Author(s): Paul Grogan
Quirky Travel Writing In The Mould Of Tim Moore
The Siberian Amur River: 4,400 kilometres from source to sea of fast waters, flash floods, roaring canyons and quicksand. Glacial currents and weather hot enough to melt sand pale in comparison, however, to the stormy political climate along this geographical frontier. Paul Grogan, a young journalist with a passion for his paddle, undertakes an epic journey from the river's source in Mongolia to its mouth on the coast of the Pacific, taking his canoe and his mate Rich for companionship. The river, which forms part of the Russian/Chinese border has long been a no go area, off limits even to the Russians for decades. Facing armed guards with AK47s, and suffering arrest on several occasions, the pair tread sensitive political ground. As they canoe their way into the record books, they experience the suspicion and the hospitality of the locals in equal measure, enjoying a champagne beach picnic, falling prey to a nasty pork 'n' vodka hangover, and sharing the company of prostitutes, pimps and the poaching police. What they find to be most common to the Siberian people, recovering from decades of neglect throughout communist rule, is warm-hearted generosity and seemingly endless optimism.