David Treanor and his buddy Geoff Stayton where two journalist at the BBC News department in London. They have been there steadily for over 25 years growing their careers and friendship. But one day all of a sudden, 3000 jobs were about to be cut and they were offered an early-retirement package which they promptly accepted rather than become middle-aged unemployed editors in an industry where new technologies where thriving.
As both friends where sitting on a bar gulping a few beers to figure out what they were going to do with the rest of their lives, David spotted an article in a newspaper where he read a story on a charity named “Save the Children” which raises funds by selling vehicles driven to Ulaanbaatar and assisting local abandoned kids with the profits. As Geoff returned to the table with a new round of brewskies, he was greeted with the news: “We’re going to Mongolia!” And to Mongolia they went!
Neither of them was an adventurer, a camper, a car mechanic aficionado, knew any language other than English or was an avid outdoorsman. Yet, they went for the adventure and obviously made it, since one of them is telling the story.
Of course that is not recommended to just pick up a van and drive to Mongolia with no preparation. I do believe that either these two were extremely lucky to make it all the way to Ulaanbaatar or the author just kept some stories private in order not to enrage his wife.
This is a light book about two buddies travelling through the unknown, figuring out life as they move on through their 8,000 mile journey. The narrative is extremely funny and it reminded me a lot of Bill Bryson’s travel books. Treanor has a knack for explaining situations in a way that without a straight-out joke he just makes you laugh out loud as you can picture him facing odd situations.
The trials and tribulations of this duo through Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia are wonderful. The clash of cultures, friends met along the way, dealings with different languages and alphabets in remote border crossings and their problem solving skills when ordering food and beer in foreign lands are worth the read.
If you have an adventurer’s soul, even if you haven’t been to many adventures lately, you will surely enjoy this narrative and wonderful experience. And if you don’t, at least you’ll laugh along the way.
Mission Mongolia – Non Fiction
This review was originally published on Lectum Ergo Sum