On exploration

Posted: January 25, 2012 by Ben Weber in English
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I guess I have written briefly about some of the inspiration behind this, but I think it is worth a little more on the subject…

The initial thoughts for this project have been growing for some time – with the early seeds set in childhood, reading about Scott, Amundsen and Hillary, and previous explorers going to then unknown parts of the world; one of my favourite books was Water Music by Tom Coraghessan Boyle, based loosely about a Scottish Explorer, Mungo Park, who went twice to try to find the course of the Niger; dying on the ill-fated second journey. Mungo Park was someone who became intoxicated by exploration and Africa in particular; so intoxicated he would give everything for his thirst for it. Those were truly adventurers, and I often find myself imagining what it would have been like to be an explorer from the west at those times when there was so much to know about the world and we didn’t have Google Maps and Earth to show us everything.

It all began to click further into mind when I lived in China a few years ago – a place which had, prior to my living there, been a complete unknown for me – the undiscovered country, as it were. Shanghai was (and still is, in my mind) a fantastic city to live and work in with so much happening… Going up to the north of the country in winter and experiencing the amazing ice and snow festival in Haerbin – where it was about -40C for the entire time I was there; the river was frozen over completely and there was an entire city made out of ice. I remember the stillness of the place walking back a few kilometres from the ice city to my hotel at 2am; quite beautiful. …

Travelling down along the North Korean border and seeing those security cameras looking over the iced-up river; climbing some of the sacred mountains in the country; and eventually going to Tibet and trekking through the Himalayas to Mount Everest Base Camp with the summit of Everest being revealed through the cloud for, according to the locals at a nearby monastery, the first time in a couple of months. So many spectacular places; interesting people, strange foods (fried silk worm was a particular favourite)… Then you get the massive history of the region, the fantastic stories (among others) of Marco Polo going along the Silk Road, and realise how the eastern and western civilizations have traded with each other for thousands of years.

One of the big parts of this expedition that I am really looking forward is being able to go back through China again, though part of this expedition is about seeing how the cultures, foods and peoples change as we go through different climate zones, and from my experiences living in different countries… I am certain that we shall meet many surprises that will challenge our initial ideas and preconceptions as the journey progresses…

  1. ~jOyce says:

    These pictures are just great! Absolutely amazing.

  2. Jonathan Weber says:

    Really keeping my fingers crossed for everything to go well with this expedition – think it’s a fantastic idea. I certainly had no idea that one of my favourite all-time books I recommended to you all those years ago might have such consequences. Picked up Water Music one day at one of those cheap bookshops for just a few pennies – thought its cover looked rather interesting. But once I started reading it just couldn’t put it down. So read it again. And again. And then I remember telling you you’d probably enjoy it….

    • Ben Weber says:

      Aye, I remember you giving it to me! Read it a few times … I guess around … 15 years ago..?! Definitely sticks out as one of favourites that have read – I need to order it as has been a while since I read it. Quite amazing how things like this can influence us…!

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