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Journey of a lifetime

By Matthew Fulco (China Daily)

15:03, July 29, 2013

This map shows the route of the transcontinental rally, which covers a number of countries. The portion of the rally that passes through Central Asia is the toughest, organizers say. (China Daily)

Rally drivers seek adventure on the Old Silk Road, Matthew Fulco reports in Shanghai

Liu Guosheng favors the road less traveled - or at least one that has not gotten much use in the past millennium. The Henan province native's Hamburg-based travel company China Tours Hamburg GmBH organizes transcontinental car rallies along routes of the famed Silk Road, named for the lucrative trade that first brought China into large-scale contact with Central Asia and Europe.

The first rally in 2006 started off in Hamburg and finished in Shanghai 72 days, 18,000 kilometers and eight countries later. Participants drove 47 "classic" cars, which were more than 20 years old, including vintage BMWs, Mercedes and Volkswagens. Aside from one vehicle that broke down in Russia, all the cars reached their destination.

Since then, China Tours Hamburg has organized a car rally between Hamburg and Shanghai every year, but 2013 marks the first time for the rally to start in China and follows a westward route to Europe.

With the 26 rally participants in the arduous 56-day, 16,000-kilometer route, China Daily caught up with Liu Guosheng in his Shanghai office for the inside story on traveling "the New Silk Road".

How did you come up with the idea for a transcontinental car rally?

I have lived in Germany for more than 25 years and worked in the travel industry almost as long. My company, China Tours Hamburg, is the largest of its kind in Germany and specializes in providing distinctive China travel experiences to German visitors.

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