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!