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People along the way.

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Conversions

ZHANGJIAJIE, China — He looks at my passport, and I know something is not right. The bank teller stares at my currency exchange form and gives me a look I can’t decipher. My stay in Zhangjiajie is ending, and I need some yuan to catch the last train out. His fingers tap the desk anxiously,…

Noodle Soup for the Soul

LIUZHOU, China — The train from Liuzhou to Guilin was packed that Saturday afternoon. I was pushed to endure the two-hour ride standing at the space in between cars — by the toilet, next to the garbage bin, beside the smoking area — with the other passengers who booked a ticket too late. I shared…

Coy

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines — He used to ask me how he could be stronger. Even that night three years ago when he showed up at my door, he asked me the same question. He was in tears, and he didn’t want to be that way. He said he was too lost, too weak. “You’re too…

Sketchy Intentions

CHANGSHA, China — My five-hour wait for the next train had barely started when an old woman entered the terminal and stood in the aisle between me and a couple fast asleep in a sweet embrace. It was five past two in the morning in Changsha City, China. We were the only people in the…

Scars and Mirrors

He comes bearing change. The little boy stretches his arms forward as he tiptoes toward my table with utmost caution. His cupped hands carry a couple of bills under a small mound of coins. His mother, the cashier-slash-waitress at the small eatery, watches him do the delivery from behind the counter. “Thank you,” I tell…

Layers

Outer Cover. TAAL, Philippines — It took two teenage boys to get the sacks of rice from the back of the pickup truck into the building, a shelter exclusively for abandoned or abused little girls . From the passenger seat, a middle-aged woman emerged and walked without looking at either of them. Until that moment when…

Everyone’s Looking

BANGKOK, Thailand — “Dance with me.” His order is delivered with an adhesive stare and in a stoic tone. No distinct accent. Deep, raspy voice. But it is his deeper eyes that scream a million sexy words. Just ten minutes earlier, he said I could call him Ray. He pressed his back on the wall next to…