Right to Roam (Paywalled)

Trekking China’s old “western frontier”

I was sure that the wall of the tent I borrowed from a friend had been vertical when I set it up in a small gully and lay down in it, cadaver-like, with my back against the bumpy ground.

But when, around midnight, I found it caressing my face and straining to lift me bodily off the ground like some demented and feeble Valkyrie, I started to think that pitching up in this open Shanxi valley might not have been an ideal way to get a restful night.

I barely slept a wink that night, but when I gave up on sleep around 4 in the morning and looked out at the ancient valley washed in a deep fruity orange, I had to conclude that it had all been worth it.

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Right to Roam (Paywalled) is a story from our issue, “Rural Rising.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


Although his lair is in Beijing, Yefren is rarely seen in the city environment, preferring instead the mountainous surroundings of the city’s far north and west. Rousing himself occasionally from hibernation to write for TWOC, Yefren’s preferred subjects are the outdoor habitats which are sometimes passed over in the public imagination of China, and the various people who inhabit them.

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