Above is a map I reproduce from an article in the National Geographic of October 1931. In 1931 a multinational expedition led by a Frenchman named Georges-Marie Haardt left Beirut on its way to Peking and on to Saigon. Halfway through at Urumchi, near Mongolia they were met by a group of Chinese scientists and accompanied back to Peking. This was the first ever trans-Asiatic expedition traversing the Himalayan passes undertaken overland. The journey of those scientists in 1931 took them through Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkestan, China, and on to Vietnam. The only hazards they came across were from avalanches, snow, cold, broken roads and broken vehicles.
To get to the point of my post, do we really and truly believe globalisation exists? Sure, the merchants are busy moving goods, planes move people from one safe country to another safe country. Tourists can still go to some “Disneyland bubbles” created for their specific pleasure. Politicians travel on peace missions accompanied by armies of security personnel. But does the average human being think there is freedom of movement or cooperation or an understanding of peoples any more than there was in times past?
There are whole areas of the world which have become no go go areas for the traveler today. Sure, you can fly to safe cities in Africa or the Middle East or Central Asia, but try repeating what two intrepid (I had to use that word, so appropriate!) women did in 1935. Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron rode on a motor cycle equipped with a side car and trailer all the way from London to Cape Town in South Africa. They went on very primitive roads or no roads and plowed straight across the Sahara desert without even a compass to get to their destination.
Their story is told here,
but I’ll let you see a snippet of their adventures from the same article:
“Undeterred by nomads, sand drifts, heat, rain, rivers, breakdowns and politics, Wallach and Blenkiron completed an expedition that might well defeat a modern motorcycle. From oasis to oasis, arguing with the French Foreign Legion for permission to continue, and winning; fashioning a tow hitch for the trailer when it broke in the desert; rebuilding the entire engine from scratch in Agadez: meeting gorillas, lions and snakes on the road; staying in African villages and meeting an amazing variety of friendly and helpful people. Not to mention having an accident in Tanganyika (Tanzania) with the only car seen on the road for days. At one point the women succeeded in pushing their rig for 25 miles following a total engine failure. The trip made the women celebrities among motorcyclists in England. Wallach documented the fantastic journey in her book “The Rugged Road.”
Going even further back, in Roman times you could safely travel on those straight Roman roads from Jerusalem to London. Strict Roman law and order saw to it that the traveler was not molested or waylaid. I then do not have to labour my point. Today there are whole continents of peoples washed around the world homeless and destitute. For them there is no globalisation. They are banned from going anywhere. It is estimated that about 22 million people around the world are homeless or countryless. Perhaps this is what they meant by globalisation!
I was taught to ask the basic question and not accept what I am told. We tend to accept the blythe media and trades-peoples’ proclamation that we live in a globalised world but it sure does not look like it from the ground.
Information overload means we have so much “stuff” washing around in our heads that we tend not to discriminate between facts and rubbish. For me part of my healthy lifestyle means using my brain to tease out the good stuff and discard garbage. That is the purpose of posts such as these on a blog devoted to lifestyle.
Thank you folks for abiding with me!