(Yes I did begin it the end of last year but hey! I’m done now and I’m counting it.)
Happy New Year everyone. I won’t even mention our previous year. I know how everyone feels about it. Moving forward….
I just finished listening to almost 20 hours of a travel book by Alastair Humphreys. It is described as:
At the age of 24, Alastair Humphreys set off to try to cycle round the world. By the time he arrived back home, four years later, he had ridden 46,000 miles (74.000kms). across five continents on a budget of just £7,000.
From frozen Siberia tundra to the jungles of central Africa, Alastair recounts his extraordinary adventures in two parts – Moods of Future Joys and Thunder & Sunshine – brought together in audiobook for the first time.
Alastair lives in the U.K. He had finished university, had a young woman he loved but he was restless. He didn’t want an office job though he had very lucrative offers with secure employment guaranteed. He decided to take his 7000 pounds and ride around the world. It was the summer of 2001. He had no mobile phone, gps or any of the other technology we use so readily these days. His plan was to go from the UK to Europe, eastward through Iran, Afghanistan, to Asia, Japan, Australia, South America, the United States. He planned on being away for four years.
However, after he started out 9/11 happened in the U.S.A. and once he arrived in Turkey he was advised to not go through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Instead he went to northern Africa, beginning in Egypt and south to Cape Town, South Africa along the western African coast. From there he went to Patagonia in South America and rode north to Alaska. He then rode through Japan, Russia and westward back to Europe.
He lived on bread and jam and spent next to nothing. This is his story of hardship, severe loneliness (lots of tears), contrasting poverty and wealth, beauty and ugliness in the surrounding areas. He learned a lot and realised how privileged his life was. I’m glad I listened to the audible version as I find first person travel books the most enjoyable in this format.
It took me awhile to warm to him. The first couple of hours he carried on ad nauseum about his crying jags, missing his girlfriend, how out of shape he was, how he didn’t know why he was doing this. He hated it, he wanted to go home.
I almost gave up but still had about 17 hours to go. As I couldn’t sleep one night I set the timer on audible for 30 minutes hoping I would fall asleep. Once he took the focus off his emotional needs and began realising where he was and how much he was enjoying himself, in spite of his reservations it picked up.
To get from one continent to another he bummed rides on yachts and container ships. He was very tenacious and embraced the people no matter where he was. Some of the accommodation he stayed in made my hair curl. Filth, overflowing squat toilets, bedbugs. He rode across Siberia in the winter in deep snow. I don’t know how he managed it but he did. He had friends that flew in to various places and rode with him in certain places and then they would leave.
I have read a lot of travel writing and I think this must be the most arduous trip I have been on vicariously with anyone. But he did it. He finished when everyone said he wouldn’t. I won’t say anymore than that.
He was a good narrator and I really enjoyed his descriptions of the families he stayed with, the places he slept, ate and visited. Little snippets of history popped up here and there but not enough to make me yawn. I don’t read travel writing for extensive history. Instead I want to hear about the day to day logistics of what one does, eats and who they meet. This did not let me down.
It is the closest I can get at the moment of travelling myself.
Now going into 2021 I think I’ve had enough travel writing for awhile. This book wore me out and I’m looking foward to getting into some other books and activities. More on that soon.
I have been reading other books, mainly dipping in and out of several but more on that another time.
All the best for 2021 and I look forward to seeing what everyone gets up to this year with their books,challenges, lives. Stay well and maybe we’ll all get back to normal before too long.