A fascinating mix of adventure travel, ancient history, 21st century geopolitics and people. Veteran journalists Iain Finlay and Trish Clark set out to travel 21,000 kilometers from Singapore to Venice, hopping on and off trains up through South East Asia, across China and the sprawling steppes and deserts of Central Asia to the Caucasus, Turkey and the Balkans. Their route covers territory along which ancient Silk Road trails have wound their way over the past two thousand years. The rail lines they follow form part of an embryonic, UN-backed Trans-Asian Rail Network, that will eventually create unbroken freight and passenger corridors all the way from China's far-eastern seaboard, to Europe. While visiting some of the great historic sites of China and Central Asia, among them: Xi'an, Dunhaung, Samarkand and Bukhara, they also become aware of the changing dynamics of Big-Power politics across the vast expanse of Central Asia, once the stamping grounds of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. The territory now includes the trouble spots and ethnic flashpoints in China's western province of Xingiang, the newly independent countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and politically unstable Kyrgyzstan, as well as a Georgia, facing continued hostility from Russia. On the way, Iain and Trish very quickly realise that, by far the greatest items of trade along the modern equivalents of the Silk Road, are now oil and natural gas. 'Oil is the new Silk'. It is the new trans-national currency of the Silk Road, with China and its voracious, seemingly insatiable appetite for energy, emerging as the most significant factor in the political and economic arena of Central and South East Asia and another indication of how vital the world's dwindling energy resources have become. A classic story of independent travel through the once inaccessible republics of the former Soviet Union.