Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotland to South Africaby Published 09 Jun 2009
|Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotland to South Africa.pdf|
Now in paperback, this second remarkable travel book from famed actor Ewan McGregor and his good friend Charley Boorman chronicles their epic adventure ride on motorbikes from Scotland to South Africa.
After their fantastic trip around the world in 2004, recounted to acclaim in Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman couldn’t shake the travel bug. Inspired by their UNICEF visits to Africa, they knew they had to go back and experience this extraordinary continent in more depth.
In Long Way Down, they share their 15,000-mile journey, from the northernmost tip of Scotland to the southernmost tip of South Africa, to ride some of the toughest terrain in the world. Along the way, from the pyramids in Egypt to Luke Skywalker’s house in Tunisia, they meet people who have triumphed over terrifying experiences—former child soldiers in Uganda and children living amidst the minefields of Ethiopia. They have a close encounter with a family of gorillas in Rwanda and are nearly trampled by a herd of elephants in Botswana. Riding through spectacular scenery, often in extreme temperatures, they face their hardest challenges yet. With their trademark humor and honesty, they tell their story—the drama, the dangers, and the sheer exhilaration of riding together again through a continent filled with magic and wonder.
Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotland to South Africa Reviews
Having been fascinated by Africa for many years, I watched Long Way Down before Long Way Round, and am following the same pattern with the books. Yes, I am aware I am doing this all out of sequence.
Reading along as they traveled, it was wonderful to see the experiences Ewan and Charley had through their own eyes. Not everyone has such an opportunity, be it due to time, money, or both. I think it's great that they had such an opportunity to experience the world in such a way, and took it. Was it completely on their own? No. They had a film crew with them, a team medic, a guy who handled security (if needed), and fixers for each country. People may scoff at that, but let's not forget that Ewan is a known actor, which could have labeled him as a target, especially since this trip was publicized and people around the world were tracking the boys. Was it likely that something would have happened? Obviously not; both men were safe and the most danger they faced seemed to be with sandstorms, kids throwing rocks, and false charges from an elephant.
I loved reading about road obstacles that were overcome, meeting fellow travelers on the road, and really seeing Ewan and Charley in their element. I wound up forgetting about the actor Ewan McGregor, and just appreciated the person Ewan McGregor, and reading his thoughts and experiences, and seeing his genuine love for what was around him. I was not familiar with Charley prior to watching the series, but really enjoyed him. Although Eve wasn't everyone's favorite, and admittedly I was hesitant about Eve joining when I watched the series, I found that I loved her inclusion. I felt that she represented those of us who don't ride, but would love a chance like this. Well done for her that she learned how to ride so she could experience at least a small portion of this with her husband and give us a bit of insight as to what it would be like for a brand new rider.
I will admit there were a few things that could have been written better. First, I would have loved to have read more about their experiences with the people, because it was amazing to get glimpses into how they lived and reading about their personal histories. So much life, love towards complete strangers, hurt, and ultimately: hope. But, understandably, time was limited and therefore the writing was to be affected by that. Second, the last chapter felt very rushed. I'm reading about how the journey is coming to an end, and next thing I know, I'm on the last page and it's all over. I would have loved more thoughts reflecting on the journey as they approached Cape Town.
I'm not really sure what people are reading to criticize it so harshly. Is there some complaining? Sure. Who hasn't gone on a long road trip without a few complaints? Now imagine doing that day after day, hundreds of miles a day, with little rest, few showers, and really not knowing where you'll be camping that night. It does take its toll. When this is not your every day life that you would be so adjusted to it, a complaint is bound to pop up. But I loved that it was never dragged out to the point of sensationalism (even the show stopped filming so they could work things out - something most reality shows would NEVER do as they thrive on conflict). They resolved their differences and complaints, realizing they were petty, and ultimately appreciated everything they were doing and understood just how blessed they were. If that's insufferable, or spoiled, or privileged...so be it. These are men who are being honest about themselves and their faults, own up to them, and see that there are people who have much less than them but still show genuine kindness and hospitality to them. It clearly humbled them. As for reviews that criticize how Ewan and Charley traveled with "humblebrags" that declare how their way is the only way - well, I find it very disappointing that an equally privileged person (because if you can travel from one country to another just for touring, you're privileged) would harshly come down on a fellow traveler. Who cares how people are experiencing this world? The fact is that they left their comfort zone and went out to see the world. That's more than most people in our lives can say. If anyone feels Ewan and Charley shouldn't have written about their experiences, then I invite that person to write a book because I honestly would love to know how vastly different Africa is to someone who bikes on their own vs how Ewan and Charley went. Honestly, I would love to see another perspective on it.
I truly did enjoy this book and look forward to reading Long Way Round. Although I will be going backwards in time in a way, it will be nice to "get back on the road" with Ewan and Charley. I woke up this morning missing my daily travels with them as I read through this book, which made me realize they did a good job making this about a couple of guys biking down through Africa, rather than making it all pomp and circumstance. The latter would have felt fake. I know so much is involved in these trips and it takes away a lot of time from their families, but I do hope they do another Long Way. Many of us are ready to go on another journey with them.
I don't know much about motorcycles or the private life of Ewan McGregor but this story was an engaging and funny tale of how he and his buddy drove from the northern points of Scotland down through Africa. It did a lot to personalize him and emphasize that despite his celebrity-status, he is a normal guy with a capacity for having fun and giving back.
Much like Long Way Round, this book is set with "the boys" going down through Africa. I thought it was more of the same kinds of issues and dramas, but it was all overshadowed by an amazing look into the lives of real people from those nations. I think sometimes everyone is afraid of Africa, and some places are dangerous, but the culture and energy of the place just totally came thorugh in this piece.
I read the book and am in the middle of the series. I think that's the order to do it in! Again, when traveling and culture are involved I'm sold! I learn a lot about places, and start planning trips!
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have lost some of their naivete in their second world stomping journey, and that innocence has given way to a touch of privilege that leads to some insufferable whining and a lot of indignance at the world's ills. This journey through Africa is more about making their Unicef dates than it is about discovering the world they're riding through (and that isn't a bad thing, necessarily, but it doesn change the dynamic that fans of the boys may find distracting), and that makes their own enjoyment suffer as much as ours. Still, by the time they reached Malawi and Ewan's wife Eve finally arrived, the boys had found a little bit of the joy that made Long Way Round such a joyful trip. Not nearly as good as the original, but still well worth the read if you like world travel, motorbikes and/or Obi Wan Kenobi.
Ewan and Charley are back on their bikes for another trip. This time from John O'Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa. I really want to watch the TV show now, I hope it's on Netflix!
I loved the stories from their travels, even if they both could be a bit grumpy at times although I felt it was less than it was in 'Long Way Round'. When they met up with the charities, I was really moved by what happened to the people, especially the child soldiers. What a horrific thing to do to people, the cruelty of man is awful.
It's balanced out though by the kindness of man, these strangers shared what little they had with the guys and they didn't encounter any trouble on their trip. It's such a shame that politics has taken most of these places off detestation lists as they sound like wonderful places and the tourism would really help boost the economy.
A book for people who love bikes travel or Ewen McGregor.