Sale now on!

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In Osh, Kyrgyzstan, this gentleman is pleased to learn of the book’s new low price

In celebration of nothing in particular, I’ve decided to drop the price of A Eurasian Diary on the UK Amazon shop! In fact, I’m more than simply “dropping” the price. I’m slashing it. Mashing it. Liquefying it. I am literally microwaving the price.

That’s something to smile about!

Download now for one pound and fifty-four pence (after tax!)

What have people said about A Eurasian Diary?

“Funny and observant!” – Amazon reviewer

“Both informative and entertaining, and makes for easy, happy, hilarious reading. Superb!” – my mother

The list goes on! Take a peek now, or share with Silk-Road-loving loved ones.

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The end of the lines!

I’m currently as happy as a very happy thing. Take your happiest emoticon – the one with the smile that takes up the entire lower half of the face, and squeezes the eyes tightly shut. Now imagine that emoticon swollen up and plunked on the torso of a real live human being. Hi. That’s me.

After reaching the end of A Eurasian Diary, then working through a handful of edits, I’m happy (as noted) to say that I’ve saved the file as “Final v1” … in other words, it’s done.

…at least until “Final v2” comes along, and perhaps “Final v3.” But, nevermind that… it’s done!

(dances on desk)

(steps on keyboard)

(accidentally types gobbledygook with dancing feet)

(hjsdsdksdksdiuewuhksdsdsdsdkdsksdkskskjsd)

(likes it)

What are some initial reflections on this big, bad, great little experience? One thing that stands out is how different travel writing feels to me now, compared with either fiction or journalism. At first, I’d expected that writing about a journey would feel like blending these two forms into a kind of storified biography, which is indeed how it felt at the very start. As the writing went on, though, the manuscript took on a new life – travel writing is very much a form in its own right, which I suppose I’d never completely appreciated before.

My favourite aspect of it is that you get to be (well, you have to be) objective about your own subjectivity. Continue reading

The final leg!

There comes a time in every journey when the gravitational pull of home takes over – psychologically as much as geographically, you’re closer than ever to completing your quest, and getting closer by the second.

That’s where things are with my wee little travelogue project – I’m now writing the very final paragraphs in A Eurasian Diary, with just 2,000 words to go till the whole first draft is done and dusted…! Wowsers. Should I be ecstatic or misty-eyed?

Whether with actual travel or with a big writing project, both emotions seem to apply. There’s sadness that your stream of discovery is drawing to a close, and that your daily triumphs in conquering the terrifying unknown (a.k.a. unwritten pages) are soon to be all completed. But, there’s also more than a bit of pride in having survived the quest you set out for yourself, and you can now indulge in some wonderful, well-earned comforts: spare time, and fantastic memories. Plus, once you’re done, you know you’re even better equipped now to go and do it again.

Continue reading

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.