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Gorge Life

Unexpected encounters at the top of Taiwan – by Brent Crane

 

 

My bus to Taroko, a natural reserve on Taiwan’s east coast, was as slow-going as its passengers. A big tour liner, it stopped frequently and each pause brought in another sluggish senior – the island oozed with them – wearing a bucket hat with thin straps that dangled below their chins like soba noodles. They congregated in groups at the front of the bus, looking like middle school field trippers in their silly hats, chatty and spry. I sat alone in the back by a window, pleasantly anxious in my hiking shoes, spying from my seat the sceneries of Hualien, a quiet littoral town with an alpine tinge. The island was kind to a slow-going solo traveler like me, showing itself off in hidden valleys, milky coastlines and green mountains that looked like English hills.

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Scattered lights

Reflections on a generation with no theme – by 'Fred' of Wish Lanterns

 

Ed: Something a bit different on the Anthill today. This week the US edition of Wish Lanterns was published, with a new cover, and an illustrated map by Beijing's own Liuba Draws. Instead of an excerpt here is an essay on China's young generations penned by none other than 'Fred', one of the people I write about – a Party official's daughter and politics student from Hainan. I gave Fred a copy of the book of course, and she surprised me by writing this fascinating reflection on its themes, which I translate here with no edits except for style (so references to 'Fred' are about herself, in the third person). – Alec Ash

 

In the south of China, kongming lanterns rise into the night sky on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. In the twilight they drift ever higher, until they become just bright dots far away, hiding in a sea of stars. The ancients believed that these lanterns can illuminate wandering ghosts on their way home. Today people believe that the lights carry their wishes up to heaven. They are not kites, tied to earth by cords of string; they float with the wind, scattering in all directions, just like the protagonists of Alec's book.

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House of Cards

Spring Festival with the losers of China’s development – by Frank Muruca

 

“I apologize. My uncle lives in a shanty house.”

On the second day of the Chinese New Year, in the town of Jintan, Jiangsu Province, a teacher colleague named Wei invited me to spend the day with him. All morning, we had been driving around town on a kind of sober bar crawl – dropping into relatives’ homes for not more than 15 minutes, eating dates and nuts, and bestowing hongbao to the children. By lunchtime, my coat pockets were filled with lone cigarettes and candy. At one stop, an aunt had put a halfdozen cherries into my pocket “for the road”.

“After lunch, we like to play cards,” Wei told me. “Well, really it’s to gamble. We will go to my uncle’s house. It’s his turn to host the family. Next week, it will be my turn.”

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Mixed Blood

On being biracial in Beijing – by Amy Hawkins

 

“Mixed blood” is not a term I thought I’d ever take too kindly to, resonant as it is of eugenics, segregation and Harry Potter’s “mudbloods”. But just as the past is a foreign country, so too are, well, foreign countries.

Tourists in China often return home with tales of being asked to take hundreds of photographs with locals, who marvel at their white or black or brown skin, their height, and their willingness to walk through the dusty streets without wearing a mask. Living in Beijing, an international city like Shanghai, I have mostly avoided becoming such a curiosity. Reveal that I am half Chinese, however, and the questions come flooding in.

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Year of the Untranslatable Animal

A poem for the new year, by Kassy Lee

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SPITOON

 

Sheep, goat, ram – what will I count on

to sleep tonight? Five silences punctuate

the fireworks blooming red-eye flight.

 

I can’t tell you this year’s new name.

Every twelve years, another failed

translation for animals

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