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Around the World

TravelersTales.com  |  April 2004

The Far Side of the World

I just returned from a trip around the Seychelles on Le Ponant, a French sailing ship chartered by Zegrahm Expeditions of Seattle, and it was about as far away as you can get from California. We sailed around the inner granitic islands, and then far to the southwest to the exquisite Aldabra Atoll, not too distant from the northern shores of Madagascar. We didn't see a single airplane in the sky the entire time, nor satellites in the night arc, nor a single other vessel on the sea on the venture to Aldabra. At night, on deck, under the Southern Cross, it was as though we were on a different planet, unpeopled and untroubled by people troubles.

But of course we weren't. Far from it. To get there, we flew from London across Europe and a vast swath of the African continent, an unnoticed speck transiting the hard lives of so many millions below. After landing in Nairobi, we flew some more, 1,000 miles over the Indian Ocean, before landing on Mahe, the main island, and boarding the ship.

While an air voyage of this kind always underscores for me the different worlds we billions live in, landing and talking with locals illuminates rather poignantly that the whole planet shares problems now as never before and that "there is no escape" (short of terraforming Mars). The Seychelles is no exception, and has been suffering since 2001 from a decline in tourism. This is a terrible shame because it is such a beautiful, peaceful place, and the people a lovely mix of all races. The wildlife on land, in the air, and below the water was splendid, and the trip was a good reminder that Eden is still ours, and that the worst thing we can do is forget that.

— James O'Reilly, Publisher


News Box!—Events, reviews for The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 and A Woman's Path, a World Wizard winner, Booksellers' Travel Writing Contest
What's New?Women in the Wild, The Best Travelers' Tales 2004
Sample Chapters—Introduction to Women in the Wild by Lucy McCauley, "Looking for Lovedu" by Ann Jones, the Introduction to The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 by Simon Winchester, "Mohammed Ali, Ear Cleaner" by Brad Newsham
TT's Top Ten—Ten travel wonders that never disappoint
World Wizard—Take our latest quiz
Editors' Choice—"Working Men of Tokyo" by Lenny Karpman
Submission Call—Have a story to tell? Send it in
Tell a Friend—If you enjoyed the stories and news, please pass the newsletter on to friends and family
The Last Word—Barbara Sansone, "Under the Mango Tree"


Larry Habegger at Left Coast Writers
TT Executive Editor Larry Habegger will talk about TT's ten years in publishing, the launch of The Best Travelers' Tales series, the benefits of appearing in a TT collection, and the state of travel literature at the Left Coast Writers salon, Monday, April 5, 7 p.m. at Book Passage in Corte Madeira, CA.

The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 in SF, LA, NY
The March 5th launch party at Book Passage was a roaring success. The standing-room-only crowd of some 150 people alternately laughed and cried at the rousing readings by Simon Winchester, Tim O'Reilly, Judy Zimola, Phil Thompson, Ayoung Kim, and Richard Sterling (master of accents—Australian, English, Irish, and Scottish), not to mention the two surprise guests who accompanied M.C. Larry Habegger to the stage, his two young daughters Alanna and Érne. Happy book buyers worked the room getting signatures from the numerous contributors on hand, and wine and food were enjoyed by all. Read a review of The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 in ForeWord Magazine.

Larry Habegger and several contributors will share their stories from The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 at different venues in the coming weeks. First up is Easy Going Travel Shop and Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. Contributors include Jeff Greenwald, Brad Newsham, Richard Sterling, and Amy Thigpen. Next is Get Lost Travel, 1825 Market St., San Francisco, April 28 at 7 p.m. Contributors include Alison Wright, Judy Zimola, and others.

Larry Habegger will read selections from The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 and discuss the craft of travel writing at Distant Lands in Pasadena, Monday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m.

Larry Habegger and contributors Richard Goodman, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and David Farley will share their stories from The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center July 14 at 7 p.m.

The Penny Pincher's Passport to Luxury Travel—2nd Edition in LA
Joel Widzer, world travel expert and author of The Penny Pincher's Passport to Luxury Travel: The Art of Cultivating Preferred Customer Status—2nd Edition, will discuss his proven techniques for how to travel like the rich and famous without being either. Monday, May 24, 7:30 p.m. at Distant Lands in Pasadena.

Tom Miller on Tour in La Jolla, Phoenix
TT Cuba editor Tom Miller has several events lined up for his new book, Writing on the Edge that features some of the best writing about the U.S.-Mexico border from the last 100 years. Next up is April 20, 7:30 p.m., at Warwick's Books in La Jolla, CA. Tom also has two events in Phoenix April 27 and 28. For details, see our Events page.

LA Times Festival of Books
The latest TT titles will be featured in the Distant Lands booth at the LA Times Festival of Books on the UCLA campus April 24 and 25. If you're in LA, drop in. The event is always a good time.

Hot Reviews
Critics like our books, too. See what ForeWord Magazine says about The Best Travelers' Tales 2004. And Jennifer Leo, editor of the highly praised Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures, is working feverishly on her follow-up title, Whose Panties Are These? while Women Can Do Anything praises her other book, A Woman's Path.

Travelers' Tales T-shirt Winner
Hey, we found two big suitcases full of t-shirts in storage, so George Kaminski, last month's winner, will get his t-shirt. Dorothy Florence is this month's winner in the World Wizard t-shirt raffle. Play our newest World Wizard Quiz and enter to win a Travelers' Tales t-shirt.

Booksellers Travel Writing Contest
If you own or work in a bookstore and love to travel, send us your best true travel story and you could win cash, publication, and a library of Travelers' Tales books. We're sponsoring this contest to celebrate our ten years in travel publishing and to thank booksellers for putting us on the map.


Women in the Wild: True Stories of Adventure and Connection
Women in the Wild "A spiritual, moving and totally female book to take you around the world and back."

The wild calls to a deep place in the spirit, and the stories here show how forays into the wilderness strengthen a woman's sense of self and purpose. These far-ranging tales reveal women instinctively touching their source of power in encounters with Mother Nature around the world—in jungles, on mountain cliffs, in the air and water, in the presence of wild beasts and strangers. Follow these women on their journeys and wake up your own hidden longings to engage the wild.

Read the Introduction by Lucy McCauley.

I live about as far from the wild as you can get, in the city, above a busy four-lane avenue. Every amenity of modern life surrounds me: designer coffee shops, convenience stores, a fax/mail place that I call my "office." It's all here. Everything, that is, but green.

I crave green—green fields, green woods, green mountains, the aqua-green sea. And it is travel that has brought me opportunities to satisfy those cravings. In Morocco, I climbed tourmaline switchbacks into the High Atlas Mountains. In Panama, I scuba dived among manta rays in an emerald sea. In California, I walked through silent forests, the moist scent of greenery buoying my spirit..

Read the rest of the Introduction here.

Read a sample chapter by Ann Jones.

I set out from London in a bright blue Army surplus 1980 Series III Land Rover bound for Capetown. With me was my friend Muggleton, a British photographer and ace mechanic, who coaxed our disintegrating vehicle some 6,000 miles from London to Nairobi. In five months, we crossed the Sahara on our own, dodged roadblocks in Nigeria, ferried across a river in central Africa on a home-made bamboo raft, slogged through the bottomless mud and revolutionary politics of eastern Zaire-while our Land Rover got smashed, scraped, dented, bashed, fractured, crumpled, crimped, and very nearly sunk. Muggleton loved to do manly battle with hostile soldiers, corrupt police, rough roads, wild animals, greedy bandits, and Mother Nature-that was his idea of travel-but at last, after two bad bouts of malaria, he bailed out of the expedition, sold off the remains of the Land Rover (which only he could fix), and went home.

Hakuna matata, I told myself. No problem.

Read the rest of the story here.

The Best Travelers' Tales 2004
The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 "This book will grace my bedside for years to come."
Simon Winchester

This volume is the first in an annual series dedicated to the world's best travel writing. The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 highlights profound, inspiring, and often humorous travel stories by both well-known and emerging writers. Join these splendid storytellers as they discover the rebirth of classic rock in the Czech Republic, battle snakes with an expat Russian bodybuilder in Costa Rica, survive a horrific bus crash in Laos, open their hearts to an ear-cleaner in New Delhi, explore the remote Yukon River in Canada, contemplate kissing in Buenos Aires, make a pilgrimage to Tibet's sacred Mt. Kailash, wander Hemingway's moody Paris, and much more.

Read the Introduction by best-selling author Simon Winchester.

It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least, it is in this trade) that the word travel comes from travail—work—and that travail stems in turn from the more ancient word tripalium—an instrument of Roman torture—and that this etymology all came about because it was long believed that to travel was to endure much, to work and to suffer. The notion that to wander meant also (if only upon reflection) to enjoy, to learn and to become spiritually uplifted, is really quite newfangled: only since the eighteenth century, and the invention of the Grand Tour, did those adventuring into the great outside seek pleasure and wonderment. And yet—to judge from much of modern travel literature—even that enlightened attitude was itself only a short-lived phenomenon: recent evidence suggests a much darker side to the very idea of venturing into the Beyond...
Read the rest of the Introduction here.

Read a sample chapter by Brad Newsham.

I planned to spend my last Indian afternoon in the sun on the lawn of New Delhi's Connaught Circle. I would write in my notebook and finish the last few pages of Midnight's Children. But the instant I moved my foot from the sidewalk to the lawn I felt scores of eyes lock onto me. When I chose a spot and sat, I saw in my peripheral view a dozen bodies rise from the shade of the park's trees and begin moving toward me. Beggars, shoeshine boys, massage men, fortune tellers. Surrounded, I let a boy named Jungi scrub my shoes. A man named Dasgupta massaged my neck and shoulders. Another, who said his name was Ali Baba, read my palm: "You have been sick with stomach, but now you are well. You are missing a woman. You will soon be rich." The combined talents of these men cost me two dollars.

They drifted off until only a single man remained. Earlier I had noticed him at the back of the mob, smiling patiently but saying nothing. Now he sat on the grass, two arm lengths away, grinning shyly—as though he had some unbearably good secret...

Read the rest of the story here.

TT's Top Ten
In the spirit of our 10th anniversary, we're compiling monthly top ten lists for the rest of the year. Watch for them in upcoming newsletters.

Ten Travel Wonders That Never Disappoint

  1. The Eiffel Tower
  2. Golden Gate Bridge
  3. Taj Mahal
  4. Sistine Chapel
  5. Yosemite
  6. Mt. Everest
  7. Angkor Wat
  8. Pyramids at Giza
  9. Machu Picchu
  10. Great Wall of China


The world is an open book...show us how much you know and enter to WIN A FREE Travelers' Tales t-shirt! Just send your answer and email address to webeditor@travelerstales.com and we'll pick a name at random once a month and let you know who won in the TT Newsletter.

Guatemala City is at roughly the same latitude as which major Asian city?

  1. Beijing
  2. Ulan Bator
  3. Jakarta
  4. Bangkok
Check our answer page to see if you were right. See our archive of World Wizard quizzes.


In "Working Men of Tokyo," Lenny Karpman discovers that the warmth or urban Japan rises before dawn.
Jet lag had sent me to bed early. I awakened at 4:30 a.m., about the time my tour companions staggered in from the bar. As they fell into bed, I tiptoed out, heading into the night with Tsukiji Market written in Japanese on the backside of a card and the name and address of the hotel on the front. Confident that the little Japanese I had learned would carry me through, I greeted the cabby with a polite honorific salutation and he grunted and rasped a totally unintelligible guttural response. I asked where we were, and he grunted "Niu Otani Hoteru"-the name of the hotel. I asked the direction we were heading, and he grunted "Tsukiji Sakana-ya," the name of the fish market-no more conversation-no more information.

There was little traffic on the black streets of Tokyo at four thirty a.m. until the taxi neared the Tsukiji Fish Market, the world's largest, selling five million pounds of seafood a day. As we neared the market, we passed battalions of small trucks and divisions of motorized carts. He grunted one last time and deposited me in front of a maze of buildings that looked like airport hangers. There were fires in metal trashcans marking the route and warming hands. I joined the processional and marched in. I was out of uniform without pants legs tucked into knee high rubber boots and with a camera hung from the neck of my bright pumpkin-colored flannel shirt.
Read the rest of the story here.


We have open submissions for several titles. Check for deadlines and submissions needs on our guidelines page.


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365 Travel "My List"
And so I look forward to my next journey. I don't know where it will be yet, but I do have a long list. Whenever someone tells me about a great spot that I must check out I say, "I'll have to put that on my list." I just know that no matter where I go in the world, traveling renews my faith in humankind, as well as in myself. It's a journey of remembrance back to my original self, the one who is wholly connected to all beings and nature. It's a journey that rediscovers what's really important, ultimately.

—Barbara Sansone, "Under the Mango Tree"
From 365 Travel: A Daily Book of Journeys, Meditations, and Adventures

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