Bolt at the Bird’s Nest

A video posted by Johanna (@picsbyjojo) on Aug 23, 2015 at 6:25am PDT Beijing is hosting the World Athletics Championships now, a major international event that China for some reason is not hyping. Still, all evening sessions have already sold out, so luckily I bought tickets for Boyfriend and me three months ago. That is […]

Fake Harbin

Harbin is quite an unusual city. For starters, its name in Chinese is three characters, deriving from a Manchu word. And its history as a Russian base has left an indelible European imprint on the city. But other than the unusual architecture and the local’s apparent love for ice cream popsicles, it really did seem […]

Harbin from the Songhua River (???)


Boyfriend and I went to Harbin, way up in the far reaches of northeastern China, for the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend. The city of 10 million is known for its bitterly cold winters (-40 degrees!), during which it holds an ice sculpture festival with giant icy monuments dotting the city. For those brave enough […]

Beijing bans indoor smoking

Finally, a ban I can get on board with! People are no longer allowed to smoke in indoor public spaces — restaurants, malls, office buildings, etc. etc. etc. I’ve heard that “indoor” means anything covered by a roof. But wait! Isn’t indoor smoking already banned? Well, it was, but then it was unbanned. But wait! […]

WeChat Logo

Let’s talk about WeChat

WeChat is the most popular — by far — instant messaging app* in China. Everybody and their grandma has it. Got a smartphone? Got WeChat. Don’t got a smartphone? Still got WeChat. Yeah, I had WeChat before I even got my iPhone. It currently has 500 million monthly active users, most of them in — […]

Banned in China: An update

Some things the CCP has sought to ban recently: The U.S. Embassy’s AQI readings Puns The term diaosi The last two are yet another example of the Xi-led CCP (the XiCP?) crackdown on the culture of today’s society. Even some of the most lovable aspects of Chinese culture are not safe from the CCP, even […]

US v. China: Hail edition

Weather: Everyone experiences it. In addition to our humanity and our egos, it is a common denominator that binds us together. But we also experience it differently. In the case of extremely large hail, we in the United States might compare the size of hailstones to, say, golf balls, as this recent Gawker article did: […]

US v. China: Soccer edition

The World Cup has begun, and my mind has been consumed by soccer. So, in that respect, I direct you to an excellent story in the Economist about the sport and how it is followed/played less religiously in the four biggest countries in the world (by population) than elsewhere. On this front, the United States […]