What a wonderful book except for two common criticisms. First is the dearth of pictures -- is Heggstad the only person to travel around the world and not snap more than a few pics -- we don't even get a decent or clear picture of the author! Therefore, go to the author's website listed in the book for hundreds of [uncategorized] digital photos of this book. My second criticism is the poor mapping included -- it's handy to have an atlas at hand -- Rand McNally's Notebook World Atlas is perfect -- to follow each subchapter as Heggstad's maps are small and vague, nor do they list all the points of his travels! Still, this is a worthy book because the author does it alone. Compare this account to Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boorman's horribly ill-prepared Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World. MacGregor and Boorman spent every day crying for their wives and children wanting to go home, and they spent the rest of their time ditching and wrecking their bikes. Heggstad broke up with his gal when she called him three weeks in and issued an ultimatum to come home or else. Heggstad notes that it's far easier to travel alone on a bike than in teams of two or more; people greet and welcome an individual more openly.
Heggstad himself must be semi-insane. Like every world cyclist, he insists on going through Siberia. China is essentially closed to wanderers and he explains how before you would be allowed to ride a bike around China, the government would want to know where you're going, whom you're seeing, what you're writing about them, and more importantly, you're not allowed private, foreign vehicles there for fear you'll sell them. Therefore China gets excluded from everyone's "adventure" itinerary. But Heggstad also failed to spend much time driving around Europe. He zipped into Munich, popped over to Czech and Hungary, and then almost straight to Istanbul. You can read between the lines when he gets to Thailand, the tone of the book changes and he gets giddy. Apparently the sex can't be beat as he's getting blown and happy endings every time he steps off his bike, perhaps even while on the bike! He definitely did not want to leave Thailand, and can't wait to get back. He even debates whether to pay a hefty fine to remain over his expired visa!
His dime store wisdom could use more historical study, but he's right that god-belief and gold/control of resources is the root of all evil. Still, his belief that "People get along, governments do not" is clearly illustrated throughout the pages. Over and over, you see that muslims are the source of violence throughout developing regions. When dealing with shy people or government bureaucrats and border patrols, his Will Rogers' "Aw shucks, how is everybody!" gets him out of the toughest jams over and over. I recommend this book to anyone, and I can't wait to buy another Heggstad title.