Walking around in the Taklamakan takes a bit of work. This vast desert that sprawls over Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces is dubbed “the place from which you cannot return” – so what on earth makes people want to dive in?
The Silk Road used to fork around this enormous desert, snaking along its northern and southern fringes, to reconvene in the town of Dunhuang. I’d arrived at Dunhuang at about eight in the morning, in order to spend the next two days exploring its dunes, slipping down their sides, and pushing myself to imagine what it might be like to be lost here.
The desert is more sea than land – more of a void than a geographic space – and, as legend seems to insist, it can threaten to pull you deeper inside itself through charm alone.
Where at least part of the book (perhaps two pages) was written. The cafe outside Woody’s Guesthouse, Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Hello folks! I’m pleased to note that A Eurasian Diary has reached now reached a truly magical milestone, having sat in the Amazon e-book shop for precisely 3,720 hours (aww). What other figures can I throw at you, thanks to the weird and wonderful world of web wanalytics?
- 79 kissable people (and 0 unkissable people) have now downloaded A Eurasian Diary since it launched, which averages out to one book punted every two days. But averages lie, of course. In reality, there have been long, quiet spells where the book idles in ignominious nothingness, then, suddenly, blam! There’s this passionate flurry of, like, three downloads in an hour. Proof positive that praying works.
- Last month, the book was chuffed to be counted among Amazon.co.uk’s Top 20 most popular travel books about Central Asia. Of course, only 20 have ever been written. Still, #16, woo hoo!
- The British have gobbled up the most copies so far, followed by Canadians. The fact my family is split between these two fine countries is sheer coincidence! The coincidence literally couldn’t be sheerer.
- One book has been sold in India. That amounts to reaching 1/1.237 billionth of ALL INDIA.
- A Eurasian Diary clocks in at 75,721 words. Interestingly, if you search 75,721 in Google Maps, you come to a bizarrely griddled-looking bit of desert in western Saudi Arabia!
I’m running out of fun figures here, folks. But, if you too would like to become just another statistic, please dive in head first! Brits and Canucks are most welcome, as usual, but there’s also room for another billion Indians 🙂
Saskatchewan isn’t in Eurasia, not is it particularly famous for its towering mountains. So, what on earth is this picture all about?
The source of the Saskatchewan River in the Canadian Rockies is simply too gorgeous a spot to keep off this little blog – however badly it messes up my tagging system.
We traipsed from Jasper to Banff last month in a memorable trip home that included all manner of wildlife – woodpeckers, picas, chubby old chipmunks, elks, one black bear, and mosquitoes that could actually lift me into the sky.
We returned to London invigorated by the space and the scenery, and happy memories of stepping stones – for all the wobbled crossings we made, nary a toe was misplaced!
At the village of Xingping, covered bamboo rafts await custom. Though attractive themselves, the boats make an awful puttering racket – exploring the beautiful riverside was best done on foot, clambering and meandering at the same slow pace of the river.
Along the base of Emeishan in Sichuan Province, a network of forest trails connect temples, pavilions, and spots of tranquil contemplation (despite the heaving crowds!).
This solitary figure continues to stand tall – though the tree has died, it’s a home to lots of other new life.