Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fried Eggs with Chopsticks by Polly Evans

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Fried Eggs with Chopsticks is the tale of Polly Evans travelling around China for two months using only public/local means of transport. She braves massages in Beijing, public buses on remote dirt tracks, Donkey’s in Sichuan, Bears in southern China and being constantly lost in translation.

China is a place that both fascinates me and horrifies me. I have heard many amazing and downright scary stories from friends who have traveled in China. So I was very eager to read this when mum said she had a week left before it was due back at the library and I jumped at the opportunity.

As usual Polly manages to convey a warmth and humor about the country she is traveling in and the people she was meeting, even when Polly seemed to struggle. She really did seem to find this trip difficult after awhile and it was probably from the isolation and constant struggle to communicate in this strange land. Even ordering a meal involved her walking around a restaurant with the waitress in tow pointing to other patrons dishes to convey what she wanted to order.

It was easy to see in her writing in “On a hoof and a prayer” that she had loved every minute of the trip. Similarly Evans emotions were out for show in Fried Eggs with Chopsticks, you could clearly feel her despair and growing depression as she travelled deeper within China. I was very impressed though she never seemed to blame the Chinese for her troubles, she instead focused inwards and spoke of her turmoil and frustration over being unable to communicate more effectively.
“My fellow passengers snored and snorted creating an extraordinary symphony of rattling, roaring, moaning and groaning. The man in the bunk opposite was doing a good imitation of a slowly expiring farmyard animal”.
There were some hysterically funny moments and moments that I am amazed didn’t make her crack sooner, as I know I would have been a frazzled mess (I would have taken one look at the toilet she had gone to and canceled the rest of the trip).

A great read if you like travel stories and even better if you are planning a trip to China (I am looking at you Irish).

For a bit of fun Polly has a website which has picture galleries of her trips. I really love this idea as you can see the places she travelled through. Her latest book looks great and is something I really want to do if I ever make it to snow!


  1. This sounds like a great book with lots of funny moments. I'm not sure I could have taken a trip like that--but I bet it would be fun to live vicariously through her experiences! Thanks for the great review, Caspette.

  2. Great review, the quote made me chuckle... an expiring farmyard animal. :-D

    I've never heard of Polly Evans' books, so I'll have to check them out. Maybe she's visited a place or two I'd like to see ;-)

  3. This is the first time I have heard of this book or author. It sounds really interesting! Right up my alley. I am putting it on the TBR list. I am also putting this review on my Marvelous Mondays post tomorrow, where I give a shout out to bloggers whose posts grab my attention!

  4. Rebecca - wow thanks Im really honored.

  5. Neat review - I've never heard of this author either. I'm afraid to go to China myself - such a different world I'm not sure I could enjoy it. The language barrier is the biggest challenge.

  6. I loved your review. It brought back memories of my exchange stay in Japan. When we went out to eat I would pore over the display case out front which had plates of different foods to look at...everything had fish in it..yuck!! I think I need to read this!!!