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The Intrepid Vegetarian Mission

February 26, 2013

I’ve decided to check out of society for a year and go backpacking around the world on my own.

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Everything I’m taking (minus my laptop and camera) … I wonder how much of it will come back.

You know how David Bowie decided to become Ziggy Stardust for a bit? Or Prince became that symbol? Well, I have morphed in The Intrepid Vegetarian for the duration of my trip. I’ll be travelling through some of the most inhospitable countries known to herbivores and I’ll continue to blog even when I am at the point of starvation or so sick of omelettes that I feel like going into a hen farm with a suicide vest on.

Of course, it won’t just be about the food. I’ll also be blogging about trains, buses and ferries as I am trying to travel as far as I can without flying, about all interesting things I see and people I meet and, no doubt, about the inevitable alcohol-fuelled nights out and hungover meltdowns that seem to occur wherever I go.

The plan so far:

After an early morning Eurostar from London to Paris, lunch with my French publishers and a visit to the Louvre, I’m taking the overnight train to Florence and from there to Assisi.

I’m very excited about spending a month as one of the ‘artists on residence’ at the Arte Studio Ginestrelle, set in the hills nearby. I’m planning to start my next novel there, so a mental rather than physical intrepidness will be required.

After going to Naples to check out the best pizza in the world, I’m taking a ferry over the Adriatic and then travelling though Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Hungary by train. The Sarajevo to Belgrade route is, somewhat ironically, meant to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. On my last trip to the Balkans, I found nothing vegetarian on the menu apart form some kind of aubergine paste which looked like cat sick, so expecting big things on this leg of the trip.

Then it’s up to sausage-loving Berlin and through Poland, stopping by in Riga to brush up on my Russian before heading into the Motherland herself. I’m anticipating living on porridge and vodka as I travel the Tran-Siberian railway towards Lake Baikal. After a few days in a Russian holiday camp, I’m (China visa pending!) taking a bus into Mongolia where I believe dried meat and fermented milk are the main foodstuffs so that could be interesting.

Then onto China. I’ve been to China before and visited the Beijing Night Market where the smell made me dry heave and a trader, amused by my disgust, flicked a bit of raw snake at me. I’m hoping to take a ferry to South Korea, which if the live-octopus scene in Oldboy is anything to go by, could be interesting. Back into China, I’m hoping to travel round a bit more, then head into South East Asia, which might be the most veggie-friendly place, but presents all manner of other hazards.

In September I’m flying out of Bangkok to Tokyo for a few days then onto the States, where I’m doing another artist residency programme at the Elsewhere Studios in deepest Colorado.

After that, I’m planning to spend a bit of time in Los Angeles, losing all the spirituality and inner peace I gained in the land of the Buddha, so I can return to the UK as cynical as when I left.

See you all in 2014 or somewhere on the road!

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