Why are travel books so immensely boring? How can a writer in good consciousness take one of the most exciting things that a human being can do and turn it into an expensive substitute for Ambien?
My suspicion is that all travel authors start out writing text books and then get promoted. Who else could turn in 3000 words on the “big historical buildings that form the town’s central plaza?” Look I did it in 9 words and all ready you’re thinking about turning the page. HOLY GRAVY BATMAN THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING BETTER!
And there is. I found it in South Africa. But don’t worry; you can get it here, too.
First here’s the all important legal disclaimer:
If you are one of those people who wants to read all the gory details about old churches and old buildings. Or who must know how the locals lived before the Ice Age. Or who can’t exist without a guided bus tour (complete with all you can eat “local” buffet lunch and two daily shopping stops) more power to you. There are thousands of travel books you’ll love.
For the rest of us, there’s Anthony Bourdain.
Sure he’s a famous chef with a popular TV show. But he also an adventurer who writes great travel books.
His newest book, “No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach” is available locally in hard back for $34.95 MSRP.
Glorious full color pictures of locals cooking, eating, drinking and having fun. The obligatory shots of Tony and his crew having fun, enjoying life and contemplating the immense variety of experiences our world has to offer.
No MBA University writing here. Just short, emotive prose that tells you about a place without making you grab for a Red Bull.
And he tells it like he feels it is.
“Sweden: a nice place where nothing bad happens. And nothing especially good, either.”
“Being a cook is like being in the mafia: once in, never out. Which as it turns out, is a beautiful thing.”
“In Uzbekistan, you can get anything you want to eat – as long as what you want is kebab or plov.”
His Las Vegas chapter includes bikers, showgirls, dwarfs and a visit to the Neon Sign Graveyard. He calls it his tribute to Hunter S. Thompson. In Africa you’ll visit a native Ashanti Village. Then eat warthog (delicious) with Kalahari Bushman in Namibia.
One of my favorite chapters was “Bathrooms Around The World. Including entries and photos of both the best and worst.
Plus advice that would never be found in any other travel book.
- To learn about real local food, always visit the local market. Food will be fast, fresh, cheap and surprisingly good.
- If you’re going to a country with really primitive, filthy bathrooms, start taking your anti-diarrhea medication before you go. Maybe you can do the whole trip without needing to use the facilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the kind of practical advice that we adventurous world travelers need.
Bourdain is definitely not your father’s travel guide. And it isn’t your kid’s guide either. There’s a lot of alcohol, some drugs and other “adult activities.” However, it isn’t the X-Rated Guide To Amsterdam’s Red Light District, either.
My South African paperback has 288 pages and cost $214 Rand which works out to about 25 USA bucks.
Bourdain’s written several books. In addition to “No Reservations” I can also recommend “A Cook’s Tour,” “The Nasty Bits,” and of course the book that made him famous, “Kitchen Confidential.” All provide outstanding insights into food, travel and living a full, adventure filled life.