Xi'an is one of the oldest cities in China and one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals (though this list has now been expanded to Eight). It is another of my favourite cities in China.

Though Shanghai is not thought of as a city of ancient culture like Beijing, it does have traces of it.  One of the big tourist attractions is the Yu Yuan garden actually dates from the Ming Dynasty (1559).

It occupies an area larger than Ireland and sits at the junction of the Jialing and Yangtse Rivers.  It's also called "the fog city," so it looks better at night and most days are overcast.  It's also called "the furnace city," so it's pretty hot in summer.

There are rolling businesses on 3 wheel bikes.  

The Henan Museum in Zhenzhou is very cool and will give you some idea of the incredible history of the area.

This was an important State Dinner with the Korean Consul General, Vice Presidents of Posco Steel, Korean Exchange Bank, and a high-ranking government official.  Don't ask me what I was doing there,I was invited for some reason.

Probably the worst part of its history would probably never be mentioned by tourguides.  Empress CiCi wanted to renovate the Summer Palace to celebrate her 60th birthday, so she ordered 22 million silver taels that had been earmarked to upgrade the Qing navy -- including pay for ammunition -- to instead be spent on the Summer Palace.  Shortly thereafter, the poorly equipped fleet was virtually destroyed by the Japanese at the Battle of the Yalu River in 1894.

The eating style in Chongqing is...casual. This public art on Food Street in Jiefangbei is hilariously accurate.  Chongqing men will roll their shirts up, exposing their bellies, while consuming hot pot--even in restaurants!

Silk town is decorated with statues depicting various stages of the silk-making process.

There are many types of "dumplings" or "buns" in China.  This is shumai with brown rice, called zing zi locally, originally from Inner Mongolia.  The famous Shanghai type is xiǎolóngbāo (小笼包 / 小籠包), which are steamed, but the pan-fried versions (shuijianbao) seem to be more popular.

The city is divided by the Huangpu River into two major districts. Most of the Shanghai "city of the future" cityscape images are of the Pudong (浦東新區, "Huangpu East bank") side. 

The Precious Hall of the Great Hero with its 15 ton pure silver Sakyamuni.

The subway station beneath the Jingan Temple could be called the Este Lauder subway station.

It actually got started in Chengdu.

Chongqing is...quirky.

The Temple of the Six Banyon Trees in Guangzhou.

Though the official word used by real estate developers and government is "renovated," all of the original homes in the area were demolished.

The Intercontinental Lijiang is right in the Old Town and was built in the style of the local architecture.

i started a series of Pinterest boards about it.  You can check it out by CLICKING HERE.

Hanging out with some students.  The table tells the story.

The Panda Center outside Chengdu is like entering an enchanted bamboo forest.

The Summer Palace is mostly water and its structures have been damaged and looted many times in its history.

 The Jing'an Temple 静安寺 ("Temple of Peace and Tranquility") is one of my favourites.  Though now it is surrounded by high rises and is adjacent to a luxury brand mall and sits atop a busy subway station, it has been in this location since 1216.  During the dark times of the Cultural Revolution it was used as a plastic factory until 1983.

Though the are sometimes mentioned together as having some similarities, Suzhou and Hangzhou are actually located in different provinces, Suzhou in Jiangsu provinceand Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.

Big hand...

The visitor's centre area can seem a bit touristy. The abbot, Grandmaster Shi Yongxin, was the first Buddhist monk to get an MBA.

At night, XinTanDi is quite pretty and romantic.

People are eating spicy dan dan mien ("Noodles carried on a pole" on every corner.

Entering the extensive grounds through this gate is symbolically entering the netherworld of the afterlife.

Xi'an has an old Muslim district, the oldest in China, dating from 651 AD.

The Emperor's bronze horses and chariot.

Cool pavilions, but hot sun--and long lines.

The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty (明十三陵), usually just called the Ming Tombs, are extraordinary and are a good way to get a perspective on Chinese history because each emperor entombed here represents a different time period

In case you need to call God.

There are street peddlers of every sort, selling both goods and services. 

Nanjing Road is long and extends from the Bund...

Scrambled eggs with jasmine flower buds...

My would-be financial backer  had a bust of Mao on the dashboard of his BMW that was sitting on a Mickey Mouse mouse pad .  For some reason, I found this incredibly funny and had to keep looking away to not laugh while we were driving..

An epilogue to my life in China was that Amy and I went back on our honeymoon.  We wanted to go to Lijiang (丽江) in Yunnan Province, the most ethnically diverse in China.  For centuries, it was the separate kingdom of Nanzhao.

CLICK HERE to see my teaching history.

The Jiu Qu or "Nine zigzag bridge."  Evil spirits can only travel in a straight line, so they cannot navigate the bridge's abrupt turns. It leads to the Huxin Ting Teahouse.

The Forbidden City was the emperor's palace for 500 years and is the largest and most visited art museum in the world.

The Pagoda and ground are lovely and it was also the setting for one of China's Four Great Folktales, The Legend of Lady White Snake.  It is a grand romantic saga, full of creatures transforming into humans, magic, and epic battles.  It epitomises why I love Chinese mythology so much. 

You get to choose your ingredients.  

My outstanding guide.

if you want something besides coffee, Paulander Brauhaus.

The Jingan District is named for the Jingan Temple, one of my favourite places, and the immediate area is full of luxury brand stores.  The shopping mall next door to the temple is quite luxurious and one year featured this giant gold rose as a Christmas decoration.

Its ancient name was Panyu, capital of the kingdom of Nanyue in 204 bc.

This fellow has a complete tailor shop on wheels.

Old Towns's winding streets are interlaced with waterways and footbridges, giving the town a unique charm.

M on the Bund and the Glamour Bar are a great restaurant/bar with a fabulous view.  

Lotus root...

  If you go with a Chongqing local, be prepared to repast on beef stomach, pig intestines, snake, and other interesting choices.

When I got the idea for my mystery novel Shanghai Passion, I started coming to Shanghai every holiday.  I also kept lots of notes for my nonfiction book about Asia, Asian Dreams.

Because two of the main characters in Shanghai Passion are from Hangzhou, I wanted to get to know the feeling of the city, so I spent a lot of time there.  Here I am playing a street game with some locals.

Chongqing is the most extraordinary mix of sights, sounds and smells you could imagine.  You can see this image in the same glance as seeing a Bentley automobile.

Many of the traditional food streets of Shanghai have been lost to gentrification.

 It is also the venue for the Shanghai International Literary Festival.

The World Heritage Forest of the Pagoda (塔林院) has 240 pagoda tombs built between 618 and 1911.

Guangzhou is not thought of as a tourist city, but it actually has many wonderful things to see.  Its old Western name was "Canton" and a lot of interesting things to see and do and has a different feel from the other large Chinese cities further north.

Another place within walking distance of my flat was one of my favourite places in Chongqing, the Luohan Temple, where I spent a lot of time. Luohan means arhat, a person who has attained nirvana.  It is more than 1,000 years old and was originally built during the Song Dynasty.

The author of the major work on the Terra Cotta Army.

Wenshu Monastery was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), though some sources say it is even older, built in the Sui Dynasty (605-617).

About - Life in Asia

The Longmen Grottoes (龍門石窟), another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the moving experiences I have had in China.  It is a series of caves and outcroppings running along the Yi river that, starting in the year 493 have been carved with over 100,000 Buddha images.

I have returned to Beijing several times for business.

Salt and Pepper Sparrow anyone?

The restaurants open out on to the street.

The ever-entertaining Nuri Vittachi, one of my favourite comic mystery writers.

Though Chengdu is known as a globally competitive city with a high-tech zone and many global companies, it is also something else.

The long lines at every location of Yang's are your first clue that the food here is special.

Yes, this is a real panda.  She was soft as a pillow.

Chongqing is called "the mountain city" and is built on many different elevations.  In order to deal with this, it has a special Japanese-built monorail system that can go up and down steep grades.

Though most people think of Beijing as the centre of Chinese history and culture that is not completely true.  The birthplace of Chinese civilisation was actually further inland in Henan Province about 3,000 years ago.  

I went to Changchun to meet a "big potato," a wealthy developer, to open an the English school.   I was very curious because I had read so much about the history of Manchuria, which was the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in the early 20th century.  

 There is a shihikumen museum in XinTanDi.

Your first clue about Chengdu comes at the airport.

Pudong Airport has these whimsical sculptures throughout.

The city has old streets that are really nice.

Lingzhi, " immortality fungus," used in Chinese medicine for 2,000 years

I have also returned to Shanghai with Amy, of course, but came back in 2016 for work again when I taught Science Writing for the Phd students at the Haimen Institute of Science and Technology .

The small, sturdy Tibetan ponies used to transport tea during the days of the Tea Road are still around, but now they are used to transport tourists.

  ...and a tavern with a fetching (wax) hostess.

The Minglou Tower.

When I left Japan in 2012, protests were raging there about the Chinese invasion of territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands (尖閣諸島), known as the Diaoyu Islands (钓鱼岛) in China.  Both nations claim the islands.  When I arrived in Chongqing, the city was engulfed in even larger protests that seemed as well coordinated as national parades. 

Jade Water Village (玉水寨).  A lovely place to begin a marriage!

This picture of Amy is a popular spot to take pictures, the Fuliushou Fountain.

...to the Jingan District

This area is generally known as "Silk Street," but it is actually several streets and is more correctly called Silk Town, (Zhong Guo Si Chou Cheng).  

Hangzhou is also the home of Lingyin Temple (靈隱寺, "Temple of the Soul's Retreat"), one of the largest Buddhist Temples in China, founded by an India monk named Hui Li in 326 AD.  The spacious grounds are beautiful and include extensive walkways, nature areas, statue gardens, several smaller temples, as well as a very special limestone mountain, Feilai Feng, "Flying Peak" or Peaks Flying From Afar.

...and Nanjing Road and the Bund during Shanghai's glory days of the 1930's.

Hutongs (衚衕) are traditional neighbourhoods with alleys between residences called siheyuan that are arranged around courtyards.

The door of the Dragon Wall.

Like everyone else, I started with Beijing.  The train stations are massive and full of people, many sleeping on boxes waiting to get back to the province they came from.

The mascot was "Haibao," which means "treasure of the sea.  He was supposed to be based on the Chinese character 人 ("person") but I thought he looked more like Gumby.

The area where the Holiday Inn Vista is located is not a touristy area and has a lively local street culture.  

The Intercontinental Hotel was my 2nd home.  I started teaching English to the staff part-time.

This photo, taken by a friend of mine while waiting for a train, says it all.  The huge sign behind the smoking man says "NO SMOKING."

Yunnan Pagoda on Tiger Hill in Suzhou.  Yes, it is leaning.

And there were these massive dance gatherings on certain city squares.

Goodbye Chongqing.  Though I liked a lot about Chongqing and made many dear friends there, I couldn't stay.  I got a job at a university in Korea and was able to keep my work for Changan Ford via the Internet

The sign gives a clue to the museum's quirky flavor.  It is a mixture of small models and full-size replicas of old streets you can walk on and shops and offices manned by wax figures.  

I wrote speeches for the CEO, Marin Burela, and wrote or rewrote all of the English PR for three different Beijing PR firms they used.  I attended many important events and met a lot of VIP's

A place in Beijing that had a big impact on me was the Temple of Confucius.

This, somewhat smaller one, is the real reclining Jade Buddha

Chengdu has a unique mind-set and local culture.  The tea shops here have outdoor seating on bamboo chairs where locals will spend long hours relaxing with tall glasses of Jasmine tea, playing Mahjong.  The two English words that every Chengdu resident seems to know are "don't worry."

This museum has such a distinct mood to it that I came back and wrote a scene set here in my currently unpublished mystery novel, Shanghai Passion.  You can CLICK HERE to read about it.

The mother of all lotus ponds, in Zijingshan Park in Zhengzhou

I returned to Shanghai in 2013 in my capacity as PR Consultant for Changan Ford and speechwriter to CEO Marin Burela.  The event was the epic simultaneous grand opening of 88 new Ford dealerships in China.  

BMW and horse-drawn cart on the same street--that's Changchun.

This is the Hall of Eminent Favour. The massive pillars are rare nanmu wood.

In general, Chongqing is stunning at night, but around Chinese New Year it turned into a vast surreal light display.

I had previously visited the giant megalopolis of Chongqing (重庆), which used to be known in the west as "Chungking." I liked it, and it was supposed to be "boomtown," so when my deal fell through in Changchun, I decided to give it a try   I had a friend there, Sharon, who had been Assistant Manager of the Holiday Inn Vista Shanghai and was now General Manager of the Intercontinental Hotel.   So I moved there in 2012.

An unmistakeable sight on Nanjing Road: the Ashoka (golden lion) pillar of the Jingan Temple.

And of course, the annual Christmas Eve celebration of bashing each other on the head with inflatable clubs and hammers.

The Holiday Inn Vista Shanghai would become my home away from home when I was living in Japan.  I used to come to Shanghai to write and use it as a home base to visit other parts of China.


Also in Henan Province are the incredible Longmen Grottoes.

I returned to Guangzhou in 2016 to give a special presentation about the TOEIC test at  South China Agricultural University.

This is the stunning Circular Mound Altar in the Temple of Heaven (天壇). In the centre is Heaven's Heart Stone also called the Heavenly Centre Stone.  The base of the "Big Buddha," the Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong was patterned after this.  See About -- Life in Asia Hong Kong.

The original pagoda collapsed in 1924 and was rebuilt in 2002. You can still see the remains of the original under the new one.

The signature local dish:  Chongqing hot pot or huǒ guō

The overnight sleeper train between Beijing and Xian offers some amusing moments, such as this gentleman doing exercises in the corridor.  

I liked the Starbucks here a lot and came here often to write.

My life in Chongqing changed dramatically when I started doing PR for Changan Ford. 

The high point of my life in Chongqing was meeting a wonderful, special person, Eddie Long, the last surviving member of the Flying Tigers.  Sadly, I lost all of the pictures of us together, but I will never forget singing the US Air Force Song with him.  My bigger regret is that, though I spent a lot of time interviewing him and took copious notes, I did not follow through and write the book about him and instead, gave into financial insecurity and chose to work for Changan Ford.

Shanghai's love/hate affair with its colonial past is in full display, as evinced by the weird description on the sign: The Third Hall:  Metropolis Infested with Foreign Adventurers.

There are two original jade Buddhas, a sitting and a reclining.  Many people take pictures of this large Buddha thinking its one of the jade Buddhas.  Actually, it was donated by a Singaporean and is not jade.

The view from the monorail running along the river was like this almost every night.

Like most cities, Shanghai's local culture is under constant threat from gentrification.  One "recycled" old neighbourhood is actually one of the nicest places to spend time in Shanghai, XinTanDi.

Because I was the only teacher who had had any TV experience, they asked me to do some "TV commercial" for them that were actually shown on the monitors on public transportation.  They were pretty funny and people would recognize me and try to talk to me in Chinese.

There are 345 statues carved into the caves or stone hillsides in Peaks Flying From Afar.

It is also famous for Longjin green tea, which translates to "Dragon Well Tea."

Another of my favourite cities in China is Chengdu, the capital of Shechuan Province in the West.  It  got its name in the 4th century BC, but it has been inhabited for over 4,000 years.

595.7 metres (1,954 ft) tall Canton Tower has an exhibition hall next door that was the site of the Changan Ford presentation and press gala.

Henan Province is also the home of The Shaolin Monastery (少林寺), world famous for Kung Fu.

They were obviously not homeless because the blanket was always clean.  This lasted for several days.  I always wondered how they got her there if she were really gravely ill.

Yunnan Province was one of the first tea producing regions of China and it was brought to Sichuan in China and to other countries, such as Tibet and even the Bengal region of India.

They sold pieces of the old pagoda as a souvenir.  Naturally, I had to buy one.

 The entire Old Town of Lijiang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the south side of West Lake, on Sunset Hill, stands Leifeng Pagoda, (雷峰塔), with surrounding gardens.  It was originally built in 975.

My dear friend Sharon, the General Manager of the Intercontinental Hotel, threw me a wonderful surprise party.

Besides its ethnic diversity, Yunnan province is also the most biologically diverse in China.

I also ended up teaching Hospitality English to the staff.  I got quite close to them and we went  out to dinner at local restaurants 

Though Xi'an is a special place, its traffic and the crowds in the train station are as bad as any Chinese city.

Chunxi Road in one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in China.

The historic Dairy Queen, a favourite of the emperor.

The two most negative things about Chongqing are omnipresent: spitting and the smoking.  The incessant spitting is accompanied by a very loud, preparatory throat clearing.  And the cigarette smoke is everywhere, inside and out.  China has an enormous smoking problem, but there is little effort to control it..  

Of course, The Great Wall is truly awesome.

Especially in Jiefangbei, the central district, where I lived.

 Yunnan Road was still going when I would go there in the early 2000's.  

 When you leave the Ming Tombs, you must perform a ritual brushing off the dust of the world of the dead from your body and proclaim out loud, "I have returned!"

The first time I came to Shanghai, I enjoyed it very much, but I had no idea it would become one of the important cities of my life.

It is built on  Mount Song, one of the Sacred Mountains of China.

The China Pavilion is now the China Art Museum, one of the largest art museums in Asia.

The ancient McDonald's, dating back 800 years...

 It was also the final appearance by legendary Ford CEO Alan Mulaly, whom you can see in the picture.  Needless to say, it was a major media event.

You can read about my consulting work by CLICKING HERE.

In order to get a work visa (and also learn about English schools in China) I got a job at Owen, a kid's English school.  Then I got another part-time job teaching SAT and TOEFL test preparation at a school called the Stillwell Language Institute.  You can see my teaching history on my website, www.balaoshi.com by CLICKING HERE.

The Naxi people have a traditional handmade paper called Dongba, which was used to record scripture in the Bon religion.  Much of this was burned during the dark days of the Cultural Revolution, but practicioners here and in Nepal and Tibet are attempting to save the culture. 

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda built in 652 during the Tang dynasty.

Some Confucian scholarship might help the makers of signage in China, which often feature atrocious English such as this.

I moved to Korea to be a university professor, but continued my work for Changan Ford.  See About -- Life in Asia  Korea

They were begun in 650 AD and had intermittent periods of development over the next 300 years.  They were spared much of the destruction of the Cultural Revolution and were only opened to foreigners in 1980, so their condition is excellent.

Shanghai also has lots of street food in various forms.

Hangzhou is one of my favourite cities in China.  It is famous for beautiful West Lake.

I got really drunk with these Taiwanese engineers and they taught me how to swear in Mandarin..

I got an apartment right across the street from the Intercontinental.

This was right outside my front door.

This was a presentation to the PR and marketing firm Trends Communication, which was one of the companies contracted by Changan Ford in Chongqing, for whom I was a consultant at the time (I think around 2013). 

Chongqing style is SPICY and HOT.

The venerable Dong Fang Hotel built in 1961 for government ministers.  It has been renovated, but still has an old-time stateliness.

One of the most interesting and compelling presentations I saw at M was a book launch /slide show in 2009 about the city of Kashgar, by two of the authors of the book of the same name, Marika Vicziany and Tsui Yeshu, and photographer John Gollings.

The largest ethnic group in Lijiang are the Naxi, or Nakhi (納西族) and they are ethnically and culturally related to Tibetans.

Because there are no cars, shopowner's dogs are happy and free.

Some local cuisine...

The 2010 Shanghai EXPO was bigger, but in many ways the 2005 Aichi Expo in Japan was better. (See About -- Life in Asia Japan)

The amazing view from my apartment.

Dont try this at home...

Under the Oriental Pearl Tower is one of the great odd museums of the world, the Shanghai City History Museum, accessible by a Jetsons-like elevator.

The Oriental Pearl Tower is one of the most iconic structures in Asia.  It also wins the prize for having the most unintentionally funny sign in bad English I have ever seen (and I have seen many in Asia).  Click on the sign above to read it--and remember, no "ragamuffins, psychotics or baleful biology' in the tower.

One of the most amazing experiences in China is visiting the Dazu Rock Carvings (大足石刻), a few hour's drive from Chongqing.  Smaller, but much more detailed than the Longmen Grottoes (see above), the Dazu Rock Carvings are a kind of continuous series of parables,  about the fusion of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism that is Chinese classical thought.

Or a small, but still living, shark?

I did a lot of writing in a Hangzhou bookstore/cafe that had very good coffee!

The other side of the Huangpu is called Puxi, ( 浦西,"Huangpu East Bank.") It is the older and more interesting side and is fronted on the river by the famous Bund.

When you need a broom...

XinTanDi (新天地, "new heaven and earth") is a recycled and remodeled collection of shihikumen ( 石庫門, "stone gate") houses, the indigenous house of Old Shanghai.  A combination of Eastern and Western house styles, they flourished during Shanghai's golden age of the 1920--30's.  Though there are a small number of preserved shikumen areas in Shanghai, most have been destroyed.

At the 2014 Guangzhou Auto Show, the joint venture between the Ford Motor Company and the Chinese SOE Changan debuted 3 new models simultaneously. I was both PR Consultant for the English and speechwriter for the CEO Marin Burela (see above under Shanghai and below under Chongqing).

Its layout was patterned after a Chinese myth about three divine mountains in the East Sea, so it has three islands representing the three mountains.  The lake itself was based on West Lake in Hangzhou (see below)..

You can check out my teaching history by CLICKING HERE.

I am determined to make Pinterest boards about it.  I haven't done it yet, but I will.

For information about my teaching career, CLICK HERE. 

One of the many awful campaigns during the Cultural Revolution was the destruction of "the Four Olds," of which the veneration of Confucius and his ideas was prominent.  This is political propaganda graffiti scrawled by Red Guard zealots.

The ancient inflatables...

It was discovered by accident by some farmers in 1974.

Big tire...

These stone obelisks are covered top to bottom with Chinese characters.  They are actually books.  Each one represents a set of knowledge that must be memorised for a civil exam.  If a person passed an exam, he or she would advance to the next level.  This is the basis for the meritocracy, social advancement based on study and merit, rather than family connections.

This little person lived in the temple and was always said hello to me.

When I was living in Japan, I got interested in starting an English school in China and an opportunity arose in Changchun in Manchuria. 

The Master of Nets Garden, originally built in 1140, is the smallest, but best preserved of Suzhou's World Heritage Gardens.  These gardens were built inside residential compounds, so you can also see the home interior.  The entrance is quite lovely.

At the time, I was a CNN iReporter and did a feature story on it.  I was the only Westerner in the crowd and got into an amazing exchange with a group of people.  I did this and several other stories from China and Korea as an iReporter.  Sadly, CNN discontinued the iReporter program, but I still have lots of pictures and videos and my notes.

Besides the Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi'an has other wonderful things to see.

I love ghost stories and the supernatural.  My blog, mysteryfantasy.com talks about this, among other topics.   Of course, the (unpublished) mystery novel I wrote, Shanghai Passion is in this genre, as is its planned skequel, Ghost City Passion.

There are MANY shops here selling everything from silk fabric to finished products such as dresses, ties, or bedsheets. Hangzhou has a 4,000 year history as a silk centre.  Unfortunately, there is also fake silk, so if you want to buy it, learn about it first.

Chongqing is a massive city--actually several clumped together--of 36,000,000 people, but the taxis are little Suzukis. I had so many suitcases when I arrived I didn't think the would fit, but the driver was resourceful and somehow did it.

Eddie's life story was the most incredible saga I have ever heard.  He took me to the Flying Tigers Museum in Chongqing.

No graphic, cautionary, photos of smoking-related diseases on Chinese cigarettes, only happy Pandas and royal symbols.

...and a really big shoe at the Italy Pavilion

The Longhua Temple (龙华寺 "Lustre of the Dragon") has the oldest tradition of any of the Shanghai temples and was first built during the Three Kingdoms period in 242 AD.

 You can see my teaching history in the Travel and Hospitality Industry on my website, www.balaoshi.com, by CLICKING HERE.

Chongqing's location on the Yangtze River,  means that it is within driving distance of some interesting and historical places.

I also have spent a lot of time at the Jade Buddha Temple (玉佛禅寺), founded in 1852.

Of all of the amazing things I have seen in China, the most awesome is found in Xi'an:  the tomb of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in the 3rd century BC, or more specifically, the "Soldier-and-horse funerary statues" (兵馬俑) better known as The Terra Cotta Army.

Another "recycled" shikumen area is Tianzifang.  It is the former French Concession, a part of Shanghai's colonial past.  It is much artsier, with galleries and cafes--and has some original residences as well.

I will never forget the warmth of the staff, most of whom I had taught Hospitality English to.

I have seen many bizarre things on Chinese city streets, but this one I got a picture of.  The old lady in the blanket would lie on a busy sidewalk while the woman in green wailed and cried and beseeched passersby for money.  I'm not sure what grandma's ailment was (or was supposed to be) but she never moved and would stay there all day and I never saw anyone give any money.  

Beijing has more historical places than you can imagine.  I have been to the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs, Hutong, Temple of Confucius, and the Great Wall--and others too numerous to mention.

This is the 2,000 year old Tomb of the Nanyue King Zhao Mo, who reigned from 137-122 BC.  It was discovered in 1983 when construction crews were digging in  downtown Guangzhou.

One afternoon, I was sitting in McDonald's looking out the window, when suddenly the wait staff of the restaurant next door broke into this choreographed dance routine.  

It even features an opium den...

A short walk from my apartment was  Hongyadong (洪崖洞), a shopping and restaurant development built on an ancient site in the Bayu  (巴渝), houses on stilts, style.

 Att the time, my company name was "Robert Badal Consulting" and I used this logo: 

I went to China more than twenty times before I moved there in 2013.

The temple itself, founded in 495,  has a deeply serene feeling to it.

I made a YouTube video about this incredible event.  You can see it by. clicking here.

A few hours drive from Chongqing is one of the great oddities of China, Ghost City, presided over by Fengdu, the King of Ghosts.

When I was researching my supernatural mystery novel Shanghai Passion, I went to many unusual places, including this eery abandoned Buddhist shrine, a few hours outside Suzhou.  

About 100 km from Shanghai is Suzhou, a 2,500 year old city of canals and famous gardens that at one time was the largest non-capital city in the world.

It is quite dark and the mood is a bit creepy, like a Hitchcock movie.

In the Year of the Rabbit, 2011, this enterprising gentleman was selling rabbits.