by J Maarten Troost
Fri 26 Jun 09
China has always intrigued me as a destination. I have yet to visit the country, but its allure has grown over the years. So when I recently received a copy of Lost on Planet China, I was more than happy to dive in and join J Maarten Troost on a journey through the Middle Kingdom.
On the advice of a friend, the author starts the book contemplating whether China might be an interesting place to take his family to live for a while. His partner is not particularly interested, but agrees that he should head there on a reconnaissance mission to see first hand what it would be like. He arrives in China and finds himself overwhelmed by the sheer mass of humanity and its affects on the environment. A somewhat disturbing picture is painted of the country, not necessarily the kind of portrayal that would excite one about it as a future travel destination. And yet, his humorous accounts of interactions with locals, food experiences and traffic mayhem, keep you turning the pages for more.
China is explored not from an expert's point of view, but from the perspective of someone who is as much in the dark as the average reader. The writing style is light and engaging and drew me into the journey. He manages to get through a vast range of destinations and stays just long enough to get an idea without becoming bogged down in detail. And just when I had had about enough of the descriptions of smog filled, traffic choked cities, he leaves them behind for a breath of fresh air in Tibet.
The book is an enjoyable read. I'd certainly recommend it for anyone considering a trip to China. Although it may very well leave you feeling a little less urgent about visiting.
You can find this book on Amazon: Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation