News from Tartary – Peter Fleming

A two stage read, but one I’m glad I persevered with – especially once Peter Fleming and Ella Maillart’s journey reached the far west of China, and headed over into the Hunza valley and into what is now Pakistan, what was then British India.

It’s a fascinating account of China and the North West Frontier in the mid 1930s, complete with what now read as antiquated spellings and opinions/perspectives. The book tell of the seven months Fleming and Kini spent on the 3500 mile journey from Peking to Kashmir, travelling by camel, donkey, horse and foot during a wartorn time for the far flung provinces of the Chinese world – and with the final rumblings of the Great Game still sounding loudly in this remote part of the world where Russian, British and Chinese empires met. As the intrepid explorers travel further west, they travel through a desert region populated mainly by nomads and warlords who view themselves as having more in common with their fellow Tatar tribes of Central Asia than the Chinese holding power in Peking.

Next: tracking down Forbidden Journey for Ella Maillart’s version! Maybe a read for this autumn’s Central Asia Overland trip….. link: News from Tartary – Peter Fleming