Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird is an East Asia-based writer chiefly concerned with travel, the environment and art. He likes railways, craft beer and the teachings of Zhuangzi.

Latest from Thomas Bird

From boom to bust to dust: how Covid-19 and typhoon wrecked Siargao, surfers’ paradise in the Philippines, and its long road back

After the economic woe of Covid-19 travel curbs, Siargao in the Philippines has been left devastated by Typhoon Rai. With power and water out and many homeless, the island needs months to recover.

After the economic woe of Covid-19 travel curbs, Siargao in the Philippines has been left devastated by Typhoon Rai. With power and water out and many homeless, the island needs months to recover.

23 Jan 2022 - 1:37PM
Profile | My life in Asia: American lawyer turned writer on China’s pull, Beijing’s Muslims and vanishing hutong culture, Mongolia, and sublime Taiwan

M.A. Aldrich talks about his life doing exhilarating legal work in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia, and why a future book will celebrate Taiwanese culture.

M.A. Aldrich talks about his life doing exhilarating legal work in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia, and why a future book will celebrate Taiwanese culture.

22 Jan 2022 - 5:15PM
Gen Y Chinese ride out the Covid-19 pandemic in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia doing as the hippies once did

Like the hippies in the 1960s, Gen Y solo travellers from China are enjoying life and their natural surroundings in Southeast Asia, with no thought of returning home to Covid-19 quarantine and lockdowns.

Like the hippies in the 1960s, Gen Y solo travellers from China are enjoying life and their natural surroundings in Southeast Asia, with no thought of returning home to Covid-19 quarantine and lockdowns.

16 Jan 2022 - 1:15PM
Travelling to Thailand during Covid-19: four visitors – fully vaccinated – describe their experiences in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai

Visiting Thailand in a pandemic is different, say travellers who took advantage of its opening up from November 1 to visit Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

Visiting Thailand in a pandemic is different, say travellers who took advantage of its opening up from November 1 to visit Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

13 Dec 2021 - 12:10PM
Profile | How an American fell in love with China and Chinese – literary translator Eric Abrahamsen, now back home, looks back on innocent times in Beijing

Eric Abrahamsen, award-winning translator of Chinese literature, tells Thomas Bird what ignited his interest in China and what persuaded him to return to his Washington state home in the US.

Eric Abrahamsen, award-winning translator of Chinese literature, tells Thomas Bird what ignited his interest in China and what persuaded him to return to his Washington state home in the US.

22 Nov 2021 - 1:47PM
Wonders old and new in China’s Greater Bay Area, a land of opportunity Hong Kong and Macau have been invited to join

Of all the regions of China that have modernised since its opening to the world in 1978, none has changed faster than the Greater Bay Area.

Of all the regions of China that have modernised since its opening to the world in 1978, none has changed faster than the Greater Bay Area.

29 Oct 2021 - 6:15PM
A history of China’s first successful railway and how a Hebei museum park reveals the forces that tried to derail it

Today, China is home to the world’s largest high-speed railway network. We take a trip to Hebei province to see how one of its earliest railway lines put the wheels in motion.

Today, China is home to the world’s largest high-speed railway network. We take a trip to Hebei province to see how one of its earliest railway lines put the wheels in motion.

26 Oct 2021 - 11:14AM
With China closed to international tourists, travel businesses that serve them have adapted to survive - and even thrive

China shut its borders when the coronavirus epidemic emerged, and tourism dried up. When local travel revived, bespoke tour companies changed their itineraries to suit locals and expats stuck there.

China shut its borders when the coronavirus epidemic emerged, and tourism dried up. When local travel revived, bespoke tour companies changed their itineraries to suit locals and expats stuck there.

23 Jul 2021 - 12:31PM
Foreign musicians in China on the halcyon days

For many Western musicians, China in the early 21st century was a freewheeling land of opportunity – and massive, mind-bending audiences

For many Western musicians, China in the early 21st century was a freewheeling land of opportunity – and massive, mind-bending audiences

15 Jun 2021 - 9:47AM
Travel to Singapore, India, Malaysia, Greece, China and more from home with these book recommendations

Grounded by the pandemic, four travel aficionados recount their favourite literary wanderings taking in Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, Spain and Greece, among others.

Grounded by the pandemic, four travel aficionados recount their favourite literary wanderings taking in Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, Spain and Greece, among others.

29 May 2021 - 3:16PM
Pandemic travel: 4 wanderers discuss visas, quarantine and staying on the move during Covid-19

For those who are unwilling, or unable, to live a travel-free existence, continued movement during Covid-19 has proved challenging but it’s better than staying at home.

For those who are unwilling, or unable, to live a travel-free existence, continued movement during Covid-19 has proved challenging but it’s better than staying at home.

14 May 2021 - 2:10PM
How Malaysian culture inspires a Dutch designer

Kuala Lumpur-based Dutch designer Lisette Scheers on how the Malaysia of her memories inspires her Nala Designs product range.

Kuala Lumpur-based Dutch designer Lisette Scheers on how the Malaysia of her memories inspires her Nala Designs product range.

4 Feb 2021 - 5:23PM
How Sun Yat-sen shaped Penang in Malaysia and influenced the lives of its Chinese residents

Little was publicly known about Sun Yat-sen’s time in Penang until Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad’s 2001 visit to an exhibition dedicated to the Chinese revolutionary in George Town, where his influence can still be felt.

Little was publicly known about Sun Yat-sen’s time in Penang until Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad’s 2001 visit to an exhibition dedicated to the Chinese revolutionary in George Town, where his influence can still be felt.

21 Dec 2020 - 8:49AM
Digital nomads find opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic, and adjust to living in one place rather than travelling

Remote work has a whole different meaning for digital nomads, who took to the road but find themselves stuck in one place for months. Forced to live by their wits, some are thriving.

Remote work has a whole different meaning for digital nomads, who took to the road but find themselves stuck in one place for months. Forced to live by their wits, some are thriving.

16 Nov 2020 - 7:14PM
‘This year is about survival’: on Langkawi, Malaysian holiday island, tourism staff and businesses stretched by Covid-19

The sunsets on the Malaysian island are beautiful, but few are coming to watch them, thanks to Covid-19 lockdowns and closed borders. With tourism badly hit, is it time to diversify?

The sunsets on the Malaysian island are beautiful, but few are coming to watch them, thanks to Covid-19 lockdowns and closed borders. With tourism badly hit, is it time to diversify?

26 Oct 2020 - 6:46PM
How Kaiser Kuo became a leading player in China podcasting and kept on rocking

Growing up in the US, Chinese-American Kaiser Kuo felt he was the ‘heir to two great civilisational traditions’, and he has bridged both hosting the Sinica podcast for 10 years.

Growing up in the US, Chinese-American Kaiser Kuo felt he was the ‘heir to two great civilisational traditions’, and he has bridged both hosting the Sinica podcast for 10 years.

7 Sep 2020 - 12:19PM
33 years of changing China as seen through the lens of a Scottish photographer

For Bruce Connolly, visiting China in 1987 was the ‘ultimate dream’. Now based in Beijing, the photographer, broadcaster and train enthusiast has been documenting his travels through the Middle Kingdom ever since.

For Bruce Connolly, visiting China in 1987 was the ‘ultimate dream’. Now based in Beijing, the photographer, broadcaster and train enthusiast has been documenting his travels through the Middle Kingdom ever since.

25 Mar 2021 - 9:43AM
‘I’m a Chinese writer, I write about this place and I don’t wish to go elsewhere,’ says Murong Xuecun

The enfant terrible of Chinese literature talks about growing up in rural poverty, becoming a writer in the internet age, and why he thinks we’re living in dangerous, chaotic times.

The enfant terrible of Chinese literature talks about growing up in rural poverty, becoming a writer in the internet age, and why he thinks we’re living in dangerous, chaotic times.

18 Jul 2020 - 2:13PM
Hiking the Yuanyang rice terraces - well off the beaten track

Beyond tourist-trap villages like Qingkou lies a welcoming, authentic taste of rural China.

Beyond tourist-trap villages like Qingkou lies a welcoming, authentic taste of rural China.

11 Dec 2020 - 12:41PM
How disease has fed on China’s progress – shift from nomadic hunters to farming communities sowed the seeds for millennia of sickness

From malarial neolithic settlements on the Yellow River plain to the plague-ravaged Mongols and today’s host-jumping pathogens, disease has long helped to shape China.

From malarial neolithic settlements on the Yellow River plain to the plague-ravaged Mongols and today’s host-jumping pathogens, disease has long helped to shape China.

26 May 2020 - 12:25PM
Hong Kong curator Johnson Chang is looking forward to a post-Covid-19 world and what it will mean for capitalism

Johnson Chang founded Hanart TZ Gallery in 1983, and has been on a quest to bridge Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China through art ever since.

Johnson Chang founded Hanart TZ Gallery in 1983, and has been on a quest to bridge Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China through art ever since.

20 May 2020 - 2:36PM
Making tracks through China: from the heart of Yunnan on the trail of an old French railway

Sights of the Kunming-Haiphong Railway and its steel Renzi Bridge, a wonder of the industrial age, are well worth the journey through the mountains of Yunnan.

Sights of the Kunming-Haiphong Railway and its steel Renzi Bridge, a wonder of the industrial age, are well worth the journey through the mountains of Yunnan.

9 May 2020 - 1:01PM
Chinese artists, locked down by the coronavirus, got creative and got to work

Cooped up during China’s ‘longest spring festival’, artists produced a variety of works, including photography, paintings and collage.

Cooped up during China’s ‘longest spring festival’, artists produced a variety of works, including photography, paintings and collage.

6 Apr 2020 - 9:33AM
China’s Great Wall and the Englishman who has dedicated his life to preserving it

William Lindesay has run the length of the wall, photographed it from air and land, documented its destruction and discovered a new dynasty of builders.

William Lindesay has run the length of the wall, photographed it from air and land, documented its destruction and discovered a new dynasty of builders.

4 Apr 2020 - 4:11PM
The translator championing Chinese women writers for English-language readers around the world

With 11 novels published, Nicky Harman hopes to promote contemporary Chinese literature.

With 11 novels published, Nicky Harman hopes to promote contemporary Chinese literature.

24 Mar 2020 - 10:29PM
Temples, tea and Taiwan’s rich history – exploring Lukang’s old town

The former second city offers a meandering insight into the town’s former greatness as a maritime and spiritual centre.

The former second city offers a meandering insight into the town’s former greatness as a maritime and spiritual centre.

11 Jan 2020 - 4:16PM
How British author, translator and publisher Harvey Thomlinson helped bring Asian literature to the world

His Make-Do Publishing translated works by Chinese authors Murong Xuecun, Chen Xiwo and Anni Baobei.

His Make-Do Publishing translated works by Chinese authors Murong Xuecun, Chen Xiwo and Anni Baobei.

6 Jan 2020 - 3:06PM
Blue-collar photographer’s slice-of-life photos aboard China’s slow trains capture a side of country forgotten amid the fanfare over high-speed progress

A hotel worker who set out to see country on the cheap began photographing his fellow passengers. Qian Haifeng’s pictures of the shadow world beyond China’s gleaming high-speed trains have won him national and international recognition.

A hotel worker who set out to see country on the cheap began photographing his fellow passengers. Qian Haifeng’s pictures of the shadow world beyond China’s gleaming high-speed trains have won him national and international recognition.

9 Apr 2020 - 3:22PM
Peter Fleming, brother of Bond creator Ian Fleming, and his stories on China - it’s the stuff of spy novels

Peter Fleming was a writer in his own right, whose thirst for adventure took him to far-flung destinations, such as Brazil, but it was to China that he would return again and again.

Peter Fleming was a writer in his own right, whose thirst for adventure took him to far-flung destinations, such as Brazil, but it was to China that he would return again and again.

13 Oct 2019 - 3:00PM
An American tour guide in Hong Kong giving Westerners a taste of her adopted home

Little Adventures in Hong Kong founder Daisann McLane travelled the world as a journalist for Rolling Stone and The New York Times before settling in Hong Kong, where she helps others understand the city’s unique culture.

Little Adventures in Hong Kong founder Daisann McLane travelled the world as a journalist for Rolling Stone and The New York Times before settling in Hong Kong, where she helps others understand the city’s unique culture.

26 Sep 2019 - 12:22PM