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I have conquered the Silk Road.

I’ve hid from Chinese guards in the starlit dunes of the Gobi.

I’ve visited mud-thatched villages and seen old Uighur men as hairy as camels shriek in wonder and delight as they passed around a plastic, light-up Hasbro guitar.

I’ve stopped in a bustling bazaar and watched in horror as a Hui woman folded her infant in half, lifted him in the air, and proceeded to ‘shit’ him onto the sidewalk.

I have conquered the Silk Road—venturing through the wild frontiers of Central Asia all the way to the dynastic heart of China, through a land of unforgiving beauty and a blood-splattered past; a land of lost empires, camel caravans, mummies, treasure-filled caves, and Imperial tombs.

I am a modern-day Marco Polo, except I can’t grow impressive facial hair or call people ‘Orientals’ or ‘barbarian mongrels’

The Silk Road bloomed in the 1st

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