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An illustrated travelogue that brilliantly captures artist and illustrator Emma Fick’s epic train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway—from Beijing through Mongolia to Moscow—including more than 200 watercolor illustrations and handwritten text that includes cultural and historical information as well as invaluable travel tips.
In May 2015, on a trip through the Baltics and Scandinavia, artist and illustrator Emma Fick and her boyfriend (now husband) Helvio discovered a worn copy of the Trans-Siberian Handbook at a secondhand shop in Helsinki. Many travelers from around the globe had used the guide to journey on the longest train ride in the world. Emma and Helvio took their find as a sign to embark on their own adventure on the legendary railway that has captured the imaginations and curiosities of many travelers and explorers since its construction a century ago.
A year and a half later, with Trans-Siberian Handbook in hand, they boarded the train in Beijing. Their odyssey was just beginning.
Border Crossings is the chronicle of their unforgettable 26-day, 8-city journey across Asia to Moscow. Emma offers a concise history of the railway and in vivid, visual language, takes you across a vast landscape of rural villages and bustling urban centers, through open food markets brimming with delicacies and a snowy mountain wilderness dotted with clusters of gers—nomadic homes.
Emma’s detailed observations and lush descriptions, accompanied by detailed colorful illustrations, bring this remarkable journey of discovery and adventure—the landscapes, food, people and cultures—to life. Experience drinking salty milk tea, eating shoe sole cake (fried cakes shaped like shoe soles piled high and topped with milk curds and hard candies), and riding camels in Mongolia. In Russia, wander through a snow-draped countryside filled with stands of birch trees, explore the wonders of freshwater Lake Baikal—the source of omul, a ubiquitous and beloved fish delicacy—go ice fishing, and take a self-guided tour of Moscow.
With its hand-drawn maps, its wealth of illustrations of every aspect of the experience—from sleeping quarters on a train to the highlights of a monastery or the details of a memorable meal, Border Crossings is an invitation to experience new destinations and cultures first-hand—to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway as never before, whether you’re a nomad looking for a new vacation destination, an armchair traveler, or just culturally curious.
"[Fick’s] enchanting illustrated travel memoir shares the experience intimately. . . . She chronicles the trip diary-style, with watercolor paintings to show both stunning scenery and portraits, as well as myriad odd details, the “snippets” that make remote travel so alluring. (Imagine your own illustrated travel journal in which you capture each day’s essence in a note with a drawing; then imagine you actually have talent.)" — New York Times
"Watercolor sketches [depict] artist Emma Fick’s 2017 journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway . . . with paintings of bathroom fixtures, local officials and Russian cafeteria food that dodge the genre’s cliched tropes altogether. Handwritten notes accompany the images, which are sometimes framed with a traveler’s-eye view of train windows and passenger compartments. Others serve as whimsical compendiums . . . [the] effect is charming, yes, but it also invigorates." — Washington Post
“Artist Fick's illustrated travelogue combines intricate art and intimate observations—vibrantly colored and distinctly hand-lettered—of a Beijing-to-Moscow expedition on the Trans-Siberian Railway. . . . Lucky readers get to adventure along in cozy comfort.” — Booklist