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As visitors swarm to Burma the tour operators new favourite, readers of The Vintage Magazine may be interested to learn of a recent expedition to the land of steamy jungle, icy peaks and turquoise seas.
Largely isolated by the western world for over half a century, Myanmar as it now prefers to be called, is the home to many little known wild creatures and probably the location of some undiscovered species.
It had been a long and somewhat tiresome day bent over my quill pen (long before computers) in the Ministry of Defence’s Old War Office Building, when our Chief Clerk announced “There is a young officer at reception who wonders if you could spare him a few minutes”. Anything would be better than adding up the numbers of mechanical minelayers, bulldozers and trench digging devices that the Royal Engineers would need to keep the Soviet Army out of England I thought. “What does he want”? I asked passing the pile of paper into my pending tray. “Wants to go on an expedition” replied the Chief. Captain Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, tall, slim and bronzed entered, bearing a battered old map case. As one of the staff who advised on the Army’s programme of adventurous training, I was used to meeting a wide variety of enthusiastic individuals who came forward with proposals ranging from deadly dull, to utterly foolhardy, but there was something about the determined glint in the newcomer’s eye that suggested this man was completely serious.
This year we shall commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the legendary explorer Dr David Livingstone and it was with this in mind that Judith and I were invited to visit Zambia and Namibia recently.
We carried with us a beautiful leather-bound photographically reproduced copy of Livingstone’s best selling “Missionary Travels” published in 1857. This fine volume had been published by Time-Life books and covers his journeys and expeditions up to March 1856.
The Vintage Magazine welcomes the distinguished explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell as a regular contributor.
This is the first in a series of anecdotes and other stories from the career of one of Britain’s best loved explorers.
AUDIENCES WITH THE EMPEROR
by John Blashford-Snell
Thanks to my Godfather, who had entertained His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie during his exile in Britain following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, I was privileged to meet the Emperor on a number of occasions.
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