RoadReads: “The Essential Nature of Islands”

A kayaker floats in El Nido. image via

Paddling one day about ten miles southwest to a headland, I caught sight of an island that had been hidden from my campsite — a new hump of rock where I saw a sandy beach and some huts. A Germanic-looking man in a green bathing suit stood on the beach to welcome me. “Hi,” he said and grabbed my bow line and helped pull my boat to shore.

“Nice kayak,” he said. It was salt-smeared and wet from the long haul from the headland. “Isn’t that the kind of boat Paul Theroux paddled in his travels around the Pacific?”

Being cautious, I said, “You read that book?”

“Oh, yeah. Great book.”

This happens now and then — more often in a remote place like Palawan than in places closer to home.

“I wrote it.”

“Cut the shit.”

Wherever you go, there you are — Paul Theroux gets meta (among other things) in the Philippines for Outside Magazine. (Read it in full here.)

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