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Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure

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For a somewhat whirlwind tour MR gets beneath the superficial and goes for the essential qualities that characterize each nation they explore. I liked it for the updates on conditions in Tibet, Sinkiang, North Korea, as well as a look - albeit fleeting - on life in the hinterland of Russia and the ex-Soviet Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, as well as an interesting look at life today in Mongolia. Despite Rajesh’s gripes about some of my favourite places in the world to take trains, this book succeeding in rekindling my love for rail travel and my very real wish to do more of it. 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. I did love this quote which she attributes to Charles Shultz, the creator of The Peanuts; “ In life, it’s Not Where You Go - it’s Who You Travel With.

For more details, please consult the latest information provided by Royal Mail's International Incident Bulletin. Rajesh spends a lot of ink on the segments of the trip that pass through Russia, China, and North Korea.I like that Rajesh is aware of the problematic nature of travelling to a dictatorship and enjoying its state-sanctioned hospitality.

I also read Monisha’s first book - Around India in 80 trains - which I throughly enjoyed so I was very excited to read her second book. In fact, travelling through Tibet and meeting Tibetans on a Chinese train, Rajesh is a little embarrassed by the profuse thanks she is given by Buddhists for “her” country’s protection of the Dalai Lama.Perhaps it was a simple misunderstanding, but Rajesh had failed to realise beforehand that Eurail passes only really save you money if you make a plan and stick to it. When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. Here, they do a big loop of the USA and Canada before flying back to China in time for a guided tour of North Korea. The young Uighurs were regularly stopped and asked to hand over their phones for examination, and CCTV cameras above mosques ensured they didn't try to enter to pray.

The journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strike up friendships and swap stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views.

I started looking up her references for a musical background to my reading and also some of the places that struck my fancy.

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