Written by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman and Robert Uhlig
Published by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
Published in 2004
It started as a daydream. Poring over a map of the world at home one quiet Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor, acclaimed actor and self-confessed bike nut, noticed that it was possible to bike all the way round the world, with just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska. It was a revelation he couldn’t get out of his head. So he picked up the phone and called his fellow actor-slash-biker friend Charley Boorman and told him it was time to hit the road…
Beginning in London, Ewan and Charley chased their shadows through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia; across the Pacific to Alaska; then down through Canada all the way to New York. Long Way Round is the result of their four-month, 20,000 miles joyride. Featuring original daily diary entries, and dozens of photographs, this is a freewheeling, fully charged, and uproariously entertaining book about two world-famous individuals who chose the road not taken…and made the journey worthwhile.
Long Way Round is a mentally and physically exhausting journey made by two friends who wanted a break. The book is comprised of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s daily diary entries that were written during the entire trip. By sharing both of their personal diaries you are able to get two very different perspectives of their overwhelming trip around the world.
In the beginning, I was a little irritated, especially with Ewan. He liked to name-drop quite a bit and, also, liked to mention which movies he was filming at the time. However, as I kept reading, I realized that Ewan’s journey was about leaving the film industry behind and discover new things about himself. I thought it was amazing how he and Charley were able to get on a pair of huge BMW bikes without an entourage and travel across some of the most difficult and dangerous roads in the world. They would stay with complete strangers and found out the true meaning of hospitality.
For Ewan and Charley, Mongolia was the highlight of their journey. They were able to, finally, leave behind their insecurities and obsessions of keeping their riding schedules. They started to absorb and enjoy the ride. At one part, they decided to take a quick dip in a nearby river.
Ewan: “This is so liberating!” I screamed, running naked along the riverbank back to my bike. “Three nude men in the countryside. We should have some drums and bows and arrows.” The best part of the impromptu skinny-dip was that we had shaken off our obsession with keeping to the schedule…But we’d come to realize that keeping to planned mileage was pointless if we didn’t experience anything along the way.”
It was moments like that that made the book so entertainment; watching grown men run around like little boys enjoying their adventure.
However, there were times where the extreme demand on their minds and bodies was just too much. Charley wrote that “It was just so hard. More than once I thought: what the f—k am I doing here? Why am I doing this? Who thought this was a good idea? I just wanted to go home. For the first time, I really hit a low, my mood all the worse for not having eaten since breakfast.” When Charley would really let himself experience the land, he would lift himself out of his dark mood and journey on. Their extreme mood swings was prevalent throughout their journey. They had highs and lows. It really is amazing how they were able to fight through their emotions to meet their goal.
I really enjoyed this book. I experienced all the highs and lows with Ewan and Charley. You are left with such a respect for what these two accomplished. They left behind the comfort of their families and their privileged lifestyle to experience extreme off rode biking and other cultures. They came back changed men.