Sunday, January 27, 2013

Travelphan: Fear, Faith, & Glory in a Journey Across Asia by Ryan Astaphan:Interview


Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Traveling is a huge part of part of my life and an essential part of my book. Travelphan is a play on words, as my last name is Astaphan. This book was written on airplanes and in airports, in London, in India, in Thailand, in China, and in America. I wrote it in an apartment in a large Indian city, in various parts of Thailand, and in rural China. The countries and people I met along the way are integral to Travelphan.

How do you describe your writing style?

I write conversationally and openly. It is like I am talking to a close friend or even as if I’m sharing my internal dialogue. While being my own unique person, the way I write is similar in style to Anthony Bourdain. When I first read him it amazed me that his words on paper sounded just as they did verbalized on his TV show. I share a similar ability.


What was the scariest moment of your life?

This is actually a topic that I share in Travelphan. One day I went to Ft. Lauderdale beach with a couple of friends. For whatever reason I felt like proving to myself that if I swam out far enough that sharks wouldn’t attack me (an illogical fear I had always had). If I kept calm sharks and other marine life would leave me alone, or so I believed. In fact, no creatures ever came near me as far as I know. However, at one point I had gone so far out that the lifeguard whistled me in. As I turned back to shore I found myself unknowingly caught in a riptide. For each stroke forward I was pulled out two or three times that. I began to panic and knew I that I would not live to ever swim again. My limbs grew heavy and useless. Just as I was about to go under one of my friends came to my rescue. Without him I would have died.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Up until about 4 years old I wanted to be a soldier like GI Joe. That was until I found out that you could die in war. Since then I have dreamt of being a professional athlete. The competition, the creative freedom, the attention of displaying yourself in front of thousands of people, all of that played to my heart.

I was a pretty good athlete too. If I hadn’t quit football in high school (out of fear of failure), I think I probably would have gone on to play division 1 in college. Unfortunately, later on between 2006 and 2009 I had three devastating knee injuries. I was told I’d never play sports again. In Travelphan you see my journey to heal myself and regain the ability to play sports as I travel through Asia.


What is your favorite meal?

I fell in love with pad see ew in Thailand. I’m sure you are aware of pad thai. If you like that, imagine something similar but even better. God, I love Thai food!


Do you play any sports?

Growing up basketball was my first love. I excelled in it until the sport outgrew me (I’m not a very tall man). Next for me was tackle football. This is a sport I was great at, but then the pressure became too much. I was a perfectionist and feared failure, so I quit. Ten years ago when I was 17 I began playing soccer. For five of the last ten years I was unable to play sports due to three ACL tears.

My trip through Asia was a chance to be reborn both spiritually and mentally. I set out to heal myself in India through yoga and ayurvedic healing. The plan was to then do kick-boxing in Thailand and kung fu in China. I could tell you what happened and if I currently play sports, but that would spoil the book.


How do you react to a bad review of your book?

Honestly I’ve only received great reviews up and till now, but that is due to the fact that no strangers have read it yet. The way I look at it is no one will ever be loved by all no matter how successful they are. Tupac for me is the best rapper ever, but many people think he is trash. The same can be said for The Beatles or Pink Floyd. You can’t please everybody.


Everything that has happened in your life has lead you to where you are now. The events of Ryan Astaphan's life lead him halfway across the globe. Made miserable by his job and debilitating injuries, Ryan set out to Asia in order to find happiness. Ryan embarked on a spiritual and physical journey through India, Thailand, and China. He would practice yoga, kickbox, change lives, and live in a remote kung fu academy.

Travelphan is a psychological, intimate, and inspirational story told in a modern voice. Utilizing short chapters, Travelphan is an easy read for the text message and status-update generation. Travelphan is a book like none other.


Ryan’s mother, a New York-born Jew, chose to study abroad in Spain and in Mexico while she was earning her undergraduate degree. Ryan’s father, a native of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, moved away from home at 16 to study medicine in Canada.
Like all families, Ryan’s wasn’t perfect as a child. The stress of life became too much for him until he found an outlet in sports. Playing sports became an integral part of Ryan’s life early in elementary school, and it was all he wanted to do with his life.
While studying at the University of Florida, Ryan tore his ACL (a ligament in the knee crucial to stabilization) in a rec-league soccer game. In total, between 2006 and 2009 Ryan tore his ACL three times. He was unable to play sports. With the injuries Ryan lost one of the greatest sources of joy in his life.
In 2010, a major event in Ryan’s life changed him forever. He awoke him from a daze and had him realizing that life is too fleeting not to live out your dreams. It was then that he decided to set out on a magnificent trip through Asia. On his trip Ryan kept a journal. Upon returning he transformed that journal into Travelphan.
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