Tales From the Road: Renewal

by Tim Patterson Dec 24, 2009

Reading travel stories on the banks of the Mekong River. Photo: Mekong Semester

Tim Patterson rounds up great travel stories from Myanmar, Palestine, Nigeria, Patagonia and Mile 300 of the Alaska Highway.

Arriving home for the holidays for the first time in five years is bound to generate some nostalgia. A few days ago I was scrambling to catch flights in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Newark; now I’m in an armchair by the fireplace in Vermont, a new Ted Conover book on the table and snow falling outside.

There are lots of things I miss about home while traveling, one of them being this weekly column that rounds up the best narrative travel writing on the web. Now that I’m moving to Colorado to settle down in one place for a spell, it seemed like a good time to revive Tales From the Road.

The original column was published on Brave New Traveler, where you can still access an archive of quality travel stories. After exchanging a few e-mails with David Miller, however, we decided to move Tales From the Road to The Traveler’s Notebook.

Check back each week for a collection of travel stories from around the world. If you find a story that would be a good fit for this column, please leave a link in the comments section or e-mail it to me at tim(at)matadornetwork.com.

Happy Holidays. I hope you enjoy the stories.

Photo: Tim Patterson

1. On a Slow Boat down the Irrawaddy River by Jim Johnston

Any travel story that features a gregarious 28-year-old blond named Svetlana has a good chance of making this roundup, but the people of Myanmar are the real stars of Jim Johnston’s leisurely journey down the Irrawaddy River.

The more I learn about Myanmar, the more I think it’s important for travelers to go there, see the place for themselves and tell the outside world about the reality of life under a military dictatorship.

Reading the Irrawaddy news magazine is a good way for prospective travelers to keep abreast of political events in Myanmar.

2. The Coldest Morning, by Eva Holland

My friend Eva recently moved to the Yukon, a transition that involved a winter road-trip across Canada. This dispatch from Mile 300 of the Alaska Highway captures the romantic lonesomeness of long drives in cold snow.

3. One Night in Palestine by Cory Eldridge

My top candidate for the best feature blurb of 2009:

Cory Eldridge only smokes when he’s drunk or in the West Bank. During one tense night in Jenin, he goes through a whole pack.

4. My Friend, the Nigerian Militant by Dan Hoyle

Dan Hoyle has produced a humble and poignant portrait of a former militant seeking uncertain redemption in Nigeria. Detailed scenes that range from luxury Abuja hotel rooms to Nembe Creek in the Niger Delta complement Hoyle’s laconic descriptions of casual violence and political intrigue, giving the whole story a powerful sense of credibility.

Photo: David Miller

5. Notes on Finding a New Home River by David Miller

David Miller’s latest post from Patagonia exemplifies what I love most about Matador: the way real lives of real people come through so strong through photos and words.

It’s all about material transparency, as David would say, with minimal distance between the writer, the reader and the words.

This is how it works behind the scenes here at Matador – paddling downstream on the currents of our mutual appreciation for people, travel and place.

Community Connection

What narratives of travel and place are you reading right now? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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