Life is full of opportunities. The problem is to recognize them when they present themselves, and that isn’t always easy. Tiziano Terzani’s opportunity, for instance, had all the marks of a curse:

[quote] Beware! You run a grave risk of dying in 1993. You mustn’t fly that year. Don’t fly, not even once![/quote] an old Chinese fortune teller from Hong Kong told him in the Spring of 1976. At that time 1993 seemed a long way off.

Terzani in Asia

Terzani did not forget the date though; it lingered in the back of his mind, rather like an appointment he hadn’t yet decided whether to keep or not.

Then, 16 years later, at the end of 1992 Terzani had to make a decision. By that time he had been living in Asia for over 20 years –  first in Singapore, then in Hong Kong, Peking, Tokyo and finally in Bangkok – and he felt that the best way of confronting the prophecy was the Asian way: not to fight against it, but to submit!

Terzani was lucky that – being a reporter for German magazine Der Spiegel, normally being sent all over Asia by plane – his employer agreed on his plan to not fly for a full year.

Despite the limitation of not flying, He did not stop doing his job: he attended the first democratic elections in Cambodia by train, he oversaw the opening of the first line of communication by land between Thailand and China via Burma. He even did not forgo his annual visit to his mother in Italy taking the historic route by train from Bangkok to Florence and returning by ship through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to Singapore.

A fortune teller told me_overland travel map

On top of the decision not to fly Terzani also took another decision: wherever he would go in 1993 he would seek out the most eminent local fortune-teller, the most powerful sorcerer, the most revered oracle or seer or visionary or madman of the place, and ask him to look into his future, and to learn something of them and the role these seers play in the local society and the universal search for spirituality.

For Terzani his year not flying turned out in a marvelous adventure: [quote]What looked like a curse proved to be a blessing. Moving between Asia and Europe by train, by ship, by car and sometimes even on foot, the rhythm of my days changed completely. Distances became real again, and I reacquired the taste of discovery and adventure[/quote] Incredibly the prophecy also saved him from an air crash!! On March 20, 1993 a UN helicopter in Cambodia went down, with fifteen journalists on board. Among them was Terzani’s German colleague who had taken his place!

All in all ‘A fortune-teller told me: earthbound travels in the far east‘ is a kickass travel book, with a unique perspective on (South-East) Asia and overland travel!

Book cover a fortune teller told me

Sources: Amazon, Wikipedia, Own reading of ‘A fortune teller told me,…