Good Reading : May 2011
MAY 2011 ı goodreading 27 behind the book bombs were lighting up the city of Lahore. Nearby a French traveller in a four-wheel drive had been kidnapped, and in the tourist campsite in Islamabad a team of heavily armed soldiers stood guard day and night to ensure the safety of the campers.Timor was also unnerving, where tension still clearly simmered beneath the surface, despite the constant stream of aid agencies and the ubiquitous UN trucks. In Thailand civilians and protesters were being shot in the street. In Russia I slept in a hedge by the side of the road, with nothing to protect me but a penknife and the odour from my clothes. India was by far the toughest place to ride. It wasn't just the 48° heat and the terrible state of the roads; it was the insane way in which the drivers of lorries and buses would aim straight for you and expect you to move, or else wear you as an ornament across the front of their grille.The advice I'd been given before entering the country was that if you are hit and maimed, then expect to be reversed over and hit again, because the compensation they pay the victim is less if they're dead than still alive. It was also in India that I thought briefly about quitting. But I just couldn't bring myself to give up IfImadeittoEnglandIwouldbea hero. If I didn't I would be a failure. I've heard other riders doing similar trips say that they're coming home only by bike or by box -- nothing else. It's a strange mental space to find yourself in, where you're willing to put your life in danger to fulfil a challenge. But at the time it makes perfect sense.You're on a mission to get somewhere, and nothing's going to stop you. One of the people on the journey who had the biggest impact on me was a woman who worked in the café at the Mt Isa Visitor Infor mation Centre. After serving me a pot of tea she came over for a chat. Upon hearing of my adventure she said that if I was ever to find myself in trouble then I should summon the angels and fairies, and that they would come. I didn't know what to make of this at first. I thought she might be crazy ut soon I realised she was right. Whenever I was in trouble -- such s the time I was stuck down a ditch in Indonesia -- something or omeone would always appear to olve the problem. Overall it was an incredible experience. By the end I felt as though I could conquer the world. But then it came down to writing the book and I soon I realised that the greatest challenge was yet to come. To create the right mood, I moved into a shed that I'd put up at the bottom of my parents' garden.The contrast between the confines of the shed and the freedom of the open road was stark. The shed had no window and was incredibly small. I even slept in it ome nights, lying awake wondering and worrying about how the book hould start. I wrote the first chapter n the walls of the shed because ust didn't know how to get my oughts down on the page. I found easier with a huge wooden canvas nd a felt-tip pen. As I wrote, it became clearer o me that while I was off having wild adventure, Mandy was left t home to carry on with her routine. It was she who sent me on my way in the first place, but the intention was always to keep the embers burning. Instead I was simply too distracted, too enamoured of my own journey to stop and realise this.This was my biggest mistake. And it cost me. That's why I've written my book: not with the intention of encouraging people to take off on heir own adventures, but instead o appreciate what it is they already have -- instead of spending their days dreaming about what else might be out there beyond the orizon. If I could tur n back the ock I still would have set off that ay, but instead of ding solo, I would ave insisted that Mandy come along s well. Going Postal by Nathan Millward is published by ABC Books, r rp $29.99. High in the Himalayas as I rode the Karakorum Highway from Pakistan to China. The altitude was the biggest test for the bike and me. A volcano in Bali offered some steep off-road practice. The girl at the centre of it all visited me in Thailand. We had a great time. Then I had to ride on. My disguise for Pakistan was ruined by the helmet. People don’t wear them here.