For this Friendly Friday Challenge we have a special treat. For the first time ever we’re having a combo event with the What’s On Your Bookshelf challenge, guest hosted by Donna, Debbie, Jo and Sue!
In this go-around, the topic is TRAVEL BOOKS and it’s a twofer. Post it once and tag it twice with “Friendly Friday Challenge” and “What’s On Your Bookshelf.”
Full instructions on how to link-up your post and see other submissions, can be found our Guest Hosts’ blogs:
For my submission I thought I’d round up the books that inspired me to travel. Starting with …
ORACLE BONES by Peter Hessler
I read Oracle Bones around the same time Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China and The Elephant and the Dragon: The rise of India and China and what it means for All of Us were published. It was the early 2000’s and a time of global economies, emerging markets and rapid transformation due to technology.
Stories and books like these inspired me to visit China and eventually move to Beijing. What I found there was a world that was amazing, bewildering and different from anything I’d ever seen. It was the beginning of my years of travel and impetus to start photography and writing.
Once I’d settled in Beijing and later Singapore, I explored the surrounding countries. Growing up I’d always favored science over geography and I’m ashamed to admit that I was largely ignorant about this part of the world. Many times, it was after I’d visited a country that I’d research its past. It was always a delight to discover authors who gave historical context to places and people seen.
Such was the case with Colin Cotterill who set his novels in Laos during the 1970’s, shortly after its communist regime took power.
THE CORONER’S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill
The Coroner’s Lunch is the first of the Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries. Dr Siri is a world-weary revolutionary who at 72 years old, is pulled from retirement and appointed national coroner for Laos. He’s drawn into investigations of death and mischief and in the process pokes fun at a fumbling and idiosyncratic government.
I enjoyed Cotterill’s tongue in cheek writing style and his amusing portrayal of Dr. Siri and his associates. Mostly though, I enjoyed stepping into the lives of everyday people living in Laos and reading about the places I’d visited.
Shortly after returning to Canada, I read this book by Ann Hui, a Chinese-Canadian writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper. Ever since I’ve been dreaming about driving across Canada. I’d like to find out if it’s true that every small town in Canada has at least one Chinese restaurant and sample regional favorites like Newfoundland chow mein, peanut butter dumplings and stir-fried macaroni. Hmmm. I’d like to drive across Canada anyways.
CHOP SUEY NATION by Ann Hui
In her book, Ann Hui travels coast to coast, looking for small town Chinese restaurants and interviewing the owners on how they came to live there.
Chop Suey Nation is not my Chinese heritage story but I found it entirely relatable. It’s a story about family, history and how in searching for somebody else’s story, we sometimes discover stories about ourselves.
It’s a bit like travelling.
I traveled to Beijing to find cultural roots which were hundreds of years removed from mine. In Beijing I saw familiarity in everyday faces on the street. Physical similarities which were later confirmed by my mother’s recollection of a great-great-grandmother who came from the north and not the south, like the rest of our family.
In Singapore and Hong Kong, I discovered histories echoing those of my parents and grand-parents. In the 1900’s thousands of people left China to seek fortunes or at least better lives, in places far away. Many Chinese left to work in British colonies and because of that, I found customs in Singapore that mirrored those of my parents and grandparents in Jamaica.
It seems to me that the benefits of travel outweigh those of simple novelty. Beyond the delight of new experiences, it is wonderful to find connections in culture and traditions. Equally wonderful is finding books that inspire you to travel and discover more.