Quit traveling wrong already
"…When I once admitted my daily KFC routine [in Beijing] to another traveler, he took that as permission to lecture me on the importance of integration. From him, I “learned” that I should be traveling more vibrantly, experiencing foreign lifestyles more authentically, and rejecting anything that was not representative of local culture.
In the States, I never go to KFC. My stint with Colonel Sanders in China was an entirely new exposure, led by a love of sugar. Most other times, I did eat local food, experiment with Beijing flavor, and experience the various visceral reactions brought on by ingesting what I still refer to as pork skin Jell-O. I felt worse having to make these claims in my defense than admitting to the alleged travel crime.”
—excerpted from Quit traveling wrong already
My tryst with a Chinese panda
“Here comes another panda,” said Sophie.
Dazed, I looked all around until I spotted a second panda crawling toward us, lured by the caretaker, who made loud noises and waved a panda cake.
I recited the line of Chinese I’d learned — “hen k’ai” or “very cute” — to the caretaker, who nodded quickly, her eyes fixed on the two bears’ every move. Then I went around to the second one, tried to think of what to do or say. All I came up with was: “Hey, whatcha doin?”
After giving a wary once-over, the panda pursued a chunk of panda cake that had rolled down his chubby stomach. I knelt down to pat his back, when suddenly the young bear swatted at the tip of my hospital gown. A friendly invitation to play? Or maybe the panda equivalent of “quit bothering me while I’m eating”? His paw grazed my fingertips, and I felt his claws, hard and sharp.
“Okay, our time is over,” said Sophie.
—excerpted from My tryst with a Chinese panda