Category China

The Perils of Traveling as an Unaccompanied Minor in Alien Lands (Quarantined in Kunming Airport)

Fear is not an inbuilt instinct but rather something we learn as we get older. Now that I’m an adult I worry about all kinds of shit – trivial shit, heavy existential shit and everything in between. At the age of 26 I find myself plagued by a host of abstract anxieties. But I was […]

Is Travel Just Escapism?

Sometimes I’ve got to get away. Like now. Stuck in England with the November blues. Unemployed. Living in a squalid cupboard in my parents’ poky bungalow because I can’t afford to rent. I’m literally living out of a suitcase because I have nowhere else to put my stuff. My car is falling apart, with more […]

The poppy: a symbol of sacrifice or oppression?

Here’s a quick lesson in cultural differences: In England November 11th is a day to remember all the lives lost in military combat. A solemn occasion marked by two minutes of silence in which people across the nation pause to reflect on the human cost of war. However, in Chinese popular culture the date is […]

Traveling to Qing Dynasty China in Style

NOTE: This post follows from the previous post: Beijing to Shanxi by Car. But you can also read it as a stand-alone article. ‘We have to leave by eight’ Mr Tang said sternly. For all his talk about anarchy the man has a deep respect for schedules. Everything has to go according to a detailed […]

Beijing to Shanxi by Car

When you live in Beijing you welcome any chance to get out of it. It’s not that the Chinese capital is an exceptionally bad city. It has its charms. But its expats will know what I’m talking about. The smog, the copious amounts of humans choking the transportation grid, the vast distances involved in getting […]

Beijing’s underground music scene is alive and well

I had my first taste of Beijing’s underground music scene. The counter-culture. A crazy, unforgettable night. The gig was at a dingy graffitti-scored venue called the Mao Livehouse in the heart of Beijing on an old street full of guitar shops. The name of the place is ironic considering everything that goes on inside it. […]

A Foggy Night in Beijing

Went to Qianmen last night with TT, TT and TT’s mum. The city was bathed in thick fog. At Qianmen Street I remarked: ‘I had some tasty Peking duck near here.’ To which TT responded, somewhat cryptically: ‘Have you had Peking bullshit?’ We came to Tiananmen Square. It was closed off and smelled of chemicals. […]