Over 20 years covering China, travel, and culture for publications across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Author of multiple books on China.
Can anyone ‘own’ land? Author Simon Winchester explores the history, morality and legalities of such claims
Just before the turn of the century former Guardian, Sunday Times and Conde Nast Traveler journalist Simon Winchester bought a 123 1/2 -acre (0.5 square kilometre) piece of New England, in the United States. But he did so with some mental caveats.
"What does my ownership of this land truly signify?" he mused. "What does it mean, to own land? Surely land is an entity that cannot really be owned, by anyone."
Oldest Swiss carnival tradition, the marauding Tschäggättä of Lötschental – ghoulish figures in terrifying masks – may be its scariest too
In perhaps the oldest Swiss carnival, grotesque figures have been terrorising remote villages since 1599. Socially distanced festivities will go ahead this year despite coronavirus restrictions.
Hitler’s Horses: the true tale of Dutch ‘art detective’ Arthur Brand’s hunt for the führer’s favourite sculptures
Dutch art detective Arthur Brand’s account of tracking down two giant bronze statues by Hitler’s favourite sculptor is an enjoyable romp through the underbelly of the international art world
The remote desert in western China is a long way off the beaten track; it was even more so in 1995
Our writer encountered rip-off merchants in towns with such evocative names as ‘Asbestos Deposit’
Perhaps 2020 has taught us that staying at home has its merits after all, or at least now we’ve time to examine the paradoxes inherent in being a tourist.
In the book Coolie Ships of the Chinese Diaspora (1846-1874), John Asome explores the trade of indentured labourers from Chinese ports to Cuba, Peru and the West Indies
It’s impossible to read the introduction to Carissa Véliz’s Privacy is Power without hearing in the mind’s ear the saturnine tones of voice-overs from The Twilight Zone.
“They are watching us. They know I’m writing these words. They know you are reading them. Governments and hundreds of corporations are spying on you and me, and everyone we know. […] They want to know who we are, what we think, where we hurt. They want to predict and influence our behaviour.”
The Lion’s Share: how community-based wildlife projects across Asia benefit from big-brand advertising
Animals abound in advertising, whether it’s a puppy helping to bring life to otherwise inanimate toilet tissue, polar bears promoting a chilled soft drink or a bunny demonstrating battery longevity. The bears may be merely computer animations and the bunny a toy, but animal images help to shift hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of products every year.
The Lion’s Share is a project to encourage businesses to pay 0.5 per cent of their animal-themed media spend into a fund for wildlife conservation, with the target of eventually raising US$100 million a year.
‘I’m the worst daughter ever,” says Delia Hou over the music of a tango orchestra. The lissome 35-year-old Taiwanese-American quotes her parents: “You graduated once and you’re still not married. You graduated twice and you’re still not married.”
Ms. Hou has degrees in astrophysics and law, but here in a milonga, or tango-dancing club, they are forgotten. She and other Asian milongueras speak of the dance in almost metaphysical terms.
“Tango is about what you really genuinely want but you don’t even dare to admit,” says Ms. Hou. “Here you are, you don’t have a serious respectable job, you’re spending your evenings pressing your body against strange men. It’s not really typically Asian behavior.”
More than 150 years after British and French troops sacked and razed the Summer Palace, in Beijing, the incident is regularly revisited in the Chinese press. Articles usually appear around the October anniversary of the destruction, after yet another announcement of plans to catalogue looted antiquities now overseas, or when Summer Palace items appear at foreign auction houses.
As well as their incomplete and inaccurate descriptions of the palace and its destruction, these stories often contain transparently false accusations against foreign institutions holding collections of Chinese treasures, as well as unsustainable claims of a legal right to them and demands for their uncompensated return.
Scotland in a Box: unpack a Highlands road trip at home with this collection of snacks, smells and sounds
Inspired by all that the country has to offer, a hamper of goodies allows you to experience Scotland despite the coronavirus travel restrictions. Included is a memory stick featuring storytellers, singers and musicians.
Review | In Menno Moto, Cameron Dueck journeys from Canada to Argentina in search of Mennonite culture – and himself
A 45,000km motorcycle ride, visiting Mennonite communities through the Americas, reveals much about schisms in the isolated religious communities but offers little in self-discovery
Do we still dream of desert islands?
The image of a palm-fringed crescent of pale sand gently lapped by azure waters and empty of anyone but ourselves is the one that says “holiday” more persuasively than any other. It says freedom from the familiar, from the daily commute, from phone calls and meetings, and from other people.
But having spent months keeping a distance from strangers, been prevented from seeing those we most love, and with the prospect of many more months of caution to come, does isolation when on holiday still seem an attractive idea?
Author Richard Ovenden’s book takes a Eurocentric look at the value, veracity and virtues of historical archives, but fails to mention China’s contribution – both constructive and destructive – to the annals of archiving
Like small houses that had woken from sleep, these bridges yawned themselves open at both ends, and stretched luxuriously like cats. Some were straightforwardly horizontal enough to resemble those in Clint Eastwood’s 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County, but with Chinese characteristics, such as a small shrine part way across. Others reared up dramatically, their two-storey centre sections topped with writhing dragons or ceramic fish, tails a-thrash.