The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populous nation, home to a fast-growing population of 1.4 billion humans. Its vast landmass encompasses everything from booming metropolis’ to deserts, grasslands, soaring peaks, tropical jungles and ice-bound plateaus. And of course, it was from here that the Great Silk Road began.
Chinese legend alleges that the secret of silk goes back to the Yellow Empress of China. ‘The lady of the silkworms’, as she’s otherwise known, was pondering life under a mulberry tree one day when a silkworm cocoon fell into her tea and began to unravel into a long, silken thread….
That was 2700 BC, and the Chinese would fiercely guard the secret of sericulture for the next 2,000 years, condemning to death anyone who tried to spirit silkworms or their eggs out of the Empire. Indeed, the secret was so well kept that as late as 70 AD the Roman historian Pliny wrote that “Silk was obtained by removing the down from the leaves with the help of water…”.
It was this valuable secret, and the west’s demand for this exotic, mysterious material, which gave rise to the immense trading network that would later become known as the Silk Road.
The Silk Road is generally considered to have begun in Xi’an and forged westwards via the Gansu Corridor, Dunhuang, Urumqi, Kashgar and Tashkurgan. Today, under the firm hand of President Xi, China is building a ‘New Silk Road’ – a $900 billion infrastructure and investment project covering more than 68 countries, including 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global GDP as of 2017.
We currently don’t offer any tours in China, but hope to in the not too distant future – once we have found a way to travel there that fits our ethos.
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