In the spring of 2009, Simon Pridmore and his wife Sofie travelled overland from Northern Europe to South China. A trip that started off as an adventure ended up being an education. Everywhere, they found people and cultures on the cusp of change, dealing with the challenges of a new century while still recovering from the tumultuous events of the previous one.
Simon tells the tale of the journey with insight and wit as he and Sofie cross two continents, taking plenty of time out from the train to go off piste into the Siberian hinterland, rural Mongolia and urban China. They go scuba diving in a glacier lake in the Altai Mountains and then again in Baikal, the world’s largest and deepest lake, just after the ice has melted.
They practice herding goats on camelback in the Gobi Desert, are entertained by Siberian marching bands, Mongolian nose flute players and outdoor ballroom dancers and survive potentially life-threatening close encounters with encephalitis ticks, smiling provodnitsas and some unusual culinary offerings.
Their story will make you think about how lives are lived in far-flung regions. It will also teach you essential life skills, such as how to avoid the perils of Chinese train toilets, how to bathe naked with dignity in a mountain stream and how to stay calm when smugglers use your cabin to avoid border inspection. It will make you laugh out loud a lot.
Most of all, it will make you want to pack a bag and hit the road, following in their footsteps.
Why “Under the Flight Path”?
Why did Simon choose the title “Under the Flight Path”? He used to work in colonial Hong Kong and flew frequently back and forth between Europe and Asia. En route, he would gaze out of the window at the landscapes he was passing over and dream of doing the trip overland some day. At the time, political issues meant that independent travel through the countries he was passing over was impossible.
Then the world changed.
“Under the Flight Path is entertaining and informative, written in a lively, engaging style and the narrative flows beautifully.”
Jackie Winter, author of Life in Tandem and Lipsticks and Library Books
“Under the Flight Path is a special travel memoir that is a journey in itself. Warm, candid and funny, it offers you the chance to escape and discover evocative new landscapes. Simon and Sofie are seasoned travelling companions and it is a pleasure to follow them as they navigate enriching and unexpected experiences. By the end, you feel like you have made new friends. Under the Flight Path will inspire and educate you, and quite possibly, will compel you to start planning your own journey.”
Amy Johnstone, author and author of “Shame on You”
“A fast-paced page-turner featuring Simon’s special brand of humour, insight and knowledge of Russian and Asian culture and history. What a delight!”
Tim Rock, Lonely Planet author