For many travelers, one of the difficult aspects of setting aside the time and money for a trip to China is that it’s hard to know what you’re getting yourself in for until you’re stepping off the plane — unlike buying a car there is no ‘test drive’ option.
We frequently receive enquiries about our Tea Horse Road journey, an exploration of ancient trade routes in Yunnan from the jungles of Xishuangbanna to the breathtaking Tibetan highlands of Shangri-la.
For 13 centuries, the Tea and Horse Caravan Road was a network of rugged paths linking China with Tibet, Southeast Asia and India through Yunnan. Its name comes from the exchange of Chinese tea for Tibetan horses that formed the backbone of this commercial network connected by fearless caravans. These caravans facilitated the exchange of customs and culture between dozens of different ethnic groups scattered across some of Asia’s wildest terrain.
A virtual trip back in time peppered with some of Yunnan – and China’s – most spectacular scenery, our journey is led by Jeff Fuchs, the first Westerner to travel the entirety of the Tea Horse Road.
It is not easy to fully convey how special places such as Mangang Village or Shaxi are over the phone or in an email. Many places along the old route are simply too unique for words.
That’s why we were excited to happen upon the book Tea Horse Road, an amazing introduction to one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse regions. A joint effort between photographer Michael Freeman and ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed, this incredibly thorough book is the result of years of travel, photography and research.
This attractive 340-page book published by River Books is big enough and has enough photos (more than 270!) to call a “coffee table book”, but that wouldn’t do it justice.
Freeman, who makes great photography seem easy, spent two years on the route getting to know the places and people of the old route through his lens.
Ahmed’s writing – which comes from four years of doctoral research – allows the reader to understand the route as a whole while appreciating the unique role each individual town or ethnic group played within this fascinating trade network.
This September we will travel the Tea Horse Road once again with the incomparable Jeff Fuchs. If you are considering joining us on this unforgettable journey, we highly recommend that you give it a test drive with Freeman and Ahmed’s excellent book.