As you pull up into the Houtong Train Station, an hour north of Taipei City in Taiwan, a huge rattan sculpture of a cat head with beady eyes welcomes you to this “Cat Village”, where approximately 100 stray but friendly cats roam the streets freely. Houtong Cat Village was once a sorry victim of the dying mining industry, whose population was a mere 100. In 2008, a local cat lover organized a team of volunteers to clean Houtong’s streets to provide the numerous abandoned cats in the area with a better home. Over time, word of this peculiar community spread to bloggers, reporters and photographers, and the Houtong Cat Village was born. (more…)
1917-1919, Tai Mountains, China. Young Sidney Gamble took a picture of himself, sitting on a human-powered chair and smiling with the workers. Yet Gamble was not a mere tourist, taking I-have-been-here photos wherever he went. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1890, Gamble was a social worker and an excellent amateur photographer, leaving nearly five thousand photographs of China and also publishing several works including Peking, a Social Survey and The Disappearance of Foot-Binding in Tinghsien, all of which were taken during his frequent visits to the country between 1917-1932. (more…)
Traditional Xinjiang Barbecue is the original and most popular of five Xinjiang BBQ carts in Flushing. The location on the corner of 41st and Kissena is prime too. Protip: within 100 feet: $40 RX eyeglass lenses, massive library, Kung Fu bubble tea, last remaining Irish pub.
Don’t be scared. All those who operate these BBQ carts in the area wear those spooky nameless-killer-from-late ’80s-Japanese-low-budget-torture-film doctor masks. What do you want from them? They’re standing over charcoal all day. Real charcoal.
Unlike a typical food cart griddle, which would sear everything into a single compressed layer, the hardwood charcoal doesn’t come in direct contact with the meat, so it’s slower cooking. The smoke brings the juices out and some drips onto the coals creating a second smoke specific to the meat, which really seals over the spice mix (which we’ll talk about in a moment) without really forcing it. (more…)
For me, the ‘regular’ New Year has always been supremely disappointing. Due in part to globally inflated expectation, the night has never lived up to the description my co-workers provide in the annual ‘New Year’s Eve in East Williamsburg!’ email chain. If you’re new to the city, this means you’ll probably end up in some ‘charming’ warehouse off the Graham Avenue stop with 60 people you’ll never see again.
You’ll begin to take stock of the evening at 11pm, 30 minutes after half your friends go down (hard) for the count. Following a midnight ‘champagne toast’ that was supposed to be included in the $150 ticket fee, you’ll wander home, shocked that you fell for it. And then you’ll do it all again next year.
Chinese New Year, however, is different.Strip away the expensive parties and sharp wardrobes, add a few dozen homemade Chinese lion costumes and 400 million confetti launchers, and you’ll be getting close. Though I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy several Chinese New Year celebrations in New York City, I knew I had to go all out this year. And we’re just getting started.
Shanghai welcomed me with heavy fog and humid air. The city resides by the sea and enjoys relatively mild weather, which reminds me of Vancouver. Shanghai is the largest center of commerce in mainland China; there are more international companies with offices here than in Beijing. I was especially amazed at the historical architecture of buildings in downtown Shanghai where many financial institutions have set up their headquarters.
Shanghai is a popular tourist destination and although I was there for the World Expo 2010, I had to see the city’s modern and luxurious Pudong district with its beautiful skyline, which includes the Oriental Pearl Tower. Even though the fog made the day less than ideal for picture-taking, I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Shanghai.
This was my first time there, but I’ll definitely be returning soon.
Pudong and downtown Shanghai:
Walking in the streets of Shanghai, towards Pudong district
The head office of one of the banks in China
All the buildings in the fog are bank headquaters
The Oriental Pearl Tower, hidden in the fog
Spiderman scaled one of these buildings above, can you guess which one?