Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Here are a few photos from this summer's Afghanistan trip. Click on them for bigger images. Brad.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Journey to Xanadu

The latest excursion on the Marco Polo trip was to Xanadu, the long lost summer capital of Khublai Khan, which Marco wrote about in his Travels. There's not a lot left to see, certainly not the khan's marble palace or yurt made from laquered bamboo but you can see the concentric 13th-century city walls, the depressions of the former palace lakes and the central foundations of the khan's palace. It was great to ride through the site on horseback with a local Mongolian singer who looked like Khublai's grandson. This is the place that inspired the opium-addled poet Coleridge to write 'In Xanadu did Khubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree', allegedly after reading about Marco Polo's travels. The site is about 19km from Zhen Lan Banner (Zhenlan Qi, or Shangdu city), in Inner Mongolia and the town boasts a great statue of Khublai on horseback.

Another highlight of the trip was flying about the sand dunes of Dunhuang in a powered hanglider (after checking the small print of my travel insurance). Felt like the opening scenes of The English Patient, where the plane is flying above the Sahara. Nice. One thing Marco Polo didn't do...


Classic Pamiri Scenery of Gorno Badakhshan

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