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Come into my Castle: a wedding in the Czech Republic

Decin, Northern Czech Republic

A year ago, the unthinkable happened. Marta the Czech seductress, wickedly smart jet-setting party girl, courted by oil sheikhs and private pilots, the same Marta who once took a quick break from being drooled on by a circle of admirers to come over and glass a guy in the face for me, got engaged. Last summer, shortly after getting the call, I went down to see her in Shanghai, partly to verify that an alien cockroach wasn’t wearing her body as a human suit, and also partly to explain the concept of bridesmaids, because I guess in Czech they don’t have any.  

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Prague Old Town: basically Final Fantasy III

Prague, Czech Republic

I don’t know what else to call it: everything here is so Eastern European.  A brief and ecstatic stopover at the grocery store revealed that the five Czech food groups are bread, meat, cream cheese, cake and pickles. I sat next to some kid on the 119 that looked like an even-more-albino-trance version of Yo-landi and my landlady answered the door in her underwear and sandals all like, “jah? what’s wrong with the internet?” There’s nothing wrong with the internet, per se, other than that it’s purple with red polka dots and it’s hard not to stare at.   

pingyao-old-city-street

You Fancy, Huh? 5th Anniversary in Pingyao Old City: Selling Out Like a Boss

Pingyao Old City, Shanxi Province
I got married at 25. Speaking globally, I guess that’s an acceptable average, but for a commitment-phobic white girl who spent as much time as I did listening to Kathleen Hannah, being the early adopter felt, on some distant level, like selling out. You lose your ‘men are all turds’ card because you have to end those sentences with ‘except my husband’. Surprise: none of your single girlfriends appreciate the prologue. On the other hand I was, and still am, kinda too busy being obnoxiously blissful to care so, satisfied sellouts unite.  

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Slot machines and DPRK dreams: a vacation in North Korea or, where the hell is everybody?

North Korea / DPRK

8:30 a.m., April 5, the Mansudae Grand Monument. North Koreans get the day off to celebrate QingMing Tomb Sweeping festival, a national holiday of ancestral worship all over Asia. Myself and four other travelers approach the towering bronze statues of Great Leader Kim Il Sung and his son, Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, Shining Star of Paektu Mountain. We lay flowers at their feet before returning to the rest of the group. “One, two, three, and now we bow,” announces our guide. We do. Somewhere in the bushes, tinny speakers pipe out rousing revolutionary choruses to a vast public square, empty but for us.

Good morning, Pyongyang.  

east-architecture

Blasted by Dawn: or, Free Sunrise, Courtesy of Hotel East

Posted from: Beijing

Sunday morning, just barely 6:30. Kyle and I sat bolt upright in bed as the room was invaded by ultraviolets. All the hotel rooms at East are fronted with a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the suburbs of Hebei and are positioned to catch the sunrise. And what a sunrise. I don’t need to be an astronaut anymore: I’ve already seen the intensity of the turning earth reveal the sun ray by ray as it pours over the edge of the planet. Which is good, since between you and I, I wasn’t looking forward to peeing in my space suit.  

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