The best China travel stories from around the net

by James Weir
Posted: June 28th, 2012 | Updated: July 4th, 2012 | Comments
China travel features_china travel news_china travel blogs_china travel stories Shanghai travel If you read a lot about China, you're probably sick of hearing about how it's plowing into the future full-bore, how it's developing like a hormone-crazed teenager at the height of its awkward phase, how nothing can stop this vast behemoth from becoming the world's next great hegemon, and so on and so forth. But there is reason why this kind of rhetoric is the underlying theme of any conversation about this country. Change continues to loom on the the horizon, even as the China of five years ago is constantly being rendered unrecognizable. Perhaps this is one reason why traveling and living in China is such a satisfying undertaking. Those of us lucky enough to live here in this exciting age witness, firsthand, a country undergoing remarkable changes. For the tourist, two trips only a year or two apart can be remarkably different, even if the itinerary remains the same between the two. For example: "Look honey! Remember this intersection from our last vacation? That hi-tech business complex used to be a lake! AND OHMYGOD LOOK I'M PRETTY SURE THAT ICBC OVER THERE USED TO BE A TEMPLE!" The picture at right, which has been circulating around the Internet for a year or more, shows Shanghai in 1990 and 2010 (or so—the photograph has made the rounds, and the source/reliable dates are hard to come by). I was reminded of it this week by a China blogger Brandon Ferdig. It may be overused, but it's certainly not overstated: China is changing. More links after the jump....
  • Coming from a tiny American city with a formidable, diverse musical community, it continues to amaze me how miniscule the music scene in China is relative to its population. But to keep with the theme established above, I'll say this: it's changing. Of course, any rapidly developing entity will encounter its fair share of growing pains. Nowhere was this more evident than in Chengdu last weekend, where the Big Love Music Festival imploded into a fiery ball of unpaid musicians and angry Weibo posts. Read the whole story and see some great photos on Chengdu Living.
  • You may remember Stephan Whale from our Blogger Spotlight with him last year. Well, as it happens, he's still wandering China and he's still not from around here (his website is called You're not from around here, are you? See what I did there?). His post about an old trading post on the Yellow River has some great photos and information about the old town. Check it out, and then browse the rest of his site—there's plenty to see.
  • You know when you're talking with a friend about how you're going to rough it in the Chinese countryside, and your friend tells you to be careful because a lot of small town hotels aren't allowed to house foreigners, and you tell them that's just a rumor, and they tell you it's not, and then you order more beers and forget about it without ever resolving the conversation? Well, it's true that many places won't take foreigners, but it's not because they can't—it's either because they think they can't, they don't know how to use the registration system, or they don't want to. In the event that it's one of the first two, check out this incredibly handy (and daunting) guide to schooling the hotel clerk in how to book you a room.
  • I love Xinjiang food. I don't know if it's the cumin, the lamb, those little fried lamb baozi things, the fried bread.... But whatever it is, I know that I'm not the only one, as the foodies at UnTour Shanghai have doubled down, traveled to Xinjiang and checked it out with their own hands and chompers. Check out Lamb Overload: Street Food in Xinjiang to make yourself hungry as bollocks.

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

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