Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk RoadLands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This very interesting book is a combination travelogue, history lesson, philosophy primer, and farce. The author, a Canadian, and her best friend Mel biked across Asia along what is loosely the modern vestiges of Marco Polo’s Silk Road. Beginning in southeastern Europe and proceeding through the Stans to Tibet and China she experienced the trials, tribulations, and joys of adventuring in a land of skyscraping mountains, corrupt governments, warmly hospitable people, and extremely open landscape. At times it borders on being ponderous but it is frequently punctuated by light moments of mistranslation, bike crashes, stomach-turning food offers, lecherous men unused to seeing white women, or any women unaccompanied by men. There was enough sameness to much of it as to lose my interest from time to time, but it was an enormous benefit to have along with me in audiobook form as I made my own journey by car from the Bay Area to Olympia and back. There was an unmistakable touch of braggadocio permeating the story, but the author’s academic credentials are impressive, assuming she represented them truthfully. I found the reader’s breathiness a weak attempt at inserting suspense where there wasn’t any, but all in all she did a good job.

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