Trans-Siberian tales among hilarious travel adventure
A BOYHOOD passion for rail travel and a curiosity for the quirky characters of the world inspired Laidley writer and former Queensland Times contributor Jim Nicholls' latest book.
Taking the World by Train is a collection of Jim's mostly amusing but sometimes extremely informative travel tales, which were inspired by several rail trips into far corners of the globe.
Put together from multiple trips over several years, Jim takes a ride on world-renowned train services including the Trans-Siberian Railway line; The Canadian; and a regular garden variety passenger train from Glasgow to Mallaig.
A seasoned writer with nearly a dozen books under his belt, Jim said he prided himself on telling the stories of the people he ran into during his travels, rather than the boring details like "the number of carriages on the train or driving wheels on a locomotive".
"Think about the times you travel by aeroplane and how many nice people you meet," Jim said.
"You will generally find very few; whereas on a train you will find everyone is there for the pure enjoyment of the journey.
"I tried my best to keep the stories light and entertaining. I didn't want to get bogged down in the details, and at the end of the day you meet some funny bloody people; some really nice people."
Jim provides some pretty vivid commentary on his travel companions throughout the book, in addition to some light dashes on the local history of the little villages he stops into along the way.
There are also stories of some of the not-so-appetising food dished up in remote parts of Russia.
During his journey on the Trans-Siberian line from Russia back towards China, there is a hilarious episode where a foreign woman he nicknames "Hotlips" takes a particular interest in him and follows him around like a shadow, forcing poor Jim to take evasive action.
A particularly boisterous American traveller covertly nicknamed PITA (pain in the arse) also rates a fair mention in the book.
"Half the time I was sitting on that train on the Trans-Siberian line I was sweating because they had the heat up so high; it was hot as buggery," Jim said.
"It is the little things like that you look back on later and have a laugh."
Jim, whose life experience includes 21 years in the RAAF, followed by 19 years working in administration and odd jobs at the former Queensland Ag College (now UQ Gatton), Jim contributed to the QT for many years as a country correspondent.
He has written several books on his travel experiences, in addition to a book on the history of the Salvos in the Lockyer Valley and the story of a murder in Glenore Grove in the 1930s, entitled, Murder in the Rain.
His latest book, Taking the World by Train, is available through Amazon and In House Publishing book store online.
Copies are also available at The Workshops Rail Museum, and at Laidley News Xpress, or from Jim directly by phoning 0402 674 090.