The best China travel stories from around the net

by James Weir
Posted: May 29th, 2012 | Updated: July 13th, 2012 | Comments
China travel features_china travel news_china travel blogs_china travel stories 1940's Kunming photos While browsing the entertaining and profanity-laced blog Beijing Cream, I stumbled across this great collection of photographs of China in the 1940's, taken by a few Americans stationed in China during the Second World War. The Flying Tigers, as the coalition of 100 or so American pilots stationed in China in the early 1940's are known, were trained in Burma and entered into combat following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The photo seen here shows the construction of an airport runway in Kunming, and in the background flies an American aircraft (hopefully in the process of landing on a significantly more finished runway). While some of the photos are shots of American airmen interacting with locals and others of the aircraft's fiercesome nose art, many of the photos (taken primarily by two men, H. Allen Larsen and William L. Dibble) show a China that is as at-odds with today's urban China as it is strikingly similar to some of the more rural areas that have yet to see the influx of money, neon and rapid development. A great find; one can only imagine what the Americans felt like behind the lens. There is also this gallery of photos to peruse. More stories after the jump....
  • In keeping with the theme of old China photos, let's take a minute to think about the Shenzhen of old. The Nanfang, a website dedicated to the happenings of the Yangtze River Delta, recently posted a series of photos from Shenzhen in 1980. My favorite is the second image, a snapshot of a classroom full of enthusiastic young lads and lasses studying diligently beneath portraits of Mao Zedong and Hua Guofeng.
  • In Chinese visa news, the relevant Beijing authorities are considering allowing foreign visitors into the city for Beijing, and in light of this fact 72 hours seems significantly less cool), as the price and hassle of getting a visa is enough to deter many from making a quick stop to the capital and visiting friends or some of the famous Beijing sights. A 72 hour visa free program would follow in the footsteps of the 48 hour program in Shanghai, and the 21 day program in Hainan. Whatever the result is, you don't want to end up in China without a visa. That is one thing for sure.
  • This fire drill in Liuzhou is badass. When I was a kid, we had scheduled fire drills that were incredibly boring at the time, and in light of this story were even more boring than I imagined. The fire drill in question included smoke bombs and people climbing out of windows on curtains tied together. For real. Oh, and all the interested hotshots (police officers, fire department officials, college administrators, etc.) set up at a table and watched the resulting melee like it was the season one finale of "American Idol." Simply incredible.
  • The Great Wall of China is an icon as inextricably linked to the identity of the Chinese nation as pandas and spicy food. Even if you can't see it from space (whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?), it perseveres both in the consciousness of the world and in the physical realm. Though much of the wall has seen better days (thousands of years of weather will do that, it turns out), it is a shame that the wall is being subjected to different kinds of erosion. Outside of Xi'an, a section of the wall is being razed to make way for a factory. Here's what one guy said on why it's not that big of a deal to destroy the wall: "We didn't damage the Great Wall. It was damaged long before we started construction." A local official said it was difficult to keep track of what was going on with the wall because it is "too big." That is true. It is a big wall. We can all agree on that.

Until next time, hold onto your hats and lean into the wind....

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