It is only when you look at an atlas that you get an idea just how large China actually is. It manages to be the second largest state by land area and is home to around 1.3 billion people. It is not unknown for journeys to take a long time even by road, so to contemplate walking across the country is madness; or takes a special kind of adventurer.
Rob Lilwall is that man.
Joining him is Leon McCarron, an adventurer in his own right, but he will be there to film the journey for a documentary. The 3000-mile journey will take them from the Mongolian Steppe all the way to Hong Kong. Their 10,000,000 steps will take them across the Gobi in the depths of winter, over the Great Wall, past the terracotta army, through valleys and over rivers. The people they meet are almost all friendly and welcoming, even the police and authorities who naturally take a great interest in their journey seem to be remarkably relaxed. It is a tough walk, as well as the physical issues involved in an endurance adventure, they have moments when tempers fray and misunderstandings abound.
It is quite an astonishing walk through a country undergoing rapid changes. Lilwall is not the most eloquent of writers and he is honest about the bad parts of the walk as well as those moments that will stay with him forever, but this is a book written from the heart and that is what makes this worth reading. 3.5 stars