Picture this: some random university student from the UK decides that for his summer break he’s going to take an expedition along the New Silk Road from London to Yiwu, get Jeep to loan him a truck, acquire funding from some of the top research institutes and consultancy firms in the world, and convince an array of established researchers to share their contacts and help him get him into otherwise restricted areas. He then goes out and does it, traveling across Eurasia, visiting all of the key Belt and Road projects, meeting with many of the big players, and somehow managing to make it back home to London in time for the start of the school year. The story sounds improbable but that’s exactly what our guest for this week’s Silk Road Q&A open thread did.
His name is Charles Stevens. He’s the founder of The New Silk Road Project, the aforementioned Jeep expedition along the Silk Road, and contributor to many geographic and Silk Road related publications — read his article here. Though still young, Charlie has become one of the foremost Silk Road travelers in the world, having also traveled from Beijing to Tehran by bicycle. For more about Charlie and his Silk Road travels, check out this recent interview that I did with him here:
Feel free to ask Charlie any questions that you may have in the comments below.
Some potential questions:
1) What is your advice for people wanting to undertake a similar Silk Road expedition?
2) What were some of the differences in terms of your ability to do research and meet people between traveling by bicycle and by Jeep?
3) How exactly did you put the New Silk Road Project expedition together?
4) What has all of this travel taught you about the Silk Road?
5) Why do you feel that it’s important for people to go out and experience the Silk Road for themselves?
Or ask anything else that you want.
As always, be nice, challenge ideas not people. Fire away.
'Be nice, challenge ideas not people' love this philosophy - the world seems to have lost the ability to debate and be persuaded by new ideas and a perspective different to their own reality - which is a shame, how will we ever learn, grow and develop if we remain fixed in a singular mindset
What are the 3 common points you have seen among all the people along the Silk Road?
Did you have any previous experience of doing expeditions like this before you embarked on your amazing journey?
Also, how long did it take you to organise stuff like Visas, the route you were going to take etc?
Charlie, how hot did it get on your travels and what was your strategy to cope cycling huge distances in intense heat? Is it hard to moderate your water intake effectively, i.e.physically carry enough water and also not over-hydrate which is also dangerous right?
Charles, I have a question if it's not too late. I rode a bike around Japan, and now I want to do it on a new level. What plan should I have when looking for sponsors?
Hi Charles . Did you have any issues of staying at any hotels? Was given the Mao treatment in a few places. And shown a pre prepared note advising as such that they didnt take non Chinese.
Was curious why you chose Mongolia. I know the ancient start of the Silk Road was in Karakoram but that was awhile back. Would like to see your film. Is there a URL somewhere? And what language did you use to get about?
Hi Charles, good to see you here. I have some questions:
1) How did you prepare all the maps and routes? Were there any particular sources you used for that?
2) Ditto: Essential equipment. What must people pack for such a journey?
3) Obviously I know you had support from Wade and myself. How did you go about raising sponsorship for your adventure?
4) Please tell us a XXX anecdote that wouldn't otherwise be able to be published in a typical book about your travels!