travel

Dec 20, 2018

Getting around problems

Who dares interrupt the Cane?!

Sometimes your own two feet need a little extra help. Well, never fear. The Cane is here!

The shoot of our fiction piece was fairly painless this week … because we did a ton of organization pre-production. First pass was some pretty tight blocking of the action, and then second, we made a pretty detailed shot list. We did a run-through a few times the day of, and made sure we were totally happy with how our shots were laid out. And then … ACTION?

In the edit, we had to cut a couple of lines that I loved from an early draft of the script, but they just didn’t fit. It continues to be true that what you leave out of your work can be as important as what you put into it. If you’re curious, the lines were a reference to the fact that astronauts have to run on treadmills to maintain bone density. I am fascinated by this idea, but it didn’t work within the flow of our final script.

Dec 5, 2018

A jazzy walk around the “Nabe”

The Music of Hello Uncle Foreigner

Enjoy the soundtrack from Uncle’s Shorts #40.

Every apartment building has a rooftop. Otherwise the rain would get in. We finally ventured up to ours in the filming for last week’s video. And it’s just a roof, with people’s laundry hanging, some fruits and vegetables drying in the sun, a small garden — typical for this part of China. But the view is spectacular!

Placed where we are on the Luzhou peninsula, we can see the Tuo river to our north and the Chang river to our south — which you may know as the mighty, mighty Yangtze. Whatever you call it, it’s something to look at.

Dec 3, 2018

Walking around our Chinese neighborhood

Uncle’s Shorts #40

Our fortieth Uncle’s Short!

Tune in for the tour of our favorite neighborhood places, and stick around for friendly interviews about what makes a good hometown. City or countryside? I’m city all the way.

Nov 10, 2018

True electric power

Uncle’s Shorts #37: Visiting a Chinese temple

Luzhou autumn starts cold and rainy and ends colder and rainier, but there’s always a brief window of weather that’s just, like, the Platonic ideal of a beautiful fall day. This year, my friend Michael invited me out for a hike during that time, and even though I was incubating a cold, there was no way I could say no. If the sun is out, you must go.

We took a trip out to Fawang Temple, about an hour outside Luzhou. Peter and I had been out to the temple on Fangshan Mountain a few times, but Fangshan is for tourists, Michael told me. He said that Fawang was much better. And he was right. It was gorgeous and peaceful, and a really nice day outside of the city.

This week’s Uncle’s Shorts episode also features an interview with a young man English-named Curly. He was Peter’s student back at Tianfu Middle School, and for many years now has been living in Singapore pursuing his higher education. This interview takes place before he shipped out; at the time he told us that he got travel sick on the trip from his nearby hometown to Luzhou, but it seems like he made it to Singapore OK.

Nov 2, 2018

Yield when we die: Chinese traffic comes to a stand-still

Uncle’s Shorts #36

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The road to where we’re going is long, and fraught with peril. Sometimes literally. But Luzhou is doing it’s part to make traffic more “civilized.”

Our opener this week features footage from Lijiang; our drive from where we worked to the “Old Town” that was the center tourist attraction for the city. If you watch very closely, you can see the Jade Dragon Mountain in the background.

As a small city, Lijiang public transport wasn’t quite sufficient for everyday living, and taxis were infuriatingly expensive. What should have been a 6 kuai ride, according to the meter, was regularly a 20 kuai bill or more. That’s life in a tourist town for ya.

So while we lived in Lijiang, I drove Peter and I around on a little e-bike. It was … an adventure.

On the open road, driving the bike was exhilarating! The roads were flat and the distance was full of scenery. But in town, the traffic was AGGRESSIVE. And so was I. You can see in the video, we almost get hit two separate times. This was unremarkable enough to me that I didn’t even notice it until Peter pointed it out.

Here in Luzhou, I’m back to being a full-time pedestrian. Occasionally, I wish that we had a car, for inter-city trips. But most of the time, vehicle-free is the way to be. It helps that I live one block away from work.

This week, we also unveil another new feature: the Dialogues. “Wear more clothes” is our first attempt together at crafting a fictionalized piece, and we learned a lot in this first go-round. From a writing perspective, it’s an interesting challenge to relate my thoughts to an actual location; writing essays and vlogs, those are much more in my head. Even if I’m interacting with an environment while I say them, the words are just really one train of thought. Whereas an actual dialogue, of course you have two people talking with (or talking past) each other, but you’ve also got to localize the characters in the space. Otherwise, all you’ve got is a Kevin Smith movie. So the writing goal with these pieces is to incorporate the physicality of the players, and locate them in time and space. No big deal. I’ll have it perfected by next week.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun putting together this week’s episode. So, we hope you like it … although, as always, we’re not terribly concerned if you don’t.

Oct 30, 2018

Instagram always: Yield for no one

Coming Thursday!

This Thursday’s Uncle’s Short addresses Chinese traffic … it’s getting better than you’ve heard. Stay tuned, and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a video.

Oct 23, 2018

Instagram always: The friendliest Mao

Keeping your windshield clean

I saw this on a car parked near my building. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but it’s pretty great.

Oct 13, 2018

Bearing fruit

Pomelos and mortality

In China, watch this video on YouKu.

We recently marked the anniversary of Peter’s hospital stay last year. (In fact, coming soon is the anniversary of the date that he came home … a much happier day.) And a friend’s recent gift of some pomelos reminded me of some of the hope I had felt while Peter was sick.

It’s amazing the difference a year can make.

Oct 11, 2018

Instagram always: Remembering Lijiang

A cold and beautiful place

The view outside of our apartment complex in Lijiang, 2015. We really were right in the shadow of the Himalayas. They started paving that road just before Chinese New Year 2016, but they had not finished it by the time we left in May.

Aug 8, 2018

Get away to an island that’s beyond the everyday

Lamma Island, Hong Kong

This was a fun one to make … Peter and I really let our imaginations fly as we virtually revisited our favorite place on earth. Lamma Island is one of the big-small islands of Hong Kong, I guess. We love it, and we gave it the green screen treatment here, because we aren’t traveling much these days.

It’s a double-edged sword (moreso, I’m sure for the people who actually live there), in that I think people should know about this magical place, but I don’t want to be a part of ruining the small-town charm with too much exposure, or badly behaving tourists. So, just promise me this: If you go, you’ll be cool.