The Great Railway Bazaar

The Great Railway Bazaar

Paul Theroux

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0618658947

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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 Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.

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air. I was not quite provoked to return for “The Blood-Stained White Body,” but I saw “Japan Sinking.” This was a hilarious portrayal, by ten nude girls and ten epicene male dancers, of how Japan will finally go under. The last number was a solo entitled “Onna Harakiri,” which is fairly explicit once you know that Onna is the name of the girl stripping off her kimono and unsheathing a sword and holding it to her stomach. A man off-stage recited what sounded to be a mocking Japanese poem with the

said, “You want to see tzu?” “What kind of tzu?” “Wid enemas.” “Enemas in cages?” “Yes. Very big tzu.” “No thanks.” The traffic had moved another five feet and stopped. The snow had increased, and among the shoppers on the sidewalk I saw three women in kimonos and shawls, their hair fixed into buns with wide combs. They carried parasols and held them against the driving snow as they minced along in three-inch clogs. Mr. Watanabe said they were geishas. “Now where would geishas be going at

smallest stations, an unremarkable journey across a barren landscape: featurelessness is the steppes’ single attribute, and, having said that, and assigned it a shade of brown, there is nothing more to say. And yet I hung by the window, hoping to be surprised. We passed another station. I searched it for a detail; it repeated fifty previous stations and this repetition kept it out of focus. But just past it was a garden plot and, next to that, three turkeys, moving with that clockwork bustle

was. I was doing a bunk, myself. I hadn’t nailed my colors to the mast; I had no job—no one would notice me falling silent, kissing my wife, and boarding the 15:30 alone. The train was rumbling through Clapham. I decided that travel was flight and pursuit in equal parts, but by the time we had left the brick terraces and coal yards and the narrow back gardens of the South London suburbs and were passing Dulwich College’s playing fields—children lazily exercising in neckties—I was tuned to the

crouching in despair, I saw after a moment to be playing peekaboo with an infant half-hidden in an orange crate. I had passed these encampments too many times without looking closely at them. I found a man on the train and asked him if he would translate my questions. He agreed, and we found a willing interviewee. This was a fox-faced man with glittering white eyes and buck teeth, wearing a white sarong. He stood with his arms folded and stroked his biceps with slender fingers. “He says they

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