I first came to Taiwan in 1994, and began traveling to China (or “The Mainland” as most Taiwan-based expats called it, though this is considered increasingly gauche these days) in 1998.
In 1999, I accepted an offer to take a summer job at Beijing Scene, post-revolutionary China’s first independently operated English language leisure magazine. Though I only worked there for four months, it was a formative period for me as a writer, and several stories from that time have found their way into various short story collections published since. Supper in Uigherville and Cold War Cuisine (both in How Not to Avoid Jet Lag) are from my Beijing Scene Summer.
In 2002 I returned to China both to travel, improve my Mandarin, and have experiences that would wind up as feature articles for newspapers and Magazines around Asia and the world, including City Weekend, The South China Morning Post, Things Asian Press, The Standard (HK), the Rocky Mountain Bullhorn, the Colorado Daily, Cat Fancy, and a few others. (Just a few days ago I found this treasure trove of stories I’d written for the South China Morning Post, which I still need to sort through at some point.)
By and large, my beat was art, leisure and culture, but I’d occasionally do more esoteric articles as well, including A Male Malady (about a revolutionary prostate clinic in Xian; I still get an email or two every year from a sufferer asking me to connect them with the doctor, who seems to have vanished off the medical radar) or Fat Fighting with Chinese Characteristics.
I traveled around China, basing myself at different points in Beijing, Kunming and Yangshuo until the summer of 2004. From 2004-2006 I was based in Hong Kong, continuing to travel extensively throughout the nation for the South China Morning Post, City Weekend, Things Asian Press, and later, Fodors. I returned to Taiwan in 2006 to begin work on my first guide for Lonely Planet, Lonely Planet Taiwan 7th Edition. I have since returned on various writing projects, including the Yunnan chapter of the Lonely Planet Greater Mekong guide.