Thomas Bird

Thomas Bird

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

Latest from Thomas Bird

‘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.

18 Jul 2020 - 2:13PM

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.

‘I’m a Chinese writer, I write about this place and I don’t wish to go elsewhere,’ says Murong Xuecun
Hiking the Yuanyang rice terraces - well off the beaten track

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

6 Jul 2020 - 4:41PM

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

Hiking the Yuanyang rice terraces - well off the beaten track
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.

26 May 2020 - 12:25PM

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.

How disease has fed on China’s progress – shift from nomadic hunters to farming communities sowed the seeds for millennia of sickness
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.

20 May 2020 - 2:36PM

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.

Hong Kong curator Johnson Chang is looking forward to a post-Covid-19 world and what it will mean for capitalism
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.

9 May 2020 - 1:01PM

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.

Making tracks through China: from the heart of Yunnan on the trail of an old French railway
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.

6 Apr 2020 - 9:33AM

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

Chinese artists, locked down by the coronavirus, got creative and got to work
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.

4 Apr 2020 - 4:11PM

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.

China’s Great Wall and the Englishman who has dedicated his life to preserving it
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.

24 Mar 2020 - 10:29PM

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

The translator championing Chinese women writers for English-language readers around the world
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.

11 Jan 2020 - 4:16PM

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

Temples, tea and Taiwan’s rich history – exploring Lukang’s old town
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.

6 Jan 2020 - 3:06PM

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

How British author, translator and publisher Harvey Thomlinson helped bring Asian literature to the world
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.

9 Apr 2020 - 3:22PM

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.

8 Apr 2020 - 4:48PM

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