Archive for November, 2010

Bernard Ollivier: Longue Marche III

November 16, 2010

51KKE2v8M1L._AA160_The final volume covers the last two sections of his journey, from Samarkand to Turfan, across the Taklamakan desert, and then from Turfan to Xi’an, where he completes his walk, at the age of 64 (!) of somewhere between eleven and twelve thousand kilometres.  The achievement is astonishing – he realises at the end that he is possibly the only person ever to walk the entire length of the Silk Route.  The section in China is rather weird as he knows nothing of the language, meaning that his contact and communication with people is somewhat restricted, and yet he has many friendly contacts and encounters with people. He communicates a powerful sense of the dynamism of the Chinese as a people, reinforcing my impression that China is the nation that will mould the 21st century.

I really enjoyed these books.  If you read French, read them.  If you know someone who will translate them for English readers, tell them.

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Bernard Ollivier: Longue Marche II

November 16, 2010

51c4INK4KQL._AA160_A year later, he’s back on the road, in the most interesting of the three volumes, in my opinion, as he walks through Iran, heading for Samarkand. Given that Iran seems such a closed society to us in the West, characterised mainly by its nuclear ambitions and its – as presented though our media – rather bizarre regime, it was really refreshing and eye-opening to read of an ordinary person’s travels through this country, and his encounters with ordinary Iranians, their lives, cares and friendliness.  He had problems and difficulties at times, because of the regime and its restrictions, but I found myself warming to the place and the people second-hand, as it were, through his account.  Bernard does revive one’s faith in human nature.

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