Nĭ hăo China!

All Packed and Ready to Go 

One of my esteemed readers (thank you, Murtala) recently commented, “Perhaps this incredible adventure is the longest travel in your life.” That sentence has stayed with me over the past month, turning it over in my mind, considering a lifetime of travel. And yes, it is the longest, intentionally studied, travel that I have attempted. However, my unparalleled adventure was when I followed my soon to be husband, in 1971, to Beirut, Lebanon, and found myself, within a year, in West Africa. In those days, communication was by post or a telephone call booked at the central telephone exchange. Then, water was boiled and filtered in a ceramic container; now, water is purchased in plastic bottles and everywhere! Forty-seven years later, the world has changed, significantly….email, mobile phones, Facetime, credit cards, ATM. Travel arrangements are confirmed and tickets are purchased  over the Internet, no need to send a telex and wait days for a reply.

“One enters into a great sandy desert, where neither water nor grass is to be found. It is necessary to look at some high mountain in the distance, and seek for abandon bones, to know how to guide oneself and recognize the path to be followed. Hsuan-tsang, AD629

All packed and ready to go on the Silk Road. A term coined in 1877 by the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen.  The Silk Road was never a single road but a vast network of trade routes stretching from Xian (Chang’an) to the Mediterranean. Travelers have written about trade routes as far back as the Han Dynasty around 100 BC but ancient mummies in the sands of the Taklamakan Desert indicate travelers to China some 2000 years ago. In the twenty-first century, the Silk Road, has a new name, The Belt and Road, a development strategy focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, the People’s Republic of China, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road to Europe. The exchange of goods and thought perseveres.

19th century map of northern silk road. Names highlighted are cities on my journey.
-Central Asia, Kathleen Hopkirk.Eland Publishing 1993.

 

21st century Chinese railway map: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/china-trains/railway-map.htm My trip is exclusively, China by rail.

The years living in Nigeria and Egypt instilled the desire for continuous learning, which encouraged, though late in life, this journey through China and Central Asia. Study of Egypt’s five thousand-year history and Nigeria’s considerable diversity of people and culture prepared me for China’s immensely long and incredibly complex history. Empires have risen and fallen but the vastness of the territory from China to Central Asia is daunting to comprehend. First stop, Beijing…to be continued.

16 thoughts on “Nĭ hăo China!

  1. This is the most exciting adventure I have ever, ever heard and you are the perfect adventurer, Lesley. I am so grateful that you have decided to share vistas of your journey with us….I plan to celebrate every post by sharing it with all my facebook friends. We are ALL breathlessly awaiting your every juicy description . I am so grateful to see this through the lens of your artful and sensitive perspective. Thank you so much!! Lynn Kitchen

  2. You must be excited,anticipating this journey and now ready to begin – I am excited for you. I can hardly wait to read the first installment of your epic journey. Be safe and well, and enjouy every moment of your travels.
    Joyce

  3. Good for you, Lesley♡
    Keep following your dreams/travels and you’ll continue to find me ‘reading’ along….

  4. Travel and adventure are components of your being. They are your dream/wish/desire/aspiration, therefore, making the sacrifice of travelling to China, at this unsecured moment, is one way of realising or fulfilling that wish. Back in the university, you had always peeped through the window panes, observing the horizon, the flying birds and planes, and imagining faroff places of the world. You were ‘mappish’, and completely trapped in utopia.
    Francis Bacon says, “travel at younger sort is part of education, but at older sort is part of experience”. Lesley, you have gathered enough education in the course of your travel from Texas to Middle East, however, you are now experiencing the diverse rhythm and taste, smell and sound of the ‘far off places’.
    I will share every bit of the success of your exploration of China with my social media friends. Keep posting, Lesley.
    I wish you a successful travel to China!

  5. Lesley, Michael and I wish you a wonderfully interesting, healthy and safe journey and look forward to all future installments!

    Hugs from recently-hailed-on Estes, Paula >

  6. Amazing. How regularly are you going to post? I am looking forward to reading all about it, as well as seeing the photographs!
    What a journey.
    And I can boast about having a friend who travelled the Silk Road.
    As the Hausa say, ‘so ka lafia.’
    Travel in health and good fortune.

    • Lafia lawal, na go di, my friend. (forgive the poor spelling). I will try to post weekly or bi-weekly if I have more to say but as I am traveling solo, I might not have the time for more than once a week. This is one reason I gave up on Instagram, it is just too much extra to think about especially that I am uncomfortable with the medium. Thank you for your friendship and support. L.

  7. Lesley,
    What a wonderful adventure and a fantastic undertaking. This trip really requires courage, imagination, energy, adventure and more. All attributes you have and many many more. A few yrs ago the well known and brillient Cellist Yo Yo Ma, organized a week of Silk Road music on the Mall in DC where artists and musicians from the vast region performed. I attended a full day listening to the musicians. It was quite a festival. Since then I felt in love with the music and the region. I always dreamt I’d, one day, travel this Road. I am not sure I can do it now. But, I am delighted you are making it possible and are fulfilling my dream by proxy. A few yrs ago I’d have accompanied you in a heart beat. You are the perfect person for such a wonderful adventure. Travel carefully, safely. I know you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Like all your fan, I’ll look forward to your experienced eye, mind, imagination reflected on your rich and elegant writing on the trip. Have a wonderful adventure. Peace. Mohamed T

    • Dear Mohammed , Thank you for your delightful and supportive letter. I’m inArrived in Xa’an last night. I’ be had lots of technical issues that I haven’t solved but maybe today I will find the time to do so.. will say 2 things : china is not what I expected, very advanced and this iTrip is goiNG to take all the stamina that I can muster. The sheer vastness of space and population is daunting but very impressed with organisation and infrastructure to handle such a country …Lesley

  8. Dear Lesley, I am very excited by this new adventure of yours and look forward to every bit of information you’ll share (no worries, I’ve read your reply to previous posts and will not wait for a daily update) in whatever form comes easier to you.
    I can understand your first feelings about China as they were exactly mine when I landed there for the first time four years ago.
    By the way, the reason I am writing so late is that I spent last five days in the steppe and was for three days without mobile network coverage. Seen some wonderful nature and had a great time though it would have been easier if my knowledge of Russian was more advanced.
    Wish you a great time and look forward to hearing from you.
    With admiration, Stefano

    “Look and enjoy, and move from place to place. As for the life that is being lost, live the moment that you are in and forget the past completely. Take your fill, for you will not see again that which you are leaving.” – Naguib Mahfouz

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