Look, look at the pictures I took! Five minutes ago, this little Chinese girl snatched my camera, and since then she learned how to turn it on, take snapshots, record, to playback what she did and delete what she doesn’t like. She took wonderful shots of the entire home, her toys, her parents… She basically did our job […]

The Things We Want

We stopped to have some noodle soup at a petite young woman’s eatery and, as it grew dark, her husband, who had the afternoon off because a machine malfunctioned at work, invited us to spend the night at their place. It was a bit awkward being in their house, for it felt like sitting in […]

Why do we love tyrants? Under Mao Zedong’s gentle gaze 50 million people died, but people remember him as a saint. Millions of Chinese visit his home village every year and stop to pray in front of a golden statue. They worship the objects he touched. They keep his portrait high on the walls of their […]

Communism is a religion, some have said, but I thought it was just a metaphor until I saw how people worship and pray to Mao’s statue in his home village. They don’t just take a moment of silence, they also yammer away their griefs, eyes closed and palms put together, then bow in front of the golden […]

The Happy Funeral

Why is everyone so joyful?! We ran into a Buddhist funeral and we’re totally confused. Everyone is smiling, including the widower, who’s telling jokes and laughing out loud, with a white paper crown on his head. People are playing Mahjong and card games. The youngsters want to take selfies with us, showing the victory sign. The animals […]

  The captain parked his ferry in front of his house and took one last piss before supper. Another day has passed.

Tonight I found the piece of China I knew from childhood stories – a place where power hides itself behind waves of silk rather than within ripples of cement, where dragons breathe fire into people’s hearts, not in factory furnaces. I traveled all day across industrial netherworlds; I pedaled mindlessly until nightfall, then I found myself […]

The groom got scared of the crackers and dropped his bride in the mud. Then he lit up a cigarette and got in the fancy car to drive the dowry to the city.

In a village in central China, close to where Mao Zedong was born, two foreigners interrupt a wedding. The singer stops singing. The guests gather around us as if we came with gifts. They grab us and seat us at a table. Come, eat, drink. It’s a sign of luck if a foreigner drops by […]

We’re spending the night on the shore of the Yangtze river, under a bridge that hums like a spaceship. We have an apple each for dinner and talk about the Chinese people who try to centralize everything a citizen does and then assign them a ”social score” based on their level of compliance. It won’t be […]