Thank you, from the bottom of my heart that my parents gave me.
Thank you, from the innermost part of my core and from my instincts that my teachers told me follow.
Thank you, brother, from my spine and skeleton and bones.
Thank you, sister, from my running legs that you showed me how to use.
Thank you, friend, from my hands and arms.
Thank you, from my breathing lungs.
Thank you, from my joints and many injuries, from my sensitive nerves, from my ears and my cloud eyes.
Thank you. So much.
Late lunch was xiaolongbao from the original spot on Wudong Lu.
Still didn’t take a picture — ate them all with dark rice vinegar (the Zhenjiang variety of legendary origin) before I could even pull out my smartphone.
Later that day I would take a taxi to Pudong with several large bags and check in for a red-eye flight direct to LAX. First, I’d eat these eight dumplings — minced pork mixed with spring onion and aspic set inside circular unleavened dough wrappers then folded and pinched shut — directly from the bamboo steamer. These were the same ones I tried after arriving in Shanghai last year: the ones with vinegar poured in the same saucers, red chili sauce served with the same tiny spoons.
Exactly eight dumplings; no more, no less.
Continue reading “Lunch (Thoughts of Shanghai)”
Evening, approaching the Mekong/Nam Khan confluence.
Tucked in the far back corner of an outdated sleeper bus headed toward Luang Prabang, an impatient American passenger searched through the dirty window for a sign — any sign — that might suggest an end to his 27-hour journey from Kunming, China.
Bumpy, unpaved dirt roads had led him here: cramped and sweaty, peering into the darkening of North Laos. His bus, now hurtling at about 45mph on a thin, one and a half-lane highway in dusk, couldn’t arrive fast enough. A series of yellow-white lights off the left-hand side of the bus peeked through the blanket black night; the passenger blinked back at the shy lights. Air whistled through his opened window, damp like breath. Two left turns separated by a stretch of road resulted in a bus station where he alighted.
Shoving his shoulders back and stretching his arms into the sky, he stepped into the blacked-out indigo-blue of Luang Prabang.
Continue reading “The Two Rivers of Luang Prabang, Laos”