Face The Sun: Let There Be Light!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are exclusively those of its author, and are not in any way meant to reflect the opinions or policies of the US Government.

Past Travelogues.

Finland, Estonia, Petersburg

Kirovograd, Ukraine


Tirana, Albania

Macedonia & Romania

Budapest to Bucharest

Balkans and Poland.

Christiania, Copenhagen.

Northern Norway

Northern Finland


Kashgar, briefly

More to come, Inshallah, as I go through old paper travel journals.

The DC experience, archived.

July '05
June '05
December '05
October '04
More to come should interesting things happen to me. Ever.

Blatent Plagiarism

The nation's largest chain bookstore has indicated that, due to lack of consumer interest, it has stopped selling books.
--Frederick Raphael, The Glittering Prizes

I feel this is the equivalent of a surgeon, skipping through a radiology department singing, 'I don't have cancer, I don't have cancer!'
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

Mum is crying with her faced turned away from me, gulping and honking like an injured seal. And I'm rolled up in the back seat wishing the old man would stop the car and make her walk. That or buy her a fish.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

I love it when well-educated women sweaar -- the words regain their original power and meaning when delivered unexpectedly with so much poise.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

She lived with her mother, who looked like an old labrador, and an old labrador.
--Will Self, Great Apes

When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God sitting on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that thought always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious.
--Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Quality is merely the distribution aspect of Quantity.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

...In the frank brilliance of the bright sun, which, as we all know, is the friend of heroes.
--Jose Saramago, All the Names

He stuttered so badly that you could go out and buy yourself a chocolate bar while he was wrestling with an initial p or b; he would never try to bypass the obstacle by switching to a synonym, and when the explosion finally did occur, it convulsed his whole frame and sprayed the interlocutor with triumphant saliva.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

To Stand on Jericho's Walls and Face the Sun.

Monday, January 22, 2007

In October, I flew to the city of Yanji in frozen Manchuria, with a small herd of people from language training on a mission to meet up with a tuberculosis-curing Doctor's Without Border's doc who, in a fit of boredom, had invited us to join her.

The trip, in the bracing cold of early winter in Jilin province, was overwhelmingly blog-worthy. Briefly, in bullets:

-- The trip started on a deserted road just outside the airport, with the missionaries who claimed to be international art speculators, and with whom we hitched in from the airport after the door fell off our first cab and the owner of the remaining cab attempted to charge us 50 kuai for the 5 kilometer ride.

-- It continued on with the Sangria -- "you're going to want the small," they told us. "We'll take the large," we said, and were consequently served a massive crystal bowl filled with grape kool-aid, studded with chunks of fresh watermelon and, inexplicably, diced cherry tomatoes.

-- There was the hiking in a driving blizzard (Quoth the Engineer: "I kind of like this kind of misery -- so you can look back on it all later and say, 'do you remember when we asked the lord to take our lives from us, just to make the pain end?'") directly up a mountain to a crater lake, featuring a statue of China's own Loch Ness monster, which we climbed on top of like giddy elementary school kids before stopping in to the gas-stove-heated tent for ramen noodles.

-- And of course, the day-trip to the North Korean border, in which we, accompanied by a Chinese border guard, walked halfway down the bridge to the white line demarcating DPRK territory, and lined up our feet just inches shy of illegal entry into North Korean airspace, and then took pictures with the visiting South Koreans, hammered drunk at 3 in the afternoon, intoxicated on Chinese rice liquor and the joy of being South, rather than North Korean.

And none of that even mentions the round after round after round of glorious Korean food, or the market at which we went crazy buying toasted miniature almonds and candied ginger, and at which S bought the dried cuttlefish and then stored it in the vegetarian doc's room until the smell became so overwhelming that she dangled it out the window and dealt with the draft rather than the odor, or the 9 a.m. meat on a stick, or the strawberry waffles and milk tea, or any of the joys du moment which seemed to crop up so often on our scant 48 hour sojourn in Manchuria.

And despite all of the above, I was crippled by a complete inability to put any of it into cohesive paragraphs. I wrote four drafts of the Yanji blog. The first one was truly awful, and the remaining three were all fronted by paragraphs indicating that I was reaching the point of just throwing whatever I wrote on the blog and moving on with my life. But they were far too long -- page after tedious page, and all four of them made the entire Yanji experience sound tedious and annoying, rather then glorious and hilarious, as it was.

And suddenly three months have passed and I haven't posted a single thing on the blog. Plenty of blog-worthy things have happened, but every time I went to type them out I was cowed by the fact that before I could write anything, I had to finish the Yanji blog. Three months later, here we are. And since I have the world's worst memory, ever day I fail to write something more or less another day forgotten.

So I decided it was time to move past Yanji -- with apologies to Doc, now posted in Georgia's rebellious Abkhazia province: it seems that beyond what's above, no blog on Yanji will ever be written.

And now there's the resolution, that weekly there'll be something on the blog. I can't promise it'll be good -- language training goes until June, and sucks up all of my time -- but there's plenty of China that needs mentioning, and it's high time I get back on the horse that threw me.

Posted by Dakota on 7:57 AM link |
Current Location:
The People's Republic of China.

Stop by any time: everyone's welcome.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Be Born

Comments and requests for dates should be directed to email.

And here I am.

And for all you random folks out there whom I don't know, for the love of god, email me. I'm abroad, know no one, and look forward to hearing from you. I'm especially looking at YOU, whomever YOU are who's Facing The Sun all the way from Kenya. And Sweden. And Canada. And whatnot.

Books Tackled, 2006:

1. Jarhead, Anthony Swofford
2. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, Dennis Covington
3. A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
4. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, Anonymous
5. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, Dawn Prince-Hughes

This year's movies, in chronological order:

1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. A Wrinkle in Time
3. Pi: Faith in Chaos
4. My Big Fat Independent Movie
5. The Winter Guest
6. Voices in Wartime
7. What Dreams May Come
8. Farewell My Concubine
9. The Ring
10. Like Water for Chocolate
11. Sahara

Foreign Service Officers by day, Bloggers by day as well.

The Diplodocus
(Islamabad, Pakistan).

The Permanent Mission of Joshie
(Zagreb; Libyaward).

Prince Roy
(Chennai; Taiwanward).

Sue and not You
(Tbilisi, Georgia).

Life on the Mekong
(Vientiane, Laos).

FSO Globe Trotter
(Lahore, Pakistan).

Vice Consul: Diplomatically Transformed
(New Delhi, India).

Adventures in Good Countries

Our Man in Tirana
(Tirana, Albania).

Anne's Blog
(Kazakhstan; Greeceward).

(Bogota, Colombia).

Furnish Worldwide

Tasman's World
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

(Lome, Togo).

World Adventurers
(Seoul, Korea).

Aaron Martz

A for Adventure
(Chennai, India).

The Excellent Adventures of Nickie P
(Paris, France).

Permanently Disco
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

Consul At Arms
(Kingston, Jamaica).

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