It was by accident I discovered this book, but how fortunate it was! Murphy did not just ride a bicycle from Ireland to India, impressive in itself, but she lived and laughed and played with the Prince's and Peasants she met through out her journey. Her descriptions of the people she meets and the ancient lands she cross are simple and magical.
Some of her experiences seem to belong to fairy tales, other's remind's one of Arabian Nights, and at other times, it seemed Murphy was whisked into Tolkien's land of Middle Earth with fierce and gallant warriors on horseback.
I will quote a couple of passages which highlight her sense of humor and observation.
"...But it was worth it all to rise gradually from that fertile, warm valley to the still, cold splendour of the snow-line, where the highest peaks of the Hindu Kush crowd the horizon in every direction and one begins to understand why some people believe that gods live on mountain tops."
"...when suddenly I came on the most unexpected sight-a playing field complete with twenty-two youths and a soccer ball. I know very little about soccer, but enough to know this is how it is not played. No one ever moved about trotting speed, no one ever tried to tackle anyone else, the referee never used his whistle, the ball was never headed and the two goalies sat crosslegged between the posts most of the time, looking abstracted. The real excitement from a spectator's point of view was caused by the fact that one side of the field had a sheer drop of 200 feet, so that the main object of all the players was to keep the ball from going into the ravine rather than to kick it between the posts."