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Mongolia. Seriously. Escape From Mongolia.


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The Times article is good, well-written, and interesting. But, though it is a personal narrative in form, never do you learn what the author is thinking, and there are very few interesting observations -- it's mostly just a solid piece of reporting done in the first person. There are of course fundamental structural differences between a highly edited and condensed narrative and a more informal long-form travelog like the one we've been treated to here, but despite my obvious prejudice I can't help but note just how much richer Ellen's account is than the Times account. They're just not in the same league in terms of entertainment value, information content, or style. The Times certainly would have been better served by an edited and condensed reprint of this. Then again, travel writing in general -- particularly in the US -- has mostly gone in the service-oriented, relatively depersonalized direction of the Times and the guidebooks. The golden age of travel writing is long over -- there is no commercial market right now for quirky personal narratives, by die-hard seasoned travelers who can both write and take photographs, with the frank, young, hip, explicit accounts focusing on people, culture, and observation rather than hotels and the other stuff you could just as easily get from a guidebook. Nor is it unusual for an eGullet feature to be superior to something in the New York Times. We are currently providing, for free and on a volunteer basis, many examples of fresh content that run circles around what the uninspired dead-tree old-school media are limping along with. And you'll see more of our features and writers getting picked up in print media -- keep an eye on some of the better food and travel magazines about eight months from now and you'll see what I mean. And then watch the bookstores maybe a year after that.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Forgive me. I have had the text in my possession for a couple of weeks now but have had trouble placing the photos. I'll deal with it once and for all this weekend.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am home! I am home! In response to J's weigh in--I'm happy to hear her truthful telling of her week in the hotel. She did not give me nearly the amount of detail upon our reunion in UB. Also, I was not nearly so impressed by the so called "UFO sighting." I came up with many explanations but J simply scoffed at me and mocked my so called "speculations."

I guess I could say that our adventures in Nepal two years ago with the blood-sucking leaches (yes, just like blood letting in Mongolia--though not voluntary) might rival some aspects of this journey but J's observation about our lack of tears is a reasonable barometer.

I'll lord over her important life-secrets and get her to tell, in her own words, her version of the "UFO sighting." Yeah, whatever.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Oh, please please please can't there be a sequel to part VIII? and a sequel to that?

Welcome home! It's great to know you're safe and sound (now that you're back in NYC :laugh::laugh: ).

Thank you for sharing your experiences and talent with us.

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Ah, but with her Nepal report we'll get the jaded eye of the experienced visitor, whereas with Mongolia it was as new and scary to her as it might be to us. Both styles are good, but I'll bet they are quite different reads.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Aside from my encounters with the Maoists (those pesky renegade guerillas, whom, shortly after my departure from Kathmandu for the mountains, our president declared terrorists--which they are) there isn't much to report on the mishap front in Nepal. Ah, but the food -- it's really going to test all of my skills as a writer to describe to you the astonishing variations in menu options from one tea house to another. Well, without going into too much detail, it's important to note that all of the menus are exactly the same--at least within regions--so it's the variations of the amongst the same items listed on each menu that are so dramatically different. Good thing I can back my stories up with photos, otherwise, I’m certain that none of you would believe me.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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