These memories derive from a journey that the author took in China in February and March of 1999 as a member of the Zhong Xian Archaeological Project. His trip largely focused on the province of Sichuan, but several days were spent in and around Beijing. An archaeological study of salt was the purpose of the expedition, but in the process of traveling hither and yon, Dr. Brown experienced life in China that was undergoing major changes, both in urban and rural areas. The account is extracted directly from his detailed diary and offers many insights as to how local peoples reacted to a team of strange archaeologists that happened to wander into their lives.
Instead of the usual day-by-day account of the travels as they played out, the author has chosen to divide his memories by subject matter. Headings include The Adventure of Travel, Burden Bearers, Hotel Experiences, Life on the Roof Tops, Vendors and Their Wares, Red Hot Cuisine, The Chinese People, and a concluding section on The Rhythm of Life. As Dr. Brown says, "a journal is a life experience as it is being lived, so hopefully the reader will find some value in my relation. China is a wonderful place, but unfortunately its character seldom can be expressed adequately in words." Numerous beautiful photographs enhance the text and give validity to the (supposedly) Chinese proverb that, "a picture is worth a thousand words." In this case, as the text amounts to 25,236 words and the picture count is 86, the adage may have to be modified somewhat to "a picture is worth 293 words," which is really quite a nice ratio.