Author: Fritz Mühlenweg
Title: Fremde auf dem Pfad der Nachdenklichkeit (Strangers on the Path of Pensiveness)
Destination: Inner Mongolia to Hami
Length: a couple of months
Type: on foot, caravan
(Note: I don’t think this book is available in English yet. And it apparently used to be called „Tal ohne Wiederkehr“ (Valley of no Return) in a different, shortened edition.)
The story: FM is an 28-year-old accountant when he goes on his first trip with Swedish explorer Sven Hedin. Their goal: gather information about Mongolia and Western China and possibly support a future flight service between Berlin and Beijing for Lufthansa. They start out with a camel caravan, but when they come across difficulties on their way, Hedin dispatches FM together with a Chinese and a Mongolian. They make their way through partially hostile terrain and eventually manage to bring aid to the caravan. But it takes them a while.
Fritz Mühlenweg, an open-minded explorer
There are many things that are good about this book. There is its truthfulness: even though it is apparently not 100% factual (some elements are said to be fabricated to serve the storyline), it still reads like a very honest book. We get to know the writer, his feelings and impressions, and many aspects of life in the Gobi desert. FM keeps an open mind, makes his friends come to life through his writing – and manages to tell a gripping story of bandits and deserts.
Even the language is beautiful. Even if FM and his friends seem to be lost geographically sometimes, he never gets lost as a writer. The structure is clear, the words are precise. I would give this one a ten if there wasn’t the element of fabrication to it.
But still: this one is a solid 9/10.