We read a lot about travel over the course of one week and, after much sifting and sorting, we've rounded up a few of our favorites. From news and reviews to great blog posts, unusual destinations and travel stories, read on for our picks. >>>
The big news in the world of China writing this week is that renowned long-form journalist Peter Hessler was named one of the 2011 MacArthur Fellows. This week's edition of Best of the Net will feature a number of classic Hessler pieces so we can all remember exactly what it is that has set him apart for the last decade or so. But before we get into the gritty details of just how many high-fives Peter deserves for this accomplishment (I'm leaning in the direction of 500,000 thousand high-fives, give or take), we're going to drop some non-Hessler-related links in order to keep you, dear reader, well-rounded and knowledgeable in all things China.
Read on after the jump for Peter Hessler links and more...
We know that there are fortunes being made in China, whether you're turning piles of money into bigger piles of money trading stocks, selling high priced real estate or even hustling socks in Yiwu. But who would have guessed that high-end yachting companies were trying desperately to make inroads into the Chinese market? You don't have to tell me twice how nice it would be to cruise the Huangpu River, sip some spirits and then do a gainer off the upper deck. I might even buy a yacht.
You all will enjoy this interview with Yan Jun, the Beijing based artist/musician/record-label-owner/all-around-bad-brother. It touches on all kinds of subjects, from his own art and music to the greater underground art scene in China, before moving towards a broader discussion on China in general, where it's been and where it's headed, the good and the bad. So if for some reason you hate music and art, just skip ahead for an intelligent, lengthy discussion on the nature of contemporary Chinese culture. It's not short or easy, but read on, friends, because it only gets deeper as the conversation goes on.
There is no shortage on images of overworked, brooding migrant workers these days, but the folks over at China-Underground have posted this compelling 40-year history of China, a look at labor over the past few decades. In addition to the photos being strikingly well shot, they also feature a variety of old trains billowing smoke like machines of old, which is a huge bonus.
All hail King Hessler
The MacArthur Genius Grants are awarded yearly to 20-40 individuals. There are no requirements. There is no application. Every year, the recipients receive an unsolicited call informing them that they will be paid $500,000, in $100,000 installments over the next five years. And that is what happened to Peter Hessler last week.
For an introduction to Hessler's work, you could start with Hutong Karma, a piece he wrote for The New Yorker in 2006, that does a wonderful job painting a picture of contemporary China by highlighting individuals he had befriended in his neighborhood. From there, I'd read China's Instant Cities, an in-depth look into the construction of a Chinese factory in Zhejiang province. And finally, Hessler got the chance to meet and profile the basketball star Yao Ming all the way back in 2003, and the resulting story is a great, easy read. And he wrote some books too, if you're into that kind of thing.