2 girls backpacking in 1986 China

Not everyone of us can travel to every place in one lifetime. There’s another way though. Why Armchair travel of course. In this new feature I’ll be reviewing travelogues or books that give us some understanding of a particular place or culture at a particular time. I hope you have fun reading it. Today we go to 1986 China.

Undress me in the temple of heaven by sudan jane gilman
Title: Undress me in the temple of heaven
Author: Susan Jane Gilman
Genre: Travelogue, memoir
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 8, 2010)

When I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China was only recently open for travel to foreigners. We went to Shanghai and Beijing about a year back and even now, it’s very difficult to communicate because other than the hotel staff no one spoke English. We faced a bit of difficulty traveling as we had to write down the name of places in Chinese and also take the map along with us. Going anywhere impromptu was out of the question.

So when Susan and Claire decide to go travel the world for a year and choose China as their destination, I was equally fascinated and weary considering the state of the country back then.This travelogue is funny and raw and honest. Susan accepts that they both didn’t know what they were doing. They were in a land about which they knew nothing. They were afraid and lonely. I expected a typical self-absorbed backpacker travelogue where they hook up with other backpackers, have drunken nights, break the rules and finally get enlightened by the meaning of life and happiness. Continue reading

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