Bicycle Odyssey: An Around-The-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery by Carla Fountain
Bicycle Odyssey is a travelogue from American husband and wife cycling duo Carla and Dermot, who took off cycling around parts of the world for eleven months in the 1990s. They focused on Europe, Africa, India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Bali.
Although they used aircraft and some public transport to get to destinations, the main focus was on travelling by bike. At the end of the book Carla listed miles cycled, alongside a budget and packing advice for others thinking about this style of travel.
Occasionally their plan was to visit friends and family, but mainly they wanted to get a real feel for a country and its people. They particularly enjoyed interacting with the locals and staying in places away from the main tourist trails. The slow pace of cycling also allowed them to see places that could easily be missed when rushing past in a car, train or plane.
Cycling in cities was often the hardest with all the fumes and traffic; their safety at these times became paramount. Remember, this was thirty years ago; many of these cities will now be even more congested.
Other aspects have also changed; place names and tourism as a whole are different now in some areas. For instance, Carla and Dermot entered Vietnam at a time when there were no diplomatic relations between America and Vietnam; it was a risk. However, you could argue that all travel is a risk.
There is a basic map at the beginning of each new country, but the pair visited so many tiny unknown places that it was often hard to follow. I quite enjoyed this nostalgic armchair travel experience, but I am aware that much has changed in the years since their trip.
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When author Carla Fountain set off on her year-long cycling journey, she expected new discoveries about the world. But she hadn’t anticipated a shocking rediscovery of herself.
Bicycle Odyssey, a travel memoir, follows Carla and her husband, Dermot, as they embark on a challenging bicycling adventure that not only tests their survival skills, but ultimately their relationship. Armed with a will to persevere, they face unexpected danger and a cultural learning curve that nearly costs one of them their lives.
In a time before modern conveniences, these two travelers off the beaten path lived disconnected from all communication. No cell phones to call home. No ATM for quick cash. No internet cafes to send a message. Relying solely on themselves, and a few helpful angels along the way, they experienced the lush beauty of Uganda, the welcoming people of Vietnam, the isolated mountains and hill tribes of Thailand, the terror of traffic in India, and the magic of Bali.
Their journey did not end the moment they stepped foot at home. In fact, it continued for almost three decades as the couple digested the trip and acted on the lessons they learned. By telling their story, they hope to inspire and give confidence to others in pursuing dreams. Told with vivid observation about the world and the people in it, Bicycle Odyssey shares the story of a rich and enlightening pilgrimage.