulunbuir – dry fried beef 干煸牛肉丝

Well, I’m an idiot. My original plan was to take the slow and winding train trip from Shenzhen to Hailar. This was actually two trips, about 28 hours from Shenzhen to Zhangjiakou, and then another 33 hours from Zhangjiakou to Hailar. I did the first trip, and met lots of fun people, including the manager…

Zhangjiakou – terminus of the Mongol trade

For years I have wanted to visit Zhangjiakou. Sure everyone says they want to go there, but how many people actually do? Wait – what I meant was that nobody says they want to go there. In fact, why don’t you just go ahead and enjoy that first sentence again, since I’m fairly sure that nobody…

Cows in Hong Kong (no brisket)

And… now I am in Hong Kong! If there are two more different places on this planet than Bozeman, Montana and Hong Kong, I have yet to see them. Strangely, one thing that the two places share in common is cows. Let me explain. The way we see the world is situational. If you are hungry, you…

Leizhou festivals in town and country

I made these short videos a few years back, after Robert Antony kindly allowed me to tag along on one of his field trips to the Leizhou peninsula in the far south of Guangdong province. They show two sets of celebrations for Tianhou (the Empress of Heaven). Village processions in the countryside And in the Tianhou Temple…

What’s behind the rapprochement between China and the Vatican?

Originally posted in East Asia Forum 23 February 2017 The authority to appoint bishops has been a key point of contention in the restoration of relations between China and the Vatican. Since formally severing relations in 1951, China has refused torecognise any papal authority over the Chinese Church, particularly in appointing episcopal leadership. For its part, the…

abai 阿拜

No, they’re not “Taiwanese tamales”

Yellow Earth

From 15-18 September, the CUHK History and Anthropology AOE and Shaanxi Normal University arranged a field seminar in and around Xi’an. The itinerary was arranged by Micah Muscolino at Oxford, and took us to about 8 villages in Baishui 白水县 and Chengcheng 澄城县 Counties, along with a large scale water reclamation project, and two gorgeous…