I had long wanted to take an extended trip in Asia.

For one, I am an Asian product junkie – from John Woo’s mafia sprees to Edward Yang’s dark portrayals of Taipei and hollow wealth, from bubbling stews served in stone cauldrons to slabs of raw fish.  Where better to eat and shop and watch Asia than the place that birthed these things.

Then there are the issues of family and identity.  An Asian American, I wanted more first-hand knowledge of and experience from the more distant half of that label.  I wanted to find a connection between my parents, my upbringing and little bits in me that seem alien in America and try to link them all with some faraway place. 

And I wanted to see the beauty and experience the great history of mythic places I’d heard of over my life – mist covered mountains, kung fu temples, floating markets and ancient capitols.

The spark was my cousin’s, Sunghoo’s, wedding.  His wedding was in six weeks and my mother, two aunts, one uncle and four cousins from the States were planning to attend.  Everyone else (it seemed) was going, why not me?  And if I was going to suffer that miserable twelve hour flight to Asia stuffed in a sweaty, suffocating chair, I was going to milk that investment.  I wouldn’t visit just one or two countries, but six (or seven, depending on how you count Hong Kong). 

            So I bought a pile of books, tried to convince everyone to join me, and started to plan…


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