In 1956, 22-year-old Frank Huffman embarks on a journey that will take him from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the exotic Orient, and eventually around the world. In this fascinating tale of adventure, Huffman shares his experiences and emotions during two years as a French interpreter for a community development team on the Plain of Jars in Laos, Indochina.
At the end of his tour in Laos, he buys a motorcycle and sets out for Europe, with only a National Geographic map of Asia and the optimism of youth as his guide. He takes us along for the ride as he
- climbs the fabled Angkor Wat in Cambodia,
- cycles up the road to Mandalay in Burma,
- floats up the Chindwin River on a river boat,
- is chased by a motorcycle-hating cow near the Taj Mahal,
- participates in a mutiny on a ramshackle bus in the Pakistani desert,
- thumbs his way across Iran to Turkey, and
- carouses through Europe in a Simca with pilfered sleeping bags and C-rations.
Throughout this marathon, Huffman offers keen insights on the culture and society of Laos and the some 25 countries he passes through, and also provides trenchant commentary on subsequent events in those countries. Huffman's self-deprecatory humor and his undisputed mastery of the English language make Monks and Motorcycles a delightful read.