It’s a Small World?

I used to think that everyday the world was getting smaller – or flatter if you are Thomas Friedman. I mean that the world seems so explored. Don’t we know every little nook & cranny? Haven’t we met all the tribes and people? Isn’t there mobile phone coverage everywhere by now? Personally, I don’t like the idea. I would love to believe that there are places in the world still undiscovered, still isolated enough to live without satellite TV and Coca-Cola. But unlike Harrison Ford in “The Mosquito Coast,” I know the Gods Aren’t That Crazy. So I am always surprised when I hear about a new tribe in the Amazon or a new animal species in Borneo…

I was also surprised, in this day and age of cell phone mania, Google maps and internet connectivity that two American mountain climbers have been missing in Southwest China, near Tibet for more than a month. It sort of reminds me that the world is still big and there are still plenty of jungles, islands and high mountains that, while not altogether unexplored, are still remote. Having lived in China’s overpopulated Eastern region for over a year, it is difficult to believe that there are parts of China where you could go five minutes without seeing another person. Of course, China is immense and the Himalaya Mountain range and the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet still have loads of villages and lands barely known beyond their boundaries.

Reading about the climbers made me hope, against all odds, that they are holed up in a nomadic camp or isolated mountain village, unable to contact anyone. I want to believe that the very remoteness of the region is what is keeping them away from their families and loved ones this holiday season.


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