Happy Year of the Dog!

The points in red are on this itinerary. The yellow stars mark some of the places I’ve been before.

GUANGZHOU — It is now the first day of the Year of Dog, a suitable time to update everyone on my winter travels.

I have just returned to China from Vietnam, where I stayed a little more than a week each in Hanoi and Da Nang. Now, I’m the middle of another week hopping from one place to another to see old friends before I head back to Zhengzhou.

Here’s the itinerary, keyed to the map above.

1. Zhengzhou, Henan, China, where I currently work
2. Hong Kong (with a brief stay in Shenzhen)
3. Hanoi, Vietnam
4. Da Nang
5. Hanoi again
6. Hong Kong again
7. Guangzhou, Guangdong
8. Kunming, Yunnan (to reunite with a friend from Jishou U)
9. Changde, Hunan (for a former student’s wedding party)
10. Jishou (because I miss it)

and then probably back to Zhengzhou via Changsha, unless I decide to squeeze in another place first.

As I mentioned last time, this holiday trip turned into a working vacation when a former colleague asked me to proofread and edit an English translation of a book by a Chinese writer — for pay. Once I finished that, they offered another job, also for pay. So, while my time in Vietnam was very enjoyable, deadline pressure required I be disciplined in my work habits and pump out two 200-page assignments posthaste.

This was no ordinary proofreading job. My task was to make the translation sound more “native,” given that the translation team consisted largely of Chinese academics who had never lived abroad. Or putting it another way, I had to eliminate any “Chinglish” in the translation, as well as perform the usual proofreaders’ tasks.

So, I had to read everything carefully, make suggestions where I thought the wording could be improved, ask questions when I didn’t understand what was being said, and watch out for expressions or idioms that would make sense to a Chinese reader but would baffle a non-Chinese reader.

Complicating this mission was a bad head cold my third day in Hanoi, which made me useless for two days, and my underpowered “Baby Computer,” which would bog down the deeper I got into a lengthy document.

It’s a $150 Windows touch-screen tablet with attached keyboard, and works quite well for surfing the Internet, watching videos, or writing moderate-length posts such as this one. I found it by chance in an Office Depot two summers ago, and decided to try it out, because the Android tablet I had then was a POS and my main laptop is kind of heavy.

Before I left for Vietnam, a little voice in my head whispered that perhaps the main laptop would be better for editing a 200-page book than a 8″-diagonal tablet, but I wanted to travel as light as possible this time. So, I ignored the little voice and left the Lenovo at home.

Baby Computer, shown here next to a TV remote for scale, was made by Tmax Digital Inc. of Shenzhen, China.

Had I brought the Lenovo, I probably could have finished the proofreading jobs in less time, but whatever. Jobs are done, and I didn’t need to lug around another 2 kgs.

While it can be slow for big jobs, the Baby Computer does have a HDMI output port, so in several places I was able to use the wall-mounted TV as a display.

Tomorrow I take the high-speed rail to Kunming, a seven-hour trip. Since I need to get some sleep, I’ll stop here.

Next up: the first week on the road

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Also published on Medium.

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