National Public Radio's China correspondent Rob Gifford journeyed for six weeks on China's Route 312. (This would be the early equivalent of Route 66 through a less developed United States). He begins his sojourn in the costal city Shanghai at the mouth of the Yangtze River and moves nearly 3000 miles inland to the boarder of Kazakhstan. Along the way the country is transformed into a desert and the road signs become bilingual, including both Chinese and the Arabic script of the Uighur Muslims. Gifford is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and his great gift as a journalist is his ability to seek out, converse and ingratiate himself with an incredible cast of characters, even managing to interview the Daoist hermit monk Shi of Hua Shan at his mountain hut. The reader gets a good feeling for the "schizophrenic" pace of China's development, from the skyscrapers of Shanghai to the oxen still tilling the rural land as they have since ancient times. China Road is the ultimate travelogue winding its way through China's diverse cultures.
Submitted by Dan @ Washington Park