Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

Paul Theroux

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0618658971

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Paul Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton to the dry hills of Tibet, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.


















statue was gigantic—Mao in an overcoat and cap, waving. "Are you proud of him?" "Yes!" Mr. Ye said defiantly. "We are proud of many things he did." Mr. Shao said, "Most of the Chinese people are proud of him. A few don't agree." "Deng Xiaoping called him a great man!" Mr. Ye protested. I said, "Shall we go to the Mao Museum?" "It is closed," Mr. Shao said. "Really? Why is it closed?" The men fell silent, and their silence meant: Don't ask. "What about the middle school where Mao taught?"

Her friend—or perhaps husband—said, "Outside Saginaw, in hick towns like Hemlock, the water's real nice." "Boy am I glad I didn't bring nylons!" the hearty woman said. "Did you think China was going to be this hot?" "It's hot here, sure," said the man from Texas. "But up north it's freezing. It's all snow and ice. That's a fact." "He's bringing more food," someone said. "Jesus, do you think that has a name?" A woman said in an announcing voice, "I'm going to tell all my friends who are going

longer useful, to be sent home. I asked Scotty whether he got homesick. He said he had only been in Harbin four months—not long enough. "My wife misses grocery shopping and she hates her kitchen," he said. "Me? I miss beef. There's no beef here." I had not noticed that, but then you usually had to be told what was in a Chinese dish. The Chinese had a way of drawing a culinary veil over even the most obvious ingredients. "How is your steel forge?" I asked. "Old-fashioned," Scotty said. "So I

was of the same mind, a divorce could be very speedy. There were restrictions, of which the most interesting was Article 27: "The husband is not allowed to apply for a divorce when his wife is pregnant or within one year after the birth of a child." However, Mu could apply and could be granted a divorce, even though she happened to be pregnant. That seemed an enlightened and considerate way of looking at divorce. In general, the Marriage Law was as straightforward as a driver's manual. The

learn to feed itself! People have one mouth but they have two hands!" And so forth. The Red Guards and work gangs decided to build a causeway linking Xiamen to the west side of the harbor, and then to fill in the land behind the causeway and plant rice. But the land was poor and salty. Rice would not grow. And time passed. Now the area is a stronghold of money-making ventures—banks, light industry, factories—as well as the city's new municipal buildings. There had once been a commune here. There

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