Noel Smith

6 minute read

The last time I returned to China, it took travelling to a nearby village and getting caught in an hours-long traffic jam to recall a central part of my early China experience: the infamous xiulu (road repair). My first real encounter with road repair occured during my second year in China when the main highway of the university I worked at got converted from a four lane to an eight lane highway. However, this story is not so much about the repairing of roads as it is about the repairing of the…

Noel Smith

4 minute read

Let’s admit it. Sometimes certain languages have words that just hit the nail on the head. In the case of Chinese, characters are often combined in interesting ways which produce words that are compact and concise and have no appropriate cognate in English. Here I’m thinking of xiangfa and banfa, loosely translated as “way of thinking” or “way of doing something.” I absolutely love these two Chinese words, and I often find myself searching (always in vain) for the English translation when…

Noel Smith

11 minute read

During the near decade I lived in China, there wasn’t much I refused to do and try. Aside from adamantly declining to eat certain things, like stinky tofu, birds nests, and the feet of various animals, China was my oyster. Yet I did draw the line regarding two things in China: I said that I would never buy a house and that I would never get a driver’s license. This year upon my return to China I crossed one of those lines to do what was once unthinkable. I got my Chinese driver’s license.

Noel Smith

3 minute read

Playing pick-up basketball games is one of my favorite ways to pass the time in China. When I first arrived, soccer was still the most popular sport in the country. Soon afterwards, basketball charged to the forefront. Although soccer is still popular with the older generation (40+), the younger generation has fallen in love with the NBA and pick-up basketball.

Noel Smith

5 minute read

I’ve been cheated a time or two in my life. I’ve been swindled out of time, money, friendship and love. But fear not my dear reader, for this post is not intended to inventory each time I’ve gotten the short end of the stick. Rather my aim is to recount one specific time I got the short end of the cucumber, the time my heart was broken by the woman I was seeing for over a year—my vegetable lady.

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