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Our directions were less helpful than a pirate’s treasure map – we didn’t even have an “X” to mark the spot. Just the name of a village deep in the Qinghai plateau: Xiadawu. Near there, so these clues suggested, we could find our way to one of the holy mountains, sacred to Tibetan Buddhists: A’nye Maqen. In all, I’d found two sentences on the internet, and they were a few years old. Not much to go on. But in one of my favourite novels, Professor Lidenbrock had made a Journey to the Center of the Earth with nothing more than a centuries old scrap of paper reading:

Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jokul of Snæffels, which the shadow of Scartaris touches before the kalends of July, and you will attain the centre of the earth; which I have done: Arne Saknussemm.

If a fictional Professor could do that, surely we could reach A’nye Maqen? Continue reading