Welcome to Turning East

This website features recorded interviews which were edited to be read but also to retain the language of the individual storyteller–edited oral history. The writing/telling style of the posts varies from one to another. Sometimes with a name change to protect privacy. The interviews begin in 1985 and continue into the present. Almost all are set in  China, Korea, Japan or the Philippines and center on personal, intercultural experience of life, work and travel. Occasionally I include a story of my own. I’ve now gone to posting once a month.

Years ago I was flooded with spam comments and posts–over … Read More

Dear Readers,

In 1984, I moved to China to teach at Xiamen University. As a child and young adult, I’d done four one-year stays in Europe, but Asia was so  foreign it completely blew my mind. I started interviewing fellow-travelers for a book about our experiences and two or three years later handed a fat manuscript over to a literary agent. After maybe six months she returned it. No market. One mainstream publisher said they’d love to do my book, but they had just done three books on Asia from a western perspective and they were all financial disasters. The agent was … Read More

Encore Post: A Meditation Teacher’s Last talk


During the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to turn away from the negativity of the news and Covid isolation and see things from a Buddhist perspective. I’ve been unable to reconnect with my former meditation teacher, Dogong, aka John Barazzuol. I’d love to have another talk. In lieu of that, I’ll repost my report of his last dharma talk before he left Korea for Canada. When he entered the meditation room, he laughed at the sight of seven recorders on the floor in front of his cushion.

In Canada, Dogong removed his monk’s robes and wrote his own Read More

Chris “Talks Story”

I met Chris in South Korea, when both she and Alan, the man who became her husband, were in the US military.  Recently, we talked online, and she told me what moving around the US, Korea and Germany had meant for her. Thanks to Chris for the photos.

Chris’s story

You said that, in each of the different places you have lived, you left a different person than you came.

In Hawaii, when we talk about our lives and subjects like this, we say we “talk story”.

Every place I went had a certain effect on me in one way … Read More

A World-Class Filipino Musician

I first met Noli Aurillo and his partner, Bessy, at Tago Jazz Café, where he performed frequently. I became an instant fan of his quieter solo guitar music. Sometimes Bessy and I would watch together. On March 25, 2022, I made my first venture out into night life since the beginning of the pandemic and discovered Tago was doing an evening tribute to him. I hadn’t

known that he’d died. I sat with Bessy, who was upset about an article that had appeared in a local paper, and told her she could tell her story here however she wanted to. … Read More

An Unintended Adventure, Part 3


Part 1 of “An Unintended Adventure,” is told by Chris’s wife, Geri. (Link) Part 2 gets the story of his accident and physical rehabilitation from his perspective. It ends with the importance of remaining physically active when fighting back from the loss of limbs or an injury or just in living. (Link) Part 3 takes that message up again and also delves into the mental/spiritual state that makes conscientious rehabilitation possible. Another interview with Chris is about his adventures among a mountain tribe in Indonesia. (Link)

We spoke when Chris was at home in Florida and Read More