I just realized that when I write travel pieces, I sound like my mother.
A long list of things that could go wrong & what you should do in case.
Advice on how to get things cheap (with the implication, naturally, that you should *want* to get things cheap). Full price is for someone else’s daughter.
How to avoid losing your luggage.
I also just realized that most other travel writers focus on other things: like fun activities in such-and-such exotic city, the joys of regional cuisines, restaurant recommendations.
Part of me is embarrassed, but part of me recognizes my mother’s wisdom. She assumed when I traveled, as when anyone travels, I’d be able to figure out FUN things to do. She knew I wouldn’t need her to tell me what I’d like to see or eat. But in case I found myself in danger, faced with a kidnapping, or in the middle of a riot, she knew I could really use some good advice and would be grateful to have it.
And so yes, I have passed those pearls of wisdom on in my book CHINA A TO Z and, most recently, in an article published this month in the Jakarta Post Weekender Magazine: \”Eight Tips for Travelling in China\”
Yes, I do recount a near kidnapping in this article. I even give advice on how to fight off an unwanted sexual advance in Mandarin. And yeah, I do recommend everyone bargain for a cheaper price. I realize that sounds pretty grim compared to, say, Condé Nast, but if you only knew all the other things I would tell anyone and everyone who asked me in person!
For example, my article is short so I didn’t get to include my advice on what to do if a riot occurs. (FYI, get off the street and claim Canadian citizenship if confronted; Canadians really are beloved worldwide). I also cut the section on which embassies are best to contact for medical emergencies. (I’ll let you guess the answer to that one.) I even restrained myself from my usual litany of useful meds to bring and Zagat-like guide to hospitals. (OK, I’ll give you one tip now. Military hospitals in the PRC will take foreign patients, and I think they really are topnotch. I’m not so fond of university-run hospitals, however. Not that some university-run hospitals aren’t just dandy…so don’t sue me.)
At any rate, I’ve decided that my mother was right. Everyone can figure out how to have fun. But who else but those who really care will tell you how to avoid complete disaster?
(Photo descriptions) No, I’m not telling you the name of the restaurant. That’s not how I roll.
No, I’m not gonna name the city.
This is not an endorsement.