Turning Left Around the World is a story of David and Helene’s round-the-world voyage – in style. This isn’t just any journey. The couple celebrated retirement by taking “53 flights, 30 trains, 8 boats, 3 cruise ships, 1 light aircraft, 1 hot air balloon, a motorbike and sidecar, countless speedboats, taxis, tuk-tuks, cyclos, bicycles, and a disobedient horse” (to quote the back cover).
To be honest, after the first few pages, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one. It’s not my usual style, I mean, these people have a lot of money to spend on their trip, and they spent it. This isn’t a backpacking adventure or a your typical round the world road trip; they didn’t travel in discomfort or, most of the time, even carry their own bags. David and Helene employ the services of Audley Travel, a well-known trip planning company, to help them organise their adventure. They travelled in luxury, and certainly made the most of the indulgent side of life. I wondered if I’d be able to relate. But this book is full of great stories that did make me smile – David and Helene clearly had an amazing personal adventure, full of laughter, romance, a few tears, and some memories many travellers would like to have for themselves.
During their ten months travelling, David and Helene visit all the big hitters: Easter Island, Machu Pichu, the Galapagos, the Amazon, Fiji, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China and Japan (which doesn’t name them all). I particularly enjoyed the accounts of the Durian Fruit, which a friend has previously warned me about, and travelling on the Bullet Train. They visited many of the places on my own travel bucket list and, even with the amount of money being spent bringing tears to my eyes, I undeniably took a few gems away for my own future adventure planning notes.
Although there are some nice stories, the book is written as a guide in the most part; less of an account of a ten-month adventure and more a means to explain how you should visit some of the places on their list. I did like how the book was organised so that should I decide to visit any of the same places, it’ll be easy for me to return to that particular chapter to remind myself of the times I nodded with “I wanna do that!”. It is filled with history and facts and other information about each destination.
This is an involving book, it takes concentration to read, and I did enjoy it once I got over my initial concerns (and jealousy). Yes, this book has been written by a couple who are rather well-heeled, who turn left when they get on a plane, but it can speak to those on a tighter budget, too. Although you do have to read this book knowing that David and Helene clearly think their way is the only way to travel…
It would make a great read for anyone who loves to travel, whether you’ve visited the same places as David and Helene or not.
When I retire… no, sooner than that… I want to travel the world!
In the interests of openness, please note I received a review copy of Turning Left Around the World when it came out in September.