on 29 September 2008
Under Asian Skies
Under Asian Skies is a very personal memoir of a once in a lifetime, extended trip to a part of the world which evokes welcome images of the exotic, not least since we have just experienced the greyest British `summer' known to modern man. Packed along the way with interesting little nuggets of information, peopled with diverse and often colourful characters, detailing personal challenges and obstacles to be overcome and peppered with insightful social observations, this is a frank and honest account of an adventure which offers much for anyone considering a `gap year' or `career break' vacation, with or without motorcycle.
The author, Sam Manicom, comes across as a compulsively likeable character whose laid-back philosophy is non-discriminatory and dictates that he takes the world at face value. His reaction to the potentially catastrophic incident, where he is sent flying off his beloved bike `Libby' by an idiotic third party, is by any measure astoundingly tolerant. There is also his commendable stoicism in the face of medical setbacks which would have reduced almost anyone else, myself included, to a gibbering wreck! These noble virtues are offset by an indefatigable sense of adventure and not inconsiderable degree of impulsiveness - some might say recklessness - not to mention the unexpectedly mulish stubbornness provoked by encountering a little mild bureaucracy when entering Australia. Most refreshing to me, however, is that he doesn't take himself too seriously, as memorably illustrated in his cheerful description of a gross-out incident on a bus of truly epic proportions. You need to read the book ...
I thoroughly enjoyed `Under Asian Skies' and cannot help but regard Sam Manicom as a real inspiration to those of us who hold a dearly cherished dream to travel widely and experience all that other cultures have to offer, but haven't yet found the courage to live it.
on 6 November 2008
This is the second book of Sam's I've read, the first being "Into Africa"
The insight given into the places travelled to feels very real, as if you are a part of the trip yourself. The journeys (in case you don't already know) are ridden on a motorcycle but the book I feel would be just as enjoyable and interesting to a non motorcyclist.
I thoroughly recommend Sam's books and am really look forward to reading his third "Distant Suns" which has just been published.
on 23 March 2016
This is Sam Manicom's second book, and it carries on with the round the world adventure that is chronicled in his first book, Into Africa. I'll also subscribe to the idea mentioned by another reviewer that readers should undertake Sam's books with great caution, as you may end up with a desire to escape your "normal" life and set off on an adventure of your own.
This book starts in Australia and New Zealand, carrying on into Asia, where this book hits its stride. There are plenty of ups and downs across Thailand and Malaysia including a bout of dengue fever. The chapters in India are fascinating and you'll find yourself laughing out loud while sympathizing all the same as Sam and Karsten, a German biker with a short fuse he meets on the road, share the unfortunate fate of weeks trying to untangle red tape whilst trying to get their bikes out of a shipping container in Madras. From India, it's off into Nepal before back to India, into Pakistan, and finally, amazingly, getting an entry Visa into Iran.
This is not the typical travel book filled with seeing the sights and misfortunes that make for good stories - although there are elements of this included, this is more about the people encountered on the way and their incredible kindness and generosity.
Under Asian Skies is highly recommended for anyone who thoroughly enjoys travel, culture, people, and adventure. As mentioned earlier, read with caution. I have already traded in my road bike for an adventure styled Honda NC750X and am currently working out how to tell my wife that I want to spend a couple of weeks of precious holiday, riding through Europe.
on 15 December 2015
It is perplexingly rare to find a person who is both a good traveller and a good writer, particularly in today’s increasingly uncurated world of self-publishing. In this context, Sam’s work easily rises to the top, sitting comfortably alongside the best modern writers in the genre. As a traveller, he is intrepid, patient, open-minded, resourceful, and philosophical; equally likely to recount what he learns as what he conquers; his mistakes as his victories; as he travels from Australia back to the UK overland in the seat of his trusty motorbike (with the exception of a memorably comical and bike-less few weeks in India). As a writer, he is perceptive, clear-minded, eloquent, and able to swing from finely shaded anecdotes to broad brush-strokes of time and space without the result ever feeling disjointed. Because of the vulnerable nature of motorcycle travel – open to the whims of those he meets, whether he likes it or not – and because he is limited only by finances, as opposed to by time, his journey is free to meander, become sidetracked and delayed in all sorts of delighful ways, and this gives Sam the time and space to perceive keenly those around him and relate his shared snippets of their lives with vividity and colour. All in all, classic overland journey recounted with mastery and passion – I can’t recommend it enough.
on 22 November 2008
Once again Sam has worked his magic with the written word in this the follow on to his first book, Into Africa, the continuing story is of the experience and not the journey, the people he meets and his interaction with them. He has such a way with the words that he draws you into the pages as if you where along side him and experiencing everything along the way.
on 9 September 2015
Sam's journey continues through Asia, but I guess you figured that one out. As in his first book "Into Africa" Sam's way of describing his ups and downs is very vivid and colourful. You get a real feeling of being there with him when he describes the smells, the light, the dirt, the fresh air and so forth. His genuine, low-testosterone, understanding and inquisitive nature shines through on every page. He is a master at describing his surroundings, his observations and the people he meets. This is what makes this book so worth reading. I want to ride through Asia now, and I guess that's the best grade you can give a travel book. Can't wait to get my hands on his next book; "Distant Suns".
on 10 June 2016
Sam Manicom has produced another winner. From first page to last the adventures keeps you wanting more. The descriptions of his travels
are so realistic you could be there yourself. Trauma that is India's customs while waiting the release of his motorbike would tax most people, but not Sam. From the start he winds you through country after country, the meeting of many people and their cultures makes you see the good in most people. Buy this book and you will be enthralled as much as i was.
on 9 February 2015
Here we find Sam getting into his stride, both as a traveller and writer. He keeps focused on the journey adding interesting anecdotes and illustration to help provide an understanding of the cultures and societies he experiences. Sam comes across as a gentleman who is able to accommodate change with flexibility while retaining focus. To the reader this skill is at once attractive yet frustrating. It would be interesting to sometimes see a little more of the frustration, which Sam clearly encountered, reflected in the writing. Perhaps that's not the nature of the beast. I'd like the book to be longer. There are a few occasions when we seem to dash through a part of the world where the surface is just scratched. However, this probably reflects the variety of pace at which Sam travelled.
I bought Under Asian Skies having thoroughly enjoyed Into Africa. On the back of this read I've ordered the next two.
on 2 August 2014
This is the second book I have read by Sam Manicom, the first 'Into Africa' I enjoyed so much, I had to read the follow up to find out about his experiences in Asia - a continuation of his round the world journey riding 'Libby' his trusty BMW R80 GS. I have to say I really enjoyed this book, and I think it would suit anyone interested in reading the travel genre - you really don't have to be a biker to enjoy his writing style - it's not all about the bike.
Sam comes across as a laid back guy who really does take the time to observe his surroundings and the people within, and people he meets along the way. He tells you exactly as it is, but does so without off-loading any real opinion or prejudice. He informs the reader of each low or high point with great clarity - a real warts and all read. He definitely opens your eyes to the world he has seen. I'm amazed at Sam's patience too, the ability to wait 6 weeks to get 'Libby' back through Indian customs would try the patience of a saint, however, Sam sets about to analyze the culture he is part of, and tries to 'fit-in', he will always try to find the good in people in whatever situation he finds himself.
In short, don't expect a blast through Asia by Motorcycle lacking detail with a 'wow that was a culturally amazing spiritual experience' round up. And don't expect a 'lofty' slow read packed with detail you don't need to know either.
I believe Sam has the perfect balance - just right for this genre.
Can't wait to tuck into Distant Suns - his third book !
on 23 May 2015
Having now read is the second one of Sam's I've have in my collection and it was just as good as the first lots of great details tech stuff and sightseeing; it leave me wanting more and more and even though it feels like you are on the trip there is still enough left out for me to go and see for my self (I wish). Well travelled Libby is a start in her own right I only hope my bike Tweety Pie (Yellow R1150GS) hold up as well.
I strongly recommend you read Sam's books they are very well put together and well keep you entertained - now time to get the next book written by Sam & Libby