|Publication Date||August 4, 2012|
“If a cup of tea isn’t offered, a relationship isn’t offered.” - Himalayan Saying.
A team of Tibetans, a westerner, and a cast of characters met along the way travels and documents The Ancient Tea Horse Road, sipping tea at all hours and risking limbs as they travel through the Himalayas. Tea, more tea, mountains, and the remaining memories of what is left of the traders, and travellers, colour this tale which is written by award-winning explorer Jeff Fuchs.
For thirteen centuries, one of the planet’s most daunting journeys and most remarkable trade routes remained a mystery to all but a few journeyers and residents along its 5000 km length.
Fueled by tea, author and award-winning explorer Fuchs and a charismatic and eccentric team of Tibetans, Han, and indigenous tea growers, drink and trudge through the sub-tropic tea growing regions and onto mighty Tibetan Plateau. In the process Fuchs becomes the first-ever documented westerner to travel and document the route in its entirety.
Along the way the reader is gifted with descriptions of isolated customs of ancient China, of wrong turns in the mountains, and a raft of comical interactions between the team members. Passing through Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet, Nepal, and India the Tea Horse Road’s grand expanse is revealed in stunning detail through Fuchs’ narrative. A mountaineer, resident of ‘Shangri-La’ in northwestern Yunnan, and self-confessed tea-addict, Fuchs brings together an ancient trade route in stunning and often neurotic detail as he travels into isolated worlds tucked away from the modern world.
It is an expedition that crosses some of the most daunting snow passes on the Tibetan Plateau, and becomes a tale as much about the team of characters and the often-hysterical goings-on in camp, as it is about spectacular geography and tea. We are introduced to the sinewy Sonam and his brand of ferocious Buddhism, the debauched and hysterical antics of “part goat and a little bit human” Dorje Kandro, and the young willful Norbu who almost loses his life on a glacier in central Tibet.
Through raging blizzards, snow-blindness, tumbles down glaciers, and Puerh tea highs in blazing heat, the journey is recalled through the very tea-obsessed eyes of Fuchs himself.
Fuchs and his band of travellers are motivated by desire to meet and record the words of last traders and travelers who still remain to tell their tales, but who are passing away. But first, he must find them.
An epic journey of tea, mountains, and memories, that opens up a rarely acknowledged part of China and Asia’s ancient past, “The Ancient Tea Horse Road’ is a grinding adventure of will, wit, and Fuchs’ frequent tea thirsts. Life along the Tea Horse Road is briefly re-ignited in a passionate and unforgettable adventure.