Some of the towering beauty that rests along and astride the Himalayan trade routes

Some of the towering beauty that rests along and astride the Himalayan trade routes

In a day and age of digital everything and seemingly every topic at our fingertips, it’s rare nowadays, compared to say 50 years ago, to meet a true ‘explorer’: a person who has ventured out into truly unique and remote lands, having cultural exchanges where outsiders have perhaps not, and bringing the tales home. Our guest today, Canadian Jeff Fuchs is just that – an explorer.

In 2006/7 he trekked more than 5,000km over 7.5 months through some of the world’s most remote and challenging terrain to experience, then chronicle, one of the world’s great trade routes – The Tea Horse Road. Running from Yunnan in China, then through Tibet, he did this with a couple other locals and has seen things few western eyes ever have. He passed through some amazing villages, terrain, came in contact with incredibly unique and remote villages, and does a wonderful job documenting it in his book ‘The Ancient Tea Horse Road‘.

Trevor talks about how he has been to Yunnan, which is spectacular countryside with some incredible terrain: steep gorges and ravines and all along the hillsides, terraced fields of both rice and tea.  I didn’t make it up to the area known as Shangri La, where Jeff spends much of his time, but hopes he can shed some light on the area.

Scott says that he has cycled through parts of Tibet and can’t imagine walking nearly 6,000km through that country’s incredibly tough and super remote terrain. Trevor and Scott then have a bit of back and forth about their connection with Jeff to the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, which they both attended. They both agree how amazing it would be to see and experience that part of the world, let alone partake in such a long journey. 

For the nomads, there were few luxuries as vaunted as tea and salt

For nomads, there are few luxuries as vaunted as tea and salt

Today’s Guest: Jeff Fuchs

Scott explains that he has read their guest’s book, The Ancient Tea Horse Road, some time ago, and really enjoyed it. It takes you places and to meet people that are truly in spots most of us can’t imagine and will never get to. Jeff is the first westerner to have completed the entire tea horse route through the Himalayas and to experience more than a dozen cultures along the way. With a trek partner, he also recently completed a month-long expedition along the ancient nomadic salt route at 4,000 meters – becoming the first ever westerners to do so. He welcomes Jeff to to Talk Travel Asia.

Jeff then answers some of the following questions, along with a few interesting follow-ups from Scott and Trevor: 

Trevor: How are you doing today and where are you joining us from?

Scott: Where are you originally from and how did you end up living/trekking/living and working in Asia?

Trevor: How did you get the idea to experience, then document the ancient Tea Horse Trail? Was it a fascination with tea? or trekking? or a bit of both?

Scott: How did you develop a fascination with tea?

Trevor: Tell us about the actual route you took.

A snow pass near the Yunnan-Tibet border in mid-July along the Tea Horse Road

A snow pass near the Yunnan-Tibet border in mid-July along the Tea Horse Road

Scott: What did you learn and what can the average adventurer at heart take away from such a journey?

Trevor: Why was this journey so important to you?

Scott: Why was it important to the people who you traveled with?

Trevor: What was the terrain that you crossed like?

Scott: For casual travelers wanting to learn more about tea, experience the places it comes from and the people surrounding it, where should they go and how should they travel?

Trevor: Are there portions of your adventure that the average traveler might be able to experience or ways that you can recommend people can experience a taste of the tea trail if you will?

Scott: What are some of your favorite memories of the trip?

Trevor: What’s your favorite kind of tea?

Scott: Tell us a bit about your latest trip along the ancient nomadic salt route.

Trevor: What’s next for Jeff Fuchs?

See a Photo Gallery of pictures from this episode!

About our guest: 

To learn more about Scott & Trevor:

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