non-fiction

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Qi soup

A Chinese American rediscovers TCM in Beijing – by William Poy Lee

 

When she escaped China by marriage in 1949 and settled in San Francisco, my mother made eight promises to my grandmother. The seventh promise was to cook the traditional qi soups for her family to protect their mind-body balance and inner energy.

Along with every other American in the 1950s, my brother and I ate Campbell’s most popular soups – chicken noodle, cream of tomato, mushroom, split-pea. But at home, we also gulped down smelly, weird tasting Chinese soups – cow brain with ginseng, turtle, ox tail, four herbs chicken (from a live chicken, throat slit and defeathered in Chinatown). 

As we ate, Mom explained the rationale to us in ways that made no sense at the time.

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Songs of Shambala

Glimpses of Shangri La on the tourist trail – by Iain Manley

 

Dusk gently settled over Shangri La. A mist rose off the grasslands, while music started up in the cobbled squares at the centre of the old town, where men and women gathered to dance. Standing in a wide circle, they repeated the same few steps while edging clockwise, like pilgrims circumambulating a shrine.

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Spring City

Lie back and think of Kunming – by Brent Crane

 

The same security guard sits in his office by the door to my old university dorm. “Remember me?” I ask him. He studies my face. “I studied here three years ago. American.”

His eyes light up.

“I remember! I remember! American! Three years ago!”

His name is Tang Zao’an and he has worked as a security guard at Yunnan Nationalities University in Kunming for eight years one at the front gate, three at the male dorm across the way, and four at the all girls foreign students dorm.

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Joyriding the Taklamakan

You’re never alone in the desert – by Nikolai Blackie

 

A few years ago, I found myself in far western Xinjiang province, a small town called Sanchakouzhen, 150 miles east of Kashgar on the old northern Silk Road. It was less a town and more a pit-stop for trucks carrying minerals from the mines in China’s west to the refineries out east.

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Stinky Tofu

That first taste you never forget – by Brent Crane

 

What first struck me in Hangzhou were the trees. Along South Mountain road, a trendy corridor of cafés, modern art galleries and Western eateries that runs along the eastern shoulder of the lake, there is a line of strong, tall sycamore trees. It’s rare to find an old tree in a Chinese city, where the old tends to give way to the new and young.

Hangzhou is famous in China for its sprawling tea fields and the mythical West Lake, the waters of which have enraptured poets, painters and imperial royalty for centuries. Now they attract an endless stream of camera-toting tourists, with robotic tour guides and knick-knack hawkers.

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