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33 years of changing China as seen through the lens of a Scottish photographer

In the summer of 1986, I completed a circular journey around Scandinavia,” says Beijing-based Scotsman Bruce Connolly, who, then 39, was already a seasoned world traveller. “At the end of the trip, I caught sight of a train from Moscow in Helsinki station; I’d never imagined that you might be able to take a train through the USSR before.”

Connolly had to return to his native Glasgow, where he taught geography at a local high school, but the idea of an eastbound train journey festered during the long, dark months of a Scottish winter. Frustrated and depressed, Connolly headed to the nearest travel agency to see what might kindle some inspiration.

“I was just turning 40 […] I sat in a Glasgow pub and over a beer, browsed the brochures I’d picked up. I soon realised you could go all the way by train from Glasgow Central Station to Hong Kong. I decided to use my summer holiday in 1987 to make the journey. I called it my ‘ultimate dream.’”

Connolly had no idea how profoundly this transconti­nent­al odyssey would change his life, transforming a man who was “entirely ignorant of China” into a passionate Sinophile, who would travel the length and breadth of the country as a photo­grapher, tour guide, radio host, writer and educator. Thirty-three years on, now aged 73, it is a journey he has yet to complete.

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