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Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 12. Mai 2009

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  • Taschenbuch: 400 Seiten
  • Verlag: Broadway Books; Auflage: Reprint (12. Mai 2009)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0767922018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767922012
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,2 x 2,3 x 20,3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 47.909 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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Amazon Best of the Month, July 2008: Maarten Troost is a laowai (foreigner) in the Middle Kingdom, ill-equipped with a sliver of Mandarin, questing to discover the "essential Chineseness" of an ancient and often mystifying land. What he finds is a country with its feet suctioned in the clay of traditional culture and a head straining into the polluted stratosphere of unencumbered capitalism, where cyclopean portraits of Chairman Mao (largely perceived as mostly good, except for that nasty bit toward the end) spoon comfortably with Hong Kong's embrace of rat-race modernity. From Beijing and its blitzes of flying phlegm--and girls who lend new meaning to "Chinese take-out"--to the legendary valley of Shangri-La (as officially designated by the Party), Troost learns that his very survival may hinge on his underdeveloped haggling skills and a willingness to deploy Rollerball-grade elbows over a seat on a train. Featuring visits to Mao's George Hamiltonian corpse and a rural market offering Siberian Tiger paw, cobra hearts, and scorpion kebabs (in the food section), Lost on Planet China is a funny and engrossing trip across a nation that increasingly demands the world's attention. --Jon Foro

Maarten Troost's Travel Tips for China

1. Food can be classified as meat, poultry, grain, fish, fruit, vegetable and Chinese. Embrace the Chinese. If you love it, it will love you back. True, you may find yourself perplexed by what resides on your plate. You may even be appalled. The Chinese have an expression: We eat everything with four legs except the table, and anything with two legs except the person. They mean it too. And so you may find yourself in a restaurant in Guangzhou contemplating the spicy cow veins; or the yak dumplings in Lhasa, or the grilled frog in Shanghai, or the donkey hotpot in the Hexi Corridor, or the live squid on the island of Putuoshan. And you may not know, exactly, what it is you’re supposed to do. Should you pluck at this with your chopsticks? The meal may seem so very strange. True, you may be comfortable eating a cow, or a pig, or a chicken, yet when confronted with a yak or a swan or a cat, you do not reflexively think of sauces and marinades. The Chinese do however. And so you should eat whatever skips across your table. It is here where you can experience the complexity of China. And you will be rewarded. Very often, it is exceptionally good. And when it is not, it is undoubtedly interesting. And really, when traveling what more can one ask for. So go on. Eat as the locals do. However, should you find yourself confronted with a heaping platter of Cattle Penis with Garlic, you’re on your own.

2. To really see China, go to the market. Any market will do. This is where China lives and breathes. It is here where you will find the sights, sounds and smells of China. And it is in a Chinese market where you will experience epic bargaining. The Chinese excel at bargaining. They live and breathe it. It is an art; it is a sport. It is, above all, nothing personal. If you do not parry back and forth, you will be regarded as a chump, a walking ATM machine, a carcass to be picked over. And so as you peruse the cabbage or consider the silk, be prepared to bargain. The objective, of course, is to obtain the Chinese price. You will, however, never actually receive the Chinese price. It is the holy grail for laowais--or foreigners--in China. Your status as a laowai is determined by how proximate your haggling gets you to the mythical Chinese price. But you will never obtain the Chinese price. Accept this. But if you’re very, very good, and you bargain long and hard, and if you are lucky and catch your interlocutor on an off day, you may, just may, receive the special price. Consider yourself fortunate.

3. Travelers are often told to get off the beaten path, to take the road less traveled, to march to a different drum. You don't need to do this in China. The road well-traveled is a very fine road. The French Concession in Shanghai is splendid. The Forbidden City is a wonder of the world. So too the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an. Indeed, the Chinese say so themselves. There is much to be seen in places that are often seen. And yet... China is not merely a country. It is not a place defined by sights. It is a world upon itself, a different planet even. And to see it--to feel it--means leaving that well-traveled road. And China is an excellent place for wandering. From the monasteries of Tibet to the rainforests of Yunnan Province and onward through the deserts of Xinjiang to the frozen tundra of Heilongjiang Province, China offers a vast kaleidoscope of people and terrain unlike anywhere else on Earth. This may seem intimidating to the China traveler. Will there be picture menus in the Taklamakan Desert? (No.) Is Visa accepted in Inner Mongolia? (Not likely.) Still, one should move beyond the Great Wall. And if you can manage to cross six lanes of traffic in Beijing, you can manage the slow train to Kunming.

4. Hell is a line in China. You are so forewarned.

5. Manners are important in China. How can this be, you wonder? You have, for instance, experienced a line in China. Your ribs have been pummeled. You have been trampled upon by grandmothers who are not more than four feet tall. You have learned, simply by queuing in the airport taxi line, what it is like to eat bitter, an evocative Chinese expression that conveys suffering. This does not seem upon first impression to be a country overly concerned with prim etiquette. But it is. True, hawking enormous, gelatinous loogies is perfectly acceptable in China. And a good belch is fine as well. And picking your teeth after dinner is a sign of urbane sophistication. But this does not mean that manners are not taken seriously in China. It’s just that they are different in China. And so feel free to spit and burp, but do not even think of holding your chopsticks with your left hand. You will be regarded as an ill-mannered rube. So watch your manners in China. But learn them first.

-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.


Praise for


“One of Troost’s greatest successes is that he’s not reporting, exactly, not writing as a journalist would, but simply living his life in a faraway place and writing about it.”
--New York Times

“Troost manages to relate his misadventures in an irreverently funny style . . . this makes for a good beach read on your own vacation.”
--Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Praise for The Sex Lives of Cannibals

“A comic masterwork of travel writing” —Publishers Weekly

“Troost has a command of place and narrative that puts him in the company of some of today’s best travel writers.” —Elle

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen

Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I am currently in china (shanghai) and I found this book in a local bookstore.. (two days ago).. because of this i got stuck in a local cafe for the last to days... the bottomline: everything the author is writing about china is true (i am afraid so!) .. he has a fantastic and humoristic way to explain and note down his experience... (and a big plus - you get a nice lesson about the history of china..)

enjoy reading!
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0 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Klaus am 17. Oktober 2010
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
The first few pages were very entertaining, reminding me of Bill Bryson, but the impression didn't last. Whereas Bryson maintains a sense of humor and appreciates human shortcomings, Troost doesn't quite manage this. On the other hand, maybe he wasn't trying to. He does offer good descriptions of his impressions of China, but they were sufficiently negative to convince me that I wouldn't like to visit the country.
Compared to Bryson, a bit disappointing for me, but judged on its own merit, worth reading.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 178 Rezensionen
70 von 79 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Loved his earlier work, but this is a bit of a disappointment 2. August 2008
Von World Traveler - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I like Maarten: he's half Czech, I'm half Czech; he's actually lived in Port Vila Vanuatu with his wife, I've actually lived in Port Vila Vanuatu with my wife. In addition, he is much funnier than I am. His books about the South Pacific ("The Sex Lives of Cannibals" [SLC] and "Getting Stoned with Savages" [GSWS]) were hoots, and very accurate from what I can attest to from having spent time in some of the same places (Vanuatu and Fiji).

In "Lost on Planet China" (LPC) Maarten is still funny, but much less so in this book than in his two previous works. I counted five personal "laugh out louds" from LPC, as opposed to the dozens and dozens of "laugh out louds" I experienced from both SLC and GSWS. I found his personal opinions usually reasonable (having spent some time in China, I disagree with some of those other reviewers apparently offended by Maarten's honesty), but some of his jokes began to become repetitious (example: by the time he is blaming George Bush for not getting served meatballs in Xian I actually closed the book for a day - this was approximately tenth time a similar "W" attempt at humor was clumsily inserted). But mostly, the editing of LPC is horrible. He mentions at the end (in his Acknowledgements) that his editor was giving birth during the time she was editing one of his chapters. Actually, it reads as if she was giving birth during the last 1/4 of the book. This end section is disjointed, confusing (example: a reference is made to something that apparently happened earlier during Maarten's trip, but which seems to have been redacted out of an earlier chapter), and frequently just plain boring.

This book is like we've started on a very interesting trip of discovery together with a person you know with a reputation for being funny. Things start well, as time goes on you have some minor issues, but you are still enjoying yourself and learning. Then things begin to get disorganized and you actually start to wonder why you are still going along. It's not just that China is complex (as the author keeps pointing out), it's because the trip itself is beginning to seem pointless. You keep thinking it's got to get better, and despite a few brief respites, it does not get better. Even though the first 250-300 pages are good, the last 100 pages are a chore and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Or maybe it's the live squids.

One final thought: although I doubt that Maarten had anything to do with the map, it is rather interesting. Taiwan appears to be a province of the PRC - Broadway Books does not apparently consider the ROC as a separate country - yet Tibet appears (judging by the typeface) to be some sort of separate country. Complex indeed.
72 von 85 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Traveling With Maarten...Nothing Better! 13. Juli 2008
Von Tamela Mccann - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
J. Maarten Troost has taken us to a small atoll in the South Pacific and to the volcanic Vanauatu in his previous books, Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned With Savages. Now he turns his wit and observational skills on that great unknown,China, in his latest endeavor, Lost on Planet China, and what a marvelous travelogue it is!

Told with his trademark wry humor, Lost on Planet China follows Troost as he starts off in the big cities of Beijing (which has given me a whole new perspective on the 2008 Summer Olympics), Shanghai, and Hong Kong. I was flabbergasted at the amount of pollution in China; it seems its entry into the twenty-first century is coming at a very high price. But like Troost, it was the western travels through Tibet, Leaping Tiger Gorge, and Dunhuang that I found the most informative and interesting. Troost's writing is such that I could feel the thin air and experience the death-defying trails seemingly first hand; his interactions with the peoples of China were fascinating glimpses into lives that I doubt I'll ever experience. I love that Troost chose to visit not just the obvious tourist stops such as the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall, but also smaller islands like Putuoshan. I came away with a real flavor for the history and the feel of China.

I enjoyed this book immensely, though I do wish Troost had told me two things that continually popped into my mind throughout the reading: Where did he get the money for such an extended trip (not that it's actually my business, but I'm curious), and what was his reunion with his wife and two young sons like once he finally left Planet China? Other than those two minor points, I have to say that this is another engaging entry in Troost's repetoire, and I'll be eagerly looking forward to seeing where we'll be traveling next.

As an aside, do watch the short films on the homepage of this book on Amazon. Not only are they funny, they give a bit of insight into the scenery and conditions experienced in Lost on Planet China.
35 von 43 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Funny and Witty 22. Juli 2008
Von Kagnomi - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As a China born, now California resident, I felt quite curious to read what an American had to say about my home country.

In the beginning, I will admit, I was somewhat offended by the way he portrayed us but then as I began to remember my last visit to my hometown (1 hour's drive from Bejing) and read more, I realized he was right. We do have quite a lot of pollution. We are possibly the rudest people on the planet. And the traffic is hell (what is considered good driving there, which is not crashing into someone, is quite different here.)

Some parts, like the beggars and the takeover of Tibet made me cry. I used to think Tibet was better off with China but after reading this, I realize I was grieviously blinded. Now I want to kick all my fellow Chinese out of Tibet. I do wonder though, if he gave the beggars money.

A lot of parts made me laugh. Hard. But I won't give any specifics away.

I learned a lot. Seriously, my mother didn't even know that you can bargain for taxi rides. Though we refrained from speaking english there to make sure we weren't cheated. The Mao Regimen especially was an eyeopener. I knew he was bad, but not Hitler bad. It really shows how censored China is.

And yes, it's true. We Chinese are proud. And we also hate Japan (most of us anyways - you'd be hard pressed to find someone not). And we can get REALLY crazy. One actress was told to wear pants with a picture of the Japanese flag on it for a photoshoot. Big mistake. China shamed her, crowds threw eggs at her, and people relentlessly bashed her on the internet. Poor dear. This was worse than when the Chinese actresses were shamed for being in Memoirs of a Geisha.

I was slightly dissapointed that he didn't visit a McDonald's (only here in China do you see businessmen having lunch meetings at Mickey Dees) or my hometown as we have a good selection of fresh fruit available every day. But we also have people throwing cucumbers out of their 5th story window as a way of saying "Shut up!". And beaches infested with jellyfish. That are later served for dinner.

Overall, this book was amazing, refreshingly honest, and wonderfully written. It's addictive yet light enough that you can let go of the book with only mild efforts and get some sleep.
23 von 28 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Here we go again... 31. Juli 2008
Von Zack Davisson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Back during the Bubble Era of Japan, when they looked posed to take over the economic world and everyone was scrambling to catch up, there were a gazillion travel guides and cultural books dumped out of publishing companies looking to "explain it all" (make a fast buck) or just to show us what a wild and wacky place that country was with their odd customs and eating habits. Well, the bubble burst, and Japan was forced to exit stage left, and the new contender of China has stepped up to strut. Exit gaijin, enter laowai.

But that's OK. These kinds of books may be shallow and basic travel porn, but depending on the strength of the writer (Bill Bryson for instance. Anthony Bourdain for another) can be fun to read and just maybe we will glean a little insight between clever witticisms. I mean, we certainly aren't going to go there ourselves now are we? So we live a little vicariously.

And by these standards, how does J. Maarten Troost do? Does he pull it off? To be honest, he does OK. "Lost on Planet China" is not bad at all. From the start he admits that he has no interest or knowledge of China, nor any real reason to go there. Of course, there is a small subplot about thinking of moving his family there do to the high cost of living in California, but this is discarded after a few pages and never mentioned again. It soon becomes obvious that Troost has gone to China because he is a travel writer by trade, he needs to make a paycheck just like everyone else, and what with China being "hot" right now it only makes sense to make that his next book. Off we go.

Troost manages to keep my interest and take me on a tour through actually quite a bit of a large country. Unfortunately we are not given a timeline of his tour, but he seems to have spent several months there rather than the cursory few weeks, and he becomes more comfortable with the country as the months go by. This is by far the most unique and fascinating part of "Lost on Planet China". As he becomes bolder, and his preconceived notions fall away, the book becomes much more interesting and his destinations more adventurous. After all, Asia is only weird to those who don't live there, and after a few months Troost's impressions show more depth, and there is less of the "Wow, what a wacky country!" feel to the book.

And "Lost in Planet China" is definitely no love letter. Troost has a great contempt for much of what he sees, and justifiably so. Horrible pollution and poverty, absolute government control and rampant corruption and gangs...anyone looking to be lost in the beauty and majesty of this ancient culture isn't going to find it here. That also is an interesting and enjoyable part of the book. Most travel writers feel the need to connect with the country, to find the common ground and suggest that if only we could just understand then we would see the inner beauty. Not Troost. It is a refreshing viewpoint, but one sure to upset those looking for a feel-good travel book.

There are a lot of faults here. The book is long and dull in parts, there are some spelling mistakes, and the whole thing could use some editing. There is nothing particularly spectacular about his writing, but it isn't bad either. However, "Lost on Planet China" is worth a read just for Troost's raw honesty and some of the cool places he takes you. I am sure the market will soon be flooded with "China Wow!" books of more polish and professionalism, but they probably won't be any better than this.
13 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Ethnocentrism as an art form? 14. November 2008
Von R. Getter - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Troost is funny, observant and an extremely energetic traveler. He not only avoids the "beaten path" but seems to avoid entire regions that have them. His trips are well researched yet he retains a good bit of flexibility as he travels. This is the first of his books that I have read and, based on other readers' comments, may check out another before I pass any final judgments.

I'm a sucker for any book that has a map on the inside covers and love travelogues where the author actually travels rather than simply visits. There's no denying that Lost on Planet China covers a tremendous amount of territory. What bothers me about most of the book is that Troost often prefers to criticize rather than understand. It's obvious from the start that he has little affection for Chinese cities or their inhabitants. It's not until he reaches Tibet that we see any glimmer of pleasure in his commentary. Even though I heartily agree with his disdain for the Chinese government's conquest and destruction of Tibet, I am not very comfortable with his ongoing expressions of distaste for modern Chinese culture and customs. A lot of the book's best laughs come at the expense of the people he is observing. After a while, the jokes about flying loogies, his ongoing dismay that signs and transit information in Chinese cities are so inconsiderately written in Chinese and his frustration with the massive crowds and dense pollution gets a bit old. It's often hard to see where the humor leaves off and personal bias takes over.

You may want to write this off as a minority opinion, but I just can't escape the feeling that virtually all of Troost's humor comes at his subject's expense.
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