Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure
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She touches on the fact that most American trains are slow, infrequent and sparsely used, while failing to comment on the car culture that has arisen as a result or the fact that such distances could be covered to great effect by high-speed trains if the country would only invest in them. For a book about traveling around the world in 80 days there was very little information included that showed they had actually travelled in 80 trains. A couple of hawkers started to work their way up the carriage, one selling fish cakes and noodles, the other dragging an ice bucket stacked with cans of Nescafe…A Dutch family swapped a few of their bananas for a couple of my Snickers bars and between us we were managing to forge a pretty decent meal.
However, around much of the journey – certainly in most of Asia, which is by far the majority of their route – they experience their skin colour as a small advantage. There are entertaining trips through Japan, Canada, America and best of all North Korea and Tibet, before a final run through Kazakhstan and on the Orient Express from Venice. 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. Part of the reason for travelling by train is that there is more opportunity to interact with the people around you, something that you don’t get travelling by car or even in a bus and I’m beginning to think that this is the way to travel. Seven months and having travelled 45,000 miles by trains all over the world, Monisha Rajesh and her fiancé were almost home enjoying the luxury of the Orient Express.
An interesting and at times inspiring journey, as much about the people met during the authors travels as the places visited. It is good reading in our current time of restricted travel in 2020, and does make you want to get out and see the world, and enjoy it by train. Sharing a language helps, I suppose, as she is able to recount far more conversations in this chapter than elsewhere. Though it took me a while to get into, I picked the book back up this week and couldn't put it down until I finished.
Monisha records her journey through this book as she explains in detail about the various trains that she took, the food that each place had to offer, the sleeping arrangements, the people and struggles of adjusting to new culture though it was for few days. As a gesture of goodwill, we had bought him a Magnum ice cream, which he had accepted, then laid on the table in front of him.
Africa, South America, Australia are never touched, and it's not a Phileas Fogg style circumnavigation.