Follow the Fabled Silk Road
For more information on Exploring Ancient China and The Chinese Silk Road consult Abercrombie & Kent’s Orient, India & the Pacific 2010. Download or order a complimentary copy at www.abercrombiekent.com or call 800 554 7094 to speak with a destination specialist.
Just as the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit sparked renewed interest in ancient Egypt, a new exhibit at New York’s American Museum of Natural History is expected to generate interest in the fabled Silk Road that linked China with the Islamic world. Ancient travellers trekked for months on foot or by camel, through inhospitable deserts and mountain passes, but Abercrombie & Kent takes modern-day adventurers behind the façade of modern China to experience the wonders along the Silk Road in luxury and comfort on Exploring Ancient China (fifteen days from $7,995). (Prices are per person, double occupancy.)
Designed by Gerald Hatherly, named a “Top Travel Specialist” by Conde Nast Traveler, Exploring Ancient China takes travellers from modern-day Beijing to the far reaches of the Gobi Desert and the capital cities of ancient dynasties, places that have changed little in the intervening years. “It’s a journey that captures the romance of the Silk Road by travelling far off-the-beaten path to reveal the cross-cultural influences in this historically- and culturally-important region,” explains Hatherly. “Places like these — which once required a difficult and arduous journey — can now be explored in relative comfort.”
While the ancient Silk Road was once unsurpassed in moving goods across entire continents, just as important was the exchange of cultures and ideas fostered by the camel caravans. Discuss these influences with scholars at the Dunhuang Institute, the leading research facility devoted to the study of the Mogao Caves, then join an expert guide for a tour of select caves (including some normally closed to the public) that heralded the rise of Buddhism in China. In the great walled city of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its narrow streets dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, explore Buddhist and Daoist traditions at the ancestral Temple at Jinci. Travel to Zhengzhou to meet the warrior monks of Shaolin and meditate in the great Chan (Zen) Temple at the foot of Mount Song, the central pillar of the Daoist world. Later attend a private performance of Shaolin wushu (martial arts).
While Chinese Buddhist traditions are familiar to most people, the influences exerted by Islam and Judaism are not. First constructed by Persian merchants who travelled to Xian via the Silk Road, the Muslim Quarter is home to the Great Mosque, the oldest and largest in China. Unlike mosques in Middle Eastern countries, it is Chinese in its construction and architectural style, with a series of serene courtyards leading to the mosque entrance. Ancient Kaifeng is home to an unusual living legacy: a tiny Jewish community founded 1,000 years ago where you meet a local family and learn about their historic ties to the Silk Road.