For most travellers, and all merchants, the road from China to India lies as it has lain for centuries, through Singkiang along that ancient Silk Road which is the most romantic and culturally the most important trade route in the history of the world. In 1935 Peter Fleming set out to travel that route, from Peking to Kashmir. It was a journey which swept him and his companion 3500 miles across the roof of the world. It took them seven months to complete the journey.
They travelled across deserts and mountains, through ice and sand and into some of the most beautiful, mysterious and dangerous areas in the world. His account of that journey is filled with endurance and adventure, with strange encounters in the wilderness, with tales of Chinese, Mongol tribesmem and Indians, and with a spirited sense of humour and courage.
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Time travel back to 1935 and do it tough
What a slog... I felt each elbow in my back as we squeezed into the back of the lorry from Xian. I was thirsty from the dryness of the plateau and riding with the prince was another test of endurance, And then we got to the squalor and distress of the camels and horses from oasis to oasis on the way to Kashgar. I am still emptying the sand out of my ipod. Then the blood splattered on me as they pierced the noses of the horses on the pass over to India ... Peter Fleming's concern for the plight of the animals, his growing contempt for the dishonesty of the local "guides", and his generous praise of his traveling companion all brought to vivid life this moment in history.
Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road travels some of the same route in 2003 and is a fabulous listen, also full of back stories.
Accent that anchors the point of view, and great pacing that deftly moved me from event to event.
- Expat Annie