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November 12, 2009

By Any Means

by Charley Boorman

As a huge fan of the Long Way Round/Long Way Down/Race to Dakar series produced by Russ Malkin and which saw Charley Boorman team up with Ewan McGregor for the first two epic journeys, I had no hesitation picking up By Any Means. The idea, originally scribbled by Malkin on the back of a boarding pass, was to travel from Charley’s home in County Wicklow, Ireland, to Wollongong in Australia using any means of local transport available except commercial airlines. It is a journey covering 20,000 miles and taking in 25 countries.

Although perhaps not as strong as the motorcycle treks, it is nevertheless a challenging journey for Charley on many levels, not least because he once again finds himself saying goodbye to his family for another three months (not that I’m complaining, but if he finds it so tough, why does he keep doing it?!). Starting on motorbikes from his childhood home, where father and filmmaker John Boorman still lives, Charley sets off from Ireland on the first of many modes of transport. The route leads him through Europe and Asia and on to Australia via trawler, ferry, taxi, train, bus, car, tractor, container ship, tuk-tuk, rickshaw, elephant, helicopter, barge, raft, junk, jeep, wakeboard, camper van and horse, among others. And along the way, Charley delivers crucial vaccines for UNICEF.

Taking LWR/LWD out of the equation – nothing has yet to compare with these two epics IMHO – By Any Means is without doubt a fun and hugely interesting journey. However, although it obviously presents a major logistical challenge, the cynic in me still finds it difficult not to see it as anything more than an über-vacation – a gap year XXL. But no doubt it won’t stop me reading By Any Means 2

James’ out-of-five star rating: ***

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