Ubud Writers Festival
The evergreeen Ubud Writers Festival is on again from 25 to 29 October, but sadly I won’t be there this year. That’s got nothing to do with Mt Agung threatening to erupt into action, simply too many other demands on my time at the moment. Star names this year include Simon Winchester, Simon Armitage, Miles Franklin winner Josephine Wilson, Ian Rankin, Tim Flannery, Jane Harper and Jung Chang. The Guardian has an interesting story on this year’s festival and that threatening volcano.
▲ Visiting Pindaya in Myanmar a few years ago, the photo kind of sums up my feelings about visiting the country at the moment.
Irrawaddy Literary Festival
Friday 3 November to Sunday 5 November – I intend to be at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Mandalay, Myanmar. With so much of the world’s attention focussed on the Rohingya crisis in western Myanmar and with huge numbers of refugees spilling across the border in to neighbouring Bangladesh I don’t expect it to be a happy festival. So why are you going I’ve been asked? Well I agreed to go a long time ago and simply washing my hands of the situation and walking away as if simply ignoring it is an answer doesn’t seem the right thing to do. I’ve got no idea if anything I say – the Myanmar government is behaving abominably, why doesn’t Aung San Suu Kyi speak out about it – is going to have any impact and I do worry that simply turning up is going to help lend some veneer of respectability to the occasion. I have spoken with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong about my concerns.
Tuesday 7 November – I’ll be speaking at The Battery at 717 Battery St, San Francisco, USA. I’ll be looking at some of my recent travels including my Silk Road trip from Bangkok to London in an old MGB sports car.
Thursday 9 November – Then it’s on to World Affairs at 312 Sutter St, San Francisco at 630pm. I’ll probably be looking at some of the unusual experiences along my Silk Road trip, so many places were not quite what I expected and Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, Pyongyang crossed with Las Vegas, topped that list.