Author

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes # 4 — Dust Was My Companion

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  Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place in Honduras… Stamped into the Republic of Honduras, I stood beside the bus while two mangy German Shepherds sniffed the luggage well. The chief drug cop was a short moon-faced man. He wore black pants and a...

12 Movies to Inspire a Journey

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Movies shape how we see the world. Movies also shape the world we expect to see when we go out into it. Few things inspire us to travel like a well chosen backdrop. It paints romantic visions in our heads, visions that often linger for years. Sometimes the reality of a place matches or exceeds our vision, and sometimes it falters. In the end, anything that inspires us to travel, to break the...

A Postcard from Sarajevo

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  Strong syrupy coffee in the cobbled streets of Sarajevo’s Turkish quarter. The Muslim call to prayer reverberates through narrow alleyways, the echoes compounding as it bounces back upon itself. Just around the corner is a synagogue and an Orthodox church. East meets West to the metallic tap of tinsmith’s tiny hammers. The centre is rebuilt, but further out bullets and shell...

Painted Maidens Aren’t Always What They Seem

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Spring always reminds me of the years I spent in Japan. The damp chill of Tokyo winter gives way to gentle warmth. There’s a sense of optimism in the way people walk, and a smile hovers at the corners of every mouth. It’s a wonderful time to be alive. In Japan, spring is also the season for festivals. Most celebrate nature, renewal, and transformation. Those may seem like innocent...

Travels in Arabia Deserta

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Charles Doughty’s imposing 1,400 page tome is one of those strange books many people hail as a masterpiece of travel literature but which few of those people have read. Famous among scholars of Arab history and culture, it’s more often been described as “an achievement” than a gripping read. But thanks to this well chosen selection from Dover Publications, the casual...

Vagabond Dreams Outtakes #3 — Interrupted by Gunmen

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  Vagabond Dreams Outtakes are “deleted scenes” from my book. Think of them as a “Special Features” disc of outtakes and curios. This incident took place on the outskirts of Managua… I sat in blank Zen-minded drowsiness as the plush coach sped through vacant pre-dawn streets, letting the rumble of the engine lull me to sleep. I was just dozing off in the shabby...

The Road is My Guide

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Arrival is an event to be delayed as long as possible. To arrive is to end the journey. That period between departure and arrival, when the days blur together and time becomes plastic, is the opiate. It’s what keeps us going. For the true traveler, life is a series of consecutive journeys, one leading into the next, culminating in that most final of arrivals. And for all we know, that might...

Two Postcards from Laos

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Laos is a jungle country of rural villages with wooden stilt houses and smoky cooking fires. Karst hills obstruct the journey, jutting up like horribly broken teeth, unbrushed and moss-covered. Distances are not great, but winding roads make journeys into marathons. The highway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is like a footpath that — over time and purely by default — became a highway...

By Freighter Down That Lazy River

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The journey from Managua to the port town of Bluefields on Nicaragua’s remote Mosquito Coast takes place in two phases: the first a teethrattling ride in a dustchoked bus down the only jungle road. At the road’s terminus, the lost town of Rama, you must throw your lot in with the Rio Escondido as it seeks communion with the sea. The engine pulses and shudders through the flaking steel...

Riding Theroux’s Ghost Train

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If you want to write meaningful travel literature, you’ve got to immerse yourself in everything that’s been published in the genre. In addition to reading broadly, I’ve made it a habit to read deeply of specific writers whose work truly resonates with me. I first read everything they’ve ever published. Next, I read their collected letters and journals. After that comes...

Ryan Murdock

Author of Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Columnist at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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