Newest Review: ... are covered in the book, and I reckon they sound like very tense times as they try to raise the funding. They finally manage to raise t... more
Ewan McGregor and his moody mate bike round the world
Long Way Round - Ewan McGregor
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Long Way Round - Ewan McGregor
Advantages: Fantastic real life adventure
Disadvantages: Charley Boorman's mood swings
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman ride east from London to New York on BMW motorbikes in this book, Long Way Round. They made a television programme about the same trip, which was the forerunner to their @long Way Down' adventure going south from Scotland to South Africa.
I've seen and read both, and can comment that as real life adventure stories go, I think that this book, the Long Way Round, is the better adventure to read. The reader is easily sucked into the sense of discovery and hard times that Ewan and Charley encounter as they learn about the perils of motor biking through road-less terrain the hard way. By the time they set off to do the Long Way Down, their adventuring cherries have been well and truly popped and there is less of an element of a boys' own adventure about it.
Ewan takes the credit for having the idea to ride around the world, and ropes in Charley Boorman (an acting / bike loving friend) and together, the two of them plan the mammoth trip. The planning stages are covered in the book, and I reckon they sound like very tense times as they try to raise the funding. They finally manage to raise the required cash, diaries are cleared and off they go.
The first few days of the trip take in western and central Europe. I thought that this part of the journey was the least interesting as places like France and Germany are too close to home to be considered as anywhere near exotic. As they enter the Ukraine though, it's like the trip starts and the tale takes a bizarre twist when they encounter a man named Igor - I won't give too much away about this apart from to say that their time with him is full of guns, uncertainty and vodka. It's one of those encounters that make travelling so unique - situations like that would never happen if you sat at home all day.
As they progress through Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, the adventure aspect of the trip becomes more prominent as they camp in the wilderness, are in some extremely isolated places with little support and the descriptions of the scenery are breathtaking. This middle chunk of the journey takes up a good portion of the book as there is more to write about than their time in France and America. When they reach Magadan in Eastern Russia and cross over to Alaska, Canada and the US states en-route to New York, I felt that the book was a bit of an anticlimax after their wilderness adventures in Mongolia.
Understandably, Ewan and Charley have highs and lows during the gruelling expedition, but after a while I found Charley's tantrums very grating. He quite often flew off the handle at Ewan and Claudio (their mounted camera man who did most of the journey with them on his own bike) and their support crew, David and Russ. Ewan comes across as quite a deep sensitive soul and does himself no harm in this warts and all account of the pair going through some gruelling times. The way the book is written, Ewan will write a section about a particular event then Charley writes his own piece so you get a balanced view and can make your own mind up - I did and came to the conclusion that Charley is a sulky so and so!
The entry into Canada and the US see the two adventurers return to the comforts of hotels and convenience food, and there is a nice moment when they are surprised by a meeting (planned in secret by their support crew) with their loved ones.
During the trip, they take part in a few awareness raising visits on behalf of Unicef and I found these parts to be very touching and a stark contrast to the main theme of the book. Ewan resolved from then on to do as much work for Unicef as he could. He also overcame his inherent mistrust of the kindness of strangers during the trip - something which he blames on living in London. I found these human aspects of the trip very rewarding to read through, and made me feel part of Ewan's personal journey. Charley meanwhile just sulks a lot and acts like a diva.
I'd recommend this book to those who like real life adventure stories, and I certainly wouldn't say that you have to be a fanatical motor biker to appreciate it - if anything it seems that the bike aspect of the tale has been toned down. I enjoyed it immensely, the full five stars from me.
Summary: A round the world motor bike trip with Ewan McGregor
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