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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2013
Rob Lilwall's second book, Walking Home From Mongolia, is a strange yet compelling beast.

It is, on the face of it, a linear account of an extremely long and admittedly monotonous walk across the full breadth of mainland China. Rob positions the story deliberately as a sequel to Cycling Home from Siberia of some years ago. As with Siberia, the journey will begin somewhere dauntingly remote; rules few in number but clear in scope are set; and in declaring a final destination of Rob's home in Hong Kong the foundations are laid for a simple, gruelling adventure.

Rob is quick to acknowledge that the reality of a journey like this is not necessarily filled with daily spectacles and dramas and epiphanies. Rather, it is a slow trudge accompanied (at least to begin with) by a big intellectual comedown; daily concerns becoming no more complicated than those of nourishment, shelter and companionship -- humanity's primary concerns for the vast majority of history. There are deeper personal rewards to be had, but they are revealed only with time and reflection, and only to those with eyes to see them.

For me, it is these distinctly unglorious aspects of the journey that created such an insightful and enjoyable read -- just as much as the anecdotes of derring-do involving hapless policeman and linguistic confusion and ill-advised forays into fifteen-mile-long road tunnels that make up the bread and butter of such an adventure.

I was left with memorable impression of a journey occasionally enlightening, often challenging and frequently miserable, but one ultimately meeting the author's deeply personal ambitions and representing a unique and unrepeatable chapter in his own ongoing spiritual journey.

If you're looking for a book in which to live out some Far Eastern travelling fantasy, this probably isn't going to be for you. But if a warts `n' all exposé of the challenges faced by a `professional' expeditioner looking for a meaningful journey in a rapidly-changing modern world is a prospect that floats your boat, I can highly recommend Walking Home From Mongolia.
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on 4 July 2015
Other travel / adventure books I have read have left me feeling inspired - this book did not. It left me feeling rather bored. I'm not entirely sure why either - it seemed bland. Perhaps the adventure itself was actually bland - and hence, it appeared so in the book.

I think perhaps the most grating aspect for me was his continual referral to his 'darling Christine' (his wife) and he could not wait to see her. Pretty much ALL of his elation throughout the entire trip from Mongolia to Hong Kong, was in anticipation and satisfaction of meeting up with his wife along the way. I never once felt that level of enthusiasm for ANY aspect of his trip, so called adventure, however, it didn't FEEL like an adventure. It felt like an obligation. Indeed, as another reviewer has suggested, an obligation to complete the trip to create a film to make himself some money for him (from talks about his 'adventure') and for the charity his wife and he support.

The author also gave the impression that he viewed the trip as being all about himself, and nothing much to do with his travelling companion Leon - who I feel without, the ego of the author might have tipped over the scales were it not for the humour, tolerance and enthusiasm of Leon. So, I suspect also I found the author a little unlikeable.

It is hard to explain why this book left me feeling uninspired. The author tries to inject his emotions into it, he talks of some of the details of the trip such as their diet, their budget, the places they travelled through, people they met, arguments, temperatures and so on. But somehow it's on a level which did not pull me into FEELING any adventure. Just hassle. Just an obligation. An annoyance.

SO I guess it boils down to the author appearing not to have enjoyed any of the trip, other than meeting his wife along the way, and the end. Which, is not inspiring.

But it was a good enough effort. Hence the 3 stars, instead of 2.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
I have twice visited Mongolia to ride horses, and I love this sympathetic people and culture-focused adventure. There are so many anecdotes of interactions with the locals, details about the landscape, the difficult weather conditions and the sometimes infuriatingly slow progress. Well done you guys for completing the walk and keeping faith in yourselves. But how did you ever expect to get away with walking through the motorway tunnel?!
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on 24 July 2014
Thoroughly enjoyable book. You have to marvel at Rob and his cameraman's incredible journey. It was one of those books that I couldn't put down and looked forward to reading the next chapter whenever I had to leave it.

So much so, that I have ordered the DVD of the film they made whilst staggering across China - and a lot of it was a stagger! I felt very pleased to be reading it at home on my comfortable couch, with little more challenge than making the odd cup of tea in between chapters!

Rob's insights into the Mongolian and Chinese way of life are fascinating and all the more precious for stemming from his intimate and unique journey through difficult and isolated terrain - very often walking where no other westerner had walked before.

Rob deserves huge recognition for what was an amazing journey through incredibly difficult and little visited terrain, meeting folk who sometimes had never seen a "foreigner". Gasps of delight from them, as gasps of delight from me on reading it.
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on 29 January 2014
This book tempted me for several reasons, but mostly because of the unusual scope of this journey. Crossing the Gobi desert and all of mainland China was a wonderful achievement, and it was fascinating to read how such a vast expedition was possible on such a low spec (relatively) budget. I spend a lot of time outdoors with various people and could empathise with those long repetitive days, the difficulties of spending too much time with somebody and I could also appreciate the end goal. Great read with interesting insights into Mongolian and Chinese culture, great humour and a clear thirst for adventure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2013
This is a wonderfully engaging and honest read. The descriptions of people and places alongside the danger and joys of walking all that way make for a wonderful story. I
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I had bought this book expecting an interesting travelogue, some culture, history and insights. None of that. It's basically two guys walking from Mongolia to Hong Kong (I also didn't realise home meant HK). They eat a lot of instant noodles, they suffer from their own poor planning and meet some friendly people. They're also filming their epic walk for a TV show and about a third of the book is all about getting the right shots etc. Oh and they're using an iPhone with Apple Maps and not Google to chart their course, adventurous indeed. That's literally it. The author cites several other books on China like Colin Thubron (Shadow of the Silk Road) and Peter Hessler (China Driving and more) but those are far better books. Even a light weight like J Maarten Troost's Lost on Planet China is more interesting. In fact, even reading something as out of date as Paul Theroux's Riding the Iron Rooster is a better use of your time and money.

I would however recommend this book for children in their early teens. It's a simple, light weight book about two blokes. Kids who need to acquire a reading habit may enjoy it and there's not a word in it a 13 year old wouldn't understand.
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on 17 November 2014
Excellent read, a well written account of not just an adventurer's epic on-foot journey through varied challenges and terrain, but a very interesting look into modern day China and the personal encounters with genuine, hilarious and often generous common-folk Chinese.
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on 17 January 2014
We loved his 1st book and were excited to learn of his new book. We are pleased to say it didn't disappoint. His voice is engaging, humble and generous and warm, in situations that are tough and enlightening and unexpectedly entertaining.
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on 19 February 2014
Like Rob Lilwall's books. This one continues to interest as he travels through the various countries. very readable. Would recommend it to people who enjoy travel writing.
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