As some of you will know, there was three years between the end of Over the Hill and my trip to Nepal that became Hidden Tiger. Surely I've had adventures in that time?
Of course I have. I returned to Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of Over the Hill, and was away for two months at that time. I went to tie up the loose ends of the long trip. It didn't stand up on its own - there would have been too many old references to publish that as an independent book. And then I drove down the west coast of America, visiting a couple of old friends while I was there. We had several wonderful evenings reminiscing - conversations that meant everything to us but truly yawn-making to anyone who didn't know us. The drive itself was beautiful, of course, but without the colourful characters or unexpected hotel arrangements that can bring travel in unruly places to life.
So what made me think that Hidden Tiger Raging Mountain should see the light of day?
I can’t begin to tell you just how wonderful it felt to have total strangers tell me how much they enjoyed Over the Hill and Far Away. That is the tale of my decision to abandon work, house, and daughters (adult but important) to trot round the world in my mid-50s, with nothing but a notebook and curiosity to help me get by. It is a tale of the highs and lows, and the final crisis that brought me home. And it seems to have inspired some to tiptoe into the distance themselves. (I know of someone for whom a trip to France was an adventure who is setting off for India in a couple of weeks!)
I felt I owed it to those who had been so encouraging about Over the Hill to make sure this second book was at least as good.
This trip to Nepal surprised me. I thought I knew what I was doing – and I didn’t. I thought I knew who to trust and who to leave alone; now I’m not so sure. Strikes and power cuts meant making any plans had to be provisional. The weather did its worst. The tiger … don’t get me started on the tiger. So I knew this book would be fun to write – and a fitting follow-on from Over the Hill.
It is, you must know, only an ebook. I was away for one month – not long enough to fill a whole print book, but ideal length to slip onto your ereader. To those who would like it in print – I’m sorry. It is simply uneconomic to produce a print book that is this short. Maybe you can borrow a kindle, just this once.