Paul Theroux’s Lecture at the Singapore Writers Festival

Paul Theroux

On top of speaking at the Singapore Writers Festival, I got to pick one of the lectures to attend for free. And I chose Paul Theroux’s. Some highlights of his session for me:

1) Travel vs. Tourism: When you travel, you don’t know where you are going, and you are usually having a very bad time (which becomes a test of your personality), and the hardship tells you a lot about yourself. You may even find out whether you are destined to never come back.

When you are a tourist, there is a time constraint, you know where you are going, know what you want to see, and when you are going home. As a tourist, comfort is important – it is about having a good time.

Are you usually a tourist or a (true blue) traveler? πŸ˜‰ So when you say “I love to travel”, you are really saying “I love being a tourist”?

2) Does Being Away Put A Strain On Marriages?

Paul was asked by a participant how his marriage survived his travels. He replied that being away should not be a problem for marriages. Otherwise, what would fishermen, pilots and soldiers do? Won’t their marriages all be in trouble?

Paul’s marriage failed for other reasons (he did not share with us) and he has remarried.

3) Which Is The Last Book You Read?

According to Paul, if you can read and you don’t, it is a disgrace. Thankfully, I could immediately recall which book I had last read – ‘Fierce’ by Kelly Osbourne. And before that, ‘Playing Big’ by Tara Mohr. πŸ˜€


You don’t find out things about yourself till you leave home.

I guess I really have to agree.

I’m not much of a traveler. I’m more of a tourist who plans where she wants to go and even down to the details of what she’s going to eat.

I don’t like extremes in temperature. And hiking’s not quite my thing either.

I’m more comfortable in shopping malls and tried-and-tested restaurants and cafes. I’d even give roadside stalls a wide berth as I don’t want to run the risk of an upset tummy.

I guess I am missing out.

One day. Yes, one fine day, I shall head out and be a traveler, quite like Bilbo Baggins, unsure of when (and if) I shall return. What an adventure it will be. πŸ™‚