Advantages Enjoyable adventure
Disadvantages Made me want to learn to ride a motorbike!
This was a book I bought my husband for christmas, which he really wanted to read after seeing the TV series. It is written by actors Ewan McGregor (Star wars, Miss Potter, Moulin Rouge....) and his best friend, Charley Boorman (Hope and Glory, The Bunker...), who met on a film set and discovered a shared love of motorbikes. In 2004, the two set off on their first motorbike adventure, Long Way Round, where they traveled east around the globe. After the success of that journey, thy soon decided to start planning their next adventure, and that is where Long Way Down fits in. A three month journey from the northerly tip of Scotland to the very south of Africa, covering nearly 15, 000 miles on the bikes and nearly 20, 000 miles all together. The journey was intended to raise funds and awareness for several charities which the two are involved with, Unicef, Riders for Health and CHAS especially.
The book is written in a diary format, with contributions from both men, reflecting on how they were feeling and what they were seeing. I wondered if having seen the TV series I would find it a little dull as I already knew what they would see and do. However, I really enjoyed the book and actually liked Ewan and Charley more in "book form" than "TV form." In the series they came across as a bit grumpy and ungrateful at the beginning of the journey. The book explains the tension at the time and it is more easy to feel sympathy for their felings. The change between the beginning of the journey, where they were rushing in order to make charity visits and ferry crossings in time and the later, more relaxed travelling is more marked in the book.
I enjoyed learning a little more about the charity visits, and how Ewan and Charley felt about them. They visited several projects along the way, and were constantly amazed by the feeling of hope in the hospices, schools, clinics and war-torn areas they saw. I was also pleased that, as in Long Way Round, the bikers did not stay secluded in hotels or private camp sites on their journey. They met some amazing people along the way, fellow travellers and locals, which sem ro have made the trip for them.
Charley and Ewan are convinced that being on the bikes allowed them to interact more with the people they met than they would have done in a car. I have no doubt it made for a harder journey, as a lot of the riding was off road or on rough tracks.
If you enjoy travel writing, diaries or biographical books, I think you will enjoy this. It is a very people based story, telling you a lot about the authors, their families, support crews and the people they met. I did not find that having seen the TV series detracted from the story in the book for me at all. The only critisicism I would have is that reading Long Way Round within the last month detracted from my enjoyment! The books are very similar in style and I think I maybe just had too much of the same! The only other problem with this book is the wanderlust it inspires!
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