The Orient Express has the literary cache, and India’s Palace on Wheels has the opulence, but the greatest train journey on Earth is without doubt the Trans-Siberian Railway. For more than 100 years, locomotives – first steam trains, then diesel and electric engines – have run the 9,289 kilometres between Moscow and Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan. The world’s longest railway crosses seven time zones and the journey takes at least a week to complete.
After decades of wars and violence, from the Vietnam War to the Killing Fields of Cambodia, peace now reigns across Southeast Asia. Even in Myanmar, war-torn for decades, peace negotiations are underway. But one war stubbornly remains: It is brutal and merciless, backed with the harshest laws and toughest police action, but is nevertheless apparently intractable and unwinnable. This is the drug war.
Not many people in the Middle East have the freedom to enjoy art and marvel at their cultural history. This fear has been cultivated by certain doctrines which state that the admiration of artistic work is heretical. There is a link in some Middle Eastern cultures between statues and the worship of idols; the appreciation of statues is therefore often construed as blasphemous in some religious sects. The rampant looting of centuries-old artefacts and the ongoing destruction of thousands of years of antiquities have brought about a sense of deep loss and bewilderment for many people, in the Middle East, and abroad.