Gabrielle Jaffe is a freelance journalist who is currently based in China, covering travel, culture and current affairs for publications including The Atlantic, The Times, and Los Angeles Times.
In search of the Manchus

In search of the Manchus

Palms pressed flat together above his forehead, knees bent over a yellow silk-covered block, Hong Haibo offers an inaudible prayer to his forebears. This genuflecting gesture of ancestor worship is reproduced daily throughout East Asia, but Hong’s are no ordinary ancestors. They are the Manchu
Off-road in scenic Fujian

Off-road in scenic Fujian

The sweat, the strain, the huffing and puffing – it had all been worth it for this. After a long morning of biking, the 20-minute uphill climb had nearly beaten me. Much of the time the slope was so steep that I decelerated to a
Qufu, China: a tour of Confucius's home town

Qufu, China: a tour of Confucius’s home town

“I am a descent of Confucius,” says my guide, and I am enormously impressed – until I learn later that the Chinese philosopher’s progeny officially number over two million people. Still, Kong Xiangqiang (or Tommy, as he asks me to call him) has the ideal
Inside Beijing's former brothels

Inside Beijing’s former brothels

“Welcome to my humble brothel,” jokes Simon Gjeroe, our 6ft-plus guide. Kowtowing to fit through the doorway, he ushers us into a two-storey building that was once one of Beijing’s bordellos. Today we are touring Bada Hutong, an area a half mile square that is
The Middle Kingdom Ride:  A motorbike odyssey around China

The Middle Kingdom Ride: A motorbike odyssey around China

Imagine travelling 11,600 miles. That’s more than twice the distance from Beijing to London as the crow flies – or the distance needed to circumnavigate China, as Canadian brothers Ryan and Colin Pyle found out on their epic journey motorcycling all the way round the
Combusting in Camiguin

Combusting in Camiguin

“Our small island has seven major volcanoes. One is still active. If it blows up, it’s bye-bye Camiguin.” Our guide Bebok’s words, as we stand atop Mount Hibok-Hibok at 1,332 meters, do not exactly fill us with confidence. Perhaps remaining stoic in the face of
Sichuan - Bears & Beyond

Sichuan – Bears & Beyond

Like most people in Britain, my first encounter with China’s Sichuan province was in the local takeaway. Romanced by the exotic-sounding ‘Szechuan chicken’, I ignored the warning chilli peppers and ordered ‘number 33’. Over the years, 33 became a favourite. So it was with great
Beijing: a weekender's guide

Beijing: a weekender’s guide

Beijing has almost as many faces as past names – over a 3,000 period, it has been known variously as Ji, Yanjing, Guangyang, Youzhou, Fanyang, Nanjing, Zhongdu, Dadu and Khanbaliq – and on its march to modernity in the last decade, the Chinese capital bulldozed
Xinjiang - West of the Far East

Xinjiang – West of the Far East

If I told you there was a place in China where the people have green eyes and reddish blond hair, you’d probably think of expats in Beijing and Shanghai. In actual fact, this place lies more than 3,200 kilometers to the west in Xinjiang, a
For all the tea in China

For all the tea in China

Row after row of neat bushes lined undulating hills. It could have been Tuscany, except for the hats. The conical straw headgear of the workers was a constant reminder that this was Asia. More specifically, we were in Xishuangbanna district, Yunnan province, at the start