A National Geographic explorer’s account of the three years she spent trekking alone through wild and sparsely populated regions in Mongolia, China, Siberia, and Australia.
Marquis undertook her six-country walkabout in June 2010, two years after she began to experience the “sublime sensation” of restlessness that told her it was time to depart her native Switzerland for another adventure. She began in Mongolia near the Siberian border, intending to work her way south to the Gobi Desert. The dusty, wind-swept terrain was as beautiful as it was harsh, and its inhabitants and animals did not always welcome her presence. Consciously pushing her body to the limit, Marquis endured scorching temperatures by day and subzero temperatures by night and managed to avoid becoming ill in a place that threatened her health with everything from diphtheria to the plague. But an abscessed tooth forced her to delay her journey across the Gobi, which she crossed in 2011. She resumed her travels in China, near the Yangtze River. After hiking the Sichuan Mountains and crossing a panda preserve, the Chinese police arrested Marquis to prevent her from possibly reporting on the immolation of a priest who died 12 miles from where she had been traveling. Undaunted, she headed to Siberia and crossed a portion of the taiga near Lake Baikal before moving on to Laos and Thailand, where she escaped an attack by drug traffickers and survived a case of dengue fever and, later, stomach worms. Marquis then sailed to Australia and trekked across a stretch of forbidding outback between Darwin and Cairns before finishing her remarkable journey in southern Australia. Though the pacing is uneven and the story at times haphazardly structured, the author’s passion for exploring and testing her mind, body, and spirit are evident throughout. As she writes, “movement is lifesaving; it calls everything into question, everything that’s around us that lives, breathes, moves.”
Liberating reading for armchair adventurers.