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The Great Railway Bazaar

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  14,464 ratings  ·  726 reviews
First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mand ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 1975)
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Jeff I'm almost halfway, but this is got to be one of the best travel books ever written. It's not just about places, it's about a journey, people, modes…moreI'm almost halfway, but this is got to be one of the best travel books ever written. It's not just about places, it's about a journey, people, modes of transport, and, yes, some local flavor. So far: Great.(less)

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Paul are a miserable bastard.

On every excruciating page of this around Europe and Asia whine-fest, I wanted to shake your self-righteous little New England prick shoulders and beat some enjoyment into your crabby-bastardness.

The trains are late or crowded or smelly -- waaaaah!

The food is crappy or elsewhere or non-existent -- waaaaah! waaaaah!

The service is poor or sarcastic or requiring bribes (sorry..."baksheesh." Boy are you ever cool and in the know) -- waaaaah! waaaaah! fucki
Andrew Smith
I’ve been hearing about Theroux for years and yet had never read one of books. The idea of reading about a man journeying alone was something I couldn’t quite settle to. Would it be tedious and repetitious? Perhaps it’d be like delving into one of those dry guidebooks we’ve all taken with us to a foreign city – lots of information but very little pleasure? In the end curiosity got the better of me and I grabbed an audio copy of perhaps his best known book.

Set in 1973 (but released in 1975) it te
May 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
oh dear, yes, he's observant and turns a pretty phrase on every page, makes you laugh, etc. but he's so contemptuous of everyone he comes across i lost interest. skipped all the trains between india and the soviet union. he really loses it at the end and addresses all the russians he meets on the trans siberian railway as monkeys. granted, i have now been in a similar situation, far from home in bleak surroundings at christmastime, like theroux on the trans siberian, homesick and irritated by ev ...more
Teresa Proença
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-eua, 4e, g-não-ficção
Penso (pensava) que viajar é algo para viver, não para ler ou ouvir contar; por isso nunca me interessei por literatura de viagens. Mas como tenho um fraquinho por comboios, e muitos dos livros do Paul Theroux têm comboios nas capas, decidi escolher um para experimentar: O Grande Bazar Ferroviário que foi o primeiro relato de viagens de Theroux.
Partiu de Londres em Setembro de 1973 e regressou quatro meses depois. Diz, no Prefácio, que na sua ausência a mulher o trocou por outro: "«Fingi que es
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel, india
The book is an account of a journey through Europe and Asia by train. The concept is good, and the author made a great journey, and has the gift of story telling. But the author himself comes across as a stupid, rude and horrible person who abuses random people, makes snide remarks, plays practical jokes on helpful locals, and in general appears quite slap-worthy.

He mostly behaves himself in the first half of the book, but on reaching Japan, he becomes a perfect pest. Giving away gifts that wou
Jeremy Allan
May 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
So Paul Theroux takes a trip from Paris to Japan and back, all on the railroad (with some minor air and sea deviations), seeing the world in all its sundry chaos on the way. I couldn't have been more excited to start this book when I did, being a lover of train travel (mostly without the opportunity to express that love), and curious about all these places he had visited--Afghanistan, Siberia, Vietnam, India, Singapore, many more--that I would like to visit and still have not had the chance. So ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I started out liking this book, but the author started to grate on my nerves. He took an amazing trip on trains from Europe to Turkey to Iran through Asia including Thailand, Japan, and Siberia. For a large portion of his journey, he is following the "hippie trail," popular in the 1960s and 1970s for people traveling from England to India. But his tone and commentary on the people he meets were not always the kindest. In fact he seemed rather uninterested in talking to anyone who wasn't already ...more
Nov 13, 2017 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I really want to take this exact 1975 series of train journeys - I mean who wouldn't - The Orient Express , The Golden Arrow , The Trans-Siberian but I can't even make it out of France with this obnoxious, Eurocentric, Chablis swilling, ..... I know its a travel classic but its terribly pretentious.
Abandoned for Bill Bryson.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Less a travel book and more a book about the physical act of travelling. Theroux has a refreshing lack of romance about the journey and the places he visits; most places are dirty, dull, unbearably hot or cold, and full of locals whose sole aim seems to be to rip him off. And although Theroux seems to enjoy very few of his stopovers, he feels compelled to travel and to sample these places. And as the book progresses, you feel the main aspect of the book change from a simple travel book to a more ...more

In theory nothing is more romantic than a long voyage aboard a train. In reality you tend to get yourself into strange situations, meet questionable characters, occasionally starve, and be left to your own devices and demons for days at a time, while you bob gently in solitude along the endless tracks. This is a travelogue of just such a voyage.

The biggest complaint from others I noticed with this book is apparent negativity and rudeness displayed by the author as he traverses through Central a
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The travelogue of a drunk, imperialist, chauvinist, self-righteous, elitist travelling in first class, flaunting rules and baksheesh in equal measure, and generally getting on everybody's nerves and goodwill. With that as the base, the rest of the book is engaging enough, especially the conversations with fellow passengers. Set in 1973, the colonial hangover comes along as an undertone for the entire journey, though his connections do open doors, leading to some not-so-easily-accessible sights a ...more
Dec 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Whereas this appears on the surface to be the story of one man taking trains around Asia, it is more an exploration of Theroux's own internal wanderlust. It is also fascinating to today's readers since it was written in 1975 and so much has changed since then, though perhaps most insistent is the fact that so much has not.

It is a source of some head-scratching that Theroux generally eschews the investigation of any of the places he travels through, no matter how fascinating they may be. He has c
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melissa by: Chris Whitley
This book portrays how I feel about travel better than I can articulate. It shows all the effort, the trouble, the fear, the discomfort, the cost, the worry - all the unpleasantness about travel - but at the same time shows why people want to travel despite it all. Not that I would travel like Paul Theroux traveled to write this book. I don't think he would recommend it, either. I don't think he embarked on it for enjoyment and leisure as much as to see if he could do it - the equivalent of slog ...more
Luís Miguel
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Aqui está um pequeno mundo dentro de um livro. Um mundo em movimento e parado ao mesmo tempo, como uma viagem de combóio. É um sonho viajar e esta aparenta, a mim pelo menos, ser uma viagem de sonho, mas concretiza-nos ao ponto de nos sentirmos como parte da bagagem. Foi uma experiência rica ler tanta cultura, daquela cultura que se sente nos pormenores.

Este não é um livro sobre países nem paisagens, antes um livro sobre pessoas, sobre o modo como vivem e o modo como são escritas e descritas. O
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love Paul Theroux and this, one his first is the one which set me off. I wanted to re-read it before reading his new book about taking the same trip across Europe and Asia some thirty years later.
In the early 70s which he writes about in this book there were no railways in Afghanistan and I'm pretty sure railways aren't a priority to this day but I'm looking forward to seeing how he crosses the country in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s.
Theroux is an author one either loves or hate
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that began a sub-genre of travel writing, or so it seems. While there are many varieties of travel narratives, Paul Theroux in The Great Railway Bazaar takes the reader in a somewhat different direction, for this author's travel books are in many ways more self-reflective than they are descriptive of the places he is passing through. And with Theroux, there is always much more detail about the process of travel & about the passage through a country by train than about arriva ...more
Yigal Zur
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
great tale
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Just so we're clear from the beginning, Paul Theroux is a dick. Or a misanthrope or whatever else you want to call him. Now that we've got that behind us, this is one of the best books (and especially best travelogues) I have read. Written in 1975, Theroux traveled for four months by train from London across Europe, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia to Japan, and then back to London along the 6000 mile Trans Siberian Railway. Theroux managed by luck to be in Iran just before the Shah fall, ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
It took me over 40 days to complete this book and I was so glad when it ended. Not because I didn't like it, it just got very exhausting by the end. Also, because I was frustrated I was taking so much time and I hadn't finished any book in 2016. I loved the India and Vietnam chapters, they were a treat to read.

Overall, this travelogue was amazing and a special one because I love train journeys as well. This makes taking so much time worth it (almost). And what made this even more special was th
Jacob Overmark
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not seldom have I read a book that made me want to go new places.
But, Theroux impersonates the saying that "the journey is the destination" in a way that almost urges me to catch the first train to wherever.
He is taking you on a train-acid-trip that is hard to topple, harshly distilling the stops between London and Japan via Sri Lanka to anecdotes and observations.

Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great read -- no review here, but will comment when I've read (soon) Ghost Train..., which is The Great Railway Bazaar redux, 30 years later.
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Theroux, Trains and white male shitfuckery

I’ve never read Paul Theroux before. I’ve heard of him. Everyone has heard of him. He is one of the most famous authors of his time, and my dushen’ka is also quite fond of him. I didn’t know that though. I picked this book up because it was a story of a person who had traveled across several countries on trains. I love trains. I’ve spent my whole life on trains, and am often heard bragging about how I’ve traveled in every single coach of an Indian trai
Anfri Bogart
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anno 1973. Il giro dell'Asia in treno, senza passare dalla Cina, partendo da Londra. Da Parigi a Istanbul si va con l'Orient Express (esisteva ancora, anche se molto scalcagnato), poi Turchia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (compresa Ceylon), Birmania, Thailandia, Malesia, Cambogia, Vietnam (erano appena scappati gli Americani, c'era ancora la guerra contro i Vietcong). Poi aereo fino al Giappone e da lì di nuovo treno, con la Transiberiana per il gran finale.
Il libro è una dichiarazione d'
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: travelling
Kiedy patrzę na datę rozpoczęcia czytania przeze mnie tej ksiązki (czerwiec 2017), nie dziwię się, czemu zajęło mi to tyle czasu. Książka napisana jest w taki sposób, że po niespełna rocznej przerwie, otwieram ją w połowie i mogę czytać dalej. Jest ciekawym doświadczeniem, bo opowiada urywki historii poznanych w podróży koleją współpasażerów, na niczym szczególnym się jednak nie skupiając. To pamiętnik z podróży, choź brakujw mi tu głębszych refleksji autora, po których mogłabym obdarzyć go więk ...more
Katy Dickinson
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
From my February 5, 2007 blog

The Great Railway Bazaar (by Paul Theroux)

I finished one book on the drive home and had to go to Border's for a new book to get me through dinner. I thus interrupted my current naval reading theme with the quick read of a famous and excellent travel book: The Great Railway Bazaar: by train through Asia by Paul Theroux (ISBN-10: 0618658947, originally published in 1975).

My husband and I have a work trip to Bangalore later this m
Phuong Vy Le

*Review Bản Tiếng Việt*

Du Kí - Cá tính của những hành trình

"Mỗi chuyến du hành, rong ruổi, thám hiểm đều là một thực thể riêng, chẳng chuyến đi nào giống chuyến đi nào. Chúng có cá tính, tính cách, sự cá biệt, sự độc đáo riêng." - John Steinbeck, "Tôi, Charley & hành trình đi tìm nước Mỹ"

Tôi thích du kí, một phần vì sở thích dịch chuyển, một phần từ trải nghiệm. Tôi tin tính cách mỗi người thể hiện rất rõ qua những chuyến đi. Mỗi một hành trình, thậm chí dẫu có cùng điểm đến, đều mang cá
Lit Bug
This is perhaps the dullest travelogue that I've ever read. Imagine cruising from London through Paris, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Japan, Siberia and back to London on nothing but trains for commute - long journeys punctuated with local food, local people, local culture and local weather - only to be bored to death while Theroux keeps on heaping loads of details without any insight save some common (sometimes aptly true) stereotypes.

Terse, dry and disinterested in tone
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travelogue
Show Dont Tell. There are descriptions instead of conversations, there is scorn (and racism maybe) instead of understanding, acidic snobbery instead of empathy and a lot of whining.
Even Naipaul was harsh in his criticism, but here the criticism extends to making fun of people's appearance too. Surprisingly, the author undertook the same journey around 35 years later and I have read that book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and liked it very much. Maybe he improved later but then "The Great Railw
The vast majority of travel writing is bullshit, unreadable trash written by pretentious windbags about their supposedly "unique" experiences...

But Paul Theroux pulls it off. Perhaps it's shitty of me to say this, but he does an awfully good job of vocalizing my own misanthropic perspective better than I ever could. I suppose that makes me no better than a Rush Limbaugh listener, but oh well, it's cathartic, especially when one is moping around through Thailand and Burma. It's also good to know
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
O relato de Paul Theroux de uma grande viagem de comboio que fez em 1973, com partida e chegada a Londres ("todas as viagens são circulares"). Atravessado o Canal de ferry (ainda não havia túnel), segue pelo Expresso do Oriente e depois atravessa a Turquia e o Irão. Segue-se o Paquistão (não há comboios no Afeganistão) e vários percursos na Índia, com um saltinho ao Ceilão. Sem ligação da Índia para o Sudeste Asiático e, no Sudeste Asiático, sem ligações entre países, Theroux faz vários percurso ...more
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Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best know ...more
“travel [is] flight and pursuit in equal parts.” 28 likes
“...a society without jaywalkers might indicate a society without artists.” 19 likes
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