The following ten questions and answers were the most frequently asked questions before I left for China. Under those questions, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions from after my trip. If you have any questions not addressed here, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
Question 1: Why are you doing this?
Answer 1: This one is a little tricky to answer. Here's the short version: I have a great affinity for China and Chinese culture, I love to eat street food, and I enjoy writing. This was a way to combine all of those into one amazing job. There's a bit more detail in this, my second blog post ever. Be warned, though, that you'll have to weed through some other expository details about my project to find the relevant points.
Question 2: What does your wife think of this?
Answer 2: My wife is, without question, the best wife in the world. Real quick, let's review all of the sacrifices she is making here: 1) I will be out of the country with occasional patches of inability to communicate for three solid months, 2) I get to go traipsing across all corners of China, and she has to stay home, and 3) She is going to be acting as the sole breadwinner for six months to a year here. Through all of this, she has remained incredibly gracious and supportive. The biggest issue (and the one people usually ask about) is that three months away from home thing. Leslie maintains, and I agree, that in the context of our whole marriage (which, assuming good health for all involved, will be going strong for at least fifty more years) three months apart is a drop in the bucket. It (along with the other two points) is a small price to pay, she notes, for me to be able to pursue a dream. Like I said, I have an awesome wife and I love her.
Question 3: How are you paying for this?
Answer 3: As of now, all funding for this endeavor is coming directly out of my pocket. I considered a couple other options (including a Kickstarter campaign) but ended up deciding this was the best option. My goal is to keep the costs of the trip under $4000. After I get back, there will also be costs associated with production of the book, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Question 4: When are you going?
Answer 4: I'm flying out of Washington, DC, on January 11 and coming back on April 11. Three months on the dot (disregarding the fact that I'll actually land in China on the 12th).
Question 5: Where in China are you going?
Answer 5: I'm planning to visit every province in China at least once for a total of 50 - 60 cities. A common follow-up question to this one is whether I have a specific route planned out. The answer to that is no--I have a general plan to start in Shanghai and move west through the south of the country and then go north from Lhasa and move back east through Northern China. This route is mainly designed for reasons of climate (the longer I put off going to Harbin, the warmer it will be...).
Question 6: Do you have a publisher?
Answer 6: Yes! I'm working with Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong.
Question 7: Aren't you worried about your stomach?
Answer 7: Nope! I have a mighty strong stomach that can handle most anything I throw at it with ease. That being said, I expect to get sick at least once while in China. As I wrote in this post, that's just part of playing the game. Such is life.
Question 8: Is there anything you won't eat?
Answer 8: I'll eat anything so long as it isn't endangered or a primate. Anything else is fair game. Sometimes this question is a polite way of asking if I plan to eat dog. With apologies to any dog lovers in the audience, the answer is yes: if dog is available as a street food, I will eat it.
Question 9: How can I help?
Answer 9: Thanks for asking! In general, I am just happy to have your encouragement, whether spoken or unspoken. If you want to pitch in more tangibly, I encourage you to follow the blog (click that link on the right sidebar) and comment regularly. Once I have my Twitter and Facebook pages established, you can follow me there as well (in the meantime, you can find my personal page on Facebook). If you are really moved to help out, you are also welcome to make a donation with the PayPal button over there on the right. As I noted in answer 3 above, I am paying for this trip myself and am not counting on receiving any donations. Several people asked, though, so I set up the donation button. If you are so compelled, I thank you most graciously. I will make an effort to repay your kind generosity in some way, whether it be a postcard from China, a free copy of my book once it's done, or some sort of mystery prize.
Question 10: I was told there would be pie. Is there pie?
Answer 10: No, I'm sorry to say you were misinformed...there is no pie available on this website.
Question 1: How was your trip?
Answer 1: Good, thanks! Also exhausting. But mostly good.
Question 2: How far did you travel / how much did you spend / how many cities did you visit/ etc.?
Answer 2: I would encourage you to check out this post I did that runs through some of the basic numbers of the trip.
Question 3: Did you ever get sick?
Answer 3: Nope! I'm proud to say that I didn't once get sick, despite eating almost nothing but street food for three straight months.
Question 4: Did you eat dog?
Answer 4: Yes, on three separate occasions. Once on noodles, once in a soup, and once in a sandwich. For the curious, there's a pretty grisly pile of dog bones in the picture at this link (don't click if you are sensitive to the idea of dogs as food).
Question 5: What was the weirdest thing that you ate?
Answer 5: This.
Question 6: When will your book be finished?
Answer 6: It's hard to say. As of January of 2014, the bulk of the book is finished, but there are still things to do before it goes out on the market. The most recent status update can be found here.
Question 7: What is the book going to be like?
Answer 7: It will be a travel guide. No narrative or anything like that. I am planning for it to be structured like a traditional traditional travel guide, divided up by province and city, but instead of using it to find the local tourist attractions and hotels and whatnot, it will be used to find which street foods are local to each city.
Question 8: What was your favorite food that you tried?
Answer 8: That's a difficult question, and my answer changes all the time. There were so many great foods all around the country, I'm not sure I could narrow it to just one. If pressed, however, I might go with this one. I have a major sweet tooth, and this one really hit the spot.
Question 9: What is the best city in China for street food?
Answer 9: Another difficult question to answer. I don't think I could limit it to one city, so here are a few of my favorite spots: Lanzhou, Kaifeng, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Guiyang.
Question 10: Wait, this isn't Google...I was trying to get to Google.
Answer 10: That's not really a question, but here--try this.