Tag Archives: Asia

Ganbei! And more word count

I spent my morning writing again. This time, the ship made port. It was kind of fun having them slow down by reducing sail until it was gone completely. They also had to man the yard arms. This involves every available person going aloft and lining up across the yards. This was occasionally done in the age of sail, because when men are aloft they aren’t manning the guns. This is a foreign country after all.

The locals towed them in via a sequence of longboats, complete with drums.

Their mission here is to pose as their enemies, and accept delivery of a cargo the enemy already paid for. I still need to bring some tension to the fact that someone could blow the whole thing for them.

They explored the new city, and I had fun describing it. They saw people who resembled cormorant fishermen, but in my setting the birds used were replaced by diving reptiles who resemble flightless pelicans.

I worked to describe streets filled with vendors of every kind, including flowers and the scents that go along with flowers, food, and the like.

Serang gave a bamboo flute lesson to some street thugs, and only broke one nose… and a wrist. She also stole the thugs money to pay for the flute. Good news, this time she didn’t kill anyone.

We met Serang’s uncle who is the brewer of Huangjiu. (Think saki here, but more Chinese.) Serang is a big drinker, and now we know why. There were many cries of Ganbei, as the cups were drained.

We also learned of her sad story, and how her father was killed by the dragon turtle. (Who will not appear in this story beyond a giant parade puppet.) We also learned that she was once something called a temple maiden. This was before the Emperor decided to westernize and eliminated the temples.

The ship’s (witch) doctor sought the help of a traditional Asian doctor. This made me stop to explore all kinds of things. There isn’t a ton of detail available so I made most of it up. It’s a fantasy, I get to do that.

To distract from the idea that I had to make part of this up, I also researched maggot and leech therapy. That ought to make your skin crawl, but it actually serves a purpose in the real world.

I am using a bit of googling to come up with the foreign words. There are some minor modifications on my part, but the terms have real meaning. I’ve worked pretty hard to update my cheat page so I remain consistent from this point on.

I’m horrible about spelling some things, and foreign words won’t even pick up on my spell-checker. By getting them right on the cheat sheet, I can copy and paste for consistency. It isn’t like these words are used every page, so it’s pretty easy.

If all goes well tomorrow, I may get to have some fun with false teeth, money changers from this newly westernized world, and a recovery by the severely wounded first officer. I may have even found a use for the skin of the bay frogs from a week or two ago.

The story is fast approaching 60,000 words, and I should break that tomorrow. I’m having a terrible thought about all the various land wars that are breaking out, and how this could become a trilogy at some point. Scares me to even think about it, because I have some different stories to write already.

I’m calling it The Voyage of the Lanternfish. I’m considering dropping the first word to make it Voyage of the Lanternfish. What do you guys think?

Chime in here. Are you intrigued by fishing reptiles, bamboo flutes, maggot therapy, and temple maidens?

There are a few more hours until first pitch, and my curse is consistent. I watched the game last night, so of course the Diamondbacks lost. Maybe I should just write and check scores in the morning.


Filed under Writing

Fred’s Diary #RRBC

This is another opportunity for me to introduce another Rave Reviews Book Club author and his book. This sounds like an interesting experience, and Fred is here to share it with us.

Background to Fred’s Diary 1981


Fred was a nickname that Robert Fear was given while at school. It became his travel name and he is still known as Fred to this day.


Fred’s Diary 1981 is the edited version of a handwritten diary that I kept during my travels in Asia between February and July 1981. I had never committed any of my previous travels to paper in the way I did for this long awaited journey into the unknown. The final collection ran to 600 pages of closely written detail.


When I landed in Hong Kong in that February I had two small carbon copy books of 100 pages each and started writing everything down about my impressions, the people I met, the things I did and thought, what I ate and what things cost. As my journey developed the diary became almost a mission of its own, especially when the unexpected happened in Thailand.


The first two books lasted two months and I then had to buy additional ones along the way, all used with carbon paper. Every few weeks I would send the originals back to my friend Jan, in Frankfurt, Germany. She collected all the pages in an A4 folder and luckily they all made it back safely. I kept all the copies with me as a backup.


After returning from my travels, I settled again in Frankfurt and stayed there for five years. On my return to England I took the A4 folder containing the diary with me. It was almost forgotten for many years, only making an appearance when friends asked to see it or to read it.


It wasn’t until around 2005 that I decided to start typing up my diary onto the computer. I managed to get the first two months done but then ran out of motivation.


A couple of years later there was an article in a PC magazine about Kindle and self-publishing that sparked my interest again.


The second part of my diary was released in 2009 and its title, Time in Thailand, probably indicates to you that things didn’t go as planned. £99 to Hong Kong was published in 2011 and covers the first part of my trip where I did some work as an extra for Chinese television.


By now the bug had truly bitten and I started planning the release of the whole diary. First though, I had to scan copies of all 600 pages as they were deteriorating and writing was becoming faded in parts. Over the next two years I typed everything up and started editing the diary for publication, all in my spare time.


Fred’s Diary 1981 was self-published in December 2013 and was relatively successful with a good number of excellent reviews on Amazon UK and US. It was a long book though. The paperback version ran to 564 pages and contained 165K words.


During the first few months of 2015 further editing was undertaken and the second edition, released in October 2015, contained less than 100K words, with around 360 pages. It has also had a professional final edit and a wonderful new cover.


I am not sure what inspired me to write the diary way back then but the editing of it in recent years has given me great pleasure and bought back a lot of memories. With the advent of Kindle it has been great to be able to self-publish and share my experiences with so many people.


5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and detailed
By Rebecca H

February 4, 2016

I really enjoyed this travel diary which Fred kept as he journeyed firstly to Hong Kong then on to Thailand where he regrettably ended up in jail. After being deported he records his time in both India and Nepal. If you are looking for a travel guide this is not the book for you but it does give an insight into the reality of how it was for young western travellers over 30 years ago. Every day Fred would jot down all the details of what he did and saw or even ate. It was so interesting to see how he kept a note of exactly how much he spent on drinks and food etc. I bet it’s a whole lot more expensive now! In Thailand he was charged with possessing grass and thrown into jail. This was a particularly difficult experience but even there drugs helped to while away the tedium and anxious waiting for release. In fact drugs feature prominently throughout. It’s amazing what a young body can withstand! We learn of his exploits in Nepal and in India and of the friendships and camaraderie among fellow travellers. In among the minutiae there are also some beautiful descriptions for example of leaving Kathmandu Overall he had a marvellous and life changing experience which he has written about very honestly.

Fred’s Diary 1981: Travels in Asia – getBook.at/FredsDiary1981

The original versions of Parts 1 and 2:

£99 to Hong Kong getBook.at/99toHongKong

Time in Thailand getBook.at/TimeinThailand

Travel Stories and Highlights – getBook.at/TravelStories

Exclusive PedigreegetBook.at/ExclusivePedigree

Author Bio:

Born in Leicester, UK in 1955, Robert’s family moved to Surrey when he was 11. He was educated at Reigate Grammar School. After this he worked at a bank in London for several years before getting the travel bug. Fred, a nickname he got at school, stuck throughout his travels and has remained with him to this day. His travels took him to Ibiza for the summer of 1977, hitch-hiking around Europe in 1978 and the USA and Canada in 1979. During this time he also settled and worked in Germany. Fred’s Diary 1981 was written during the 158 days he spent travelling around Asia.

These days Robert is happily settled in Eastbourne, East Sussex where he lives with his wife and three cats. He works as a software consultant and has been able to combine work with some travel during the past fifteen years, having visited countries as far apart as Australia, Singapore, Ghana and Suriname.

Facebook – @fredsdiary1981

Twitter Handle – @fredsdiary1981

Website – http://www.fd81.net/




Filed under Writing