Latest Posts:

That’s China

Thursday, 25 December 2014

That's ChinaMark Kitto started a what’s on magazine for expatriates in Guangzhou in the late 1990s, expanded it to That’s Shanghai and then That’s Beijing and then had the whole business taken away from him. One day he was locked out of his own office and told that despite all the money he’d spent setting up and growing the business it wasn’t his anymore. Well ‘that’s China’ you might say.

That’s China recounts the often exhausting tale of how he built up the business, waded through endless swamps of Chinese bureaucracy and corruption and finally lost the lot. The tale is often wonderfully confusing and regularly you ponder how on earth he had any time to actually run the business in between the endless battles with government bureaucrats and officials. When he finally is stabbed in the back and locked out it’s no surprise, it could already have happened a dozen times.

His publishing career abruptly terminated in 2004, Mark with his wife Joanna and two children retreated to Moganshan, a hill station (well that’s what it would be in India) 200km north-west of Shanghai. For the next eight years he ran the very successful Moganshan Lodge and played a large part in putting the place on the tourist map, it features in Lonely Planet’s China guidebook. He also wrote a terrific monthly China Diary for Prospect Magazine, it was one of the first things I turned to with each new issue of the magazine.

During his Moganshan years he also wrote a book about his time in China as China Cuckoo (in the UK) or Chasing China: How I Went to China in Search of a Fortune & Found a Life (in the US). Then, in 2012, Mark decided he’d had enough of China, wrote a rather bitter farewell, ‘You’ll Never be Chinese,’ and moved back to Britain. His new book could be viewed as an additional explanation of his departure essay, it’s undoubtedly not going to enhance his popularity in the country! He doesn’t emerge as a particularly sympathetic character either, I much prefer the Mark Kitto of China Diary to the Mark Kitto of That’s China. Perhaps losing the fortune did enable him to find a life.

That's China

That’s China

25 December 2014 | Culture

Mark Kitto started a what’s on magazine for expatriates in Guangzhou in the late 1990s, expanded it to That’s Shanghai and then That’s Beijing and then had the whole business taken away from him. One day he was locked out of his own office and told that despite all th...

View Post
Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Joe Cocker

22 December 2014 | Culture

He died yesterday, left a lot of great records and great performances, but also provided Lonely Planet with its name. Almost. ◄ Mad Dogs & Englishmen, a great rock & roll band on the road movie, a great double album It’s 1973, Maureen and I have just...

View Post
d200-hants-cycles-1 - 540

The Cyclist Battalion

21 December 2014 | Living

Going through some boxes of old photographs and cards belonging to my elderly mother, who has recently moved into a nursing home, I came upon a 1916 Christmas card from my grandfather R E Ludlam sent from Bangalore in India when he was there with the 1/9th Battalion, ...

View Post
IMG_3796 - Casa Miglis 01 542

All Change for Cuba?

18 December 2014 | Living

So finally things are changing between the US and Cuba with Obama’s announcement that he intends to normalise relations with Cuba – about time most of us would say! Unfortunately Obama’s promise to ‘cut loose the shackles of the past’ doesn’t quite mean ending the...

View Post
IMG_9024 - Batavia & Batavia Castle entrance, Shipwreck Galleries - 540

Fremantle, Australia II & the Batavia Shipwreck

12 December 2014 | Places

En route to Bunbury I stopped in Fremantle to look at two museums – I stopped in Fremantle again on the way back to stay with some friends. ▲ My first stop was the Maritime Museum with all sorts of interesting exhibits about Western Australia’s seagoing history inc...

View Post
Melbourne

Making Modern Melbourne

10 December 2014 | Culture

Jenny Lee’s Making Modern Melbourne has been sitting by my bedside for far too long. I finally picked it up (seriously for a change) the other day and knocked it off in a flash. It’s a handy little history of Melbourne from its pre-European Aboriginal period, through ...

View Post
IMG_9029 - street art, Bunbury - 540

Bunbury in Western Australia, War Zone Hotels Elsewhere

8 December 2014 | Places

▲ I was in Bunbury last month for a Sister Cities conference, Bunbury is linked up with Setagaya near Tokyo and Jiaxing near Shanghai. The Seishokai Music Group came courtesy of the Japan link but there were lots of other sister city relationships making an appearance...

View Post
Gatecrashing Paradise

Gatecrashing Paradise: Adventures in the Real Maldives

7 December 2014 | Culture

I commented on Tom Chesshyre’s How Low Can You Go, an exploration of unknown corners of Europe, courtesy of the Low Cost Carriers who fly there, a few years ago. This time in Gatecrashing Paradise Tom sets out to explore the other Maldives, not the one where all the t...

View Post
King Island Museum quilt - 270

Flinders & King Islands

5 December 2014 | Places

They’re the two islands half way across Bass Strait, between the island state of Tasmania to the south and mainland Australia to the north. Although island residents tend to call Tasmania ‘the mainland.’ And despite living in Melbourne for many years and making many t...

View Post
Unmade Lists 270

A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

4 December 2014 | Culture

Yesterday I posted about wacky Chinese buildings, today it’s a wacky Melbourne book. Jane Rawson’s novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists combines a dystopian Melbourne in 2030, crippled by climate change, industrial meltdown and societal collapse, with a li...

View Post