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Vagabond Journey Travel Stories and World Culture


Horgos China construction Horgos: The New Silk Road’s First New City
urumqi tank Urumqi Police State
coal mining_DCE Why Coal by Wire and the Decentralization of Pollution Will be China’s Biggest Environmental Catastrophe Yet



This is the view from my window in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Bushwalking Australia How to


The basics for what you need to get into the wild outback of Australia


In an odd but necessary move I go in for mundane work -- and it got me where I wanted to go.

Chinese demand for new tastes driving increase in food and drink imports | South China Morning Post thumbnail

This is an article that I wrote for the South China Morning Post about how increased demand is driving the supply of imported products and foreign themed F&B establishments in China and, cyclically, how this increased supply is continuing to drive even greater demand.

The Sheer Beauty of Korean Food

YonginCIty 2011 399

A few weeks before I departed for Korea we went for Cambodian food with some friends. The talk naturally turned to different food from around the world and the ones we loved. I personally have always been partial to Vietnamese food and Indian food. The talk turned to Korean food and how so few people [...]


This is what I'm looking out at in Urumqi.

A new documentary series is coming out about the culture of street musicians around the world. I want to watch this. Let's help make it happen.

On the Road of Ambition

There are no rest stops here.

Almaty   Google Maps

I'm preparing to go out to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Horgos FTZ to begin my next big project: a book about the New Silk Road.

The Culture of Betting


The practice of gambling transcends culture, geography, politics, class lines, religion, and history.

Commentary on an excellent interview on censorship in China.


Is sleeping in an elongated dog kennel worth it?

Forward  Re  Hong s professional paper

I find myself being employed to give criticism in a culture that doesn't want to hear it.

Why white wine, clothes dryers and car seats all flopped in China | South China Morning Post thumbnail

This is an article that I wrote for the South China Morning Post about the cultural factors that have caused some products and companies that are very popular in the West to fail in China.

The Pig Route, New Zealand

Sunrise over Cromwell, NZ

Chaos and action are always happening somewhere, but it’s nice to spend a birthday in a beautifully remote part of the globe.

Ghost Cities of China books

Ghost Cities of China in the media, May 2015.

The Attraction of Singapore

marina sands singapore

The word was that Singapore was boring. I found this to be the furthest thing from the reality on the ground.

Tibetan yak_DCE

The backpacker myth of Tibet and the reality of the 21st century.

Welcome to New Town Squares of China

shopping mall china

Sure, malls are a ubiquitous, mono-cultural, expensive, and haphazard way to develop an urban area but they serve a vital social function in China that we'd probably miss if it wasn't there.

Demolition Party | The New Inquiry thumbnail

Demolition Party | The New Inquiry

An excerpt from Ghost Cities of China has been featured in The New Inquiry.