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on 5 June 2013
Very mixed reviews on here about this book. I enjoyed it. The writer spends several months it seems traipsing across China visiting most of the major cities and tourist sites as well as a few more out of the way locations. It is very much a travelogue and not a commentary on the state of modern China, however, (and who can blame him) the author does on several occassions give us his opinions on the country he's travelling through and the people he encounters. For the most part, they're not very complimentary. As far as I'm concerned: fair enough. His observations seem to me pretty spot on. A lot of what he describes I've seen and experienced personally, and while there is undoubtedly some cultural bias apparent, there's a lot less than some reviewers suggest.
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on 11 December 2012
this is the third book i ve read of maarten , i call him marteen because he has got the magic to make you feel so familiar with him , i found that this book is more mature than the 2 previous books ,life sex with the cannibals and getting stoned with savages. i ve not finished the book yet , but this author is just magic! in my rainy and cold central europe i open his book on the evening and it is just a magic world of intelligence of good sense of humour, compassion and humbleness and a real interst to the country he is visiting. i am quite scared to finish to read his book ,and read another books , because other authors seem ridiculous if compared to our unique globbe trotter and magician author. such a likeable guy .greetings from switzerland.pierre
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on 4 December 2015
I read a number of Troost's other books and really enjoyed them. Sadly this was not the case for this one. My main gripe with the book was the writing style: it seems the author had aged significantly, specifically his playfulness and sense of curiosity, between this book and his island atoll adventures.

A lot of the book was just a compendium of a boring travel journal that I struggled to get through at times. Also, the author seems to arrive in China with some concrete preconceptions that he hangs on to for dear life. I do not feel he was open at all to his travel, and kept wondering why I was reading this flat monochrome wandering.

A real disappointment as I was fully geared up for an exploration of China through the daft and manic mind that took me round in circles on the pacific atoll.
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on 29 January 2012
we read this as we travelled around china, and it was very funny and observant, in fact we had noticed many of the same things we read about
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on 10 April 2012
After absolutely LOVING his first two books 'Cannibals' & 'Savages' I couldn't wait for Troost's next book. Having lived an worked in China for over 7 years (still here) I was over the moon to find out his latest work would be on China. I feel let down.

China is indeed a fascinating and wonderful place, with so much history, culture and amazing people. I have to agree with Steve's review though, that after a while I too got sick of the condescending, patronising and ignorant views being passed across to the reader. China IS different, but so are so many places in this world.

What made his first two books so entertaining were, yes the cultural differences, the humorous anecdotes about daily life the other side of the world, and the colourful people involved........but also crucially the AFFECTION with which these stories were conveyed, with Troost having actually lived there and having been able to scratch beneath the surface, really get to know the place, the people and the culture, and reveal more than just stereotypes.

Sadly this is where he fails in this book. All we see is the ignorant Westerner's first impressions of something different, with no time actually spent 'living' in any of these Chinese cities, or getting to understand the culture.

If you're looking for a one-dimensional short sighted (Western) view of China complete with plenty of China bashing you'll love this book. If you're looking for a more genuine account of life in China (the bad as well as the good) from someone who understands and respects Chinese people, there are much better out there................(Mark Kitto's China Cuckoo is the first that comes to mind).
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on 5 June 2011
Although I have been living in China for a couple of years I am still surprised on a daily basis by the weird and wonderful things that occur here. I enjoy reading books about other peoples experiences of the people and culture that this country has as it helps put many things into perspective for me.

This book sounded just up my street but I quickly grew tired of the constant derogatory comments towards China and its people. The author of this book has done a good job of reinforcing the sterotypical American's view of anything that isn't American.

If you are considering relocating to China or just taking a holiday here then I don't recommend this book as you will be unjustly put off.
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on 20 June 2013
A great book written with good humour from a point of view of a person taking personal space, freedom and not eating cats for granted. Good read for anyone interested in modern China. Four stars only because the book is slightly outdated now, being written about 6 years ago.
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on 13 March 2010
Bought this for a friend going to work in Shanghai and read it myself in preparation for visiting her - every word is unbelievable but true!!! Maarten's descriptions of what they will eat is funny and spot-on, the situations and characters he describes - honest to God, you cannot make this stuff up - it is TRUE!

Highly entertaining, it covered a variety of the areas I visited as a tourist with my friend (who should write her own book on the subject!) Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu... Highly recommend this writer and the subject matter as a lighthearted look at a culture so different from our own - with many a pithy comment - not as a criticism of China, more on the genuinely puzzling and often amusing differences between East and West, without being at all derogatory or patronising towards them!
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