In May 2000 Chris left his comfortable home in the United Kingdom, but instead of the routine twelve miles to work he kept on pedalling, and thirteen months later he arrived in Beijing.
‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is the story of those thirteen months.
How does it feel to trade comfort and security for life as a nomad and to
pare one’s life down to the bare necessities? What is it like to push at
the frontiers of one’s physical and mental endurance? What is the affect
upon the human spirit of struggling against hurricanes in the Gobi Desert
by day and shivering alone in culverts at night? How does the agnostic
westerner react to the religious fatalism of Islam and Hinduism in
encounters with locals?
The answers to these questions cannot be found in any encyclopaedia or
‘Why Don’t You Fly?’ is the account of an epic adventure in search of an
elusive sense of identity in which triumph, disappointment, discomfort,
exhaustion and exhilaration all trade positions against a backdrop of
prodigious physical endeavour.
During a gruelling 16,500-mile examination
of physical and mental stamina the author ate and drank in roadside cafés
in the company of Iranian, Pakistani and Indian lorry drivers and shared
dormitories with Chinese peasants and mosquitoes in remote villages that
had never before witnessed a European. He traversed scorching deserts,
scaled ice-bound peaks, crossed mighty rivers and risked extinction in the
chaotic traffic of the cities. He survived bacilli, blizzards,
cockroaches, heat, hunger, hurricanes, sandstorms, cyclones,
stone-throwing locals, lunatic drivers, exhaustion, six falls and near
execution by a Bulgarian peasant woman wielding an axe. Sceptical western
existentialism encountered the insh’allah philosophy of the Muslims and
the religious fatalism of Hindus in teahouses, cafés and dormitories
during a physical and spiritual journey that constantly raised questions
about the attitudes and values that prevail in the West.
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