A female backpacker describes her solo adventures traveling through Asia in this densely packed debut memoir.
While planning a yearlong sabbatical, Boulet was unexpectedly laid off from her job in Great Britain. She decided to skip some of her trip preparations, including learning basic Chinese, so she could start her round-the-world trip less than a week later. After a month in South America, she moved on to Asia, the memoir’s focus. Traveling through Hong Kong, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, Boulet sought out remote areas unspoiled by tourism. To save money she stayed in huts, family homes, hostels and run-down hotels and traveled spontaneously via a mixture of trains, buses and private vehicles. Surprisingly, it was her transportation choices that proved to be the most dangerous aspects of her trip. Throughout the book, Boulet focuses on her connections with fellow travelers and locals. A Tibetan man merits his own chapter, and a few others appear in the epilogue, but most are brief, one-time episodes. Even shocking encounters, such as a monk who asked her to take a 4-year-old to India so he can have an education, merit a single paragraph. The summarized conversations, along with a penchant for passive voice and a huge volume of detail on every tiny village and temple, make for dense, slow reading. Luckily, Boulet is livelier than her writing. She bravely hiked to the Mount Everest base camp in adverse conditions. She agreed to drive a motorcycle for the first time—at night on Cambodian roads filled with cows, chickens and enormous potholes. She showed ingenuity when she ran short of money in Laos, and compassion when she helped a young postcard vendor.
Despite the exotic setting, the real jewels are the glimpses of a determined narrator who is not afraid to take the lead role in her astonishing adventures.