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Transformative JourneysTravel and Culture in Song China$
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Cong Ellen Zhang

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833992

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833992.001.0001

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The Infrastructure of Travel

The Infrastructure of Travel

Water Routes and Official Highways

(p.43) Chapter 2 The Infrastructure of Travel
Transformative Journeys

Cong Ellen Zhang

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter emphasizes the experiences of official travelers with the infrastructure that made their frequent, lengthy journeys feasible. Throughout China's imperial era, the central government prioritized the construction and maintenance of these transportation and communication systems. After all, none of the state's vital tasks, including collecting and transporting tax revenues, maintaining political and social order, and running an efficient defense system, could be achieved without functional postal, road, and waterway networks. Boat and land travel not only allowed elite travelers to gain concrete and practical knowledge through daily observation; scholar-officials in transit also developed a sense of self that was linked inextricably to their travel experiences. In fact, Song scholar-officials increasingly identified their bureaucratic careers with the many journeys they took, along the way lamenting the hardships they endured on the “official road.”

Keywords:   infrastructure, transportation systems, communication systems, postal networks, road networks, waterway networks, Song men, elite travelers, travel experiences

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