What is your new eBook “Trans-Siberian” about?
It’s about a lot more than the famous train. I spent a month in China, a week in Mongolia, and a month in Russia. I traveled to a lot of places beyond just the train route from Beijing to Moscow. I went to a place in central China that looked like Pandora from Avatar, a mesmerizing landscape. That’s in the book. Searching for the village where my great-grandfather was born in the Volga River Valley in Russia was one of the most fraught experiences of my life. That’s also in the book. This trip will be probably always be one of the great adventures of my life. There are a lot of good stories here.
Why did you write this story, and for whom?
Everything I write comes from a place of wanting to further my understanding of experiences. That this trip had a lot of personal and family significance also made me want to write it. To preserve it. So I could have this story down on paper and give it to people who aren’t as lucky as I am. I get my fair share of opportunities to travel and go on adventures. I don’t think a lot of people can or will take these kinds of trips. And of those who do, few sit down to write about them in a way that other people can read. This book is for everyone who travels, for those who want to but haven’t, and for those who want to but can’t.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in Asia?
That’s tough. Hijacking swan-shaped paddle boats while skinny dipping in a Korean lake? Getting chased around a tiny island by a 400-pound boar in the Mekong Delta? Watching a woman on a boat try to con us into a photo-for-money scam by holding up a dead snake while breastfeeding in Cambodia? Those were all fun, but I think the craziest thing happened on the Trans-Siberian trip. I don’t want to give too much away, because I write about it in this book, but let’s just say it involves getting caught up in a 10-car, Fast and the Furious-style midnight street race in a small town in western Russia. That’s probably top of the list.