Posted 20 hours ago

Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure

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Canadians don't take trains, they drive monster trucks from one province to the next, but that requires concentration on the road, and the need to stay awake. I understand this gets into a lot of philosophical sticky wickets about privilege and what it really means to travel and experience other cultures, etc. She glimpses an enthralling swirl of cultures and landscapes on a journey filled with memorable brief encounters: “Trains are rolling libraries of information, and all it takes is to reach out to passengers to bind together their tales.

In a few hours we would be back in the smog and grind of Beijing, clogged with cars and angry people, and I wondered who really had the better lifestyle. In some of the countries, she goes into a lot of detail, highlighting the political situation in Tibet or expanding on newsworthy stories to add depth to the narrative. If there was one flaw though it is missing a map of her journeys and it would have been nice to have a list of the trains that she travelled on too. If it disgusts her so much, then she should stop putting herself in those situations; she has that option, as she is doing this for pleasure/work and not because she is poverty-stricken and has to ride that way as her only source of transportation.A wonderful account of the diversity of life and the inhumanity that is part and parcel of our world told with such grace, courage and humour.

I would have liked to see more photos at the end of a chapter (not half way through) linked to that part off their travel. I persevered to the end of the book in hope of getting some useful insights, but sadly they were few and far between. Then it’s homeward bound through northwest China, Kazakhstan and Russia, before heading through Poland and Germany to Italy, where they catch the the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, travelling in well-earned luxury to London. I couldn’t stand the negative, narrow-minded commentary and lack of descriptive depth of some of the world’s most wonderful train journeys any longer and gave up soon after New York. When she learns that some of the roughest sections of the journey are going to be upgraded she mourns it as negative thing.Unexpected acts of kindness and generosity of spirit create a unique sense of community, “like we are a train family”, as one traveller tells her in Thailand. Monisha Rajesh is a British journalist whose writing has appeared in Time magazine, the New York Times , the Guardian and the Sunday Telegraph , in which she wrote a column about her journey around the world. It takes a while for things to get going in this book, and at one level, I'm glad it doesn't have some of the frenzy of the first book.

As other reviewers have said, it was not a trip round the World as Africa is not covered and neither is South America. However, let’s firstly start with the fact there is no list of trains and routes in this book (would have been nice to cover that plus length of each train journey). China's cultural Revolution unfolded in the mid-1960s, driving the desecration of almost all of Tibet's monasteries, destroying libraries and paintings. I can relate to the hype and the need to not let hype get in the way of one's personal experience of a sight/site, and still being disappointed.

Rajesh offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in a book that will make you laugh out loud - and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen - as you whirl around the world in its pages.

Our pseudo-busy, social media-driven lives had shortened our attention spans and tricked us into thinking we had no time for slowness and deliberation.Though at times Rajesh is very pessimistic and critical of the world, she has a balanced amount of beautiful storytelling and representation of people's opinions. Her second book, Around the World in 80 Trains (2019) won the National Geographic Travel Book of the year and was shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Award.

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