Described as ‘a comedy travel adventure memoir’, this book is a fun, honest, fast-paced diary from 1995-6. The author tells us about her backpacking trip to South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Hawaii. Her experience as a white American female traveller – often solo – is an essential element of the book. She is clearly one of those restless souls who are always eager for new countries, new friends and new adventures. She went travelling after her motor home and possessions were stolen.
Most of the content is hair-raising, one way or another. I didn’t find a lot of it very hilarious and was shocked more than amused. I think she was pretty lucky, having taken so many risks, particularly with trusting male strangers enough to share rooms with them. She seemed quite naïve for a 25-year-old, not taking a sweater when she climbed a mountain, for example, or claiming not to know that blood in the water would attract sharks. Her fun and enthusiastic narrative style is the best thing about the book, along with some very interesting details in the first half.
There are about a hundred friends who feature in her travels and although it’s wonderful she found it easy to make new friendships, some of them were so ephemeral they were gone in a couple of chapters and it didn’t seem worth describing their appearances, or even mentioning them at all. The second half of the book was less interesting for me, partly because the culture of Australia and NZ was not very different (compared to South Africa – just after apartheid had ended, too – and Indonesia) and partly because she replicates bizarre conversations with hippies who ramble on about conspiracies, and she apparently believes them, which does not suit the tone of the book.
If you enjoy travel memoirs, this is definitely one for your list. If you’ve backpacked yourself, you might find the book resonates with you. Be aware that there are some spelling mistakes and no photos are included (except the one on the cover, which shows Pam being pushed off a bungee jumping platform by a ‘friend’).
Independently published in 2021.