Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Theresa Breslin takes the Great Silk Road to Elsewhere

The latest addition to our Elsewhere new writing project, On the shoulder of others, is a mysterious story set against the backdrop of the Great Silk Road written by award-winning author Theresa Breslin. Here Theresa describes the trip she took to Uzbekistan, which inspired her Elsewhere story…

It was a big dream of mine to travel along the Great Silk Road. I’d thought about it ever since reading the adventures of Marco Polo when I was about twelve years old, and hearing my father recite Coleridge’s magnificent poem that begins:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Last September, injected with medically prescribed health-protecting substances, fortified by various vitamins, weighed down with a skip load of anti-diarrhoea tablets and carrying a packet of Jacob’s cream crackers (proven on my various research trips in the past to be the best sustenance for a gippy tummy) plus a large sun hat, off I went to cross the desert and travel through Uzbekistan.  

Land of the Khans, of the mighty Timur, the warrior known as Tamerlane, who crushed the Golden Horde; meeting place of ancient nations and empires, with a fabulously rich history, Uzbekistan is a truly unforgettable country. From the spice market in Samarkand to the desert fortress of Khiva via the caravanserai and trading domes of Bukhara, it was crammed with breathtaking architecture, bubbling with stories and legends and home to the most hospitable and friendly people. An intoxicating experience resulting in my story “On the Shoulders of Others” I hope to write many more.