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Learning to Throat Sing

Throat singing is one of the world’s oldest forms of music. It’s practiced by indigenous groups in several parts of the world, including South Africa and the Canadian Arctic. But mostly when people talk about throat singing, they’re referring to the style performed in the remote Russian republic of Tuva, which the local people call khoomei. It’s an ancient practice created by the nomadic people of Central Asia who were trying to mimic sounds of nature like the songs of birds, a babbling...


The Largest Fish Market in the World

For more than 80 years, Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market had a reputation for supplying some of the freshest and best quality seafood anywhere. But over the decades, it had become overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe. After years of planning, the city decided to move the market last fall to a larger and more modern facility about a mile-and-a-half away. Despite the obvious benefits, there were also plenty of complaints that the new location was harder to get to, felt sterile and soulless, and...


Visiting Chernobyl

If you’ve seen or heard about the recent HBO dramatic miniseries about Chernobyl, you might have wondered what it’s really like there today. I take a trip to the abandoned villages surrounding the reactor to find out for myself. Read more about my visit and see photos and videos on my website. Far From Home is a podcast where award-winning public radio journalist Scott Gurian visits parts of the world that most people never think about and tells stories they've never heard. For more info,...


Far From Home: Season 2 trailer

People often say it’s a small world, but there are giant parts of the planet that most people never think about and billions of stories they’ve never heard. On Far From Home, award-winning public radio journalist Scott Gurian visits some of those places, documenting his unexpected adventures and chance encounters with interesting people wherever he goes. For more info, visit farfromhomepodcast.org.


24: Looking Back

After driving 11,000 miles over the course of seven weeks, we finally reached the finish line of the Mongol Rally, and everything was suddenly over. There was no more waking up early to hit the road, driving 12 hours to make up for lost time, and arriving at our destination long after dark. No more tow trucks or tow ropes, restaurants serving meat from another strange animal, or sleeping in uncomfortable beds in sketchy hotel rooms that desperately needed a remodel. No more use for Google...


23: The Finish Line!

We’d spent 7 weeks driving nearly 11,000 miles across Europe and Asia, and although we were nearing the end of our journey, we still had a series of challenges ahead. Our route in the coming days would take us across some of the roughest terrain we’d encounter our entire trip, and our car problems would continue, but after hearing stories from some of the other rally teams, we realized our situation could have been far worse. Plus the hardships along the way only make getting to the end all...


22: The Longest Day Ever

After a series of bad decisions, my brother and I had ended up stranded with our friends at the bottom of an incredibly steep and rocky hill in a really remote part of Mongolia. We’d sent a text by satellite to the American embassy in Mongolia’s capital who dispatched a rescue team, and when that team couldn’t find us, they sent a second team. Help finally arrived after dark, but this would be no simple rescue. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best...


21: A Costly Mistake

After getting stuck driving across a shallow river in Mongolia, my brother and I make the fateful decision to veer off the main path onto another trail that seems like it might be easier. Unfortunately, it’s not long before we realize we’ve made a terrible mistake. Now we’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no other signs of life for miles in any direction. Having exhausted all our options, we seek shelter in an abandoned-looking building and contact the American embassy for help....


20: The Going Gets Tough

Mongolia is a place of wide open spaces and little vegetation. It’s the the land of Genghis Khan, nomadic culture. and yodeling dance music. It’s a country that’s twice the size of Texas, but with only 3 million people, it has the lowest population density of any nation on earth. It’s also a place with notoriously bad roads, where the main east-west routes are often little more than tracks through the dirt. Maps and satellite GPS are of little navigational help, and signs are few and far...


19: One Surprise After Another

When my brother and I told friends we’d be driving across Kazakhstan, we got plenty of jokes about Borat, but we were about to find out that the real-life nation of Kazakhstan was almost nothing like what was portrayed on the screen. Far from being backwards and uncivilized, the country we experienced was fascinating, friendly, and full of surprises. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best to listen to all the episodes in order from the beginning for...


18: Wrong Way

We were in an extremely remote section of eastern Tajikistan, and we’d just received news that our car’s engine might not last much longer. Left with few options, the best we could do was to keep going, keeping our fingers crossed that our luck would hold out. In the midst of it all, our route was about to take us over a mountain pass that was nearly 3 miles high. Then we end up getting horribly lost on a rocky dirt road with dozens of switchbacks, and we have no idea where we’ll spend the...


17: Stranded

The mountainous Pamir Highway was precisely the type of terrain that our 1-liter Nissan Micra hatchback was not suited to handle. One of our friends had described it as a car “that you would expect a 60-year-old woman to drive to the supermarket twice a week,” and now we were pushing it to ever-greater extremes, keeping our fingers crossed that it would somehow persevere. So we weren’t totally surprised when our luck eventually ran out. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home...


16: The Roads Get Rougher

Our car was running once again, but now we faced a handful of new mechanical issues, just as we were about to embark on the roughest part of our journey yet: a 600 mile stretch of mostly unpaved and mountainous road along the Tajik-Afghan border that’s considered one of the most spectacular and potentially dangerous routes in the world. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best to listen to all the episodes in order from the beginning for the story to...


15: Whatever It Takes

When we first learned that it would take a week for our car to get repaired, we figured we’d have some time to relax and explore the historic city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan. But instead we’re hit with a variety of unforeseen challenges: Rosi and Jane’s visas are about to expire, the four of us contract some sort of nasty stomach bug, and we learn that we might not be able to enter Mongolia after all. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best to listen to...


14: From Bad to Worse

In the three weeks since we started our journey, we’d broken down about 4 times, been to half a dozen mechanics, and tried all sorts of stop-gap measures to solve our car issues, but there was still some sort of big underlying problem whose name we didn’t yet know. Now at another mechanic in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, we were about to find out. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best to listen to all the episodes in order from the beginning for the story to...


13: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

When it comes to welcoming foreign tourists, Turkmenistan is close to the bottom of the list. It was hard enough to get visas in the first place, and when we did, they were only good for 5 days. Now broken down with serious car problems, we had to try to convince officials to give us more time. Alternately, we could throw in the towel and tow the car all the way to the border to try to get it fixed on the Uzbekistan side, but would the border guards even let us in with a car that wouldn’t...


12: Breaking Down

Driving a small, crappy car was a prerequisite for anyone participating in the Mongol Rally. The point was to make the journey more exciting and adventurous. We liked the idea at first, but now we’d broken down yet again, and our mechanical issues this time were worse than ever. After getting a hole in our radiator while driving across eastern Turkmenistan, we get towed to a garage where they repair the leak, but things take a turn for the worse. Read more and see photos on my website. Far...


11a: Bonus Episode – Voices From the Door to Hell

While I continue to work on the next regular show, here’s a short bonus episode of some conversations I had with some other Mongol Rally teams during our stopover at Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell. Read more and see photos on my website. Far From Home is a series, so it’s best to listen to all the episodes in order from the beginning for the story to make the most sense. Learn more about our trip and follow our adventures at farfromhomepodcast.org and teamdonundestan.com. And if you like what...


11: Just Plain Weird

We visit the hermit kingdom of Turkmenistan — one of the most reclusive and authoritarian nations in the world — and we see why some visitors describe its capital city of Ashgabat as a cross between Las Vegas and Pyongyang. Paranoia sets in as we get the feeling we’re constantly being watched. And we take a side trip to a giant fire pit in the desert that’s been burning for 40 years! Read more and see photos, as well as a video of the Darvaza Gas Crater on my website. Far From Home is a...


10: Culture Clash

“Honestly, most Americans — when they think of Iran — probably think of 3 things,” my brother said. “Desert, oil, and nuclear capabilities.” And it was true. Before our road trip across Europe and Asia last summer, we didn’t really have much of an idea what to expect. But now as we drive across Iran, we realize it’s a place where things are rarely black and white. Everywhere we turn, we see a tension between sticking to the old way of doing things and forging a new path. Listen in as we...