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.
Paul Theroux has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including the modern classics The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, My Secret History and The Mosquito Coast. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands.
The train to Mongolia; the inner Mongolian express to Datong; train number 24; night train number 90 to Peking; the Shanghai Express; the fast train to Canton; train number 324 to Hohhot and Lanzhou; the iron rooster; train number 104 to Xian; the express to Chengdu; the halt at Emei Shan; train number 209 to Kunming; the fast train to Guilin - Number 80; the slow train to Changsha and Shaoshan "Where the Sun Rises"; the Peking express - train number 16; the internatinal express to Harbin - train number 17; the slow train to Langxiang - number 295; the boat train to Dalian - number 92; on the "Lake of Heaven" to Yantai; the slow train to Quingdao - number 508; the Shandong express to Shanghai - train number 234; the night train to Xiamen - number 375; The Qunghai local to Xining - Number 275; the train to Tibet.