Of all the places I’ve traveled, the least rewarding was China.
It’s a disaster for the laowai (foreigner), especially a bumbler like author J. Maarten Troost.
… ill-equipped with a sliver of Mandarin, questing to discover the “essential Chineseness” of an ancient and often mystifying land. What he finds is a country with its feet suctioned in the clay of traditional culture and a head straining into the polluted stratosphere of unencumbered capitalism, where cyclopean portraits of Chairman Mao (largely perceived as mostly good, except for that nasty bit toward the end) spoon comfortably with Hong Kong’s embrace of rat-race modernity. From Beijing and its blitzes of flying phlegm–and girls who lend new meaning to “Chinese take-out”–to the legendary valley of Shangri-La (as officially designated by the Party), Troost learns that his very survival may hinge on his underdeveloped haggling skills and a willingness to deploy Rollerball-grade elbows over a seat on a train. Featuring visits to Mao’s George Hamiltonian corpse and a rural market offering Siberian Tiger paw, cobra hearts, and scorpion kebabs (in the food section), Lost on Planet China is a funny and engrossing trip across a nation that increasingly demands the world’s attention. — review by Jon Foro
China changes so quickly that this book published July 2008 is already nearly hopelessly out of date.
If you foolishly ponder a trip to China in future, this is a must read.
Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid – Amazon