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Monday, February 20, 2023

Review: A Bike Ride - 12000 miles around the world

 I enjoyed my read of Lone Traveler so much that I looked for Anne Mustoe's first book, A Bike Ride - 12,000 miles around the world.  It wasn't available from the library or on kindle format so I bought it on eBay used. The book arrived and I read it while on vacation.

Written in a clear, transparent style that reflected her experience as a Principal of a private school (she calls her self former head mistress), the book is a single narrative comprising of her notes while traveling. Being an English writer from before the current spate of travel books by women, the book is unusual in that in doesn't depict a woman running away from an abusive relationship, trying to find herself, or recovering from some prior trauma. It also doesn't depict an incompetent person trying to execute a trip in way over her head. Mustoe is competent, preparing for her trip with meticulous research (even to the point of scheduling vaccinations at various points during her journey), with not a single shred of self-pity in sight.

There's even a great section in the book where she describes how she deals with sexual propositions while on the trip, and an encounter in a 3rd world country where a group of school children started chasing her on their bicycles. By and large she follows famous routes (like Alexandra's conquering army), and she's slept in situations that would cause many distress (e.g., on a table in a room filled with cockroaches), yet at no point does she claim pathos or pity.

Her tastes in food really reflect her culture. For instance, she rode all through India enjoying the cuisine, but would arrive in Thailand and hate the food! (She really didn't like rice or rice noodles) She loved Malaysia, a former British colony, and didn't enjoy mountains but didn't mind deserts.

I really enjoyed the book. Recommended.

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