Over my years of reviewing I have enjoyed travelling across the world with several authors, while most of us are re-thinking our holiday options, I thought I’d take another look at a selection of my favourite travelogues.
Salt Water and Spear Tips by Thor F. Jensen. Thor’s world-record circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailing canoe. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers. Patrick goes to Northeast Indian in search of the people who grow living bridges from the roots of trees. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Hit the road Jac!: Seven years, twenty countries, no plan by Jacqui Furneaux. On her fiftieth birthday Jacquie took off travelling the world on an Enfield motorbike. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
In Foreign Fields: How Not To Move To France by Susie Kelly. Susie and her husband hoped to find paradise in the French countryside. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
A Visit to Gansu Province for the Chinese New Year by Helen Wallimann. Helen visited rural China and the man-made cave dwellings known as yaodong. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Fifty Miles Wide by Julian Sayarer. Julian cycled through Israel and Palestine meeting people from both sides of a troubled region. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Among Friends: Travels in Cuba by Heather Murray. An interesting look at Cuba from the author’s multiple trips which began in 2009. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Immersed in West Africa: A Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau by Terry Lister. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Adventure by Chicken Bus by Janet Losole is the memoir of a family who spent three years backpacking through central America. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Toubab Tales: The Joys and Trials of Expat Life in Africa by Rob Baker is set in Mali. Rob tours the country in search of its music and musical instruments. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
From A Wonky Path To An Open Road: A short book about a long journey join Janey de Nordwall, her cat and her 1970s VW campervan as they journey around Scotland. Read my review here or find it on Goodreads here.
Jacqui Furneaux was fifty when she took off travelling for seven years on a motorbike. Not just any motorbike, but an Enfield. For anyone (like me) who is not aware, the Enfield (or Royal Enfield) is the longest-lived motorcycle design in history, though sadly no longer built in England; they are now manufactured in India, where Jacqui proudly bought her own bike at the start of her journey.
A little back-story: needing to get away from a post-marriage break-up, Jacqui met up with Hendrikus, a Dutchman with a motorbike who she’d met backpacking in Asia. Having kept in touch, Hendikus asked Jacqui to buy her own motorbike and go travelling with him. She’d previously owned motorbikes, so was open to this suggestion.
What follows is a wonderful journey through some amazing places, encountering generous and kind humans of this world. Jacqui’s route took her through Asia, Australasia, South and Central America. There were hardships, difficult times and painful partings, but these were balanced with the beauty and wonder of the natural and manmade world. Jacqui learnt to fix her own bike or accept help when it was offered. She survived a broken leg, numerous border crossings, dealt with complex documents for both herself and her bike, slept out in the open and went where the flow of life took her. She may have felt she was running away from one life, but she created another one which most women in their fifties would never dream of.
The narrative is written from Jacqui’s memory and diary entries, sometimes snippets, other times as longer passages. There are a few delightful pictures, but I found myself easily picturing much of Jacqui’s journey from the words on the page. I like unusual travel memoirs and this was an enjoyable read. Yes it could do with another proofread, but I was happy to overlook the errors to enjoy the ride.
Recommended to anyone who enjoys a travel memoir. This would make a great gift, perhaps for friends celebrating a significant birthday.
“Read this and you’ll want to go on an adventure. Jacqui’s tale is not just obviously inspiring, but her story makes you think about the pleasures of nature and simplicity; about taking the time to just stand and breathe life in, something we all quite wrongly think we don’t have the time for. Her words reminded me of myself as a child, being inventive, imaginative and at times pretty cheeky to get what I wanted. Though clearly tough and dangerous at times, her journey seemed to create joy, a self made joy. Nothing better. I’m a huge fan of her trip, it’s made me think…… I bet it will make you think too….!” SUZI PERRY
7 years, 20 countries, no plan. How it started…
In 1998, after bringing up a family and being a nurse and health visitor, I set out on a year’s journey, on my own for the first time ever. I started backpacking in Thailand and explored many South-East Asian countries armed only with wide-open eyes and a guide book. Six months into the trip and feeling quite the adventurous explorer, I went to Pakistan and India before returning to the UK.
But I found I really liked travelling and although at my age I really should have known better, I set off again, this time combining my love of travel with my other passion … motorcycling. I’d owned various Japanese motorbikes over the years since passing my test aged 24 but had never had an Enfield!
Picking up my brand new Enfield from the showroom in Chennai, India.
Exchanging guide books for road maps, for my 50th birthday I bought a 500cc Enfield Bullet in India and rode it, initially alongside the Dutchman who had suggested the idea. None of it was planned. I would not have dreamed I’d be having this chance of a lifetime when I should have been saving for my retirement. But life’s too short not to take a chance.