Tuesday, 24 June 2003
The Helena May Club,35 Garden Road, Central (next to Peak Tram station)
Drinks 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
In 1998, Bill Purves made an extraordinary journey, walking from Hong Kong all the way across China to the borderlands of Mongolia, northwest of Beijing. He travelled cross country, avoiding roads and major towns, in some cases following ancient imperial trails, and witnessed almost every facet of Chinese culture and landscape. In this lecture, he tells the story of this epic walk. Mr. Purves's route took him north across the Pearl River at Guangzhou, across the Xiang River near Changsha, and then the Yangtze at the Dong Ting Lakes. Into northern China, he crossed the Han River at Xian Fan, the Yellow River at Luayang and then the Fen River near Taiyan. After three months, he crossed the Great Wall into a remote area near Mongolia, completing his journey. Mr. Purves travelled with just a rain poncho, tent flap and a small rucksack, buying food as he went along. He navigated with the aid of the few sketchy maps available and asking farmers for directions. Avoiding large settlements, his path took him along paddy dikes and peasant berms. He camped out under bridges or sometimes haystacks, or occasionally with a Chinese family. Through this route he found the China largely unknown to outsiders, the China of the country's majority who live on farms and in small towns, and brought away fascinating observations and insights about rural China. Bill Purves is a Canadian engineer and a longtime Hong Kong resident. He has also had a 35year career as a competitive runner. He has travelled and studied in China for more than 20 years and is the author of three books on China, Barefoot in the Boardroom Adventure and Misadventure in the People's Republic of China, about China's working class, Three Chinas, about its intellectuals and China on the Lam On Foot Across the People's Republic, the subject of this lecture. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is $50 for members, HK$100 for Members' guests and HK$150 for others.