Travel Reads

Off The Rails – Tim Cope & Chris Hatherly

At twenty years old, most of us are partying and deciding on a direction in life. These two, Tim and Chris had other ideas. Their ideas involved biking through Russian in the snow, only to continue through Mongolia on abandoned roads and finally traverse through China with the police at their heels until they reached Beijing. With a small gathering of sponsored equipment, a budget of $4 a day and a map, the boys set off. They met no shortage of unique characters, most importantly their Russian mother-figure, Baba-Gayla. With brotherly bickering and many inexplicably difficult situations to try and extract themselves from, Chris and Tim take turns to recount how they made it through a journey others predicted futile. Check out the website link to see the documentaries and other books available.


Tracks – Robyn Davidson

She is searching for a sense of purpose. The desert and a couple of camels is her solution. Getting the money and camels to even begin to make tracks was a journey in itself. One that often seemed out of reach. People referred to her as the Camel Lady. Robyn’s closeness and respect (except a few mongrels at the pub) of the few people she encountered in the desert gave real insight to an amazing way of life. In an interview, Robyn said she feels sorry for people that don’t even understand the idea that you can get lost in such a safe modern world we live in with all conveniences. Although I have never set foot in the outback and have only encountered camels across the fence at the zoo, this is a tale I could relate to of bravery, determination and acceptance. There is also a movie which you can watch, click here. Just promise me you’ll read the book first!


Love with a Chance of Drowning – Torre De Roche

Torre packed her life into a suitcase and moved to San Francisco in search of adventure. When she pluckily chatted to a stranger at a bar, love followed and life changed. Argentinean-born Ivan was an IT Project Manager with plans to set sail on his modest boat, the Amazing Grace. Destination: the Pacific Ocean, where Torre recently flew over to get away from it all.

She apprehensively decided to accept his offer to sail into the sunset together even though she has an acute fear of the ocean. What follows is a raw, honest and often hilarious account of everything that went wrong along the way. She also recounts the most amazing experiences that made the hardship worthwhile. The pictures Torre painted in my mind were incredibly vivid. The whole book is a masterpiece and I’m now addicted to her work.


Moron to Moron

Two Morons. Two morons. One shonky adventure of a lifetime.

A couple of morons decided to visit a couple of morons. The first two morons are Kiwi blokes and the other two are townships in Mongolia. As a fellow Kiwi, I can relate to the innate desire to lose oneself and take the scenic route, we call it the ‘Tiki Tour.’ Tom Doig and Tama Pugsley excel in the art of wrong turns, cultural misunderstandings and general moronic behaviour. The childhood friends embark on a unique bike ride from one moron to another, camping along the way and eating almost anything they can find, including airag (fermented horse milk) and beef from a can. Locals are fond of Chinggis Khaan Vodka and Tom and Tama are offered a swig from many a bottle. The race is on to experience a Mongolian festival called Naadam, which doesn’t have a set date so it’s a bit hit and miss. They stumble upon countless Gers (dwellings) and Ovoos (religious structures) and meet a host of Mongolian characters along the way, including a few fellow morons – zang!


A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually and Merde Happens – Stephen Clarke

Paul West, an Englishman spends a year working in Paris, he ends up in the Merde a lot as the title suggests. He’s literally in the merde as well: the French love dogs and they’re everywhere. So is their excrement, particularly on the sidewalk as Paul encounters. He’s come to establish English tea‑houses for a predominantly French customer-base. Hilarity ensues as Stephen’s witty tale unfolds amidst a cloud of drama.

The French characters Paul meets along the way are often at odds with the English way of life he is accustomed to. Moving countries is challenging on it’s own, add a drastically different culture and a foreign language and there’s fodder for a fantastic read.

Merde Actually follows on where A Year in the Merde left off. The English tea-rooms open and still nothing runs smoothly for Paul. Fortunately his life is never dull and provides great humour for readers. He returns to the United Kingdom briefly and gains a new perspective.

Merde Happens finds Paul West in financial merde this time. He tours America in a Mini and representing his fellow Brits. He squeezes his French girlfriend Alexa and his American friend Jake into the car and adventure finds them. This introduces a new culture comparison to Stephen Clarke’s typical tongue-in-cheek verse.


 

Where the Rainbow Fell Down - by Lynette Robinson

Where the Rainbow Fell Down – by Lynette Robinson

Where the Rainbow Fell Down – Lynette Robinson

Lynette Robinson has produced a very real and raw memoir with amazing insight to New Zealand life post-war and takes the reader on a journey to recent times. Being a fellow Kiwi, I loved the cultural references. Lynette grew up in a Catholic Family with a state house.

Her life then weaved around the country and reflected tumultuous experiences where the rainbow did indeed fall down. I appreciated the honesty and bravery in revealing details of a challenging life. This compelling book provides sharp descriptions that complement reflective commentary. Despite the challenging topics covered, the narrative is a smooth and easy read. Although the topic is not travel, it is certainly a journey that I recommend you make.


 

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