Tour Leader: Ben Churcher
In September 2017 20 NEAF members retraced the ancient Silk Road across China from Xi’an in the Chinese heartland to Kashgar in far western China.
This trip is an examination of the ancient and modern faces of a mighty nation whose time has come again. Just as we marvelled at beautiful Buddhist frescoes pained over 1500 years ago, we also marvelled at modern engineering feats as China relentlessly builds awe-inspiring freeways through mountainous terrain or sparklingly new cities where only 10 years ago was farmland. This juxtaposition of the old and new is what makes this tour so interesting: while we enjoy the remains of China’s previous four great periods – the Han, Tang, Song and Ming dynasties – we are also acutely aware that we are eye-witnesses to China’s fifth great age which will undoubtedly be remembered for centuries, if not millennia, to come. So too was the modern relevance of the Silk Road along which we travelled. As we moved to the west, we constantly saw reference to the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project: the one belt, one road initiative. Again, harking back to the age old link between the east and west, the modern world is remaking and rethinking this link albeit with bullet trains and four lane highways. In short this tour is an eye-opener and while we enjoyed the best of what ancient China has to offer – from Great Walls to terracotta armies – we also came to understand and appreciate modern China: a nation that means so much for us here in Australia.