Pico Iyer: The trip that changed my life

Bangkok these days seems about as alien and exotic as its sister City of Angels across the ocean. Hollywood cop films are shot there, New York bars open their second branches on its back-streets and for many a kid just out of college in Seattle, the Khao San Road is as natural a first stop as once the Left Bank was, or North Beach. But in 1983, Thailand still seemed the far side of the universe. And to a boy of 26 who was spending his life in a little room in Rockefeller Center in New York, writing about places he’d never seen, it was an instant initiation into mystery and night-time and the limits of all the things he was so sure he knew.

Men came up to me outside the airport — and it was a dumpy airport then, worthy of an almost forgotten country — brandishing pictures of women in bikinis and rooms whose beds seemed to move like the heavens (now those pictures would be much more graphic — and available to a certain kind of visitor before he’d left home, on the Net). There was a smell of jasmine — of spices and gasoline and all of them mixed together — as I headed off in the dusk and clambered into a minivan for the long, long ride into the city. I’d never really set foot in a five-star hotel before when I deposited my luggage with a towering Sikh doorman at the Oriental Hotel and set off into the dark.

The neon was flashing evilly, and irresistibly then. A young woman was stringing her thin arms around me and cooing things in the universal language of desire (for what I represented, if not for me). A Filipino man in the basement of a four-star hotel was singing Grateful Dead ditties on request. No one had heard of Patpong then, or told me that the most alluring women in the street were men.The sound all night — I couldn’t sleep — of slamming doors and soft feet pattering down the (no-star) corridors. Calls at 1 a.m. from strangers with their coos again, sure that I was the only man for them. The tang of mint in every dish, and tall, cool glasses of watermelon juice that I couldn’t have described the day (the life) before in midtown Manhattan.

A Canadian took me under his wing, a wise old hand at 23, and already well on his way to becoming a part of the nether world that was the real world in the Bangkok night, ready to claim every unmoored newcomer. A train was about to set off for the cool spaces of the north. At night, when the tuk-tuk drivers revved up along the jampacked lanes, the smell of diesel and perfume intermingled, I found myself in alleyways where old-style neon blinked and relayed the promises of Suzy Wong.

It wasn’t Thailand, of course, that was beckoning me, but all the force of the things I couldn’t make out. Night was day and late September was summer and men were women who became men again at dawn. The characters around me on the signs (the streets) were strange, and the language so tonal I couldn’t tell a player from a prayer. There were mirrors everywhere, in bars, hotels and what they gave me back to me was a figure I couldn’t recognize. I hadn’t realized ’til that day that you travel to stumble into the unvisited corners of yourself.

I hadn’t realized ’til that day that you travel to stumble into the unvisited corners of yourself.

In Chiang Mai, two days later, I was walking — puffing, really — up a hill, through a landscape from the Vietnam I’d seen only on telecasts, and sitting in a circle in a village, opium in the air. The villagers were dancing, by the light of a candle, and I couldn’t tell if it was the dog they had just eaten or the drugs. Displacement in time had become displacement in space: nights in a hut, a German’s pupils all red, and then dawn with the sound of a rooster, and the preparations of a village anywhere nearby.

The next thing I knew I was in Burma — the rickety grandfather of the England I’d grown up in (a colonial son, of course, becomes master of the house as soon as his father moves on), sailing on Inle Lake, among opium warlords and guerrillas, wandering, dazed, among the 3000 temples of Pagan. A few days later I was in Hong Kong, on expenses (I hadn’t known the meaning of the word in grad school the year before), being entertained at a banquet by the Chinese billionaire who’d built Macao. The next day I was in Narita Airport near Tokyo, waiting for a plane back, and, stumbling into a temple in the little town near the terminal, coming upon an October scene — bright blue skies and a chill of autumn in the air — that told me that I should return to Japan, as I did, for life, it seems.

I’d traveled around India as a teenager, witnessing with a foreigner’s bewilderment a country that was meant to be, and clearly was not, my own. I’d spent two summers traipsing around Europe writing Let’s Go guidebooks, convinced that I was a doctoral student in foreignness and movement. I liked to think myself a man of the world in those days, the prerogative of innocence being that it cannot see to the limits of its knowledge. When young, we know we know it all, and never imagine that the stock of knowledge will only diminish, trickle out, as the years go on.

But Thailand, and all that followed, silenced me. I sat in a colleague’s house in an October downpour, the torrential rains turning the little soi into a running river (people rolling their trousers up to their knees to get across), and tapped out an article on, of all things, Vita Sackville-West, the sometime lover of Virginia Woolf. I’d taken the artifacts of Bloomsbury into the hills with me, and read them among the animists and the opium. Perhaps I was trying to hang onto the life I knew, measuring out the fluent cadences of Sissinghurst here in the wilderness off Sukhumvit.

A bowing secretary came into the room with a pot of tea (my colleague was in Vietnam). The garden in front of me was turning into a misty, tumultuous scene worthy of Maugham. The house my colleague lived in, the life he’d made for himself (a veteran of the war) was more spacious and extravagant than anything his or my bosses could contemplate in Westchester.

What you don’t know, will never know, will always be more involving than what you can explain: it is the fundamental principle of love and of religion.

I came back, after a fashion, from that trip, but it derailed me for good, and showed me the lure of the dark that lay outside the boxed room in which I wrote. What you don’t know, will never know, will always be more involving than what you can explain: it is the fundamental principle of love and of religion. And love and religion were some of what I thought about as I sat in the Time-Life library, paging through any report I could find of Burma, of Thailand, of Laos even, and Cambodia, where I’d never been. In the midst of the traffic outside my eleventh-floor apartment came the sound of something else, more haunting and fragile: a pipe across the fields, a new day in a very ancient place.

Romantic it sounds now, in the recollection. But it wasn’t a romance, because I went back to check on it six months later, and then returned again five months after that, and then took a six-month leave of absence to get thoroughly lost in Asia. I should have known, as I disappeared into Eighth Street, in search of Thai food, the pictures of the pagodas and jungles I’d seen enlarged and set on my office wall, that this was not mere flirtation. I hadn’t come back at all, and never would. The trips that change our lives are the ones where nothing specific happens, and one can remember, 27 years later, every day from September 23rd to October 23rd, 1983.

Pico Iyer has visited Thailand more than 40 times since his initial trip, but something of the mystery is still there for him. His most recent book is The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

[Photos: Flickr | Elisa*; Travlinman43; Irene2005]

South by Southeast: The man from Kathmandu

Everybody wants to talk to you in Myanmar. Almost daily I was greeted by a welcoming committee of friendly taxi drivers, curious adolescent monks and mysterious jobless “men about town” wanting to shoot the breeze. In a country that restricts access to the media, it’s not surprising the Burmese are eager to talk: they seem hungry for access to the outside world. For the most part, the exchanges are entertaining and harmless: a refreshing way to meet the locals. So my walk to the teashop that Sunday in Mandalay was no different than any other. A cloud of trishaw drivers quickly enveloped me, asking “Where you come from?” and offering their services. That is of course, until one posed me an unusual question I hadn’t heard before:

“Have you read Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu?”

I paused. I had of course – I count the book among my favorite travel narratives…particularly for its slice-of-life portrayals of the various cultures of Asia. In one of the book’s most memorable chapters, Pico shares his recollections from Burma, describing the country in all its chaotic, wonderful glory. One character named Maung Maung even invited the author back to his house.

“My name is Maung Maung. Pico featured me in his book. I’m on page 24.”

I was astonished. Here was a man claiming to be a character from Pico’s famous Asian novel, one of my favorites, who happened to randomly meet me as I walked down the block in Mandalay. Doubts filled my head. Could he be some kind of con artist? How many Myanmar visitors have read Video Night in Kathmandu, anyway? There was no way to tell for certain – but like so many other chance encounters I had in Myanmar, I decided to go with it, curious to see what might happen and convinced fate had presented me with an opportunity. Keep reading below to see what happened…

Maung Maung and I took a seat at the local Burmese teashop. The middle-aged man pulled out a cheroot from his shirt pocket and proceeded to regale me for the next two hours with a stream of consciousness explosion: critiques of the Burmese military junta, dirty jokes, stories about his wife – even some anecdotes about his life in Myanmar and time with Pico. It became a tale of woe. He claimed a university degree in Mathematics, but as he told me, the government wouldn’t hire him because of his outspoken political views. Here before me then was a 50-something man, apparently university-educated, who earned his living by pedaling tourists around Mandalay. It was downright sad. Then came his pitch:

“Could you help me out by hiring me for a ride? I’ll take you to meet my family.”

I was torn. Even if he wasn’t telling the truth about the book, I wanted to help him somehow. And visiting a family sounded amazing. But my rational mind said otherwise – maybe this was some kind of setup? Would I end up getting mugged in some back alley in Mandalay? In the end, I figured It was worth the chance. With visions of Video Night in Kathmandu filling my head, I agreed to let Maung Maung pedal me to his home on an antiquated bicycle trishaw.

We started off in the quickly gathering darkness, Maung Maung’s thin frame straining at the pedals down a labyrinthine maze of back alleys. The streets were alive with activity. A cluster of dirt-crusted children kicked a soccer ball in the dust. Mounds of rotting garbage simmered in humid evening air. Silhouettes of women crouched over bubbling pots of noodles, faces lit by cooking fires. The chaotic scene filled me with a nervous mix of excitement and anxiety. Each new turn of the trishaw down the anonymous streets provoked a wave of anxiety that I would be lost and left for dead in the Burmese gutter.

And then we arrived. The house wasn’t much to look at – the home’s sole room featured a stark cement floor flanked by wicker walls. A rickety wooden table and chairs anchored the room’s center. In corner was grungy mirror, a few fading color photos tucked around the edge. A ceiling fan whirled drunkenly from above. His college-age daughter and son stood awkwardly, hands glued to the chair frames. They smiled at me curiously, puzzled by the sudden appearance of a gangly white foreigner in their midst. I don’t know what I had expected, but It was awkward. But then again, the best travel tales rarely unfold like they do in our favorite books. Much like a visit to Myanmar, the reality of our travels is often far more confusing, dirty and inconvenient than we expected. It’s only later we look back fondly at these moments of serendipity, now coated by the glaze of nostalgia and time.

I lingered for a few minutes and asked Maung Maung to leave. I thanked his family profusely, hopped back in the seat of the rickety trishaw and we pedaled off towards my guesthouse. Maung Maung dropped me off, I gave him a few dollars for his services, and just like that he was gone. A work of fiction safely filed back on my bookshelf.

So who was this guy anyway? Did I get “taken for a ride,” parted from my money by a con-artist? Or did I actually spend the evening with a character from one of my favorite books? I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure. One thing I do know for certain: the answer to my question is still out there, slowly pedaling its way down the darkened alleys of Mandalay.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.

Curious to read more about visiting Myanmar? Check out the previous post HERE.

Book give-a-way and travel read: The Open Road, the Global Journey of the 14th Dalai Lama

When Pico Iyer was growing up, his father was a friend of the Dalai Lama. That was the beginning of Iyer’s own relationship with a person that many seek out as a spiritual rock star of sorts. In his book The Open Road, The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Iyer gives insight into what it’s like inside the Dalai Lama’s circle, as well as, what it’s like being inside Iyer’s life.

When the book first came out in hardcover last year, I gave a heads up. This month the Vintage Press paperback version was released.

The publisher has given us two copies to give-a-way. For details, go to the end of the Talking Travel interview with Iyer and post a comment there. You have until tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. to win.

Iyer is a global traveler and a careful observer which makes his books a sensory exploration into the worlds where he ventures. Landscape, people, and the hum of life are woven together into a lush reading experience for anyone who picks up his work. I’ve happily discovered this book does the same.

The backdrop this time is the landscape of the world where the Dalai Lama lives and travels in relation to where Iyer has also ventured. The result of Iyer’s observations is an intriguing examination about the people and places that surround the Dalai Lama’s life and work, as well as the Dalai Lama’s perspective on it all.

Along with certain conversations Iyer has had with the Dalai Lama, including a disinterested version when he was a teenage boy, Iyer weaves throughout the book his observations and musings about Tibetan Buddhism, life in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama’s speaking engagements where Iyer sometimes sits in the audience and the changes in the scenery and intentions of the Dalai Lama’s work that Iyer has noticed over the years.

I was particularly captivated by the sections where Iyer describes Dharamsala, India a place I have also been, and as luck would have it, one of those people sitting in the courtyard at the monastery where the Dalai Lama lives listening to one of his talks. This book is a welcome companion to that experience because it fills in all the behind the scenes details such as what happens in his life when he is not addressing an audience. Because Iyer’s thoughts were gathered in various personal conversations that range from the Dalai Lama himself to his family members, helpers and random people who Iyer has come across in his travels of meeting up with Dalai Lama in various locations, the result is an unusual, intimate look at places people may have visited themselves, read about or seen pictures of in a lush coffee table book. Iyer brings such scenes to life.

One of Iyer’s purposes for writing The Open Road was to give readers another perspective of a remarkable man about which there has been much written before. I say he has succeeded, as well as, offering the reader another opportunity to see the world through Iyer’s eyes. Every time I spend a few hours enjoying the world the way Iyer sees it, I feel I understand a little bit more the visual cues and subtleties one encounters in a traveling life.

Gadling Take FIVE — March 14-March 20

Happy first day of spring! This week we’re having a book give-a-way. Pico Iyer’s book The Open Road: Global Travels of the 14th Dalai Lama can be yours. All you have to do is leave a comment about a place that captured your attention at the end Iyer’s Talking Travel interview. Two winners will be picked in a random drawing.

Mike just came back from his awesome trip to New Zealand and Australia. He’s promised to give us the highlights of his travels. Here’s his first missive. Then there’s Kent who is racing about Europe with his wife. They’re in the Competitours Race competition, an Amazing Race style contest that is keeping them hopping and us entertained.

Here are five other posts on subjects that range from eats to hikes and worldwide events.

  • Did you know that tomorrow is World Water Day? Brenda’s post gives the scoop about the occasion and a link to events.
  • Karen’s post on the top 20 list of the most bizarre holiday grievances includes something having to do with the size of an elephant.
  • Annie is continuing to taste test jerky. This week she dove into buffalo jerky and presented her take in a flavorful post.
  • Because we have friends who are moving to El Salvador, Tom’s post on green travel in El Salvador caught my eye.
  • This week, one of Kraig’s posts gave the rundown on ten great unknown treks.

Talking Travel with Pico Iyer and a book give-away

When I first read Pico Iyer’s book Video Night in Kathmandu, I was hooked. Reading Iyer’s words is a trip down streets that you may have traveled before but have not found the words to describe. When you read his prose, the tendency is to say, “Yes, that’s it.” For places one hasn’t been, he draws you into the scenes as if you are there looking at the world through his perceptive eyes.

Seven years ago, I met Iyer, who lives in Japan when he’s not traveling the world, at a writers symposium in New Delhi. As usual, there was a bit of trepidation in saying hello to a person whose work I admire. Like, what if this person I think so highly of turns out to be a jerk? There was no need for such concern. Iyer is as gracious and warm as his writing.

As fate has it, I was able to reconnect with him this past summer via e-mail. In between his recent trips to Sri Lanka and New Delhi to attend literary events earlier this year, Iyer answered my Talking Travel interview questions. In subsequent e-mails, I found out that we have a mutual admiration for Kentucky, Thomas Merton and Johnny Depp. Yes, they are connected. More on that later. That post is percolating.

In the meantime, here’s the interview where Iyer gives his impressions of honing into the essence of place, the Country Bear Jamboree, Atlanta, and more.

Bonus: This Talking Travel interview comes with a bonus for Gadling readers. This month Iyer’s book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama came out as a Vintage Books paperback. His publisher, Random House, will give away two copies of the book (shipping included). See the end of the interview for contest rules and how to win. Look for the book review on Wednesday.

1. What are your earliest memories of travel as a child that captured that sense of excitement and wonder?

I am walking down the street in Oxford–a grey street of red-brick houses–towards the local sweet-shop, and something in me recognizes that, though this place is the only one I’ve known, and though I feel the same as every one of the five year-old boys around me, it’s not mine, and therein lies a promise, a possibility.

I am being driven by my parents through the Alps, the first massed snow I’ve ever seen. I am stepping into a fancy lobby in a big hotel in Belgium (my father must be at a conference), and realizing the pleasure of rooms not one’s own. I am setting foot in Reykjavik Airport, during a transit stop on the cheapest flight then across the Atlantic, and faces are crowding in against the window to see a woman dressed in a sari, an extraterrestrial, as she might be in Iceland. She is my mother.

[photo taken by Alefiya Akabarally at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka this past January.]

2. One quality I’ve always admired about your writing is your ability to tap into the personality of a country. What advice do you have about tapping into the essence of a place?

Places are like people, with personalities just as distinct, and a travel writer, of course, is someone who aims to create not just a photograph of a place but a portrait. My advice would be to walk and walk and walk, as soon as you arrive, when the place is still new to you and every perception is fresh–the mind has not yet begun to settle into prejudices or arguments.

Take down everything and remember that anything (an Internet cafe, a Golden Arches, a shop selling TVs) is interesting, and revealing of the society around it. And try, wherever possible, to remember that you’ve come all this way–even if it’s only to another state–to enter a foreign state of mind, a different sensibility. The joy of travel is not being reminded of your assumptions, or being confirmed in your beliefs, but in being led out of them, to something utterly other and, perhaps, unfathomable.

3. As a person who is a master at picking just the right words to evoke images and moods of a place, how have you observed a particular country’s use of language influences the personality it projects? Or, do you notice these differences?

Alas, I travel only with English, broken or occasionally patched together again, and I’m not sure I am sensitive to the words around me at all. As you know, I did write a whole chapter in my book Sun After Dark on how India has remade the English that the British Empire brought to it, so as to create a new language, thoroughly Indian, richly spiced, funny and charming and freighted with innocence, that is the first step towards the remaking of English literature we’re seeing in countries such as India. People worry that the world is growing smaller, but my experience is that, even as two hundred countries speak English, that simply leads to 200 often mutually incomprehensible forms of English.

[photo of Iyer talking with writer William Dalrymple at the Jaipur Literature Festival this past January. ]

4. Although most of the time I read your work, I feel a certain aura of safety. In Sun After Dark you give an account of your trip to a prison that did not go so well. Was your danger radar off that day? What WERE you thinking?

I travel in search of difficulty (or at least of contradiction and unease and challenge)–and apart from that prison trip, that book describes a night-time drive through the mountains of Yemen, from which I thought I’d never emerge, visiting Ethiopia, where I was staying in a hotel next to the most wanted man in the world, bumping through the haunted night in Cambodia and walking into privation and near-revolution in Haiti. I have been lucky enough to live in relative safety–and comfort and peace–all my life, so when I travel, I am trying to go to places as different from my gated privilege as possible. I want to see what the world is like for the 99% of my neighbors in my global village who are not lucky enough to live in a resort town in California or in placid and very protected Japan.

That’s why I’ve spent 26 years now in war-zones and revolutions, as a journalist, and why the places I seek out are generally places of great strife or seeming suffering (I write this in Sri Lanka, where my guide here from my last trip was gunned down on his way to work three weeks ago). Some people work very hard in an office, and when they travel they want nothing but peace and ease. Many refugees, propelled out of their homes by war or threat, long only to get back to the places they’ve been obliged to leave. I am just a regular person who’s never had to fight for my life and who isn’t burdened by the pressures of the office, so when I travel I want to go to South Africa, to Beirut, to Cuba, or to anywhere that will remind me that my cosy life is not the norm.

5. What do you do to hone your senses so that you avoid bad situations, or do you think you’re more likely to go with the flow and hope for the best?

I do listen to my intuition, and assume that it always knows more than I do. Though I do seek out difficulty, I don’t want to place myself needlessly in the way of danger; I see no value in people from relatively safe places courting death just for the thrill of it. But travel is not about physical movement; it’s about trying to journey out of your assumptions into the eyes and shoes of another. If it can be done without harming the other, or yourself, it can only be good; if not, then one has to ask why one’s doing it.

6. As much as traveling can create the sense that one is connected to the world, it can also create the feeling of being unsettled. What do you do to stay grounded and keep track of yourself in the process?

I tend to be too settled, so I seek out being unsettled–at the very least, that can test the ground I have. Everywhere man is settled, as Emerson says, and only insofar as he unsettled is there any hope for him. I hope I have solid ground within me–I do after all spend two months a year in a monastery, and eight months in a monastic life in Japan (a two-room apartment without cellphone or printer or World Wide Web or car or bicycle), and I have been living in these simple cells now for more than 16 years, so I feel that I am rooted, as much as I need to be, in what is real and stable.

But to stay too long in these places that I know as well as my heartbeat would be to risk complacency, blindness and inertia. So I try to force myself out of my grooves, feeling that groundedness is what I have, unsettledness what I need.

7. With all the locations you’ve written about, what location totally surprised you-a place where you expected one thing, but found something completely different? Either for the good or the bad.

Atlanta, Georgia is, on paper, one of the great global players on the planet–the home of CNN, Coca-Cola, Holiday Inn and Delta Airlines. But spending weeks and months on end there in 1996, at the time of its Olympic Games, I wondered if it was global beneath the surface. I suppose I expected, I hoped for an easy acquaintance with the larger world of the kind one finds in a Miami or a Vancouver; but I found (with apologies to those who know Atlanta better than I do) a small town’s idea of what a big town should be, and a sense of power without a corresponding sense of confidence. Atlanta began to seem to be a force on paper more than in its heart or global imagination.

8. Is there a piece of travel wisdom someone told you that you took to heart? What was it?
The Dalai Lama always suggests that there’s no virtue in looking backward–the future is what we can change–and I suppose that is what has guided me in my traveling life. Most of the travelers I love and learned from are in some ways journeying back into the past, to explain the present; I, by making most of my central travels to places like Los Angeles Airport or the state of jet lag (or even to the monastery) have always pointed myself towards the future. My interest is not in what the world has been but what we can make of it, especially those 21st century citizens who are, to some degree, children of possibility (alarming or pretentious as that phrase might sound to some).

9. Wherever you go, from what I gather, you seem to feel comfortable. Are there settings that feel odd to you? Ones where you ask yourself, how did I end up here anyway?

I like being by myself, so I’m not always at ease at big parties or among large groups of people. And, having grown up with movement, I haven’t always excelled at placing myself within a home, a family or a community. But I see any of these discomforts as something to be cherished, ways of confronting what, left to myself, I’d try to avoid. I suppose I do see every situation or setting as a possibility, and to fight against it would be to do it, and myself a disservice. Better to see what one can produce together.

10. When you arrive back home after a long trip, what are the things you do to slip back into your at home routine?
Alas, my home routine very quickly slips back into me. Within 36 hours of my return–certainly after one full day at home–I am back at my desk, taking walks (on foot and in the imagination), gobbling down tea and yogurt, going to sleep again at 8:30 p.m. Jet lag helps keep one unsettled and out of joint for a while, but left to my own devices I can very quickly resume the routine that I took the trip to break out of. Indeed, it’s the persistence and power of routine that probably these days moves me to travel, as I would never do otherwise.

11. I tend to see you in unusual locations-the almost off the map sort of locations. Let’s talk about mainstream.

Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland? If so which ride was your most favorite and why?
I go to Disneyland–and to Tokyo Disneyland–all the time, and I grew up on Space Mountain, while sustaining a lingering affection for the Country Bear Jamboree. My traveling life was probably begun in the frenzy of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, and I screamed for a good (or bad) eight years or so at the Matterhorn, but it’s the country-and-western jingles of the fiddling raccoons and drawling bears that may have made (or unmade) me for life.

I should say that I do spend most of my life in mainstream locations–if monasteries count as such–and I think that they are just as interesting, rich and rare as Easter Island or North Korea. In my experience, the destination has never been very important; all that matters is the awakened eye you can (or cannot) bring to it. As Thoreau famously put it, to paraphrase a bit, “It matters little how far you go, the farthest commonly the worst. The only important thing is how alive you are.

12. And one more. Is it a small world after all?

It’s a huge, heterogeneous, endlessly various and surprising world, only made small by our illusions that distance has disappeared. I think the differences and distances between places are now perhaps as great as they have ever been, partly because of the illusion of closeness.

To enter the contest for the chance to win a copy of the book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

  • Simply leave a comment below telling us one of the places where you’ve traveled that made you wish you could capture its essence on paper.
  • The comment must be left before Monday, March 23 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Two winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • These two random winners will each receive a copy of the paperback book The Open Road, (valued at $14.95)
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.