Recommended books to read before travelling to China

Discussion in 'China' started by vivientran, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. vivientran

    vivientran New Member

    I recently returned from a month long trip to mainland China, which was mostly fantastic, apart from the headaches associated with using local transport, which was nearly always very overcrowded.

    Before I set off on my trip, I read up on Chinese culture and researched worthwhile places to visit. Apart from the Lonely Planet guide book to China, I also found James West's new book, Beijing Blur, useful, in that it gave me an insight into the "new" China, providing the names of various hip new bars, along with a fascinating insight into China's emerging gay scene. West is an Australian journalist with Triple J.

    More useful still, was a travel narrative written by an Australian teacher named Mark Anthony Jones, titled Flowing Waters Never Stale: journeys through China, which I initially discovered on Google Books. It is a very humourous read - delightfully funny in places - and is full of many profound insights into Chinese culture. The book also details visits to numerous places, many of which are off the usual tourist trail. He spends a good deal of his time in China eating, describing many exciting dishes in ways that will make your mouth water! Some of these dishes I was able to try myself, as Jones provides the Chinese names in pinyin.

    Finally, I recommend a read of Kirsty Needham's book, A Season in Red, which also offers some useful insights into the often contradictory world of the "new" China. Like West, Needham is an Aussie journalist.

    So, happy China reading! And happy China travelling!
  2. wanderer

    wanderer Moderator

    Thank you so much for sharing those books and your stories! I've learned a lot, too, by listening to a show on public radio--Marketplace. They have some wonderful stories in their China reporting series.
  3. terance

    terance New Member

    movies are a great way to learn about Chinese culture

    I am a fan of books, but I personally think that movies and TV shows are the best way to learn about a culture and understand people, their customs and their way of life. Of course, books are also a lot of fun and great when you are stuck in airports, on long train/bus trips or having a quiet night at home or in your hotel room.

    Some of the movies and TV series that I recommend to any one with an interest in travel and life in China include Yip Man 2008, Yip Man II 2010, Red Cliff 2008, Beijing Bicycle 2001, Double Sided Tape, and Blood Red Romance.

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