Japan

China

Richard Halliburton

This author has been called the “grandfather of travel writing” – but is he really that good?

At first I really liked this book. RH reminded me of Patrick Leigh Fermor, who set out as a young man to see the world and find adventure. And RH seemed even more extreme in the way was willing to embrace hardship, sometimes apparently looking for disaster. I appreciated that, and I still do…

Hans Ulrich Kempski's "Red Sun Over Yellow Earth"
China

Hans Ulrich Kempski

Are these just some minor slip-ups or are we looking at an expert exposing himself?

We’re in the mid-1950s, and the world has just entered the Cold War. Hans Ulrich Kempski is one of the best known journalists in West Germany. He visits Japan and China, both of which are on the…

Heinrich Schliemann's "China And Japan In The Present Age"
China

Heinrich Schliemann

Is this guy more than just a worthy rival to Albert von Le Coq?

We’re in the mid-19th century. Heinrich Schliemann is a German businessman with a gift for languages and a passion for history who will later go on to discover the ruins of Troy. But first, he decides to go on a journey to China and Japan, both of which are currently…

Yu Ying's "Go Out And Talk To People About Their Dreams"
Australia

Yu Ying

Does the Chinese literary world need to train tougher editors?

Yu Ying is a 20-something girl from Southwest China who lives and works as PA for a fashion model in Beijing. In 2009, she applies for the “Best Job In The World”, a project hosted by Tourism Queensland that places…

Gregor Sieböck's "Wanderer Of Worlds"
Austria

Gregor Sieböck

What’s wrong with Bono, and why do I think you should use this book to smash bugs?

Gregor Sieböck is a young idealist from Austria who walks around the world to promote environmentalism. He sets out in Austria in 2003 and makes his way to the southern tip of Portugal. (Throw in a Camino there.) Then he does…

Heinz Helfgen's "I'm Cycling Around The World"
Albania

Heinz Helfgen

What were German readers looking for in a travel book after World War II?

in 1946, Heinz Helfgen, a former journalist from Germany turned Wehrmacht soldier comes from a POW camp, only to find out that things are pretty bad at home, especially money-wise. After struggling for a few years, he decides to support his family by riding a bicycle around the world and publishing a series of newspaper articles about it…

Matsuo Basho's "The Narrow Road To The Deep North"
Japan

Matsuo Basho

Does true poetry flourish in the depths of the wilderness?

in the late 17th century, Matsuo Basho, a Haiku poet who likes to walk around and compose poems, goes on several journeys through his homeland of Japan. Sometimes he takes solo hikes, at other times he goes with friends; sometimes he wants to experience the wilderness, at other times  he is looking for a certain shrine or temple…

Ji Xianlin's "Wandering Around The World"
China

Ji Xianlin

Are these travel memoirs worth reading, or have they been flawed by political circumstances?

In the early 1930s, Ji Xianlin is a promising student from China who gets the chance to go to Göttingen, Germany, in order to pursue a PhD. Due to the political situation though, he has to stay much longer than anticipated, returning home only in 1946 to take up a professorship at the University of Beijing…

Fernão Mendes Pinto's "Pilgrimage"
Cambodia

Fernão Mendes Pinto

If this is a great classic in Portuguese literature, why is it such a slow read?

Shortly after the European discoveries in the Americas, young Fernão Mendes Pinto gets on a ship to the East. He meets pirates and emperors, missionaries and natives, gets to the Middle East, to India, Indonesia, China and Japan. After all this, he eventually returns to Portugal claiming…