Michiganders in a China Shop: A Year in Photos

by K.M. Zahrt

In 2007-2008, my wife, Katie, and I traveled to China to teach English as a second language. Now, seven years later, the statute of limitations that prevented me from sharing these photographs earlier has been lifted (my wife said I could). Enjoy!

1. Shanghai Nights


On a clear night, you can see the brilliance of the city lights reflecting off of the smog.

2. Old Shanghai Architecture


If I understood correctly, the famous scene from Kill Bill: Vol.1 in which Uma Thurman infiltrates Lucy Liu’s compound and cuts off the arm of a henchwoman was filmed there.

3. Funny Sign #1


This informative translation was on display in a garden in Shanghai.

4. First Chinese Dinner #1


Me: “Chop-chop! Chop-chop sticks!”

5. First Chinese Dinner #2 


Our translator, Robyn: “What have I gotten myself into?”

6. Getting Ready to Host the 2008 Summer Olympics


Some of my students were being groomed for future Olympic stardom.

7. Troupe Playing Traditional Chinese Instruments


When I told the two string player I once played a 12-string guitar, she laughed and said, “Americans…”

8. On the Shore of the Yellow Sea 


I had to grow out my hair because I was told bald scalps are for criminals in China.

9. Farm-to-table Restaurant Near the Yellow Sea


This restaurant proprietor was proud to show off “the largest sea food around.” Look closely. The kid sleeping in the loft was not impressed with us.

10. Mules and Motor Vehicles


Streets were shared equally by all members of the community, in theory…

11. Funny Sign #2


This informative translation was a great comfort to us.

12. A Nice Tourist in a Bonsai Garden


Karate Katie showed off her crane kick.

13. “Want to Hold My Circus Monkey? He Does Tricks.”


My wife said, “Yes!” Turned out one of the monkey’s tricks was to pee on your hands. A must-have experience if you’re ever in the area.

14. A Mausoleum Near Beijing. Or, Was It Nanjing?


I can’t remember where this is, but I do remember, if I understood correctly, scenes from the Chinese remake of Rocky were filmed there.

15. A Sight Visible from Space


If I understood correctly, that flag is visible from space.

16. The End of the Line


Confucius say, I want yellow bean bags at my grave site. That color will really pop.


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