This Floating Life

Now the heavens and earth are the hostels of creation;

And time has seen a full hundred generations.

Ah, this floating life, like a dream…

True happiness is so rare!

Li Bai, “On a Banquet with my Cousins on a Spring Night in the Peach Garden”, “春夜宴诸从弟桃园序.”

Tang poetry, full of brief but deep friendships and obsessive love for alcohol, has an affinity with expat life in modern China.

Last night I went out with some new friends. We went out for pizza, spoke English or Chinese depending on what we wanted to say, and went to a karaoke palace. As I rode home I watched the street vendors lining the street and felt that I was floating on the surface of this country, this life.

China is wonderful for me. It’s cheap. It’s fascinating. How much of expat joy is about the country’s culture, and how much of it is about the privilege we enjoy here?

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