Silk Road Summary in English by Nick Middleton

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Silk Road Summary in English by Nick Middleton

About the Author Nick Middleton

Author Name Nick Middleton
Born 1960 (age 60 years), London, United Kingdom
Books Going to Extremes, Global Casino, Rivers: A Very Short Introduction
Awards The Royal Geographical Society’s Ness
Nick Middleton - silk road summary in english class 11
Nick Middleton

Silk Road Theme

This chapter is part of a travelogue about the author’s travel along the ancient trade route called ‘Silk Road’ regions as they are now. This account of the Silk Road, with its contrasts and exotic detail, describes the challenges and hardships the author faced while journeying to Mount Kailash on a pilgrimage.

Silk Road About the Characters

The Author: He is a Professor of Geography at Oxford University and an environmental consultant.

Tsetan: He is the owner of the car hired by the author for the journey, as well as being a tourist guide.

Daniel: He is an interpreter from Lhasa who travelled part of the time with the author.

Norbu: He is a Tibetan working at an academy in Beijing who wants to carry out the pilgrimage to Mount Kailash.

Silk Road Summary in English

Departure from Ravu
The author left Ravu along with Daniel, an interpreter, and Tsetan, who was a tourist guide. Before leaving, Lhamo, the lady who had provided them accommodation at Ravu, gave the author a gift of a long-sleeved sheepskin coat, as they were going to Mount Kailash, where it would be very cold. Tsetan knew a short cut to reach the mountain. He said the journey would be smooth if there was no snow.

They Saw Drokbas on the Way
As they passed through the hills, they saw individual drokbas (nomad shepherds) looking after their flocks. Both men and women were seen. They were wearing thick woollen clothes. They would stop and stare at their car, sometimes waving to them as they passed.

Encounter with Tibetan Mastiffs
As they passed the nomad’s tents, they saw some Tibetan mastiffs, which were dogs used by the shepherds. When the car came close to their tents, they would bark furiously and fearlessly. They would chase the car for some distance and would then go back. In earlier days, Tibetan mastiffs became popular in China’s imperial courts as hunting dogs. They were brought along the Silk Road as a tax payment from Tibet.

Ice Blocks the Road
The turns became sharper and more difficult as they climbed. The author started getting a severe headache. Suddenly snow started falling and soon blocked the route. Daniel and the author got out of the car to reduce its load on sharp bends. The altimeter watch on the author’s wrist indicated that they were at a height of 5210 metres above sea level. The icy top layer of the snow was dangerous, as the car could slip off the road. When they reached a height of 5515 metres, which was the top of the pass, the atmospheric pressure became so low that Tsetan had to open the lid of the petrol tank to release the evaporated fuel.

Back on the Highway
By late afternoon, they had reached the small town of Hor on .the shore of Lake Manasarovar, which was on the old trade route between Lhasa and Kashmir. Daniel returned to Lhasa from there. Tsetan got the flat tyre of the car repaired there. Hor was a grim, miserable place. There was no vegetation whatsoever, just dust and rocks. There was accumulated rubbish everywhere. Unlike the past, the place no longer appeared holy.

By 10.30 PM they reached Darchen, where they found a guesthouse to stay in. It was the end of the road. The author had a very troubled night. His nostrils were blocked and he was not able to get enough air into his lungs. Most of the night he sat up, as he was unable to sleep.

The next day Tsetan took the author to the Darchen Medical College. The doctor told him it was just the cold and the altitude which were giving him trouble. The doctor gave him some medicine and that night the author was able to sleep well.

Tsetan left the author in Darchen and went back with the car to Lhasa. He did not mind if the author would die in Darchen. He was a good Buddhist and believed in life after death. However, he was worried that the author’s death could affect his business, as he may not get more; tourists who required to be accompanied till where the road ended.

The Author Looks for a Companion and Meets Norbu
Like Hor, Darchen was dusty and a lot of rubbish could be seen all around. The town appeared to be sparsely populated. There were no pilgrims there, as the season had not yet started. He had reached there too early. He actually wanted to reach Mount Kailash to do kora to get a feel of what a pilgrimage was like. But he didn’t want to do it alone. He was looking for someone who could speak or understand English.

When he was sitting in the only cafe at Darchen, Norbu, a plump Tibetan working in Beijing at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, saw him reading an English book. So Norbu introduced himself to the author. He also was there to do kora, although he was not a religious person. So both of them decided to do kora together.

Silk Road Chapter Highlights

  • The author left Ravu with a gifted long-sleeved sheepskin coat accompanied by Daniel and Tsetan. Tsetan said that the journey would be smooth if there was no snow on the way.
  • As they passed by the hills, they could see the lonely drokbas looking after their herds.
  • As they passed the drokba tents, their guard dogs, which were Tibetan mastiffs, chased their car for some distance.
  • Soon the turns became sharper and bumpier as they climbed.
  • The sudden and unexpected fall of snow blocked their way a number of times.
  • After passing through the top of the pass, they went down to reach the small town of Hor, on the shore of Lake Manasarovar, by late afternoon.
  • It was a grim, miserable place without any vegetation; it only had a lot of accumulated rubbish, dust and rocks. Daniel went back to Lhasa from there. They repaired the puncrured tyres and carried on.
  • They reached Darchen at 10:30 PM and found a guesthouse to stay in.
  • The author had a very troubled night because of the cold. So the next morning, Tsetan took him to consult a doctor at the Darchen Medical College.
  • The doctor gave some medicine and that night he was able to sleep well.
  • Tsetan left the author in Darchen and went back with the car to Lhasa.
  • As the pilgrim season had not started, the author felt lonely. He was looking for someone who could speak or understand English as well as accompany him to do kora.
  • Then he met Norbu, a Tibetan who understood English and was there to do kora at Mount Kailash.
  • Both of them decided to go together.

Silk Road Word Meaning

Word – Meaning
French loaves – thin loaf of French bread commonly made from basic lean dough
ducking back – quickly going inside
kora – pilgrimage (in Tibetan language)
drokba – nomad shepherd (here it means, “You look like a nomad shepherd.”)
Changtang – plateau in Western Tibet
gazelles – small antelopes
void – empty spaces
kyang – wild asses
pall – cloud
en masse – together
manoeuvres – exercises involving a large number of animals
billowed – swelled out and went
mastiff – large and strong breed of dog
tribute – payment for tax
clogged – jammed
meanders – winding curves or bends of the river
daubed – spread on the surface
hunks – large pieces
snorted – made a loud sound by forcing breath through a nostril
exited – came out of
swathe – long strip
petered out – gradually came to an end
wristwatch – a watch having an altimeter eworn on the wrist
negotiated – went around
four wheel drive – having a transmission system to provide power directly to all four wheels
lurching – moving unsteadily
cairn of rocks – pile of stones marking a special place
festooned – ornamentally decorated
careered down – descended
salt flats – areas of flat land covered with a layer of salt
brackish – slightly salty
vestiges – remains
a hive of activity – full of people working hard
as smooth as my bald head – totally worn out
grim – bleak or dreary
refuse – rubbish
venerated – respected
cosmology – ancient history
headwaters – streams forming the source
striking distance – a distance from which it can be easily reached
draught – current of air
spread the grease around on – cleaned
solitary confinement – loneliness
sanctity – holiness
hallowed – holy
prone – inclined
kicking around – passing time aimlessly
set off – started
nocturnal – happening at night
power – breathing
drifting off – going to sleep
disappearing into the land of nod – going to fall asleep
put my finger on – pinpoint
paraphernalia – dress identifying his profession
screws of paper – small paper packets
derelict – run down
pool – game similar to billiards
incongruous – totally out of place
babbled – flowed with a babbling sound
cavernous – like a cave
struck up – started
escaped from the library – removed themselves from academic work
tempered – weakened
envisaged – thought of
yaks – Tibetan ox
prostrating – stretching and lying down with face down
tummy – stomach

What is the summary of Silk Road?

Silk Road summary is about the author’s journey which starts from slopes of Ravu to Mt. Kailash. This was to complete the kora. Thus, it gives us an account of the journey they experience.

What is the main purpose of the Silk Road?

The Silk Road was an ancient trade route that linked the Western world with the Middle East and Asia. It was a major conduit for trade between the Roman Empire and China and later between medieval European kingdoms and China.

What is the theme of Silk Road?

Silk Road, also called Silk Route, ancient trade route, linking China with the West, that carried goods and ideas between the two great civilizations of Rome and China. Silk went westward, and wools, gold, and silver went east. China also received Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism (from India) via the Silk Road.

Who controlled the Silk Route?

The Kushanas: The Kushana dynasty ruled over central Asia and north-west India about 2000 years ago. They had the best control over the ancient silk route; compared to any other ruler of that time. Their two major centres of power were; Peshawar and Mathura.

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