Finally, my copy of Peter Hessler's new book Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory has arrived. My mom sent it along with some friends who are visiting from Minnesota.
Hessler writes about his experiences driving around China in a rented car and living in a village outside of Beijing. As always, his observations are 'spot-on:'
"China is the kind of country where you constantly discover something new, and revelations occur on a daily basis. One of the most important discoveries is the fact that the Chinese share this sensation. The place changes too fast; nobody can afford to be overconfident in his knowledge, and there's always some new situation to figure out. How does a peasant leave the farm and find a factory job? Who teaches people how to start businesses? Where do they learn how to make cars, and how do they figure out how to drive them? Who shows the small-town sophisticates how to dress and put on makeup? It was appropriate that they hitched rides on a City Special driven by an American with a book of Sinomaps. We were all out of place; nobody has today's China figured out."
My mom read it before she sent it and her comment to me was "Jo, I'm afraid this book is going to give you ideas."
My response to her was, "Sorry, I've already got the ideas. This book will hopefully give me the inspiration to follow through on them, specifically my idea to drive from Beijing to Kashgar and/or from Beijing to Manzhouli.
Maybe it's time to take that first step and apply for my Chinese driver's license.
And it's not like I haven't taken any road trips in China myself. I have; it's just that I wasn't driving. Tales of those journeys can be found here:
Yak Attack (Kashgar to Lake Karakol)
Xanadu (Beijing to Xanadu)
Vinegar, Anyone? (Beijing to Pingyao)