61st 62nd birthday, China! (And happy 39th birthday, me!)
In honor of this grand celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, today we decided to sift through the AsiaObscura archives, and return to our wildest, most popular China stories of 2011! And so, in order of pageviews….
6. The Sick Collector and his 2000 Shoes
What happens when you take one creepy old man, one disgruntled housewife, and a collection of bizarre tiny shoes? After marital discord, that is. This profile of Yang Shaorong and his sick fetish brought together pornography, Polyester, and sweet sick obsession into one strange little story.
5. China’s all-time favorite (and all-time darkest?) comic book: Sanmao
Not many foreigners know about Sanmao, but in China he’s bigger than Disney. He’s Bart Simpson, Richie Rich and Charlie Brown, rolled into one dark comic burrito of bloodshed and poverty. Sanmao is a work of Chinese art, and a seriously weird 1940s comic book.
4. Inspector Black Cat: China’s Gore-Soaked Answer to Tom & Jerry
While our Sanmao story drew big audiences, it was nothing compared to the fans of “Inspector Black Cat”–a 1980s kids cartoon that coupled Tarantino with Hanna-Barbera. Blood splats across the screen, cute baby pandas are gruesomely eaten, and swords slice through innocent diners… on daytime tv.
3. Wonderland: Beijing’s Abandoned Disneyland
Crumbling castle walls and turrets, on the road to the Great Wall of China. We spent a day exploring this gorgeously decrepit amusement park, a onetime challenger for Beijing’s best theme park, and found more than just near-death-trap wells.
2. Relive the Cultural Revolution (aka The Weirdest Dinner Theater in Beijing)
It’s the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, all rolled into one delicious meal. The chance to experience the beatings of teachers and parents, the melting of pots and pans, the years of starvation and decade of torture, and get dessert, too. As part of the same story, don’t miss the video of the dinner show, in which landlords are executed on stage to audience cheers, or the restaurant’s incredibly bad menu. What a night!
1. 19 Incredible Taoist Gods
And of course, the Taoist gods ended up the most popular China story on AsiaObscura this year. Like that’s any surprise? We’ve covered plenty of weird Taoist temples in these pages, but this piece on the amazing bad-ass sculptures really caught some attention. If you like those, don’t miss Terrible Moments from a Taoist Temple, in which the gods slice, dice, and saw their congregation in two. It’s unforgettable.
While those were the China stories that garnered the most pageviews this year, my favorite piece on China didn’t make the top five, or even the top ten…. And since it’s my birthday today, as well as China’s, here’s that one, too:
0. A Postcard from Erenhot
Few views, few shares, and almost no comments, but it’s an AsiaObscura must-read. It’s got smugglers, whores, and dog head for breakfast… and after all, what more could a visitor be looking for?