Extraordinary Sale-a-thon Super Explosion!

Some people call them “Amazon Kindle Countdown” deals. However, I prefer the made-up term Extraordinary Sale-a-Thon Super Explosion. And, yes – there’s one happening right now.

A Eurasian Diary – the cross-China / Silk Road travellin’ tale that I lovingly rendered into existence one, painstaking Perpetua-typeface letter at a time – has now been literally super-exploded into a very fine deal for book-downloaders such as yourself. From Sunday 29 June through to the evening-time on Wednesday 2 July, the odyssey can be yours for 99 pence. That’s less than a pound!

Come get in on the cheap-ass action before 2 July is out!

These Kashgar Sunday Market goers search in vain for a copy of A Eurasian Diary. It is only available online.

As the currency referenced above might have suggested, this particular Extraordinary Sale-a-Thon Super Explosion is only available in the UK, at least this time. But, for people living in the world’s other countries, there will be similar explosions comin’ your way in due course. I’ll announce them here – so keep the eyes set on “peel.”

Yours truly (and after having eaten three rocky road bars, which I suspect you’ve noticed),

Liam

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The dude of dough

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One big cauldron of goodness

The alleyways of Kashgar’s Sunday bazaar stretch and twist and steam like so much, well, kneaded dough. And, however hot the work, this baker keeps cool as a cucumber throughout.

Here he spins and knots his savoury dough into big, thick braids, ready for boiling up bagels – a chewy, savoury variety you’ll find all over Xinjiang. And that’s not the only carb-a-licious snack available, either – down every high street, and even every alley, you’ll find options for bagels, seed-speckled naan breads, gooey pork-filled dumplings, or even deep-fried straw bread coiled into delicious wreaths. You can take your pick of bready delights, a pot of strong, black tea, and lunch is utterly sorted.

It is a veritable yum-a-thon of tasty proportions.

 

One month old!

It feels like a hundred years ago, but it’s only been a month. I’m not talking about babies (although we’re expecting one of those too!), but instead I’m talking about the anniversary of publishing A Eurasian Diary. What better occasion to release a free excerpt?

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A Fergana woman packs taut cellophane tubes full of goodness. These portable lunches of lemon-dressed carrot, cucumber, cauliflower and coriander are delicious – pleasing both the palate and the arteries.

I’ve been humbled and honoured by the interest in this little travel tale so far, and I’m pleased as punch that so many of you have taken the time to take a wee gander. The experience of travelling the old Silk Road is difficult to put into words – that’s why I relied so much on others to do the talking for me. However repressive, bureaucratic, and generally bonkers the governments in Central Asia might be, you nevertheless find loads of incredible people who are friendly, open, honest, and hilarious in equal measure. Time spent with them felt more important (and more illuminating) than any bit of sightseeing, or any studious reflections on the region’s tumultuous history. So, I’m giving up a little example here. This passage from the book comes from a day spent in Fergana, an eastern Uzbekistani market town under vast reconstruction, under the guidance of the country’s authoritarian leader, Islam Karimov. His daughter is famous on Twitter – his subjects, in their millions, are much less well known – but, almost certainly, they’re more interesting. Thanks again for all the interest so far, and thanks for exploring this part of the world with me! To read the excerpt, click “continue reading” … obvs…. Continue reading

Pumpkin Party

Pumpkin Party

A happy Hallowe’en Eve to all (or is that a “Hallowe’en’en”?)

More than any other holiday in the year, this is the one that reminds me most of being a kid. Sticking your hand into the cold, stinking innards of a freshly-opened pumpkin. Fake-blood caking on your skin. Toffee that required a half hour’s chewing. Being a kid was a bloody nightmare.

These pumpkins were photographed one year ago now, virtually to the day. This bazaar in Fergana, Uzbekistan, was piled high with dried figs and apricots, naan breads and lambs’ legs, and squashes of every shape and size.

This selection have had the rinds sliced open to expose the bright fruit inside – they’re fresh, orange, and just about ready to go – all they really need is to be hollowed and carved into gruesome faces, obviously.

Hot-dog, shrimp and mayonnaise pizza, anyone?

For foodies, eating out in China can be an unrelenting roller coaster of surprises. Surreal as often as sumptuous, getting what you expect can be a remarkably rare occurrence – that’s, of course, half the thrill of travelling in the country, though when it goes wrong, it can often leave you a bit hungry.

When chicken’s feet in chilli oil begins to feel a bit exhausting, though, there are often Western fast food chains about, beckoning poor foreigners with the siren call of predictable, ordinary comfort foods to reset your taste buds and help refresh your courage. Pizza Hut, for example.

As this outstanding little series of Instragrams from photojournalist John Lehmann shows, though, not even Pizza Hut can deliver the goods when it comes to, well, pizza. 

 

Is this strictly necessary? A hot dog encrusted pie laden with cheese, shrimp tempura and glow-in-the-dark mayonnaise? What deliciously fresh hell is this?

This is the only snap of the lot to feature such freak-fusion cuisine, but the photo series overall is packed with gems – street scenes, train stations, and little days in the life make up a beautiful sidelong glance at travelling in China.

Makes me want to return to China again – and to give this unholy pizza pie a go while I’m there.

Chorsu Morning

Chorsu Morning

Chorsu Market, in the northern reaches of Tashkent, is a vision of a future and a past. The bazaar is held inside a vast metallic UFO, seeming to have arrived directly from someone’s incredible 1970s sci-fi imagination – inside, though, the traditional treats on offer harken back centuries.

This man is selling a range of hard, fermented yogurt balls. Pungent, salty, and tough as concrete, they’re meant to go well with beer. Definitely worth buying a bagful – after all, if they aren’t to your taste, you always have the option of golfing with them.