There are a lot of restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai, including a few very good ones. But recently I’ve concluded that your average restaurant-on-the-street in China frankly isn’t that good. This was driven home after I moved to Jinqiao (Pudong) and found that all the local eateries on my street a) pretty much serve all the same stuff and b) none of it sparks my appetite. So, I’m going out on a limb here and saying something I know a lot of people are thinking–Chinese food is overrated.
The thing that is most difficult to capture or explain is the faces I saw during those nine days and 585 kilometers of cycling. They are etched in my memory, but are otherwise ephemeral. How can something so brief make such a deep impact?
There are numerous articles I had intended to write during the last 10 months of radio silence which never got written. Here are just a few:
A Countryside Drama
Down in Moganshan, a place I have visited regularly for the last 4 years, a controversy has erupted centering around land-use rights, or I guess more accurately water use rights. One villager in Houwu–which is at the foot of the mountain and is a place where there is lots of tourism activity of late–has erected a fence around a small reservoir which is a favorite swimming spot. He has put up a sign advertising rental of mats and coolers. The only thing is, these rentals don’t seem to be optional. Nor does he seem to own the reservoir. He has also placed his elderly mother as sentinel at the gate cut in this fence and she is a hideous shrew. It has thrown into relief the challenges of local development. Who will be the haves and who will be the have-not-as-much?
There are countless China guidebooks and apps on the market. None of them are particularly outstanding though all prove somewhat useful. However, the best China travel guide published in the last 60 years is without a doubt Nagel’s Encyclopedia Guide to China. It was written in 1966 and published in 1968. Even at 1,504 pages, it still manages to be the best pocket guide to China ever published. Even better, you can still buy extant copies from used/rare book sellers. I got mine off Amazon for around US$20.