China Vintage Hour

S1E09-Sven Hedin-Through Asia Part 2

Another Passage to Adventure featuring the great Swede Sven Hedin. In this Part 2 of his travels through Asia, we’re picking up in Kashgar, right as Sven is gearing up for his trek through the Taklamakan Desert from Market to the Khotan Daria (river). We get a week into the ill-fated journey. Sven offers up some wonderful 1895 observations of the people and places he encounters. He sure didn’t travel light, that’s for sure.

S1E08-Sven Hedin-Through Asia Part 1

We leave Robert Fortune’s gripes, discoveries and adventures behind for now and start anew with someone else of antiquarian interest.  Sven Hedin (1865-1952) was a Stockholm-born adventurer, explorer, cartographer, scientist and author.  His admiration for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis aside, Hedin was truly one of the most admired men of his day.  He traveled to some of the most remote and unexplored regions on the planet, places that 19th century maps simply left blank. Sven Hedin went there and with his scientist-geographer-cartographer’s eye, noted down everything. Future generations of explorers and adventurers benefited from his achievements.  I’m going to present excerpts from his two-volume work, “THROUGH ASIA” and focus on the parts when he was mainly in and around Xinjiang.  He went all over Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere but my focus will be on his adventures within China.  Enjoy!

Through Asia, volumes I & II, Published by Methuen, 2nd edition edition (1899)

S1E07-Last of Robert Fortune’s Visit to the Tea Countries

It’s been all Robert Fortune since we launched the China Vintage Hour way back when.  I’m anxious to move on to some other great stuff.  So let’s finish off Robert Fortune’s travels in China for a while.  We can always come back to hear more of his adventures.  They didn’t end here. In this passage once again he is on his mission for the East India Company to get ahold of the best seeds, plants and processing secrets.  He had a few bumps along the way but he managed to dodge every bullet.  Next time we’ll move on to someone even more adventurous and exciting than Mr. Fortune.

S1E05-More of Robert Fortune’s Wanderings and a Visit to the Tea Country

In this episode we’re going to finish off with some excerpts from Fortune’s first book. This first effort by RF, “Wanderings Through the Northern Provinces of China” garnered him a lot of shine and attention. About midway into this episode we’ll dust off RF’s second book and begin exploring his adventures from trip number two.  This trip, his second, made in the employ of the British East India Company is really the one that Fortune is most famous for.  Over the next episodes you can decide for yourself.  Did Fortune’s mission constitute industrial espionage or not?  However you look at it, Fortune’s second trip was filled with lots of great narrative describing mid to late 1840’s China south of the Yangzi River.

S1E04 – Robert Fortune’s Wanderings in China Part 4

In this excerpt from Robert Fortunes first best-selling book we hear about his first encounter with tea in China, the thing for which he is best remembered.  Up until this point, very little was known in the West about how China turned raw leaves into one of the ultimate delights of mankind.  Fortune here begins to solve the riddle.

S1E03-Robert Fortune’s Wanderings in China Part 3

RF really lets it all hang out in this episode with his thoughts and opinions about Buddhism, the local Chinese and the future prospects of Christianity in China.  You can really tell from this episode, China wasn’t the safest place for Westerners to visit in Fortune’s time. But the lure of China was always too strong and people like Fortune just couldn’t resist.

S1E02-Robert Fortune’s Wanderings in China Part 2

Laszlo continues on with more of Robert Fortune’s romps through Zhoushan, Shanghai and Zhejiang Province during his 1843-1846 visit to China on behalf of the London (later Royal) Horticultural Society.  The new treaty ports have hardly been open a year and there’s a of East meets West for the first time going on.

The book: “Three Years Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China” published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, London, 1847

S1E01-Robert Fortune’s Wanderings in China

Welcome to the inaugural episode of the China Vintage Hour. Robert Fortune’s adventures were covered previously in the China History Podcast’s 10-Part History of Tea Series. In this episode today we read excerpts from Fortune’s first book written about his maiden voyage to China from 1843 to 1845 as the appointed botanical collector for the Royal Horticultural Society. He was one of the first ones to penetrate into after the Treaty of Nanjing.

The book: “Three Years Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China” published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, London, 1847