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Faces of Asia

Posted by on October 13, 2012

It might be the single, most powerful image to humans: the face.

In it we see so much; and from it we react so much. Ever examine your feelings when seeing different faces? It’s incredible how the subtle changes and appearance of a face can affect us: from the familiarity, relief, and comfort from a loved one’s face; to the tenseness, anxiety, and even horror from an unfamiliar or threatening one. And apart from these extremes are the countless areas in-between.

The face seems to be so much more than a happenstance of genes. It seems a symbol of the individual, a expression of their character, confidence, passion, and interests. Beyond the shape, we recognize the tells: scars, weathering, tone, mood. We inference their age and experiences. We may even be able to tell their story. We get to know all this with this one image.

The face is universal. The gestures are universal: head tilts, head nods, head back, head forward; smiles, grimaces, scowls, frowns, stares, squints, ogles, glares, glances, sneers, sighs, eye-rolls, winks, blinks, raised eyebrows, jaw-drops, jaws clenched, peers, pouts, and puckers.

This post is pair of slideshows, each offering a look at all the looks I got from the people I met. :) First up is a compilation of the faces I met all year, all over as I traveled around the continent.


New Plateaus: Chinese Faces pt 1

With all the variations in faces mentioned at the top and seen throughout this slideshow, it’s a wonder we always talk about Chinese all looking alike! Variety is everywhere. And there’s no better way to see it than by looking at it straight in the eye. It’s a big world, folks. Go check it out one face at a time.

Our next slideshow reveals this variety not just all over the country and continent, but within one city, and my home in China, Zhuhai.

Home: where routines are made, and the places and people are familiar. It’s a location that let’s you get into your groove of life and feel comfortable. The hunter-gatherer peoples of pre-civilized humanity had a “home” of sorts: it was the people they kept close. Then when farming, domestication, and cities sprouted, humans came to know the comforts and productivity of staying put, of enjoying the regularity of a homestead. For the most part, this holds true today.

Feel the difference when away from home—more alert and present, more uncomfortable, excited, or even anxious. Then as you’re within striking distance on the return trip, you get that groove back, and the familiarity of the environment puts you in a new state. Regardless of your specific reaction, the impact of home makes Dorothy truthful when saying there’s no place like it—wherever it is: Bemidji, Minneapolis, Buenos Aires, or Zhuhai. That’s right, even if just a temporary home, like Zhuhai was for me, these points all held true to the degree that a year in China can allow.

Whereas the first slideshow boasted a wider geographic breadth, I’d argue that the variety of this slideshow is greater. Because when you get to know an area, when it’s your home, you delve into its crevices to reveal what really makes it tick—just as a matter of being there and living the day to day. It’s about depth.

Here are the faces that made me feel at home in Zhuhai.


(oh, and I really wanted to give you an audio option with this slideshow, but my tech skillz aren’t up to par. If you like, play a nice melody to go along with the show: )

Faces in my China neighborhood

Nothing like a picture to help you appreciate the moments past! The reward of my time in China wasn’t just something to gain “down the road”: experience for a resume, learning a language. The trip itself was the reward!

Here’s to not wasting a drip of life.

Next week, I give my final take on China.

’til then,


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