Book Review: Slow Travel by Mari Rhydwen

Slow TravelSlow Travel by Mari Rhydwen
Allen & Unwin, 2004

If, like me, you’re constantly thinking of packing it all in to travel the world, read this book at your peril because you might end up doing just that.

And it’s exactly what author Mari Rhydwen and her husband, Allen, did. They sold their home in Western Australia, bought a yacht and set sail on a voyage around the Indian Ocean for three years, stopping at various islands and ports that few will ever visit.

Slow Travel is a journey of discovery and reveals in great detail how wonderful it is to shake loose the shackles of the everyday rat race and dive head long into your dreams.

It describes the frustrations and elations of travelling by sea; of being stuck in the middle of the ocean for three weeks with no wind to power the sails and not being able to do a thing about it, of the gruelling hours of labour required to keep the vessel in good nick, the days without food and the nights left alone on watch in a vast empty ocean while the other sleeps.

But for all the low points there are infinitesimal highs, which seem to make it all worthwhile. The feeling of reaching port after a few dodgy days at sea, catching up with friends in harbour that before were merely a voice at the other end of a CB radio, being able to dive off the side of the boat on a whim; of having a shower after going without for days and weeks at a time.

Slow travel, in the real sense, may be about taking your time to get to know places, people and cultures, to leave with a greater understanding of where you’ve been and the people you’ve met, but sometimes it’s about slowly getting to know yourself and what travelling can teach you and realising that, like all great adventures, the crappy times are needed to make the good times shine. After all, they frequently end up as the best memories; the ones that stick around long after the bright orange sunsets have faded and gone.