China’s New Silk Road: Weekly Arts & Culture Round Up – May 22, 2020

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James Bond’s Older Brother Along The Karakoram Highway
James Bond had an older brother? Well the creator of the character, writer Ian Fleming did, the even more interesting and adventurous Peter. Fleming travelled from Moscow to Peking via the Caucasus, the Caspian, Samarkand, Tashkent, the Turksib Railway, and the Trans-Siberian Railway to Peking as a special correspondent of The Times in 1932. He then traveled 3,500km overland, mainly by donkey, from China via Tunganistan to India (to what is now Gilgit, in Pakistan) on a journey written up in the book News From Tartary. In  delicious Bond-esque style, we even packed a white tuxedo with him. Anyone considering traveling along the Silk Road would do well to read up on the elder Fleming’s experiences – they will teach you what to expect.

Swimming From Sri Lanka To India 
Like me, Adam Moss is a fellow British expat living part of the year in Sri Lanka. Unlike me, he swam from Sri Lanka to India a couple of months ago – a near 11 hour swim. Breaking 5 records along the route he was ably supported by Paddleboarders and Kayakers, who also became the first to accomplish this feat. The crossing, called the Palk Strait, is relatively shallow, but subject to fast, dangerous currents moving between the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Silk Road Briefing has made a donation to the charities supported by Adam. The video can be viewed here:

Asia’s Picasso
Sticking with Sri Lanka, with a vibrant, 5,000 year old culture and 450 years of colonialism, the island has produced some stunningly talented individuals. If you’ve seen the film “The English Patient” – that story was written by a Sri Lankan writer, Michael Ondaatje. The architect Geoffery Bawa’s ideas of melding structure with nature has made him possibly the most influential architect of the past century. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Sri Lanka produced an artist held in the same league as Picasso. George Keyt, who came to the same cubist theories of expressionism as the Spaniard, but a little earlier. His paintings are now priceless, and combine the familiar cubist form with an oriental allure. Examples of his works can be viewed here.

Cambodian Psychedelic Rock
Dengue Fever are an LA band who combine Cambodian 1970’s rock and pop with psychedelic world music styles. It sounds nuts, and is – but you can dance to it. Shades of early B-52’s mixed in with rockabilly and Jimmy McGriffin organ. Get up offa that thing!


Chris’s Cocktails
Covid-19 Lockdown has necessitated the deployment of many weird, forgotten and untried back of the cupboard bottles of booze. Galliano is often to be seen, sitting unloved at the back of the bar with its distinctive colour and amazingly tall bottle. It’s an anise liquer, like Pernod, Raki and Ouzo, yet not as overpowering, and ends with a vanilla taste. With Anise originating from West Asia and Vanilla from South America, you can either do shots or mix it with a brut sparkling wine. You might not have touched that bottle you have in your bar much before, but after this I give you 2 weeks before you order another.

Stay safe!

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Silk Road Briefing is published by Dezan Shira & Associates. Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the practice Chairman. Please contact Chris at or through his Linked In account, or visit the firm at


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