Paul Theroux left Victoria Station on a rainy Saturday in April thinking that taking eight trains across Europe, Eastern Europe, the USSR and Mongolia would be the easy way to get to the Chinese border – the relaxing way, even. He would read a little, take notes, eat regular meals and gaze contentedly out of windows. The reality, of course, was very different.
In fact, Theroux experienced a decidedly odd and unexpected trip to China that set the challenging tone for his epic year-long rail journey around that vast, inscrutable land – a journey which involved riding nearly every train in the country.
‘Wry, humorful and occasionally querulous … as Theroux makes excruciatingly clear, travelling alone in the Middle Kingdom is not for the faint of heart or stomach’ Time.