Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Perfect Guide

My Chinese guidebook arrived in the mail this morning, and I've been enthralled by it for the past hour.

I love guidebooks and everything about them. Looking at pictures of far-off lands I intend to visit very soon, reading about the history of a culture so alien to my own that it may as well be from another planet.

Everything about the Lonely Planet guidebooks is measured to perfection - from wide-ranging histories of the countries covered down to miniscule details of where to find a vegetarian restaurant or a laundrette in the smallest backwater town.

Although Mrs Wife and I will only be visiting Shanghai, the book I have covers the whole of China, and I can quite imagine that I'll read the whole thing before we head eastwards.

Opening the book at random places, I find ideas for entertainment in Hong Kong's Kowloon area, details on bike tours of Hangzhou and a recommendation to visit the West Street Bar in Suzhou, which is described as a "three storey bar crammed full of Chinese and European antiques. With its homey ambience, eclectic crowd and friendly management, it's a great place to relax with a beer".

Will I ever enjoy a bike ride around Hangzhou or a beer in Suzhou? Probably not. But just reading about them is almost enough to make me jack in my job and head off eastwards in search of adventure, becoming a perennial traveller.


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