Posts Tagged ‘Travel Memoir’

Twitchhiker: How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter

Paul Smith

There were five rules of Twitchhiker: I can only accept offers of travel and accommodation from people on Twitter; I can’t make any travel plans further than three days in advance; I can only spend money on food, drink and anything that might fit in my suitcase; If there is more than one offer, I choose which I take; If there is only one, I have to take it within 48 hours; If I am unable to find a way to move on from a location within 48 hours, the challenge is over and I go home.
Bored in the bread aisle of the supermarket one day, Paul Smith wondered how far he could get around the world in 30 days through the goodwill of users of social networking site Twitter. At the mercy of these rules, he set his sights on New Zealand – the opposite point on the planet to his home in Newcastle. All he had to do next was explain the idea to his new wife.
In an adventure wrapped in nonsense and cocooned in daft, he travelled by road, boat, plane and train, slept in five-star luxury and on no-star floors, shmoozed with Hollywood A-listers and was humbled by the generosity of the thousands who followed his journey and determined its course.
@twitchhiker – I can send you to Wichita by Greyhound if that’s any good! Sent 10:13 AM Mar 12th. I was more or less in the exact geographical centre of a different continent, and a nameless woman some 4,000 miles east in Dublin was buying me a bus ticket…

This was such an original idea it made me want to read the book. How exciting to travel the world and not know exactly where you are going and where you might sleep tomorrow! It was great to read about all the people who made this journey possible and all the ups and downs that there were. You can’t expect to circumnavigate the globe without a few hassles! Smith writes really honestly about how the journey worked out, the difficulties, the things he hadn’t thought about and the things he wasn’t prepared for.

It was interesting to learn about the world of Twitter, too. This was something that I was mostly unfamiliar with. This book does contain a unique insight into twitter and the tweeps that use it, (if you are not into this particular mode of communication you could learn a whole new vocabulary!). It was thought-provoking to reflect on the way communication has changed so much in recent years and on the impact on society of social networking sights. Smith offers some of his own insights into these issues, but there is plenty of room just to draw your own conclusions.

However I was disappointed that Smith didn’t write more about the places he visited. As he travelled across Europe and America he also had to work (fair enough!) but this didn’t allow time for actually visiting the places he was travelling through. When Smith reaches New Zealand he finally begins to have more time for his surroundings and it was great reading about the beauty of the country and his interesting experiences with the people he encounters there.

Verdict: A light-hearted and interesting read, but not quite what I was expecting so not one I’ll hang onto.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Summersdale
Publication Date: August 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Travel
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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But Can You Drink The Water?

But Can You Drink The Water?

Jan Hurst – Nicholson

A humorous portrayal of a naive working-class family’s attempts to fit in after emigrating from Liverpool to South Africa.
When Frank Turner informs his wife and teenage son they are emigrating from Liverpool to sunny South Africa, he is unprepared for their hostile response. His defiant son makes his own silent protest, and his wife’s assertion that “we never shoulda come” is parroted at every minor calamity.
The bewildered working-class scousers are thrust into an alien world of servants, strange African customs, unintelligible accents, and unexpected wild life (‘crocodiles’ on the wall).
Their uneasy interactions with Zulu servants, Afrikaner neighbours, and foreign officialdom exposes their naivety, but they each learn to cope in their own individual way; Mavis overcoming homesickness by hugging the knowledge that when Frank’s contract ends they can return home; Gerry’s sullen resentment giving way to love of the outdoor life, and Frank masking his own doubts with blustering optimism and bantering sarcasm.
Having overcome culture shock, the arrival of Mavis’s parents introduces a divided loyalty when Gert and Walter’s National Health glasses and ill-fitting dentures are seen through the eyes of the Turner’s new South African friends. And when Mavis’s sister ‘our Treesa’ and her opinionated husband Clive visit, Mavis surprises herself by hotly defending SA.
The turning point comes when the family return to Liverpool for a holiday. Gerry has outgrown his former feral friends, Mavis realises she is now an expat; a misfit in her former home, and Frank has fresh misgivings about their future.
If home means a sense of belonging –where do the Turners belong?

Set back in 1988, this follows the story of working class Scouser Frank, his wife Mavis and 15 year old Gerry as they move from Liverpool to Durban, South Africa. This light hearted book was an easy read and kept me amused. There are many funny moments as they adjust to life in Durban and discover that in fact it’s not the jungle, but that it’s certainly not Liverpool either. ‘We never shoulda come’ is spoken often by Mavis in response to all manner of calamities, major and minor.

They make friends, adjust to the heat and get used to having hired help. The visits’ of both Mavis’ parents, and later her sister ‘our Teresa’ and her husband Clive, find Mavis surprising herself as she begins to defend South Africa and their new life. A visit back to England ends up causing both Mavis and Frank to rethink their decisions and confront their true feelings about where ‘home’ really is. Having lived abroad and experienced this for myself, I would have loved the author to have explored the daily struggles of adapting to a new culture more deeply. I do feel that the characters lacked some depth which this could have addressed. It would have also been lovely to have gotten a greater sense of what Durban was like when they arrived; the sounds, sights and smells which I didn’t really feel I experienced.

Verdict: As a Kindle purchase costing me less than a pound this was an easy and enjoyable read but not necessarily one I’d pick up again.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Just4Kix
Publication Date: June 2010
Format: eBook
Pages: 318KB
Genre: Humour, Travel, Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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