Exploring is delightful to look forward to and back upon, but it is not comfortable at the time, unless it be of such an easy nature as not to deserve the name (Samuel Butler, Erewhon). Travel tales from the book Worst Journeys are good examples of that.
Do you dare to experience the world as it really is? This book is edited and introduced by Keath Fraser. He has collected a bunch of terrible travel experiences from many persons. These travellers tell their stories combined with reportage, fiction and poetry. This makes the stories extra interesting to read. Some of the authors are quite famous such as Redmond O`Hanlon, Paul Theroux, Bob Geldof, Graham Greene (whom I know best).
Photo. Cover from the book Worst Journeys.
Can you trust travel writers? What is fact and what is fiction? I am sure that many people wonder why travel writers obtain so much more interesting travel adventures than the average traveller. Of course it could be that they have a unique talent.
Some persons have a great personality, and are unique in that they are able to create interesting situation without any arrangement. But something I doubt on: For example I find it hard to believe that all the long and detailed conversations in some of the stories is correctly rendered from their own experiences. But at the same time I am sure that many of the travel writers write continuously in an own diary to catch all the interesting details from their experiences. This makes the facts and long conversations trustworthier, but probably not without fiction? But anyway it is really interesting reading! In this book you can find all the best excuses to stay at home.
But as way the stories are written you be probably keen for more fascinating and funny reading as this. If you look at it with a sense of humour you can also be inspired to travel far out in the world. I can ensure you that there are many ways to have a bad trip.
Here are some examples:
- Visiting of a dreadful place in South America: "..the smell of dead barnacles and damp sand, flooded sewers, brine, oil, cockroaches, and tropical vegetation which, when soaked, gives off the hot mouldy vapour you associate with compost heaps in the summer, the stench of mulch and mildew ..." (Paul Theroux) from The Old Patagonian Express).
- They would be the first English-speaking company of actors to play in Moscow since the Revolution of 1917. Timothy Findley was on the same flight as Graham Green, but it turned to be a flying nightmare (An unforgettable journey to Russia - Timothy Findley).
- Bob Geldof tells about various degrees of human degradation in the disreputable Patpong district, Bangkok. What he experience was reality. He drew parallels to some of the horrifying scenes in the movies Apocalypse now and Deer Hunter. His journey in to the degradation will shock you.
- What is an acceptable level of violence? During his stay in Northern Ireland, P. J. Rourke learned about conflicts, religion, politics and what was an acceptable violence level. This is shocking reading, but truth can sometimes be hard to face (The piece of Ireland that passeth all understanding - P.J. Rourke).
- Redmond O`Hanlon tells a story about bugs in Amazon. In this area there are many bugs as example spiders; "At the water level, there were a surprising number of hunting spiders, no bigger, in total extent, than the palm of your hand, which jumped across the surface."
Is it something to learn from others experiences? Yes absolute. One thing is sure: we don't live in a perfect world. Just remember one thing: things don't work out always the way you want! With all the good advices you get in this book you can hopefully avoid bad experiences yourself. At least you will get to know how to take precautions, and how to handle problems if they occur. Highly recommended book!
Stein Morten Lund, 22 September 2000
Additional information and links:
The idea of a bad trip (by Martha Gellhorn, taken from the mentioned book):
"You define your own horror journey according to your taste. My definition of what makes a journey wholly or partially horrible is boredom. Add discomfort, fatigue, strain in large amounts to get the purest-quality horror, but the kernel is boredom. I offer that as universal test of travel; boredom, called by any other name, is why you yearn for the first available transport out. But what bores whom?"
What your opinion about this?
What is your definition of a bad trip? Send your contribution (text and photos) to us through our Inquiry Box. We intend to publish some of the best stories; you can choose to put your name on it or just be anonymous. Link to related information: Do you dare to see the reality in the world? Read more (click here