[Slowhand] Eric Clapton, The Traveller

John Mills turbineltd at btconnect.com
Fri Jul 25 03:29:37 EDT 2008

RE: "Is there anybody out there?"
This one's for Jon Maclean; Jon, most of us don't write if there's nothing
to write about.


Eric Clapton, The Traveller.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ thetransitcafe.com
Friday, 25th July 2008

Yeoh Siew Hoon gets stuck into Eric Clapton's autobiography and learns about
the man, the musician, the traveller -

In his autobiography Eric Clapton shares more than his music - he bares his
soul. He talks about his mother who turned out to be his grandmother, his
women (too many to count), his drugs and drinking problems, his deep
insecurities, the tragic death of his son, his guitar collection, his music
and, lastly, his travels.

I found his narration of his travel experiences interesting because as much
as he was a musician, he was also a traveller - enjoying much like us the
simple pleasures of a holiday in the sun with the family and yet, barely
tolerating the whole process that travel has become today.

In the later part of the book, where he talks about his last world tour, he
relates his return trip to America from Europe. "Because I had a one-way
ticket, I was a prime suspect for blowing up the plane, and the security
people joyfully took me apart as usual.

"I swore quietly to myself for the hundredth time that I would never come
back to this country again. Of course it's the same everywhere now, but for
some reason it feels worse in America."

"I used to love traveling," he continued. "I've always felt it was in my
blood, but I can't stomach it anymore and literally dread going to an

He then goes on. "The interesting thing about this tour has been the quiet,
and sometimes happy knowledge that I may be going to some of these places,
places I have been visiting all my life, for the very last time."

Sad indeed for his fans if that day should come to pass but every traveller
comes to that point of the road - where we say, it's the last trip, the last

But something always happens to make us move again.

I am always excited at the beginning of each trip - be it a short business
trip or an extended holiday break - but I also know when it's time to end
the trip and return home, and I am always happy to come home. And then I
will say, how nice, I will be staying put for a while and within a couple of
weeks, a restlessness washes over me and my feet start tapping.

And then I start to dream - of sitting on a stool in Saigon, sipping coffee
and dipping spring rolls in pungent fish sauce; of walking on that beach in
Samui and letting the sea water wash over my feet; of lying on a patch of
grass in southern France while the sun blazes overhead and a cool breeze
gently blows over my face; of sitting on top of Borobudur and gazing out at
the rice fields and thinking nothing .

Clapton too has his favourite moments.

The first thing he does when he arrives in Tokyo is to meet a friend (Mr
Udo) at the Hama Steakhouse for Kobe beef. "I will go to my hotel, drop my
bags and go straight to the restaurant, and I have been doing that for the
last 34 years. I love Japanese food, and while I am there, I will probably
eat with Mr Udo three times a week, the finest food you can imagine."

We all have our favourite food wherever we go. I can't say I am such a
creature of habit as Mr Clapton but in Hong Kong, I always head to the Shang
Palace for "ee fu" noodles. And the last three times I've been in Hong Kong,
I've been to Ye Shanghai where I love the dim sum.

Clapton too is grateful for technology and how it helps him keep in touch
with his family and to stay current during long trips. "I honestly can't
imagine life without I-Chat or I-Sight," he said.

On this last world tour, he also covered other parts of Asia - Singapore,
Thailand, Indonesia and China. "The first week in Indonesia was like a blur
to me. It seems my ability to transcend jet lag has completely disappeared
in my old age, and my natural curiosity has diminished a great deal, so that
venturing out of my room had become a highly debatable occupation."

The weather didn't help, of course, "leaving me limp like a lettuce leaf".

One city he was looking forward to was Shanghai because he had never been
there but "with all the expectations I had about Shanghai, it was a major

"Flying in through the smog and blinking lights atop the bizarre array of
new skyscrapers, it felt like I was entering a real-life version of Blade
Runner and for some reason, I was instantly on my guard.

"That feeling never really left me for the next few days and I was always on
edge, from the fractious stare-down with the immigration officer when I
arrived, to the constant side-stepping of of street hustlers, selling
knock-offs of everything from DVDs to Mont Blanc pens."

And while he had had "huge trepidations" about New Zealand and Australia, it
was "all for nothing".

"It proved beyond doubt that my attitude and state of mind would always
govern my impressions of people, places and things," he wrote.

In this, Clapton is merely human. In his guitar playing, however, he is 'God

This book is a keeper.

Watch Clapton on Clapton here:

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and
commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the
hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past
20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at

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