The Good Abbot Wang

The Post Office Essays There is a particular magic we humans get to do. We can have an idea then translate it into a series of symbols which others, years later, can read, so that the idea enters into their mind. We can write and create books and essays and letters, and mark down our […]

Peach Blossom Spring

  I like to dig, search, and poke around, and to stir up different ways to connect with a place. How to look at a city or a region with a different set of eyes, or better yet, with a different approach, like the way a pilot gauges the wind direction to land correctly on […]

Porcelain for Palaces

When I lived in China there were days where I would become overwhelmed by numbers. Numbers of people around me, numbers of buildings in cities, astronomical numbers and metrics of a scale so grand I thought could only be science fiction. I would become overwhelmed with culture shock, a stranger in an unknown land. Not […]

Light Fuse Get Away

August 24th 2008, the day after my 29th birthday, my mind was tattooed with an image. It was the closing ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing and I had spent the past 30 days guiding a family all over China, intermixed with gold medal event tickets for the two weeks of the games. It […]

The New Colossus

I spent a lot of time in China in the early 2000’s, trying to make up for an overly euro-centric upbringing. I knew there was a world I’d overlooked, and hadn’t been taught about in school, a missing hemisphere. I’d read books like Ernst Gombrich’s History of Art which ignored the “East” side of the […]

Conde Nast Travel Specialists: Trufflepig’s Magnificent 7

Last week Conde Nast Traveler released its annual Travel Specialists list, kind of like the Oscars of the travel world. And with another record-breaking 7 Trufflepig planners with their names in lights (again), we feel more than usually justified in describing ourselves as the Tiny Company with the Great Big Nose. We are of course […]

Pointer-Middle-Ring

Over the past few years a symbol has made the leap from movie into life. It is a salute with three fingers held high: pointer-middle-ring.  It came from The Hunger Games, the series written by Suzanne Collins.  Both a book and movie franchise, it is a tale following the life of Katniss Everdeen. Her name […]

How to paint in watercolor

Sidewalks and the paved parts of the urban landscape have a funny definition in some Asian cities.  On the Silk Road after midnight, the roads and sidewalks become the communal domicile, as beds are dragged out into the streets to enjoy the cool breeze of the desert nights. Hanoi and Bangkok are two cities so […]

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels

George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. grew up in Illinois, obsessed with the moon, its shape, its craters and scarred face.  He drew pictures of the moon in grade school and studied it in high school, and when he graduated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a civil engineer, the lunar mark stuck and came back to […]

Trufflepig Recipes: Congee

I have a list of three things which, perhaps due to a repressive part of my psyche or some masochistic Protestant lean, I have denied myself until I felt I could no longer continue without them; reading the entire Faulkner cannon, going on a surf/bike road trip through California, and learning how to make my […]

The Winds of Dabancheng

The winds of Dabancheng can pick up an 18-wheeler and toss it like crumpled up newspaper. The winds are so strong that the landscape has no soil, no sand, no plant, no animal – just rock left over, boulders. And if the winds here can pick up a 40-tonne truck, then the rocks left over, you can imagine, […]

Of gods, saints, and poets

For 10 years I lived out of a bag.  It was a good bag, cordura Patagonia roller, that did me well, and it was the same size as a small NYC apt and held all the stuff I needed at that point in my life so I was happy.  I started on the road without […]

Taking the Road Less Driven

In 2011, I spent a fortnight driving around southwest China by myself. I had a valid Chinese driving license and a legal rental car, and yet I felt as though I was doing something illicit. Others evidently thought so, too: “Do you really just go where you want? So free!” I was asked, wistfully, on […]

Yes Way, Weiwei

I’ve never been to China. But yesterday I went to see an art show at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) in Toronto, featuring the phenomenal work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (pronounced ‘I Way Way’). Even though I know there’s nothing like seeing a country in person, I kind of feel like this show […]