East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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vagabonding - rolf pottsThe other book I suggested to my friend Lucy as she’s planning her trip is Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts.

The book is about what the cover calls “Long Term World Travel”, but Potts’ book is also an excellent book about traveling as opposed to vacationing.
The idea is – instead of saying “one day I will go to far away lands”, just get your ass in gear and go.
Which means planning – and the book has lots of great ideas about planning and designing a travel to some far-off place – but also leaving behind a certain amount of cultural baggage.

And the book is very much about recovering the old idea of travel as discovery – of other places, of other people, but also of ourselves.
And of a different approach to, well, everyday matters.

Which is cool.

And the interesting bit, and the reason why I suggested this book to my friend is… far away lands begin just out of our door.
You can apply Potts’ principles and his approach to a trip to the grocer, if you are so inclined.
Which is also cool – if not even cooler.

And this brings me back to Blue Highways – that is not a book about a travel to far-off lands, but a travel to the place where the author lived, and it applies Potts’ principles something like twentyfive years before Vagabonding was published.

thor056If traveling is state of mind – and indeed it seems to be, a mix of planning and adapting to circumstances – then we can apply that state of mind to every trip we take.
And if it is a state of mind, traveling is a state of mind that’s been with us for a long time.
Indeed, there’s a lot in this small book that would sound familiar to, say, Marco Polo, or his Muslim counterpart, Ibn Battuta. or any other guy that had to spend a chunk of his existence on the road.
That chose, mind you, to spend his or her life that way.
And this is independent of what road that is, and where you are going.
If you have to spend a long time on the road, it’s a good idea to approach the experience with the right attitude – trying to learn, and cherish the experience instead of hating it.
When you strip away package tours, the forced cheerfulness of vacationing hot spots and the like, traveling remains a basic, universal human activity.
And going back to basics, once in a while, is always a good thing.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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