A Personal Adventure Through Friendship and World's Remote Places
This is not a typical celebrity spin-off but a story of two mates on a personal motorcycle adventure of a lifetime. They just happen to be well known actors.
Many readers will have seen the television series and may be concerned that this book was less of an adventure and more a series of photo-opportunities. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were determined that it was their personal trip first and filming came second.
Most of the time they travelled independently with just Claudio, the cameraman, on another motor-bike.. The support crew was small and the riders only met up with them every few days; the crew are important to the story but their presence is unobtrusive.
Alternative narratives from Ewan and Charley works well. Sometimes the pieces overlap in time to give different views of an incident. The approach brings out the two characters. Ewan: more introvert with wider mood swings, sensitive and caring with an appreciation of camping in wild places. Charley is extrovert and sometimes at risk of taking them into inappropriate situations; his occasional insensitivity masks an equally caring personality. And he hates camping!
Homesickness was a frequent problem for both especially when tired or having problems; they missed their wives and young daughters whilst away for nearly four months.
Along the way they visit UNICEF sponsored projects supporting children.These moments become increasingly important to both men. It strikes home when they meet children, same age as their own, living in tunnels under Ulanbaatar, capital of Mongolia
It is a stark contrast to the media circus especially in Kazakhstan where they are trapped into a series of media events which they do not want. In every town they are led in front of the cameras – a complete anathema; as the purpose of the trip was for a private trip experiencing the remote places away from the recognition that follows them, especially Ewan McGregor, in their everyday lives. Nevertheless they appreciate it is an opportunity, however unwelcome, for the Kazakh authorities to get publicity for their little known country – our storytellers just wished that they had been asked rather than simply hijacked.
People and Hospitality
At the start both Charley and Ewan are apprehensive, even paranoid, about safety and the risks they might face especially as they move East into places where everyone has a gun or where they may not see anybody for hours at a time. But the reality is different and they are shown kindness and generosity, albeit sometimes with bizarre overtones. They appreciate that people in remote places still have a culture of helping each other and even strangers.
Apart from, possibly, one close call they never faced threats to their person although at times it appeared they might. All through Europe and Asia, even whilst camping in the wilds, only Claudio had a bag stolen. Indeed it was back in “civilization” where they faced another theft in the USA and the most dangerous incident of the trip on a highway in Canada. In that incident Ewan Macgregor was lucky to escape with his life. In the wilds of Asia they had never had such a near miss.
The lesson was that majority of people are friendly wherever they live especially if they are treated with consideration and friendship in return.
This is not just a story for bikers; it is tale of two guys finding space and experiences which test their close friendship and could easily have put it at risk. However they come out of it stronger as individuals and friends. It is an adventure through both the world’s wild places and friendship.
Published by Sphere in paperback, The Long Way Round (ISBN: 0-7515-3680-6) at £6.99 is a book for all armchair adventurers.
First appeared on Suite101