Hi guys, in my opinion most travel stories I’ve read are, without sounding too harsh, fluff with no depth: i.e " i filled my backpack up to the brim and set off...the flight was long and tiresome etc etc" zzzzzzz.
I like Paul Theroux with books such as The Great Railway Bazaar -so insightful and articulate. And The Beach was quite humorous... -bloody ****, this sounds well pretentious doesn’t it!?
anyways, if anyone can recommend any tangible or humorous traveling stories along the same lines, i'd be most grateful. Thanks
Have you read the rest of Theroux's travel stuff, there's quite a bit set in SEAsia, I think he taught in Singapore before he made enough from his books. A lot of Conrad is set in Asia. V S Naipaul was so good they gave him a Nobel, that works for me, mostly he writes about India or Middle East, I've only read a couple. Mark Twain wrote about his travels in the South Seas and Australia/Kiwiland.
Kenneth Champeon has written reveiws of just about every book Asian themed ever written, well quite a few anyway, a thankless task if there ever was one. Take a look.
Hey, thanks so much for your advice. I’ve had a little look at some of the authors you mentioned and they’re brill. The introduction of Theroux’s fresh air fiend is really inspiring, makes you feel good to be a traveler (except for the piece on illness!)
1) Thor Heyerdahl's "The Ra Expeditions" (Amazing!)
2) Vikram Seth's "From Heaven Lake"
3) Anthony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal"
4) Stuart Stevens' "Night Train to Turkistan"
5) Bad Trips - A collection of authors' accounts of their worst trips (very good)
OK, here's my "travel story", which is really a visa story, but you can't have travel without visas can you? What would travel be like if there were no visas?
After moving to Thailand on a one year type O visa, I went to immigration with my paperwork to confirm that's all I needed for renewal. Since it was what I needed to get the visa in the first place, I'm thinking it should be fine. Obviously I wasn't thinking clearly, but then again, neither was the clerk at immigration, who quickly told me and my wife that's all we needed (marriage certificate, proof of income, copy of passport). So along comes the big day (or so I thought) and I go in to get my visa and he proclaims:
"Oh, you need the marriage certificate in Thai."
I say "My visa runs out today, what should I do?"
Run across the border into Laos. Your visa is still good for one more trip (remember it's a type O, so I had to make border runs every 90 days anyway). So over I go to the bus terminal, hop on the bus, and head to Laos. Soon enough I'm back, and head over to "Nukky's" to get a tranlsation. In a few days it's done, and in we go again.
"Oh no, it needs to be legalized." So off we go to a lawyer to get it legalized. We do that but my wife is now visibly annoyed with these guys and I decide to put it off for a while. With a little less than a week to go on my visa, we head back.
"Oh no, it needs to be legalized by the foreign ministry."
Now, maybe they could have told me all this in the first place... My wife is ready to kill, so taking her with me for translation is starting to become a bad idea. This was a Friday, so on Sunday night I get on the bus to Bangkok, which I hate. Monday morning I get a room for the day and sleep about two hours before the Danish embassy opens (because friends of mine told me they have to verify the translation and legalize the marriage certificate first). Shortly before nine I hope on a motorcycle taxi. He decides that risking death at every opportunity is the only way to drive. It occurs to me whilst weaving through traffic than I am risking my life over a stupid piece of paper for a bunch of beaurecrats. I arrive at the Danish embassy and, although early, promptly have to wait about two hours to talk to someone competent.
She then tells me "Oh, you need an apostoli for that?"
Calmly, I ask, what the **** is an apostoli?"
Non-plussed, she responds that's a legalization of the document provided by the country of Denmark (where we were married).
I then respond "You can see the document is an original. It has a raised seal." Nope, without an aposoli she can't help me.
"OK, how much does that cost?"
"Oh no, we can't do that here."
"Well where then?"
I say to her "Ma'am, I need to get this done today or I have to leave the country tomorrow."
She looks over my shoulder "Next".
So now I am getting back on the bus for another ten hour, sleepless trip home. Having spent 20 hours in the last 34 or so on the crappy bus, and having been constantly jerked around by officialdom, I now begin to understand how the Somalis finally gave into the temptation and destroyed their own government. I get home, shower, and cross the border. Get to the Thai consulate to apply for a 60 day tourist visa (which is what Thai immigration told me I had to do) and they tell me after I hand over my passport "You can pick it up in two days." I say "I thought it was just one?" "Tomorrow's a holiday". So now I'm stuck for two days in shitty ass Laos for no reason at all and nothing to do (I know for you Laos fans you can't understand this - I am not a Laos fan). I walk all over town to kill time, and hang out at Dao cafe drinking over-priced French beer while eating a burger.
There is more to this story if anyone wants to hear it...
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
To Greece it has arrived all for 5 days under the tourist permit. Thus, to "three-stars" hotel it have brought from the airport in already deep evening. All next morning it has overslept. Only by noon next day it has come to feelings from flight, and the end of this day has spent in local cafe. Next night he drank the vodka bought in "аэропортовском Duty Free Shop" with new acquaintances - tourists from the tourist group "for acquaintance". In the third tourist day it was necessary to walk on local markets and benches to buy consumer goods and gifts to relatives. For the fourth tourist day it have shipped in the bus and have carried to look local sights which he has had time to photograph a camera of the mobile phone. In the morning of its fifth tourist day быстренько have fed with a breakfast and have carried in the airport. But …., it already details. The main thing - "In Greece was!"
Um, that was a bit like trying to read a puzzle. Was that a direct translation from the original greek?
#9 greenman42 has been a member since 18/9/2009. Posts: 63
Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: on the tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar, is an account of the same trip 30 odd years later. Haven't read it yet, but will be interested to see how his perspectives have changed.
#10 greenman42 has been a member since 18/9/2009. Posts: 63
A House Somewhere is an anthology of tales from far off places, not always travelling through as alot of it is memoirs of living in a certain place. But its really interesting and quite a good selection of different countries.
#11 andrea13 has been a member since 5/5/2010. Posts: 31
Anything by Eric Hansen:
Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo
The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers
Motoring with Mohammed: travels in Yemen (but it starts in Sri Lanka)
Any book by Dervla Murphy.
MADMAC, please finish your story anout your visa.
#13 bedu has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 58
you must try Three men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome
three men suffering from "overwork" go for a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford
I felt this book was better tha The Great Railway Bazaar
#14 dokuman has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 8