A Case of You

prof-case-7 Sometimes, to assess a relationship and one’s place in it, one needs to get away from it all for a while. Or maybe forever. Now, now, dear reader, ‘twas nothing personal, and besides, it wasn’t you: it was me who needed to get away. In any case I refer, of course, to my own specific ties to Hong Kong and China, and to the larger dysfunctional relationship between China and the West.

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An Open Letter to America

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These are dark days indeed for trembling Old China Hands like myself. I blame you, America. After all, what did you expect when you took all the profit out of profiteering? How did you expect profiteers to make an honest living in the face of currency manipulation, unrealistic quality standards, endless factory inspections and your naïve insistence on fair labor practices?

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China: Down the Long and Winding Road to Nowhere

prof-china-2008-circle Hurtling down the highways and byways past hundreds of shuttered factories emptied of machinery, materials, and workers, there is a thundering resonance of silence.

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Confessions of a Global Profiteer: World Keeps Turning

professor-profiteer-1 (1) When I first arrived in Hong Kong, the better business hotels actually provided a fax machine in every room with a dedicated outside line and all the smeary ‘paper’ one could possibly unroll from the drum. Actual connection (and legibility) was spotty. Email service, if available at all, was in the hotel business center usually located in a sub-basement level between the sauna and the hair salon: talk about convenient!

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Confessions of a Global Traveler: They Call Me ‘Mister’ Professor

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I raised my sons to act with civility in this increasingly boorish world, and the bedrock of that behavior was the tenet: Never — ever — poke fun at someone’s name. Unless, of course, it’s really funny, in which case let the linguistic brutality begin. In private company, of course. After all, who among us not named after body parts, sex acts, animals or food hasn’t taken such liberties?

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Faster Than a Speeding Bullet…Train

prof-faster-2 Recently, your profiteering Professor found himself in a brand-spanking new but deserted train station in Southern China’s Fujian Province. The just-completed station on a brand new bullet train line serves as the southern terminus for a route between Xiamen and Fuzhou, two medium-sized cities of about five million souls each.

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Like Water For Haircuts

professor-haircuts-2 (1) Professor Say: Even the longest journey begins with the first small step. Okay, so maybe I never said that, but whoever did was surely some old soul kindred to yours truly and veteran travelers everywhere.

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Nothing But Blue Skies

professor-blueskies-1 (1) In late October, the weather in southern China usually brings a bit of relief from the usual oppressive mug that otherwise greets profiteers on buying trips to the world's factory floor, a.k.a. Guangdong Province. Not that fall weather is ever actually pleasant there, but at least by then the torrential summer rains have stopped, the earth's industrially scalded surface has cooled a bit, and northern breezes stir the air.

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Of Courtesans and Kings

professor-courtesans-1 (1) But what, then, of the business traveler? Unusual and different are hardly the stuff of your typical business trip; rather, routine is preferred. After all, who wants surprises with their morning coffee or laundry delivery? Thus, many business travelers crave routine, never straying from that favorite hotel or restaurant even when exotica beckons just across the road

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Old China Hands

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Back in the golden age of globaliz — er, sorry — colonization, the sun never set on the British Empire or the Brits who were posted throughout the empire in strategic Asian cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and all over the Indian subcontinent.

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On the Border: Or, Hermes Help Us Cross

professor-hermes-4 (1) I have a confession to make: In all my years of global travel, the prospect of a border crossing still manages to strike fear, if not dread, in my heart. Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe - for global travelers of a certain age - it’s the time of man. But whatever it is, it increases my paranoia, like looking in the mirror and seeing a police car.

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St. Dominic’s Preview

St Dominics Preview excerpt image Every journey has a defining moment or event, especially with overseas travel when distance combines with a traveler's innate wish for a foreign destination to leave an indelible stamp. Years later, one can say, yes, I was there and I survived.

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The Year of the Tyger

professor-tigeryear-1 (1)Yes, class, the Year of the Tiger is indeed underway, in China and all over the rest of the known world outside the Middle Kingdom, as China has regarded itself for millennia. Whether burning bright, as Blake would see it, or pacing in the tall grass with motives and movement unseen to the West, China and its avatar d’une certain annee are out there framing, well, their fearful symmetry.

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Then, Now and Forever

professor-thennow-1 Every veteran traveler has a place, out of all others, that is truly special. As with a favored child or long-lost lover, it is sometimes difficult to express such affection, for fear of ruining any anticipation for other less-favored destinations, or of dissuading oneself from taking that next road not yet taken. But there is always one special place.

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