Don't Forget the Guidebooks!
I never travel without first doing my homework. Be it a weekend getaway or several months abroad, stocking up on guidebooks and browsing the web for supplemental material is always a must. (Spending hours on TripAdvisor before, during, and after a trip is also an obsession of mine.) My trip to Beijing is no exception; so far I've read Insider's Guide to Beijing 2008, Fodor's China, Lonely Planet Beijing, and Zagat Beijing. I'm bringing along an Eyewitness Pocket Map & Guide as well so I always have something, well, in my pocket.
Though not as relevant in 2008, I'm also working my way through China Today: Sin or Virtue? -- written in 1978 by my grandfather, Albert Honig, after returning from several weeks in China. A psychiatrist, known around the world at the time for his experimental treatments, he was among the first Americans to visit post-Mao China.
Without this blog as a resource, I had no choice but to turn to other authors for my pre-journey fix. Even with the information you'll find here in the coming weeks, it's still a good idea to bring a guidebook or two.
With its list of 228 restaurants ranging from "spectacular Peking duck" at Beijing Da Dong to "surprisingly authentic" Mexican at El Fogoncito, I recommend picking up a copy of Zagat Beijing before leaving home. I definitely plan on using it to guide me to my first few culinary experiences.