take the U-train – how tina uebel travelled the landroute from hamburg to shanghai by herself

Ms Tina Uebel is telling her absolutely fascinating story how she travelled from Hamburg on Germany’s West coast to Shanghai on China’s East coast. Yes, there are probably hundreds of people doing this every day. But do they do it by train? I don’t think so!

Women in Turkmenistan, a country Tina Uebel crossed on her way from Hamburg to Shanghai
Sweet encounters in Turkmenistan – proverbial and litteraly.
This Central Asian state was Tina’s fourth country on her route from Hamburg to Shanghai.
(Photo: David Stanley, www.flickr.com/people/davidstanleytravel/)

Also, we are not talking the touristy, comfy Transsiberian here, the Titanic of trains. No, Tina Uebel took the ordinary trains – in total 19 of them! It took her seven weeks from Hamburg across Europe, the Middle East, East Asia – in total eight countries! – all the way to Shanghai.

Before I tell you more about this great book, let me dwell on the spectacular author and her flashing name. Of course, I mean her surname, Uebel. In her mother tongue German it translates to something like queasy, bad, dangerous.

For her book, she picked the title “Uebel unterwegs”. This might be translated either to “Uebel on the road”. Or irrespective of her name “Sorely afflicted on the road”.
That’s not only an original double meaning, that’s also true.

Portrait of Tina Uebel.
Writer and avid traveller Tina Uebel.
(Photo: Florian Büh)

You can follow Tina’s tales and trails with awe. How many women do you know that hop by themselves on a train that goes across Eurasia? Most of the time she’s having a great time; because she’s willing to have a great time.

But you’ll have to witness also moments where she is worn and torn. Or pensive. For instance when she realizes how blessed we are being born by chance in a wealthy country with a democratic government and a passport that grants us unlimited travelling.

Solo Travel Exxxtreme

For some people, it’s unimaginable to travel individually and not organized. For many people, it’s unthinkable globetrotting by themselves. Yet here comes this forty-something women and travels individually – and sometimes not so very organized – by herself through countries that make others shiver. Furthermore, she’s generous enough sharing not only her adventures, big and small, with her readers. No, in addition she shares her feelings and her thoughts.

Dyed threads in Iran, a country Tina Uebel crossed on her way from Hamburg to Shanghai
Dyed threads in Iran.

She describes encounters with different people in such a vivid and intense way that you have the feeling sitting next to them. Her travel buddies become your buddies, too. When she described how she bids farewell to her friend’s Persian cousin in Teheran, it made me cry a little. Somehow, I had to part with him, too.

Gentleman pushing his bike through Uzbekistan,
Gentleman pushing his bike through Uzbekistan,

She crosses countries and visits cities you probably haven’t even heard of. There are all these -stans in the former Soviet Union where she’s not allowed to take pictures. And even when she’s allowed to do so, she’s too polite to interfere with people’s privacy.

However, Tina makes up for this by describing these people and places in such a emphatic, vivid and vibrant fashion that you see them right before your inner eye in even brighter colors than any photograph could ever show.

Me Too

If you’re not a traveller – then I’m surprised that you read my blog, but thanks a lot, anyway – you’ll enjoy all these curious and noteworthy encounters.

When you’re a traveller, too, you’ll have probably experienced similar situations. However, her writing them down is like underlining them with a laser pointer.

Yes, me too, I’m missing decent coffee as soon as I leave Europe. Real coffee made from coffee beans, not from a pack of Nescafé with or without whitener and sugar in it. Oh my gosh, how I can relate to her dwelling on the lack of decent coffee!  

Yes, me too, I’m looking in all these disappointed faces that try to get me involved in a conversation about soccer and the price of a BMW since I’m from Germany. As a matter of fact, I know next to nothing about soccer and I’m riding the subway.

Man and child in Kazachstan, a country Tina Uebel crossed on her way from Hamburg to Shanghai
Two gentlemen in Kazachstan.

And yes, me too, my blog entries are too long since I’m rather a wandering storyteller than an influencer.

So is there a downside to this absolutely fantastic book? Yes, there is: It’s written in German and not translated into any other language yet. And some of the cutest expressions are so Hamburg-ish that I’m afraid people living about one mile from Hamburg’s city limits won’t know them. But it doesn’t matter, they can be translated and replaced by sweet and funny idioms, especially transferred into English. So hurry up, you translators, and spread her words – that are so full of love and joy for travelling.

Book cover of Tina Uebel 's book
This is the awesome book “Uebel unterwegs” in which Tina Uebel takes you to mesmerizing destinations and encounters in Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazachstan, and China. Safe travels!  

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