[Zur chinesischen Ausgabe von „Schrecklich schön und weit und wild“]

[Zur chinesischen Ausgabe von „Schrecklich schön und weit und wild“]Interview mit Pu Shi, Herausgeberin von „Sanlian“

erschienen/erscheint bei:

Sanlian Life Week (Bejing) , Nr. 32/2023
Entstehungszeitraum: 11/07/2023 - 13/07/2023


chinesisch (chinesisch/中文) 


Your philosophical thinking on travelling makes me think of an English writer, Alain de Botton. I have travelled across Eurasia, the US and China during my career as a journalist. Six years ago when I was travelling in Kamchatka, I suddenly felt that there has been no authentic wild places left to explore. I thought the era that travelling as a way to expand frontier of knowledge is over and it has become a very personal experience. You are a professional traveler and writer. I would very much like to know how you think the tradition of travelling writing has changed and evolved. How is travelling writing today different from those of Anais Nin, Jane Morris and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry?

First let me please clarify that I am not a travel writer. I am just a writer – novelist, essayist, poet – who travels a lot. And therefore gets a good part of inspiration abroad, sometimes for a poem, sometimes for a short story or even a novel. Travelling shurely is different to what it was 100 years ago, even 30 or 40 years ago: When I started travelling out of Europe as a student, mostly I was the only tourist far and wide – even at touristic hotspots like the pyramids in Egypt.

In Bejing, apart from Tian’anmen those days there were no skyscrapers at all, I was completely lost in a „metropolitan village“ that looked the same to me in all its districts. At night I was not able to come back to my hotel without help of many, many locals. When I went shopping in the only departement store most of the shelfs were empty, I could only find some thimbles – nicely painted ceramics – as a souvenir purchase. That was 1985. When I was in Bejing 2019 I went to the same departement store (which had been perfectly refurbished meanwhile, of course) and was overwhelmed by the choice of high quality products – I was hardly able to afford a shirt! The former department store for the people had changed to a huge „shop in shop“ luxury mall for the rich and beautiful. So this is exactly what I would write if I was a travel writer, just to illustrate the fascinating change of the city within less then 40 years.

But which Bejing would you prefer? As a traveller, as a resident? Which one is more „authentic“? Aren’t they both authentic at their time? Isn’t it just the longing of the restless traveller to detect some rests of the ancient Bejing in today’s Beijing after some busy days of cruising the city? Or shouldn’t you be happy and excited just strolling around without any expectations, as former generations of travellers?

My answer to all these questions is: Everthing you see, without any exception, is authentic. Especially the „inauthentic“, no matter it ruins the perfect photo, the perfect description in a text. And last not least please don’t forget the authenticity of the locals – everywhere on the planet. Getting to know them or at least observing their daily life that’s the real adventure, apart from sightseeing or trekking in phantastic landscapes: getting to know a little more about people who, in the beginning of a journey, are just strangers and in the end, if you are lucky, are close go being friends – at least some of them.