Hello Uncle Foreigner

Jun 2, 2018

The wisdom of baby hats

Uncle’s Shorts #14

I get the best advice from text on hats.

Jun 2, 2018

It’s so hard (for me) to buy soap at the Chinese grocery store in China

Uncle’s Shorts #13

It is what it says: It’s hard for me to buy soap in China.

May 31, 2018

All the caffeine in China

Starbucks comes to Luzhou, three times!

We celebrated the opening of Starbucks in Luzhou by taking a look at their competition in the caffeine game — from the tea house, to the “western” coffee bar, to the local cafe, to the big mermaid chain herself.

I’ll stand by what I said about cutesy cafes featuring “fake-kitsch” decor. (Can kitsch be face? I submit that if you order it from a warehouse, then, yes.) But the fact of the matter is that Mango, the local cafe we featured, is actually cool. We chose it because we genuinely like going there. And it’s close to our house.

But, in researching this story, I found out that Mango is not decorated via internet, but, in fact, was designed by a big ol’ Chengdu architecture firm. You can even read a review of the architecture on this blog, hosted by a Hungarian interior design company. Luzhou, it’s a city on the rise!

May 30, 2018

Prettying up a Pizza for YOU

Uncle’s Shorts #12

Luzhou’s pizza options have really improved over the past year and a half. We have an actual Italian restaurant, now, with a chef trained by Italian people. But, for delivery, the easiest is Pizza4You. It’s perfect in every way … except there’s no tomato sauce. I used to put on sriracha sauce, but now our grocery store regularly stocks marinara (and siciliana, and basilica …), so I use that.

And, while we’re at it, why not sprinkle on a little more oregano and basil. And some of that shaker cheese. And pop it back in the oven. And … this take-out pizza is a lot of work, actually. But it’s worth it for a slice.

May 30, 2018

Finding a lost phone with the help of the kids

Uncle’s Shorts #11

How do you get a room full of kindergarteners to be quiet? Tell them there’s a lost phone in the classroom. They get it.

May 19, 2018

Fly high above nature in the Bamboo Sea, Sichuan, China

Traveling around Sichuan province

Over the past few months, we’ve really pushed ourselves in the realms of storytelling and video production, figuring out new techniques and workflows. It’s been a lot of fun and really, well, productive. But it has made us look back at some of our older pieces and think, “We can do better.” Those old videos will always be treasured memories to us, but we can also now turn the footage into something a little more artful; something that could entertain and delight someone who wasn’t there when it happened.

The new Bamboo Sea (above) isn’t the first time we’ve done this. KTV and Egg Bar are both based on archival footage. Stone Sea also uses older video, but we never actually got around to telling that story at the time! And we’re looking forward to revitalizing many more of our old stories in the coming months.

Revisiting good times is one thing, but we also have the benefit of more China experience and a different perspective. They, in turn, enable us to tell deeper stories and take artistic risks. It’s been a fulfilling process so far, and Peter and I both hope you enjoy these new videos as well.

The backstory on this 2014 trip to the Bamboo Sea is here, if you’d like to enrich your viewing with a more straightforward written account of our adventure. The video remix above is a more poetic look at (wo)man’s relationship with nature and … bamboo.

I also use the word “susurrating,” so listen carefully!

May 19, 2018

It’s a party ... Hong Baos for everyone!

Uncle’s Shorts #10

Shopping for presents is easy in China, where you just have to find a red envelope and some cash to put in it.

May 15, 2018

Beijing welcomes you, and welcomes you, and welcomes you

Uncle’s Shorts #8

People, even after almost seven years, are always welcoming us to China and Luzhou. Is it annoying or endearing? Well, that’s up to you to decide. I personally am trying to take it as a moment to moment affirmation of my presence, rather than an act of othering that implies I don’t truly belong. (Although, on a bad day, it can feel like the latter.) The only word they are actually saying is “welcome.” That’s way better than America does to its immigrants.

“Beijing Welcomes You” is actually the name of a song written for the 2008 Beijing olympics. It’s also the name of a pretty good book by Tom Scocca — written about the 2008 Beijing olympics — which is pretty good. Let’s call it an official Uncle Foreigner recommendation.

May 14, 2018

It’s hot and cold, all at once!

Uncle’s Shorts #9

Springtime in Luzhou … it can be beautiful, but the weather can be very strange. The humidity makes it sweaty out, even when the temperature is not that high. But just wait a few weeks. From the time of taping this video to now, it’s already switched. Now it’s hot and humid. Get ready for that summer heat!

May 12, 2018

A no-makeup look on a no-makeup face

A shopping adventure in China

China is wild about skincare, which is great, because so am I. Sheet-masks, overnight serums, just a plain old lotion … I love it. There have always been health and beauty stores all over Luzhou, but now we have a Watson’s and a Sephora! It’s an exciting time.