It is not every day that a childhood dream comes true. It is even more rare that a book comes out of it. But that is exactly what Julia Liu, 29 of Meizhou, has done after writing and publishing her first book, The Countryside of Feng Huang.
Feng Huang, an area in western Hunan province, is the subject of the late Hunan novelist Shen Congwen's best-known work, Bian Cheng (Beside the City). 'When I was young I was very familiar with Shen Congwen's works,' said Liu. 'I always wanted to visit Feng Huang after reading Bian Cheng.'
In 2001 Liu, a Chinese literature student at Jinan University, quit her job at a local information technology company and headed for Feng Huang with classmate Zhang Jiaping, a Feng Huang native who illustrated The Countryside of Feng Huang.
The pair spent 10 days in Feng Huang, which means 'phoenix' in Putonghua. During her stay, Liu took notes and pictures of the minority people who lived there. 'I went to the riverside every day and did some people-watching. There are mostly Miao and Tu Jia people who live there. The people there are poor but very kind,' Liu said.
Liu's book is one of a series of travel books published by Guangxi Normal University Press. Although she has yet to see any return from the book's sales, she says it has been well received. An avid traveller since leaving university, Liu plans to venture to Europe and Africa, but whether another book is in her future remains to be seen.
'I don't have much ambition as far as work and a career,' says Liu. 'I just want to do the things I like to do.'
The 154-page book sells for 35 yuan and is available at most local book shops including the Guangzhou Book Purchasing Centre, across from Teem Plaza in Tianhe.
Guangzhou has many young people like Liu and Zhang who love to travel. It is encouraging and inspiring to see people like Liu, who not only travel out of their element but share that experience in written form for all to see.