My holiday: Tom Doig

The best thing author Tom Doig brought back from a trip was enough outlandish anecdotes to string together a travel book. Photo / Max Milne Photography
The best thing author Tom Doig brought back from a trip was enough outlandish anecdotes to string together a travel book. Photo / Max Milne Photography

What was your greatest holiday?

When Tama Pugsley and I mountain-biked 1487km across northern Mongolia from a small town called Moron to a smaller town also called Moron.

And the worst?

When I was in high school we went to Holyford Valley for our summer holidays. The rest of the country apparently had gorgeous weather but at Gunn's Motor Camp it was perpetually raining. Mosquitoes the size of seagulls. Blood-soaked toilet paper everywhere. The camp owner, Murray Gunn, had a decrepit, saggy-backed horse with the word "horse" painted on one of her flanks, to deter the deer hunters, and "cow" on her other side, for a laugh. I wanted to steal that horse-cow and ride to Arrowtown, but she scared me.

If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?

Swimming out to the buoys at Hahei Beach, dodging the rogue fishing trawlers headed for Whitianga.

Falling asleep with a really good book open on my chest. Eating cheese.

What's your dream destination?

I have been obsessed with all things Russian for as long as I can remember, but I've never been there - so my dream destinations would be an atrocity tour of the old Evil Empire, starting at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Next I'd take in Kazakhstan's Aral Sea, which has been destroyed by misguided Soviet irrigation schemes. Then all the other Obscure-stans. Finally, Lake Baikal - the world's oldest and deepest lake, where each spring political prisoners used to be herded onto the ice and trapped there as it melted beneath them.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?

In Delhi as a teenager I smoked so much cannabis in the first four days I got severe bronchitis. I was deliriously ill for the rest of the trip.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ...

... more books than I'll be able to read during my trip, even if all I did was read. I have a phobia of waiting in a public place without quality literature.

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?

Pack light; bring your credit card. If you really need it, you'll always be able to buy it. Almost always.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?

Some lumps of dried fermented milk of a horse from the dirty hand of a child cowboy in Mongolia; I ate it all, then I ate Tama's share too. I was extremely sick that night, luckily not inside the tent.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip?

Enough outlandish anecdotes to string together into a travel book.

Favourite airport to land at?

None of them. All that burning aviation fuel makes me think about climate change.

What's the next trip you've got planned?

A winter cycling trip with Tama from Auckland to Wellington.

Tom Doig's book Moron to Moron (RRP: $29.99) is on sale now.

- NZ Herald

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