I’m delighted to present an exclusive sneak peek book excerpt for my new travel memoir ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
What’s Backpacker to Nomad? It’s my new travel memoir, chronicling the evolution from naive newbie to full-time traveller through my adventure & misadventures.
What readers are saying about ‘Backpacker to Nomad’
★★★★★ “The writing is excellent, and the author’s descriptions are so vivid” — Amazon Review
★★★★★ “You’ll get lost in Amit’s adventures and laugh along the way (mostly AT him)” — Amazon review
★★★★★ “I thought the way the book weaved between adventure and mental self-discovery was very smart. — Amazon Review
if you love travel adventures, discovery, escaping reality to drift off to lands far and wide this is the book you need to pick up.
Book Launched: July 27th 2022
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Sit back, grab a snack and enjoy …..
Mystical Vang Vieng travel story overview
Amit had fallen in love, with this new raw and rugged non touristy country, the people, the pace of life and just how Jurassic it felt. Even more so, this country had a forefield against life messing with him. It was a day that epitomised his time here, learning, discovering, and full of revelations. It was just as his traveling hero had said it would be.
Vang Vieng as sleepy as the Mekong river itself
Anthony Bourdain once described Laos as a country that was “as sleepy as the Mekong River itself”. If memory serves right, he called it “a land that time forgot, full of mystique hidden from the evolving world we live in”. Bourdain was my travelling hero, hours upon hours were spent watching his documentaries pre-travelling life, and that description was all I needed to know I had to experience it myself one day. Back then, it seemed like another unrealistic pipe dream. But here I was, not just experiencing it but feeling it, breathing it in.
I felt it course through my veins while the soft current of this part of the Mekong River carried my weightless body downstream. My arms and legs reached as far as they could, the waves barely put in any effort, lapping up against millennia-old boulders. Birds sang just as softly high up in the vegetation that enveloped the ancient domineering limestone mountains—it felt like a Jurassic world. My eyes snapped open. I was on the bank, my body wasn’t floating down the river, it just felt like it was.
What is this feeling? I love it, can I bottle it up and sip from it every time something pisses me off like Thailand did?
Fuck Thailand, it’s over, stop thinking and dwelling on it, live in the now, this is all that matters.
Backpacking Laos was bliss
Laos had the complete opposite effect on me to Thailand, both physically and mentally. Laos didn’t cater to tourists, it wasn’t the backpacker superhighway, it was raw, basic, and nothing but soothing. It was as if it opened its arms up with a hug and provided comfort rather than punching me, having seen the shit-show that Thailand was.
Dry gavel rolled between my fingers and even that felt soothing as my eyes kept on climbing up the limestone mountains on the other side of the wide riverbank. The thick green vegetation covered the perfectly carved limescale, which added to the prehistoric feel of the place. I half expected a dinosaur to roam through or a Teradactyl to fly over. In fact, if one had, it wouldn’t have been a surprise.
It was exactly the environment that was needed—the perfect setting to let my thoughts roam free. It was nice to have space for my brain to breathe. In Thailand, apart from the islands, it was all consumption, on the go all the time, having to be on guard 24/7. Alex kept going on about how we’d had a spiritual connection with Laos. That notion was shot down by me, but there was something, the strongest feeling I’d felt, more than Australia and New Zealand that was for sure.
Floating in Vang Vieng
It was becoming a common theme, although I didn’t believe in having a spiritual connection with places, there were stronger feelings, vibes, or some sort of a connection with certain places than others. I didn’t understand or grasp why it happened, but it did. Maybe one day I’ll have the understanding or the answer to why. Right now, I was just enjoying this feeling of calmness and hearing nature in its rawest form.
Hours had passed by sitting on the bank, letting my thoughts drift down the calm river, and not even the humidity was a bother for once. The only thing that did concern me was the slight tingle on the sole of my right foot—months removed from the night of the injury and it still hadn’t fully recovered. As each day passed, there was more regret at not having it stitched up properly. Once it healed, the scar would be a permanent reminder of another mishap and bad decision.
Nothing I can do about it now, let’s go explore somewhere.
Pebbles dug into my palms as I finally got to my feet, breathing in the salty river air and letting it reach to the depth of my lungs before exhaling slowly.
A locals life in Vang Vieng
A few locals were scattered along the bank, getting on with their lives, not too concerned with this imposter almost floating along the riverbank. One took my attention—an older frail lady, with wrinkled skin drooping off her bones. In recent months, the more we’ve been around locals, the more I’ve realised how us ‘travellers’ go off the beaten track to get a glimpse of local life but never really consider we’re strangers intruding on their everyday lives. We are fascinated to understand and see ‘local life’ because it’s the other end of the scale from most people’s everyday rigorous boxed-up, all-consuming life.
Like this old lady, here I was just watching her do her laundry. There’s nothing special about that, we all do laundry. It’s because, by sight, a feather would have been too strong for her, but the way she beat the clothes with a long wooden paddle against the rocks, it seemed she had the strength of a bear.
This was normal life for her, but for a Westerner like me who would throw clothes in a machine or hand them in to a laundrette, to see this traditional way was fascinating. It wasn’t just the laundry, it was other things, farming, construction, maintenance, everything was done using the elements they had at their disposal and making the most of it.
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Follow British backpacker Amit’s humorous wild ride into nomad life. From his early calamitous struggles with solo travel, the odd brush with death, to ghetto snobbing (his words), it’s been a ‘take the rough with the smooth’ type of journey
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Raw rugged & basic
Her big brown eyes lifted as she squatted on the bank, smiling. Her eyes looked like they were full of experiences and stories. She may be poor compared to Western wealth, but it seemed like she was rich in life and experience. That’s the type of wealth I wanted. I didn’t care about money, I wanted to feel the happiness, richness of life and experience.
She nodded back, there was such a softness in her deep eyes but then she lifted the paddle in my direction and said something in her local tongue, which I of course couldn’t understand. But as was the case through parts of Thailand, language didn’t always need to be spoken—body language and actions said it all.
The initial reaction was to decline her offer, but this was something Alex and I were changing about how we travelled. Instead of just saying we experienced rural local life by just watching people, we had started to get involved, to further understand things from their perspectives. Although in Thailand I may have refused and been paranoid she was going to rip me off somehow, this was blissful Laos and I accepted her offer.
My feet dug into the muddy bank, making my way towards her on the rock, she pointed to some clothes, then to the river as if to dunk them in and then to the soap. I followed her instructions as her smile showed off her toothless gums. For some reason, it reminded me of my own grandma. Although I was British Asian, I’d grown up not caring about my own culture, and although my gran had spent most her life in England, I could picture her doing this. Which is maybe why I accepted the offer.
Going back to basics
She handed over the paddle, instructing me to beat the clothes. Oh, if only this was Thailand… I would have so much aggression to let out. But as I beat down against the rock, she stopped me, shaking her head. Her actions showed she wanted me to hit down harder, so I did.
But instantly, the paddle nearly flew out my hand as the vibration from hitting the rock shot through my arm. She laughed, turning to another local, saying something in their language, no doubt along the lines of ‘Look at this tourist, he has no idea’. I gave it another go but the vibration shot through stronger once more. This time, she took the paddle away.
I stayed a little longer just dunking the clothes for her, neither saying a word to each other but laughing as she expertly hammered down on the rock, she didn’t lose grip of the paddle, she was the expert, and I was the clueless novice.
Read full story in travel memoir
This was just the start of the story, nothing is ever how it seems, adventures can easily turn into misadventures on the drop of the hat and not revealed itself yet.
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ADVENTURE, DISCOVERY, DESPAIR
NO DAY IS SIMPLE FOR THIS LONG-TERM TRAVELLER
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