T’s May 17 Travel Issue


  1. PhotoAn 18th-century map from China purporting to be a copy of one drawn there in 1418, based on the explorer Zheng He’s travels around the globe. While some have claimed that it proves Zheng He arrived in the Americas before Christopher Columbus, scholars have questioned the map’s authenticity.
    CreditUniversal Images Group/Getty Images

    Letter from the Editor

    The Silk Road’s Enduring Romance, and Eternal Influence

    Last May, when our known world was one way, we began planning these stories. By last month, when we were finishing work on this issue, the world was another way.


  2. PhotoA temple on Crescent Lake at Mingsha Shan (Echoing Sand Mountain) near the town of Dunhuang in Gansu, China. Dunhuang was an important strategic base along the ancient Silk Road, near the entrance to the Hexi Corridor.
    CreditZhang Xiao

    A Poetic Journey Through Western China

    For years, Silk Road travelers made the grueling trek past towering mountain ranges and ancient cities now lost to time. Centuries later, one writer attempts to retrace the journey.


  3. PhotoA painting of a multitude of sitting Buddhas on the walls of Ajanta, the caves of Maharashtra, India. Believed to have been created between the first and second centuries B.C. and the fifth century A.D., the caves are one of the oldest Buddhist sites in the world.
    CreditBridgeman Images

    How the Buddha Got His Face

    His image is so commonplace that you could believe it must always have existed — yet for six centuries after his death, he was never once depicted in human form.