Sunday, August 19, 2012

DesoLIT: Tearing up the Silk Road

Tearing up the Silk Road: A modern journey from China to Istanbul, through Central Asia, Iran, and the Caucasus was written by Tom Coote, who provided an excerpt from his book as a guest blog post on this site. His book can be purchased through Amazon by clicking here (here for Kindle) or on the image below. Tom can be reached at, and his website is The review below is by Desolation Travel's Jane Keeler. 


Author Tom Coote had 9 weeks of freedom left before returning to the UK and the daily humdrum of working life. He was returning to the UK from East Asia, and decided to make the trip home by land along the route of the old Silk Road, taking only public transportation. As anyone who has traveled in that part of the world knows, doing something like that in nine weeks is a daunting task - especially if one wants to see something of the countries one is passing through. Coote did an admirable job of it, making it to China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey during his whirlwind trip. As someone who used to live in Kyrgyzstan, I was disappointed that he didn't make it to my favorite 'stan due to his arrival at the border during the time of the 2010 Kyrgyz revolution - although surely had he offered the border guard a large enough bribe he could have gotten in!

As Coote only has a short amount of time to spend in each location, he is only able to give the reader a superficial glance into the cities, towns, peoples, and cultures he encounters along the way. That being said he does give a good description of the realities facing travelers along the Silk Road, from difficulties arranging transportation or finding adequate lodging, to the lack of hygienic toilet facilities. (I will say he goes into a lot more detail about toilets and bathrooms than we perhaps needed - although when I lived over there these were often topics of conversation among my expat friends, so I definitely understand his desire to discuss such things. Coote also makes it to the main tourist attractions (some of them delightfully desolate and iffy) along his route. This book would make an excellent guide of things to do - and, perhaps, not to do - for anyone planning to attempt to follow the route of the Silk Road in our modern era.