To travel without reading is to walk along a road naked. The book that excited my appetite for this trip, I found in a second-hand bookshop. A large book high on the priorities for a rare re-read, “The Silk Road” by Norma Martyn (published in 1987 by Methuen, Australia) spoke to me.
Who was this Australian journalist of sharp eye and open mind who was a true traveller to remote Xinjiang and stops far west, who first started her love affair with China with a trip in 1956. She journeyed adventurously; saw the odd and the everyday with affection and wit. Why do the Australian Society of Authors know nothing of her? Why is the only information I have a death notice in the Sydney Morning Herald archive? Here was a strong and amazing writer yet only a few decades later, she has disappeared. I have not finished searching for her.
Another forbiddingly strong woman wrote the next book. Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur, grew through ability and sweat from peasant to the richest woman in China and a People’s Congress representative. Later imprisoned for her Uyghur nationalism and now a leader of the freedom movement in exile. Her autobiography “Dragon Fighter” is an adventure far from the safe security of the west.
And for the story of the red-haired Chinese, descendant of Roman a legionnaire, chapter 4 of Colin Thubron’s “Shadow of the Silk Road” was my source.
I write this blog simply as a tribute to those who prepared my eyes, mind and heart for this chapter of my travels.