“I stared up at the billboard and wondered what other choices this country might have to keep its population down other than to regulate the number of children born. I had a feeling, religious belief or not, that having an abortion was a big deal emotionally, regardless of the reason. I totally agreed with the legal right for a woman to choose; it is her body and raising a child is a big deal. I was lucky I lived in the U.S. and had the right to decide for myself what I felt was best.”
– A Blue Moon in China
one paragraph of me contemplating the Chinese One Couple One Child policy in my travel memoir set in 1988.
Pilar’s memoir of her trip through China as a 21-year-old is a look back at a very different country and a barely remembered manner of travel. In 1988, travelers could not use the web to check reviews on youth hostels and restaurants, sightseeing spots, or train schedules. Google Earth was not around to provide a close-up look at destinations, and no one was carrying a smartphone to make the journey easier. In 1988, Pilar hopped on a train from Hong Kong into China with no guidebook or language skills and no idea what was ahead of her. On her journey of self-discovery, Pilar learns about herself as she wanders through China, forming connections with trekkers from around the world and with the Chinese people she meets. Based on Pilar’s journal entries, the reconstructed conversations are creative and add life to her tale. One year before Tiananmen Square, China in 1988 is in the midst of change, and Pilar reflects the conflict of some of the people she encounters.
Verdict This title is a nice addition to women’s studies readings as it chronicles the kind of travel undertaken with a tattered map and the recommendations of students met on trains.—Library Journal*
* I kept the reviewer’s name private as this is a subscription-only periodical with librarians and academics in mind.
A Blue Moon in China
If you want to read my story, I’d love for you to order it from an local bookstore and ask your library to add it to their collection.
Softcover: $18.99. ISBN: 978-0-9904251-9-9
there are 18 black and white photographs I took while there, an index, recommended reading, movies, and music from the book. I hand-drew the map.
hand-drawn map by elizabeth pilar 2014
A comfortable train out of Hong Kong into the port city of Guangzhou. From there the journey through the mainland began with an overnight boat ride up the Yi River and all day on a local bus across to Yangshuo. Departure was in early morning on a different boat to arrive in Guilin by the early afternoon. The first train adventure begins – and defines hard-seat-style – going west across the south via Guiyang to the city of Kunming in the providence called Yunnan. It took over 48 hours to arrive. Buses became the mode of travel for the next round of movement. Three days local-style to go further south to Jinghong and the Autonomous Region of Xishuangbanna. And back. Another two buses to Lijiang located in the foothills of the Himalayans Mountains. A couple more to another destination and back. The final bus ride was ten hours to a train station… somewhere. The second train adventure began with an overnight north to Chengdu, and 12 hours more to the city of Chongqing on the shores of the Yangtze River. Three days on a boat down to Wuhan. Less than 24 hours on a train north to Beijing. An overnight back down to Guangzhou. And then outward to Hong Kong.
A good way to look at the landmass of China – it’s slightly bigger than the United States of America.
In the book, there are 18 black and white photographs I took while there; an index; and recommended reading, movies, and music from the book lists. I hand-drew the map.
Library Journal‘s verdict was that it’s a “nice addition to women’s studies readings as it chronicles the kind of travel undertaken with a tattered map and the recommendations of students met on trains.”
Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buy A Blue Moon in China links here