My Writings on Asia from 1998

In 1998, I was just 12 years old, but I was already living in and writing about Asia, just as I do now, over a decade later. Recently, when looking for my own name on Google, I found the following three articles I had written for Wow Macau 1998, a field trip I took with my Hong Kong International School class to Macau. At that time, I was in a special group that carried laptops and digital cameras and wrote about our travels. Little did I know at that time that writing about Asia and publishing my writings on the Internet would become a hobby for me, something I would continue to pursue over a decade later!

These writings were taken from the following source (though I originally wrote them): *UPDATE* — the link no longer works. I'm going to leave the link here in case it goes back up. However, I'm glad I found my old writings when I did!

It is possible that in the future, as I discover other things I wrote about Asia and posted on the web during middle school, I might choose to post them here, even if they're from a later time period than 1998. Anyways, enjoy the essays.

The Spectacular Chinese Junk

Wow Macau Nov, '98
Group Leader's Name: Mrs. Thomas
Name(s) of Author(s)
: Charlie Wetzel
Date of Writing: November 4, 1998
Type of Writing: Description

On a recent trip to the Maritime Museum, I discovered a very interesting exhibit about a very interesting ship. The ship was called a Chinese junk and it was extremely intriguing.

Of all the ships in the world, the junk was the most advanced ship of its time. It sported strong, bamboo reinforced sails, which could hold against any wind that would tear apart other sails. The teak hull measured from 35 feet to more than 100 feet. A type of rudder was connected to a tiller and could steer the junk much easier than before. The flat bottom of the sturdy hull allowed very good balance on rough seas and calm lakes alike. With the junk’s amazingly advanced design, it would have been far superior to any other ship designs of the time. Believe it or not, it was built at the same time that the Native Americans were building canoes and the Egyptians were building reed boats. They were so good that they are still being used today.

If a person today sails on a junk, he or she is probably a fisherman. However in their heyday, they were very versatile, being used for war, trade, and exploration. But though its uses have changed, the design of the junk remains relatively unchanged.

In addition to being versatile sailing vessels, the junks had many superstitions tied to them. It is believed that a pair of eyes painted on the bow of a junk is good luck and can guide it safely through a rough storm. In Chinese folklore, there was a girl named A-Ma who gained immortality and helped many people who were in trouble. One day there was a terrible storm out at sea. A-Ma visited some of the struggling sailors on board a junk and when the storm lifted, the sailors found they were the only survivors of the storm. After landing their junk, they dedicated a temple to A-Ma. This is only one of many stories that involve junks and sailors.

So despite their primitive look, the junks have always been very prominent vessels. They were once considered very advanced. They even continue to be useful today to the people of Hong Kong, Macau, and China. The junk is a very fascinating ship.

A Vendor on the Streets of Largo do Senado

Wow Macau Nov, '98
Group Leader's Name: Mrs. Thomas
Name(s) of Author(s)
:   Charlie Wetzel
Date of Writing:             November 3, 1998
Type of Writing:             Perspective

    I am a vendor on the streets of the Largo do Senado and I make a type of food called Pun Jeng Kei, which resembles western pancakes. Today I was visited by about a dozen students from a school in Hong Kong called Hong Kong International School. They loitered around my vending cart for a while, chatting and taking notes, obviously interested in what I was doing. They seemed very excited and finally their adult leader let them buy ten patacas worth of my Pun Jeng Kei. They paid in Hong Kong dollars though. I was pleased to see that they liked my food and they said many things about it in excited voices in a tongue that I couldn’t understand. I knew that they had enjoyed it.

    They soon disappeared into the streets of mustard and light peach colored buildings, after attempting to interview me in Cantonese which I do not speak. So as I have done for a long time, I sat in my metal vending cart, watching the street sweepers going a bout their daily routine as they have always done. I stirred my wooden coals a little more, and watched the fountain spewing its eternal rain of water. I continued kneading the yellow dough of my treat and watching it harden in my flat hinged pans. Largo do Senado is one of Macau’s most important and historic squares in Macau. It is truly an experience living in Macau and selling these traditional treats.

A Day in the Life of a Coke Bottle

Group Leader: Mrs. Thomas
Author(s): Charlie Wetzel
Date: November 6, 1998
Type of Writing: Perspective

I am a coke bottle at a Coca-Cola factory in Macau, and I lead a very interesting and strange life, if you call it life. Of course today was no typical day, because today the factory was visited by some students from far away Hong Kong. They came into the presentation room, accompanied by some adult leaders. I was seated quietly in my icebox at the time. The students quickly sat down, talking excitedly, and started to watch a rather optimistic video that was full of Coca-Cola propaganda. They seemed to enjoy it, as it filled their heads with ideas of Coca-Cola being `the international drink’ and how Coke has been around for more than 100 years. Most of the information was true despite the fact that it was highly exaggerated.

Then a delighted roar rose from the students as me and many other Coke and Fanta bottles were lifted into the air. I cried out in horrible pain as the cap was brutally twisted off of my top and thrown away, and a straw was jabbed into my head. I was then passed to one of the enthusiastic students, who promptly slurped all of the liquid out of me! Then one of the teachers started yelling at the wild kids as they started to rush about and create total chaos. I was then thrust into a cardboard carton without the slightest concern of breaking me, and the students promptly filed out of the presentation room without a care in the world.

I know that I have to be recycled, and that is not pleasant. After all, I’ll have to be melted and refilled and then be recycled again and again. Being a Coke bottle at a Coca-Cola factory is not exactly fun. Of course people visiting a Coke factory think differently.

Copyright (C) 2009 Charles Wetzel. All rights reserved.