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

The dude of dough

8257375361_b3e80a05f3_z

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?

Image

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

Tea Time

Tea Time

A small teahouse hangs over the banks of the Ak-Buura River in Osh, Southern Kyrgyzstan. These fine gents were gathered here on a typically brisk November morning, sipping hot black tea, and all decked out in their white felt Kyrgyz caps – except, of course, for Michael Jackson in the background, as his friends liked to refer to him.

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Crossing the Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan isn’t in Eurasia, not is it particularly famous for its towering mountains. So, what on earth is this picture all about?

The source of the Saskatchewan River in the Canadian Rockies is simply too gorgeous a spot to keep off this little blog – however badly it messes up my tagging system.

We traipsed from Jasper to Banff last month in a memorable trip home that included all manner of wildlife – woodpeckers, picas, chubby old chipmunks, elks, one black bear, and mosquitoes that could actually lift me into the sky.

We returned to London invigorated by the space and the scenery, and happy memories of stepping stones – for all the wobbled crossings we made, nary a toe was misplaced!

On the Uzbek Express

On the Uzbek Express

…well, “express” is probably the wrong term. A three-day train from Tashkent to Saratov takes you through lunar deserts and frosted swamps, everything enigmatic and alien. Most scintillating of all, though, is the company.

I was bunked with these three Uzbeks and a Chechen over the course of the journey – sharing strong beer, pungent yoghurt balls, and lots of broken conversation. The journey was among the least comfortable (and certainly the least hygienic) of the whole trip – but it still stands out as one of the best three days of all.

Hard bargains

Driving hard bargains

Kashgar’s Sunday Market is one of the great bazaars of Central Asia – the market just before Eid celebrations in 2012 meant the place was even busier and more raucous than normal.

This clothes seller offers up an uncertain scowl as her customer hems and haws at the selection on offer. Behind, shashlyk dealers fan their charring skewers, readying lunches for hungry shoppers.