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. >>>
If you're anything like me, your favorite places are those that fail to fit into any single category, like a dive bar that has excellent foie gras or anywhere that offers poolside oboe lessons. I'm also particularly drawn towards awe-inspiring vistas and brobdingnagian displays of human ingenuity and engineering; so obviously, I think the Great Wall of China is the bees knees. I do, however, hate hordes of tourists, which naturally causes some issues when I visit any of the amazing places I want to visit; turns out other people think they're amazing places too. Imagine my delight when I stumbled over to the blog Interactive Expat and discovered Badaling and Juyonguan are inundated with all year round. Here's my personal tip for avoiding crowds: go during a thunderstorm, when it's snowing, mid-typhoon or in any otherwise horrid weather. Also: dress appropriately.
For all of you out there who haven't had a chance to check out our interview with two Peace Corps members currently stationed in Anshun, you may do so now. Or, if you've had enough of us, you could bypass the interview and get to the meat of it all: this excellent story on heat stroke and running in China. Note to readers: before you walk 17 kilometers without water or sunscreen, ask about the free shuttle bus twice. Those first guys might have no idea what they're talking about.
Have you ever dreamed of riding a horse, getting carted around behind a sheep and firing a cannon? What's that? No? Oh. Well, anyway, turns out you can do those things up in Hebei Province, and I found this article on the Weichang Scenic Area to be a great read. It includes more than one inappropriate mom joke.
Like many of us who missed the glory days of train travel in the States, I have a seriously rose colored vision of what I imagine train travel should be like: bar cars, the breeze of a passing plain through an open window, cigarettes, strangers conversing, rubbery food, etc. My experiences on trains here in China haven't been bad by any means (they've got the rubbery food part down pat), but it certainly hasn't been all cigars, brandy and laughter, if you know what I'm saying. But hope is not lost! As high speed trains have stolen the hearts of Chinese travelers, their slower brethren continue to chug along, full of empty seats. And judging by this photo diary about traveling China by train on the slow rail lines, it looks right up my alley. Look at that guy playing cards! I want to be that guy.
And for travelers who are looking for some western staples during their trip to China, there is a push to legalize the tipping of travel guides in China, and judging from this interview with Shanhai's Boxing Cat staff, a growing craft beer culture on the mainland. So don't fret, because pretty soon you'll be over-tipping surly bartenders, cocktail waitresses and your driver, just like in the States.