Hey all! Well, today’s post is a quick one I guess about a guide book that was pretty special to me. Years ago I concocted this idea to travel to from Dhaka, Bangladeshi capital and craziest city in the region, to the capital of Senegal, which just happened to be called ‘Dakar’ (still is). Okay, well to be honest the idea came to me because the cities are basically the same name, but can sound different depending on how one chooses to pronounce them. And they are spelt differently obviously. Usually it seems you emphasise the first syllable in ‘Dhaka’ and the second in ‘Dakar’.
Now, there weren’t any guide books which covered such a route. Obviously the idea was to cross by land wherever possible on this route, so I looked for guide books that took in countries on said route. I started my trip in 2004. I didn’t get to Dakar, although I did get to Europe, as far west as Germany. I went to West Africa in 2006 and 2007, where I finally made it to Dakar. I didn’t truly do what I set out to, but nevertheless it was a fun idea that took me to so many interesting places and across a lot of different land borders.
The one guide book I found in Dymocks one day (okay it might have been another book shop, it was 2003 for goodness sake!) was this amazing book Istanbul to Kathmandu. Okay, I had no plans to pass through Nepal (possibly a mistake on my part on reflection) but this would cover me from Varanasi to Istanbul on the route I had planned to take.
It had such a beautiful cover, it just sounded so… romantic I guess ‘Istanbul to Kathmandu’, and it meant I needed one guide book essentially for India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. I did also go to Darjeeling and Kolkata in India, and I think I just photocopied pages for those along with Dhaka to lighten the load.
The best thing about the book, published three years before I travelled in 2001, was that there was a chapter on Pakistan. Because the Lonely Planet Pakistan was mid-1990s at best and I don’t think there was another book out there for the country. I remember being mist apprehensive about Pakistan over any other country on the trip. I needn’t have been, but honestly in 2004 very few travellers were passing through Pakistan, and honestly outside my first 24 hours in Lahore I don’t recall seeing any other foreign travellers for the three weeks I was there. I was nervous, I guess about safety but honestly I don’t know exactly what. Once in Pakistan, it was a great adventure where I was greeted only by kindness and friendly people.
That book went everywhere with me, but you know I don’t know where I lost it. I can’t remember if I brought it home – in the end I flew Europe to the USA and Canada and came home ‘round the world’ – or if I left it somewhere in Istanbul, I cannot remember the last time I had it. I have a murky photo from a Chinese Restaurant in (I think) Rawalpindi of it, and that’s all.
I certainly regret not keeping it in any case, and so recently I thought to myself – I wonder if I can get another copy of it? It might be too expensive or impossible – they certainly only had one release – but it only takes a couple of minutes to look it up online. In fact, I found it in a couple of places including eBay, but World of Books had free shipping from the UK and it was only $22AUD which I thought was pretty good.
It arrived in three to four weeks and was in pretty good condition. And flicking through it, checking out the maps, reading the places I visited and working out as best I could which were the places I stayed at, it was a really special experience and I was instantly glad I decided to pay the 22 bucks for a book 20 years out of date.
It is strange to think that a book that is very little to no use for travelling today could make me so happy, but in the depths of ‘yet another lockdown’ it certainly did, and the memories of 17 years ago came flooding back. And it inspired me to dream of doing some sort of overland trip like Dhaka to Dakar again one day. Whenever that might be possible!
Thanks for popping by today! Take care, and May the Journey Never End!