This wasn’t a reality show, nor was it one of the elite bookings Anna enjoyed back in New York or Milan. We were there for a fake beauty pageant, one our Beijing modeling agency had booked us for, telling us it was a “fashion show” and providing no further details. It was only after we boarded our early-morning flight to Ordos that the true nature of the event was revealed. “We’re on our way to another ‘Miss’ thing,” a Ukrainian girl said from her seat with a groan. I was hired as Miss America; Anna, despite being Brazilian, as Miss Chile. It would have been the strangest 36 hours of my life—if, over the previous two months, I hadn’t done it twice before.Life as a Fake Beauty Queen in Small-Town China
Get lost in 75 forum pages full of amazing photography taken in China (Central North China chase Star Travels). The itinerary (You can also step through just the images from the itinerary link and avoid the forum posts. First link processed through Google Translate. This is not photography done by tourists. These guys are good.
This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone. - A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE, Quoted in zhuan 30 of the Sanguozhi. Published in 429 CE. Draft English translation
Basil Pao (鲍皓昕) is a photographer, among other things. He's probably most famous for his involvement with Michael Palin's travel series. He was featured in the fifth episode of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days*. After that, he became the stills photographer for subsequent series of Palin's travels (Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Sahara, Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil, so far). [more inside]
I think I mentioned we also saw an actual knife fight in this same alley! With big giant meat cleavers!
Davesecretary of TIME FOR SOME STORIES fame (previously) decided to spend a year in a smallish Chinese city to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He slowly realizes that he's not having a very good time.
Photographer Travels China, Taking Pictures of Families and All Their Possessions Huang Qingjun has spent nearly a decade travelling to remote parts of China to persuade people who have sometimes never been photographed to carry outside all their household possessions and pose for him. The results offer glimpses of the utilitarian lives of millions of ordinary Chinese who, at first glance, appear not to have been swept up by the same modernisation that has seen hundreds of millions of others leave for the cities. [more inside]
He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings "loaner" devices, which he erases before he leaves the US and wipes clean the minute he returns . In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery , for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, "Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop." - Travel precautions in the age of digital espionage.
Adam Humphreys created a successful business helping people navigate the Chinese embassy's bureaucracy (in a van parked across the street).
35 days, 2822 miles through 9 states at a cost of $252.51 ($7.21 per day). George 'the Cyclist' Christensen spends a good part of each year bicycling through a different country and wild camping in places like Iceland, Turkey, China, the foot of Mt Fuji and around Lake Victoria; And writing about his travels on his blog from libraries and internet cafés. For the past eight years, too, he has also followed the Tour de France after first watching upwards of 70 films [in 12 days] at the Cannes Film Festival.
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
Chairman Mao's Underground City is a pictorial travelogue of a small part of the tunnels that Chairman Mao had built under Beijing to serve as a nuclear fallout shelter. The intrepid urban explorers come across some surprising things. The complex, which was built by hand, could house three hundred thousand people for up to four months and had amenities such as restaurants, cinemas and roller rinks. Here's a short Travel Channel feature on the Underground City.
Think traveling over the Yuletide season was bad? We're coming hard upon Chunyun, the Chinese "spring migration" when families reunite for the New Year. Enduring largest human migration in the world is a harrowing experience. One railway company has new ticketing strategies, which could turn tickets into collector's items.
Fueled by Rice - Five recent grads from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's Unviersity recently set off from Beijing to bike across Asia and Europe. The goal of their bike trip is to spread international good will on the local level and advocate reducing carbon emissions and living slower-paced, more enjoyable lives. Along the way they will bike through rural areas and play music in villages. As they travel, the group is posting photos, a blog, and will attempt to get a podcast up and running. They've even got the site up in Chinese, though the site seems to be blocked for most folks in China.
Chinese On The Train Wang Fuchun's exhibition at the 798 Photo Gallery. Some good stuff in their archives too.
China Pictures is a free picture site featuring [thousands of ] pictures throughout China, including pictures of China's major cities and tourist attractions as well as pictures of Chinese people and their daily life. You will find not only pictures of the famous Great Wall of China, the forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors, but also pictures from the unbeaten path as far as Guizhou, Xinjiang, Tibet and other places.
A Tale of Two Chinas, by photographer James Whitlow Delano. Whole swaths of cities have vanished, to be transformed with developments that have quickly made them look more like Houston, Qatar, or Singapore than the ancient China of our mind's eye. The old hutong, or alleyways, of Beijing that once formed a mosaic of passageways and the siheyuan, or walled courtyard houses, have been largely razed. The old brick rowhouses of Shanghai, are now being leveled and replaced by modern high-rises. Traditional marketplaces, residential neighborhoods, streets where medicine shops or bookstores bunched together, are now either gone or have been rouged up as tourist destinations, part of a new synthetic, virtual version of China's incredible past. The energy fueling this transformation bespeaks a powerful but often blind, unquestioning faith in an inchoate idea of progress that takes one's breath away, often literally. (Unrestrained growth has left China with the dubious honor of having 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world). Delano's new book is "Empire: Impressions from China". More inside.
Comparison of life in Piscataway, New Jersey; Kochi, Japan; and Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, China by Ernie French.
Now here's a business plan... give me some money, and I'll do some traveling and tell you all about it. Gimme a little more, and I'll even send you something back.
China bans Muslims from flights. Don't like America's solution for airline safety? Try this. I wonder if this policy is temporary, and timed for President Bush's imminent visit to the region, or is this China's long-term solution? How will America respond - condemnation or tacit acceptance? Does it actually make Bush's trip safer?