Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird is an itinerant writer concerned with travel, the environment and art in China and Southeast Asia. He likes rock n roll, craft beer, scuba diving and the teachings of Zhuangzi.

Latest from Thomas Bird

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.

2 Dec 2019 - 11:36AM

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.

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
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.

13 Oct 2019 - 3:00PM

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, brother of Bond creator Ian Fleming, and his stories on China - it’s the stuff of spy novels
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.

26 Sep 2019 - 12:22PM

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.

An American tour guide in Hong Kong giving Westerners a taste of her adopted home
Controversial Chinese author Chen Xiwo grew up during the Cultural Revolution, but he calls these ‘absurd times’

The controversial Chinese author’ work has been censored in mainland China for its graphic descriptions of sex and violence that represent the corruption of the world he sees around him.

27 Aug 2019 - 9:40AM

The controversial Chinese author’ work has been censored in mainland China for its graphic descriptions of sex and violence that represent the corruption of the world he sees around him.

Controversial Chinese author Chen Xiwo grew up during the Cultural Revolution, but he calls these ‘absurd times’
Taiwan’s brutal White Terror period revisited on Green Island: confronting demons inside a former prison

The Human Rights Art Festival, held at one of two notorious prisons where thousands of political prisoners were incarcerated under Chiang Kai-shek’s rule, is helping Taiwan reconcile its past.

2 Aug 2019 - 8:08AM

The Human Rights Art Festival, held at one of two notorious prisons where thousands of political prisoners were incarcerated under Chiang Kai-shek’s rule, is helping Taiwan reconcile its past.

Taiwan’s brutal White Terror period revisited on Green Island: confronting demons inside a former prison
Little Liuqiu, Taiwan coral island teeming with turtles, temples and fantastical banyan trees

The island’s green turtle population and coral reefs are recovering following the passage of conservation legislation, and you can get up close with the big beasts on a dive.

12 Jul 2019 - 9:58AM

The island’s green turtle population and coral reefs are recovering following the passage of conservation legislation, and you can get up close with the big beasts on a dive.

Little Liuqiu, Taiwan coral island teeming with turtles, temples and fantastical banyan trees
‘Climate change is a much bigger concern than terrorism,’ says conservationist John MacKinnon 

The grandson of British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald and multi-award-winning author of 30 books on birds and mammals, John MacKinnon is one of the world’s leading experts on biodiversity and the environment in Asia.

20 Jun 2019 - 2:58PM

The grandson of British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald and multi-award-winning author of 30 books on birds and mammals, John MacKinnon is one of the world’s leading experts on biodiversity and the environment in Asia.

‘Climate change is a much bigger concern than terrorism,’ says conservationist John MacKinnon 
Birds of Beijing: China’s capital is important point on ‘avian super highway’

Situated between Russia and Southeast Asia, the city is an important intermediary point for migratory birds, but widespread use of mist nets and demand for rare species threatens avian life in the metropolis and beyond.

7 May 2019 - 4:22PM

Situated between Russia and Southeast Asia, the city is an important intermediary point for migratory birds, but widespread use of mist nets and demand for rare species threatens avian life in the metropolis and beyond.

Birds of Beijing: China’s capital is important point on ‘avian super highway’
Tibetan recalls a time when there was no pressure to conform and education was freer

Yang Zong, who owns a string of Yunnan-Tibetan restaurants in Shenzhen, says she is yearning to return to Yunnan 20 years after she left it to see the wider world.

15 Mar 2019 - 7:48PM

Yang Zong, who owns a string of Yunnan-Tibetan restaurants in Shenzhen, says she is yearning to return to Yunnan 20 years after she left it to see the wider world.

Tibetan recalls a time when there was no pressure to conform and education was freer
Shenzhen’s history didn’t start in 1979 – it goes back hundreds of years, to another golden age

Evidence of antiquity, long ignored in the southern Chinese region’s rush towards modernity, can still be found in the dynamic city

26 Feb 2019 - 10:14AM

Evidence of antiquity, long ignored in the southern Chinese region’s rush towards modernity, can still be found in the dynamic city

Shenzhen’s history didn’t start in 1979 – it goes back hundreds of years, to another golden age
The ancient Buddhist art of thangka has thrived in a Tibetan town, despite centuries of upheaval

Rebgong in northwest China is nurturing a new generation of artists, who are mastering the thangka, a Buddhist art form that has thrived over centuries of upheaval.

15 Feb 2019 - 9:53AM

Rebgong in northwest China is nurturing a new generation of artists, who are mastering the thangka, a Buddhist art form that has thrived over centuries of upheaval.

The ancient Buddhist art of thangka has thrived in a Tibetan town, despite centuries of upheaval
How a Tibetan hotelier born in exile helped put Shangri-La on the map

At the age of 16, Dakpa Kelden returned to his father’s hometown and enrolled at elementary school to learn Chinese. Today, he operates boutique hotels in Shangri-La and Lijiang and works to preserve Tibetan culture

17 Jan 2019 - 6:01PM

At the age of 16, Dakpa Kelden returned to his father’s hometown and enrolled at elementary school to learn Chinese. Today, he operates boutique hotels in Shangri-La and Lijiang and works to preserve Tibetan culture

How a Tibetan hotelier born in exile helped put Shangri-La on the map
‘World being pushed out of control’ the central theme at Lianzhou photo festival
On the trail of Deng Xiaoping in the French town where he embraced Communism

In the 1920s, the man who would become China’s paramount leader found his raison d’être in unremarkable Montargis, 120km from Paris.

19 Nov 2018 - 2:55PM

In the 1920s, the man who would become China’s paramount leader found his raison d’être in unremarkable Montargis, 120km from Paris.

On the trail of Deng Xiaoping in the French town where he embraced Communism
Lianzhou Foto 2018 – China’s edgiest photo festival puts quality over quantity

The Guangdong mountain town has historic landmarks, ethnic attractions and ‘weird’ food to entice visitors

10 Nov 2018 - 10:00AM

The Guangdong mountain town has historic landmarks, ethnic attractions and ‘weird’ food to entice visitors

Lianzhou Foto 2018 – China’s edgiest photo festival puts quality over quantity
Fire devastates historic wooden village on China’s ‘Dragon’s Backbone’ Longsheng rice terraces
Chinese on trains: photographer Wang Fuchun captures a nation’s progress over 40 years

Wang Fuchun’s candid portraits of travellers on China’s railways expose how breakneck economic development transformed lives since reform in the 1970s to the present day

25 Sep 2018 - 12:38PM

Wang Fuchun’s candid portraits of travellers on China’s railways expose how breakneck economic development transformed lives since reform in the 1970s to the present day

Chinese on trains: photographer Wang Fuchun captures a nation’s progress over 40 years
Dr Ho ‘goes to the mountains’ after a lifetime of international renown
Living through the Cultural Revolution: Chinese artist Teng Wenjin recalls sculpting in secret

As the 40th anniversary of ‘reform & opening-up’ looms, octogenarian Teng Wenjin, who created Shenzhen’s iconic Deng Xiaoping statue, reflects on a long journey from hard toil to artistic triumph

17 Aug 2018 - 10:46AM

As the 40th anniversary of ‘reform & opening-up’ looms, octogenarian Teng Wenjin, who created Shenzhen’s iconic Deng Xiaoping statue, reflects on a long journey from hard toil to artistic triumph

Living through the Cultural Revolution: Chinese artist Teng Wenjin recalls sculpting in secret
More than Beijing’s backyard: Hebei in China, where historical treasures shine through the pollution

Beijing’s hinterland, once the playground and battlefield of dynasties, has largely been spared the tourist makeover; pierce the pollution to reach the sea, and let history wash over you

20 Aug 2018 - 9:54AM

Beijing’s hinterland, once the playground and battlefield of dynasties, has largely been spared the tourist makeover; pierce the pollution to reach the sea, and let history wash over you

More than Beijing’s backyard: Hebei in China, where historical treasures shine through the pollution
China’s bike sharing bubble has burst – drone photography captures its casualties rusting in ‘bicycle graveyards’

Photographer Wu Guoyong travelled across the country to capture what happened when bike-sharing reached saturation point, inviting questions about the efficiency of China’s industrial machine

28 Aug 2018 - 5:43PM

Photographer Wu Guoyong travelled across the country to capture what happened when bike-sharing reached saturation point, inviting questions about the efficiency of China’s industrial machine

China’s bike sharing bubble has burst – drone photography captures its casualties rusting in ‘bicycle graveyards’
Chinese photographer captures ‘horror and beauty’ of modern China: from consumer culture to ancient waterways

Li Zhengde’s unvarnished, sometimes caustic images reveal the wonders and occasional horrors of a nation in flux

29 Jun 2018 - 10:49AM

Li Zhengde’s unvarnished, sometimes caustic images reveal the wonders and occasional horrors of a nation in flux

Chinese photographer captures ‘horror and beauty’ of modern China: from consumer culture to ancient waterways
How a writer gives voice to China’s ethnic minorities by translating their stories

Linguist and Chinese literary translator Bruce Humes looks back at life lived in all corners of the Sinosphere, and forward, to his passion for the literature of and about China’s minorities

25 Jun 2018 - 11:21AM

Linguist and Chinese literary translator Bruce Humes looks back at life lived in all corners of the Sinosphere, and forward, to his passion for the literature of and about China’s minorities

How a writer gives voice to China’s ethnic minorities by translating their stories
The first Chinese-built railway, the enthusiast trying to save it and his hero, the ‘father of China’s railroad’

As China forges ahead with a high-speed rail network few can rival, it seems hard to imagine it took 21 years for suspicious Qing dynasty officials to approve its first domestically built railway. An enthusiast tells of his fight to preserve it

20 Jun 2018 - 12:38PM

As China forges ahead with a high-speed rail network few can rival, it seems hard to imagine it took 21 years for suspicious Qing dynasty officials to approve its first domestically built railway. An enthusiast tells of his fight to preserve it

The first Chinese-built railway, the enthusiast trying to save it and his hero, the ‘father of China’s railroad’
Hong Kong photographer’s 40 years shooting a changing China, and why it’s more important than ever to dispel West’s ignorance

Magnus Bartlett published some of the first guide books to Chinese cities following the country’s opening up in 1978, and has been returning ever since. He believes it is more important than ever to tell the country’s story today

20 Apr 2018 - 7:19PM

Magnus Bartlett published some of the first guide books to Chinese cities following the country’s opening up in 1978, and has been returning ever since. He believes it is more important than ever to tell the country’s story today

Hong Kong photographer’s 40 years shooting a changing China, and why it’s more important than ever to dispel West’s ignorance
Halong Bay’s Cat Ba: a jewel in Vietnam’s island crown

A short train journey from Hanoi, Cat Ba and its neighbouring islands offer a lesser known, laid-back alternative to the country’s famous collection of karst islets

19 Apr 2018 - 2:32PM

A short train journey from Hanoi, Cat Ba and its neighbouring islands offer a lesser known, laid-back alternative to the country’s famous collection of karst islets

Halong Bay’s Cat Ba: a jewel in Vietnam’s island crown
Changing China: photo show focuses on impact of Wenzhou’s economic success story

A striking collection of images, exhibited at the 2017 Lishui International Photography Festival in Zhejiang province, shines light on those affected by unrelenting progress

2 Mar 2018 - 12:25PM

A striking collection of images, exhibited at the 2017 Lishui International Photography Festival in Zhejiang province, shines light on those affected by unrelenting progress

Changing China: photo show focuses on impact of Wenzhou’s economic success story
In deepest Yunnan: retracing the footsteps of Bruce Chatwin on late travel writer’s 1985 trip, when few had heard of Lijiang

What a difference a few decades make – or do they? Our reporter journeys back to a tourism-free time of wonder

12 Jan 2018 - 5:32PM

What a difference a few decades make – or do they? Our reporter journeys back to a tourism-free time of wonder

In deepest Yunnan: retracing the footsteps of Bruce Chatwin on late travel writer’s 1985 trip, when few had heard of Lijiang
Taiwan’s northern tip: weird nature, wonderful street food

A trip across the top of Taiwan takes visitors from hi-tech modernity through the island’s rich history and culinary heritage

A trip across the top of Taiwan takes visitors from hi-tech modernity through the island’s rich history and culinary heritage

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

A trip across the top of Taiwan takes visitors from hi-tech modernity through the island’s rich history and culinary heritage

A trip across the top of Taiwan takes visitors from hi-tech modernity through the island’s rich history and culinary heritage

Taiwan’s northern tip: weird nature, wonderful street food
How China’s Shangri-La earned a name for craft beer after 2014 fire

The high-altitude Tibetan city in Yunnan is back on top of the world following blaze that destroyed much of its Old Town, with a focus on high-end tipples and luxury treks

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM

The high-altitude Tibetan city in Yunnan is back on top of the world following blaze that destroyed much of its Old Town, with a focus on high-end tipples and luxury treks

How China’s Shangri-La earned a name for craft beer after 2014 fire