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Introduction

    


 

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.

Published by Pen Press, ‘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 guidebook.
‘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.

Read the chapter by chapter synopsis with pictures here

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