back to berlin

vacation days are over

the weather was wreaking havoc across the globe. as we watched CNN from various hotel rooms in Asia, it was clear that there were many places we were happy not to be. on the front end, we missed earthquakes and tsunami warnings. on the back end, we missed a typhoon that swept over northern Taiwan the day before we came back to Taipei for a friend’s wedding in Taichung, which was closely approaching slum status, debris piled everywhere, military removing fallen trees and signs from city streets.

blessed with good weather, we travelled to:

Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam

Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, Japan

Taipei and Taichung, Taiwan

although we missed out on the beginning of the campaign season in Berlin, we made up for it in Japan, where the official campaigning process started during our stay in Kyoto. this was the old school deal. vans driving by with a loudspeaker spinning on top, projecting election promises at all times of the day. on a day visit to Nara, we randomly came across Japan’s Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, giving a speech right in front of a train station. the pic is a bit blurry but it is really him, poofy hairdo and all. i couldn’t get a good shot as i was being yelled at in japanese and not so gently pushed across the street at the time.

on vacation, the first real one in a long ass time, i fell in love with kyoto, chocked up crazy stories, used all of the japanese i learned in class and some more, met an 83 year old man whose family all died in hiroshima, listened to japanese classic songs played by russian professors from vladivostock and was present at a blues/60’s rock jam session in a tiny kyoto club, cruised for 2 nights in halong bay, managed to cross the street in hanoi without getting run over, got interviewed by a class of taiwanese 7-year olds learning english, and many many more unbelievable and amazing experiences.

back in berlin, i’ve realized that somehow it feels like people here stare at me more, in an annoying and vaguely hostile way, than in all of my time in Asia, where the staring phenomenon occurs just as often but a bit more warranted, lacking the sneer. and still no matter where on the globe, it seems i still have to explain to some people that yes i’m american, my parents are american, my grandparents are american and yes my great-grandparents lived in the USA and no i’m not French or any African nationality. not surprising that people are baffled about the situation of dark-skinned american citizens, refugees except by UN definition, in the aftermath of trina. history lessons come in all forms, even on vacation. w’s not mine.

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