Starting a Blog

Earlier today, my cousin Emily reminded me that I need to document this trip, preferably through vlogging. I actually regret not documenting my time in Taiwan and Japan, although I don’t think it would have been very interesting. Roughly 90 percent of my time in Taiwan was spent in a Buddhist monastery, and a good chunk of my time in Japan was spent in a classroom. Perhaps videos of my adventures to various temples and historical sites would have been nice.

I never liked listening to my own voice though. I hate seeing pictures of myself just as much. But there’s something about my past writings that I enjoy reading (despite cringing at all of my old essays). It’s like I’m speaking to myself, but without hearing the weird tones of my own voice. There’s more thought put into it, and that means much less rambling. I can also fact check myself and make sure I’m not spewing incoherent falsehoods.

While I will take more pictures and ostensibly a lot more video this time around, I think the majority of my records will be in writing. Perhaps this will give me a chance to practice English as well. While I am sure that my Mandarin (and possibly Teochew) will improve during my time abroad, I am worried that my other languages will decline.


In any case, my trip to China will involve a lot more exploring, and I look forwarding to visiting tea meccas such as Wuyishan, Fenghuangshan, Hangzhou, and maybe Yunnan.

As I write this entry, I am reminded that this very act of documenting my tea travels hearkens back to the distant legacy of Song dynasty tea connoisseurs who explored scenic mountains and drank newly-grown tea prepared with fresh water from nearby springs. Just as how Song Zi’an’s 宋子安 Record of Sampling Tea Along the Eastern River 東溪試茶錄 documented teas in Fujian a thousand years ago. If Song Zi’an was alive today, I’m sure he’d have an Instagram, blog, and YouTube channel (and WeChat because… China).

Who knows—perhaps a thousand years from now, this blog will be a primary source for some pitiful undergraduate Asian Studies major who’s trying to desperately finish a thesis. 

Packing, Part 1

I woke up today—three days before I fly across the world and live in China for the next ten months of my life—and thought to myself: what am I going to bring with me?

Limited to two suitcases, one carry-on, and one personal item, my first decision was an easy one: I would leave one suitcase empty. After all, I already plan on accumulating trinkets, souvenirs, fine teapots, calligraphy brushes, kilograms of delicious oolong tea, and a guqin.

Then came my mother, her voice slicing through my bedroom and her hands proudly brandishing a pair of vomit-green pants. “Look!” she exclaimed. “I got these on sale! You can wear them in China.”

I flopped over onto the other side of my bed and said, “I don’t want to bring too much.”

“Nonsense,” she replied. “One pair of pants is definitely not too much.”

A painful flashback brought me back to the weeks leading up to the fateful day I moved into Pomona College. That same line repeated itself until I ended up lugging an excess of clothing—three quarters of which I have yet to wear, even after four years.

“It’s alright,” I insisted, turning towards the warmer side of my bed. “If I need pants, I’ll just buy them there.”

She tossed the pair of pants at me; it landed somewhere near my head.

“Do you think I work day and night so you can waste money on pants that are not on sale?” she was understandably frustrated. “Try them on at least.”

I reached for them, opened half an eye, and rolled back over to the other side of my bed (the cooler side was a bit more pleasant in the summer heat).

“I think you got this from the women’s section.”

She walked over to me, her slippers shuffling on the linoleum floor. “Are you sure?”

I sat up and pointed at the label: Size 0. “Yup, see for yourself.”

She picked it up and laughed, “You’re so skinny you’d fit in it anyways.”

That’s true. I would. She left me to my own devices as she got ready for work. I breathed a sigh of relief—perhaps this time, I would finally be able to leave the house with an empty suitcase.