1. I walked through block after cloned block of dreary concrete structures, (…) labeled in the tangled algebra of Japanese, and featuring exteriors that offered no clue as to function. (p.13)

2. Tokyo was starting to remind me of a giant Catholic school on lunch break. (p.28)

3. In a moment just like this one, smoking was invented. (p.141)

4. I stood in the darkness with my erection, watching her disappear down the street and thinking: A blind man could see where this is headed. (p.153)

5. Now and then, as if by mistake, a modern building appeared – looking forlorn and misunderstood. (p.169)

6. ‘If you don’t get out with the masses, go places where you can’t speak the language or drink the water, you lose all perspective on yourself. You begin to think the life you live at home is the life everyone lives.’ (p.199)

7. Reality was a bowl of rice and beans and pork scraps, and a slow ride up the Gui River. We were far from home, free of our pasts, free of everything and everybody. Life is wonderful, no? (p.199)

8. I rolled onto my back and looked up through my window at a sky the color of dirty sheep. (p.201)

9. A crew member was heaving boxful after boxful of trash overboard: tin cans, newspapers, leftovers from last night’s meal. No one objected. Objection is a Western notion; in China rivers don’t care. (p.202)

10. (…) …one of those beaten jalopies that lurk in the tall weeds behind midwestern gas stations. (p.203)

11. I couldn’t take my attention off this pair, particularly Wristwatch. He had the workman’s cocky confidence and sense of clear purpose, and seemed perfectly content with his role – as though there was nowhere else he’s rather be, as though he actually was in exactly the right place, thinking, doing, and feeling exactly the right things. I became lost in thought about his life. What was the source of his care-free, happy-go-lucky manner? Was he married? religious? a Communist? Was he really content? He seemed full of life, full of himself. He was almost always grinning, and nearly every comment he made to the driver elicited a chuckle. They were the prototype Third World bus-driving team, and in a simple way I envied them. (p.205)

12. The sky had cleared so completely that the morning’s rain now seemed like a mistake. (p.210)

13. Sickness is the ultimate mockery, its cruelty multiplied by one’s distance from home. (p.242)

14. ‘Life has been very good to me. But last week for the first time I saw that there is a whole world that I do not know. How can I rest now? Only a fool can be given a glimpse at a new world and then return to his old one without a second thought. Well, I am not a fool. I am a very curious man.’ (p.256)

15. Countries have problems. (p.256)

16. Cosmic timing. (p.256)

17. (QUOTE:) ‘Money half gone… Not knowing what else to do, I drove westward… The lonliness again. Now I had only the idea of the journey to keep me going… Instead of insight, maybe all a man gets is strength to wander for a while.  – William Least Heat Moon. (Blue Highways.) (p.261)

18. The moment of freshness at the very beginning of a trip – when everything lies ahead – is easily the best. None of the mistakes have been made, no money misspent or time frittered away. (p.264)

19. (…) we primed him with the conversational pellets that fuel a monologue. (p.275)

20. Every now and then some incredibly human moment pops out of the sea of suspicion and sarcasm in which we swim. (p.282)

21. Such an enormous land demands enormous books, enormous thinking, enormous dreams, wild, enormous plans. (p.289)

22. Terry, a ponytailed young man from Madison, Wisconsin, spoke up. ‘I’ve thought of writing a book about what traveling’s really like. I’ve read lots of books about the Trans-Sib, but they never tell you the real stuff. They’re full of who did what on what river, how to tell tundra from taiga – but they never tell you about us. They never tell you that no one knows what the fuck they’re doing on this train, or that by the third day you’d kill for a decent meal. Or that what you mostly do is sit here playing cards and bullshitting in your own language. There hasn’t been a real good book about us since The Drifters. And we deserve one. How many of us are there, you think? In Nepal? China? Japan?’ (p.292)

23. ‘Hell, Europe’s nothin’ but a yuppie summer camp anymore.’ (p.293)

24. ‘But you’ve got to warn people,’ he started up again, preventing debate, ‘it’s addicting. You find yourself stretchin’ your money forever, hopping checks, always scammin’. Going home gets real scary. You’d rather spend a hundred bad days on the road than ten so-so ones at home.’ (p.295)

25. And I remember lying in my bunk reading Islands in the Stream and being washed in melancholy at Hemingway’s final line: ‘You never understand anybody that loves you.’ (p.303)

26. I spent a while thinking about all the people I knew: How had they messed up their lives? How had they messed up mine? How should they have done things differently? Whats was their most basic problem? If I wound up divorced, how would that affect my relationship with them? I scribbled a dozen postcards and told everyone I loved them. When I read them back to myself, I was struck by how good my life looked on paper. In the middle of Russia, I remember feeling halfway satisfied. (p.303)

27. You are known here. You are not foreign. You are home now. (p.312)

28. ‘You saw how they were bluffing at the desk. I bet the whole country’s bluffing.’ (p.329)

29. And is it naive to hope that a Trans-Sib rider can know Russia any better than a flat stone, skipped from bank to bank, can know a stream? (p.342)

30. (…) she had the look of a spinster librarian peering disapprovingly over bifocals that had slid down her nose; but she wore no glasses, only the frown. (p.345)

31. There is nothing quite so immediate, so clear, so grounding, as the voice of one’s wife. Since I’d last heard it, I’d been through China, Amy, dysentery, Mongolia, and across Siberia, had drifted into so many different worlds that I’d come to believe I’d never again be able to relate to my old one. But even from halfway around the world, a simple ‘hello’ erased all that. Suddenly I was no longer a globe-trotting adventurer, but once again no more, no less than the best friend and enemy of the woman who’d taken my last name. (p.353)

32. Does travel heal? If not, it’s at least a morphine injection. Maybe the greater truth is that time heals, and the personal truth is that travel’s just the way I choose to spend my time. (p.363)

33. My thoughts change so fast it seems ridiculous to write them down. (p.364)

34. ‘Those Russians. They’re decent folks if you push ’em hard enough.’ (p.365)

35. – I spend half the day thinking about what I’m going to think about the rest of the day. (p.380)


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