The best times to visit the Gobi and Three Camel Lodge are June, and September through October. By the beginning of November, it is ferociously cold, while October can swing surreally between warm days and clear, chilly nights and frosty mornings dusted with snow - perfect.
One of the reasons I like living in Bangkok is that, although it's a megacity, it's very saturated with nature - the vast and brooding skies, the sudden storms and rains, the vegetation and even the animals that abound.
More than 700 years ago, the Song Dynasty artist Zheng Sixiao created perhaps the most beautiful image of orchids ever painted, 'Ink Orchid.' And still famous today is a thousand-year-old poem from the Tang Dynasty called 'Orchid and Orange.'
One winter, I went to Erfoud to research trilobites and got to know the quarries, the dealers, and the remote mining villages. They are not easy places to visit, and this was a completely unknown corner of the world economy: children slaving away on desert cliffs to furnish wealthy collectors in San Francisco.
The orchid's association in Chinese culture with such virtues as elegance, good taste, friendship, and fertility goes all the way back to Confucius himself, who was said to have a particular attachment to the flowers.
Arak means 'sweat' in Arabic, and it is the perfect Mediterranean after-dinner drink, in my opinion.
I read Gide's 'The Immoralist' over and over as a teenager. I was obsessed with it. It's written with such simplicity and dread, and the desert, the shabby colonial world, is brought right into your consciousness without being over-explained.
Thailand was never a European colony, so even though the city is very Western on the surface, deep down it's very Asian. It's quite enigmatic, and I like that. I can't get to the bottom of Bangkok, and I never will.
I love the novel as a form, as an adventure of mind and soul. Really, I absolutely love writing them; they consume my days and nights - what can I say? But I am an avid film student, too: I watch a movie every night.
That's all you do in life: you find your perch, and if it suits you, just carry on. There's nothing Graham Greene about it.
Asa Briggs was a historian of class history, so he felt obligated to bring in his driver. That's the English class thing that is much weaker now.
I left New York after my mother died and, rather aimlessly, had settled in Istanbul for a change of scene. It was a rather dramatic gesture on my part, since I'd lived in New York for 20 years, but I felt I needed something different - the escalating expense and pressure of New York had begun to weary me.
Military history is essential to understanding any history and, moreover, is a terrifying and sobering study in the realities of human nature - for yes, to me, such a thing exists, and history indeed proves it.
'The Odyssey' is a great poem to refugee-dom... Odysseus is not entirely a refugee... he's somebody who's blown off course. The entire book is an exploration of that theme... I reread it every year... That's not as surprising as it sounds, because it's a rip-roaring book.
Bangkok is infamously mired in lurid contradiction, but it's also a city of subtle and distorted moods that journalism and film have hitherto mostly failed to capture.
Exams are not very hard. People find them hard because they don't work - it's just a matter of labour. Once you actually start doing it, it's like cracking eggs. You don't need to be smart. As everything is in life, it's about concentration.
My grandfather was an amazing cap-in-hand guy.
Sometimes you can publish a first novel in a kind of lyrical flourish, but it is not really a lyrical form. The beautiful truths about the world are more hard won than that. Novels should be bleach boned. It's a question of cumulative observation and lived suffering. It takes time.
I have found that whiskey is enjoyed as a refined secret pleasure in many cities - and it appears to be popular in Pakistan, as it is all over the tropical Asian world, Muslim or non-Muslim.
My parents were decent, aspirant first-generation middle class. They read 'Reader's Digest', listened to classical music; my grandparents had a bust of Stalin on the mantelpiece. The kids of that generation were terrified of being below par, class-wise.