Q&A with Bill Murray discussion

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message 1: by Bill (last edited Dec 06, 2011 09:43AM) (new)

Bill Murray (CSandW) | 13 comments Mod
Come in, sit down, relax. Please, introduce yourself. I'm the author of a travel book called Common sense and Whiskey, which looks at fifteen places that are off the beaten travel track. But please tell us why you're here and what your travel interests are. Anything at all. Let's get this thing started.

This is my first discussion on Goodreads, so I'm going to defer to Goodreads' suggestions as to topics, but please jump in with anything else on your mind, and we'll just go from there.


message 2: by Jay (new)

Jay | 2 comments Hi Bill. I'm a travel addict and a book addict. Isn't this a support group for hopeless people like me?

Actually, to answer the questions you posed...I'm here because it sounded like a cool thing to do and my travel interests are to go just about everywhere (I've been to some out of the way places, but not even close to the number you have).

Jay


message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill Murray (CSandW) | 13 comments Mod
Jay, I'm glad you're here, thanks. Where's the most out-of-the-way place you've been?


message 4: by Jay (new)

Jay | 2 comments Hi Bill,

That would have to be Moldova, back in 2006. Interesting place along with an interesting mix of people. I was there on a church trip and my primary focus was on delivering supplies to some orphanages. The people I worked with were relatively happy and grounded, but a lot of other people there were not content in any definition of the word. Eric Weiner, in his book, "The Geography of Bliss," called Moldova the least happy country in the world, and I might have to agree with him. The place is landlocked, has its own breakaway soviet republic, and not much else. They can grow some fantastic food there with their wonderful farmland, but would have to get it through either the Ukraine or Romania to get it to port. They could fly it out, but that isn't practical in a place so poor. Many of the villages we were in had no power or running water. They did have fantastic cellular service though. I enjoy getting to know the people everywhere I travel, and loved the Moldovans, but this is the only place I've been where there was an undercurrent of desperation all the time.

Jay


message 5: by Bill (last edited Dec 10, 2011 02:51AM) (new)

Bill Murray (CSandW) | 13 comments Mod
That was a fairly intrepid undertaking. I’m completely envious that you’ve beaten me to Moldova. Did you cross the “border” to the breakaway Trans-Dniester part of the country, and if you did, would you tell us about it?

If you hadn’t mentioned that it was a church trip I’d have asked, because otherwise, just going to Moldova for the sake of going to Moldova takes a little work. I mean, it’s not particularly well-connected to anywhere else. In gaming it out, it looks to me like the trains are old and slow, so unless time isn’t a factor you’ll pretty much want to fly in and fly out (the trains west to Bucharest and beyond all seem to run overnight. I can see maybe an overnight train up to Kiev as part of a larger East European adventure, though). This is a job for Austrian Airlines, the (un)official airline for offbeat destinations in the former East Block.

In my early trips to the former Soviet Union (first was 1986 to Moscow), twice people I met there gave me parting gifts of Moldovan wine. Seems to have been the main thing Moldova was known for back then.

You mentioned the cellular service. It’s funny, we found the same excellent cellular service in the unlikely location of Papua New Guinea. Here these guys were dressing up in traditional ceremonial grass skirts and face paint, and using cell phones. It seems the wired network was spotty and kind of decrepit, so they just replaced it with cell towers. Probably applies in Moldova, too.

Anybody else? Offbeat travel locations?


message 6: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Lewis (linn1378) I haven't traveled anywhere out of the way, but I'm hoping to be inspired by your book :)


message 7: by Bill (last edited Dec 10, 2011 08:45AM) (new)

Bill Murray (CSandW) | 13 comments Mod
I've done some radio interviews about the book and when they ask, my main thesis is, roughly, the world is a great big, sprawling pageant of chaos and diversity. You owe it to yourself to just get on a plane and go and see it. It'll make you a better person. And the realization that you can do it, across cultural and language barriers, is totally liberating.

But Nancy, it says here that you're in Shanghai, and your blog says you've been to Cambodia and Vietnam. Most people would probably call those places out of the way. So you're already out there and you already know this. Tell us about the most out of the way thing you've done in SE Asia.


message 8: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Lewis (linn1378) I did have a very interesting experience in Vietnam.

A Vietnamese woman my age had befriended me, even though neither of us spoke the other's language. She often invited me to her house for lunch, took me to the temple to light incense, and was generally nice to me in ways I did not merit.

At the end of my six-month stay in Vietnam, she invited me to her countryside home near Hanoi. We still weren't able to communicate very well, so the details were left for later.

It turned out that the entire village - about one hundred people - was gathered at my friend's house that weekend to celebrate the anniversary of the death of the family patriarch.

The mood was festive with lots of food and free-flow rice wine. The old ladies of the village chewed betel seed as they encouraged me to drink glass after glass of the harsh alcohol.

I had the time of my life even though I couldn't say a word to anyone. I tried to express my gratitude, not only for the exclusive invitation, but for this woman's friendship. It is experiences like this that make me realize I am truly blessed.


message 9: by Bill (new)

Bill Murray (CSandW) | 13 comments Mod
Isn't that great? Collect about a dozen more of those, write 'em up, and you have your own book.


message 10: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 1 comments Hi Bill and group members,

I've joined this group to get inspired and, hopefully, get my traveling 'nerve' back. The best experiences that I've had were totally unexpected and I just have to 'get out there' again.

Kathleen


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