Daily Archives: May 31, 2009

Win one of FIVE copies of “Lost on Planet China” by J. Maarten Troost

Posted by on May 31, 2009

This week I have a great prize.

J. Maarten Troost is one of the best travel writers working today. He has written such popular books as The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific and Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu.

I’ll be giving away FIVE copies of his latest book Lost on Planet China: One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation. Amazon.com describes his new book as follows:

Maarten Troost is a laowai (foreigner) in the Middle Kingdom, ill-equipped with a sliver of Mandarin, questing to discover the “essential Chineseness” of an ancient and often mystifying land. What he finds is a country with its feet suctioned in the clay of traditional culture and a head straining into the polluted stratosphere of unencumbered capitalism, where cyclopean portraits of Chairman Mao (largely perceived as mostly good, except for that nasty bit toward the end) spoon comfortably with Hong Kong’s embrace of rat-race modernity. From Beijing and its blitzes of flying phlegm–and girls who lend new meaning to “Chinese take-out”–to the legendary valley of Shangri-La (as officially designated by the Party), Troost learns that his very survival may hinge on his underdeveloped haggling skills and a willingness to deploy Rollerball-grade elbows over a seat on a train. Featuring visits to Mao’s George Hamiltonian corpse and a rural market offering Siberian Tiger paw, cobra hearts, and scorpion kebabs (in the food section), Lost on Planet China is a funny and engrossing trip across a nation that increasingly demands the world’s attention.

All you have to do to win is to leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about China: food, music, movies, language, etc.

Comments will be left open for about a week and five entries will be selected via Random.org.

The Paradox of Travel Blogging

Posted by on May 31, 2009

You may have noticed a significant amount of inactivity from myself on Twitter and on the website during the last week. Since I left Florence I’ve been extremely occupied taking photos, running around seeing things, experiencing Italy and generally doing things that travelers do.

The problems with a travel blog is if you are traveling you aren’t blogging and if you are blogging you aren’t traveling. In fact since I’ve been running this site I’ve noticed something peculiar: the days I’m actually out doing stuff are the days which I get the least amount of traffic. The days I’m sitting at my laptop are the days I get the most traffic. In other words, traveling is an impediment to travel blogging. I would like to hereby name this phenomenon “Gary’s Paradox”.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. Some places just don’t lend themselves to easy internet access or warrant spending time at the computer. When I drove from Darwin to Perth in Australia, my updates on the site were very sparse because there were few places to update from in Western Australia. Likewise, early in my trip while in the Pacific my updates were only about once a week. When your choices are swimming or blogging, it is a pretty easy decision.

Suffice it to say today I’m Turin, Italy sitting in front of my computer and not really doing anything, hence the blog post.

Housekeeping

The contest for the year subscription to National Geographic and Energizer Batteries is over. The winners of the subscription are Erik and Polara. The winners of the Energizer Batteries are Jen, Katie, and Doran.

A very photo intensive interview with me has been published on Wandering Educators. I was also interviewed for an article on traveling to dangerous places on CNN.com.

Finally, I did a lengthy interview with Craig Martin at the Indie Travel Podcast. It is about a 30 minute interview where we talk about my travels in the Pacific, guidebooks, long term travel and my future plans. Craig and his wife Linda have been producing their podcast for about as long as I’ve been running my blog. What I like about them is that, like me, they are doing all of this on the road having recorded podcasts all over Europe, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

I highly recommend subscribing to their podcast on iTunes. Please also take a minute to give their podcast a review on iTunes. The more/better reviews they get on iTunes, the higher they appear in iTunes rankings, the more people can discover their podcast.