Exploring The World – By Train! From Tibet To Siberia! Riding The Orient Express!

Welcome To “The Roof Of The World!”

This unbelievable image is from Lhasa, Tibet. This area in central Asia, which includes Mt. Everest, is known as the “roof of the world.” I just read a book that took me on an amazing journey there by train!

Traveling To Lhasa, Tibet By Train!

Paul Theroux’s classic travel book “Riding The Iron Rooster” takes you on a fascinating journey from London to China – a journey that took him a year to complete – he did this journey in the late 80’s, but the book still fascinates…

Along the way, you experience life in Mongolia, central Asia, and of course parts of China as diverse as the Great Wall and the “cave people”…because China is of course a massive country – at one point Theroux winds up on a convoluted journey – with an unwanted “handler” – from Shanghai to Tibet!

Theroux recounts the challenges he faces when the government requires him to be accompanied by a “handler” – this collection of VERY unwilling travel partners culminates in an adventure that nearly kills him!

This book was written in the late 80’s, so the China you read about may be different than life there currently – but when you understand the cultural aspects of life there that are thousands of years old, the scope of the writing is such that the rich history of the country comes through and is relevant today.

China’s Cave People!

Yes, even today, more than 30-million people live in caves in China! Theroux sees this up close – a fascinating look at life in this country, as the people were just discovering freedoms never imagined when Theroux visited – and were also dealing with protests that turned deadly…

Theroux’s journey ends up in Tibet, one of the most isolated places in the world. There is now a permanent train that connects this remote location to the rest of the world.

Theroux did the journey in the late 80’s, when the country was undergoing massive change. The book is a terrific snapshot of this time, as well as a history of Tibet, its relationship with China, and the desolate beauty of Lhasha that is told beautifully by Theroux.

It’s known as “the roof of the world” and for good reason!

I fell in love with train travel when my wife and I boarded The Orient Express and travelled from Venice, through Budapest and into Paris!

It was the trip fo a lifetime – watching history go by our window – click here to see just how magical this journey was for us:

As for the legendary travel Writer Theroux, he does much more than take trains:

Theroux has written amazing travel books, like this canoe trip through the south pacific – and here are a few more:

His writing is always vivid, capturing life in remote parts of the world…

He has also written extensively about Africa, his most recent a dangerous journey up the western side of the continent, beginning in South Africa and reaching a sudden and dangerous end in Angola…read about it here:

Theroux has also turned his sharp eye to the US, with his most recent book taking a journey thought the back roads of the “Deep South.”

This is timely, topical and a must read – check it out here:

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Leave a comment with your most memorable train travel!

Categories: Africa, Books / Media, China, Exotic Travel, Memoirs, nature, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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9 replies

  1. I might have to read that book! Thank you for that idea and the lovely photos.


  2. what an exciting book that must be! i have always loved train travel and know it has its ups and downs, but how amazing. you both were so lucky to travel on the orient express –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I have loved trains since riding steam trains through the West Virginia countryside as a child. There is always so much more to discover via trains. This trip through China looks to be spectacular.


  4. This would be incredible — I would love to do this trip. Being on the Orient Express is a dream, the closest I got to it was when a number of carriages were outside the British Museum in London and you could go in and sit inside and explore all the beautiful designs/cabins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have fallen in love with train travel – we too the TGV speed train from Paris to Avignon, took a train from Rome to Florence, and the Orient Express – it’s a magical, relaxed way to travel and see so much beauty and history go by! Thanks fr commenting!


  5. Wow, what a journey that would be!


  6. Shanghai to Tibet is a train journey I would happily take. Imagine the views!
    Best wishes, Pete.


  7. This would be a fascinating book. I taught 6 Tibetan girls Communication English as a second language a few years back and they taught me a lot about Tibet. A place I would love to visit. I recall your trip on the Orient Express which was awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

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