travel books


During the past few months I've read a variety of books that have given me motivation for our trip. Some have been travelogues (Ghost Train... by Paul Theroux), or challenging adventures documented by those who survived (Paddle to the Amazon by Don Starkell*, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer).

Banker to the Poor
by Muhammad Yunnus made me think about solutions (in this case micro-lending) to economic problems in other countries and inspired me to consider ways that I could help others while we travel.

I'd really like to be able to participate in a project to assist others while traveling. I had considered this before, but after I read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson** I felt guilty for not having done enough already.

Greg Mortenson is a climber who lost his way during a climb of K2 and was saved by the hospitality of the people in a remote part of Pakistan. After seeing how the village lacked the resources to provide their children with a proper school he made it his mission to fund and build a school in the village. He returned and after some stumbles he was able to finally complete his vision. Since then he has built many schools in the region, with a heavy focus on educating girls (apparently women are more likely than men to return to their villages and provide benefit to the community receiving an education).

I tend to hold a cynical view towards charities that seem indistinguishable from Fortune 500 companies. Greg himself lived in (by Western standards) poverty so that he could use every dollar he saved to benefit the villagers. He seems to have a genuine concern for the people of the region and no ulterior motive other than helping fellow humans.

The personal sacrifices that he made to help improve the quality of life for others is really quite astounding. I can only hope that I can someday become half the global citizen that he is. -Alex

* Don Starkell is a fellow Winnipeg resident and acquaintance of Mina who was kind enough to autograph a copy for us.
** UPDATE 04/2011: Three Cups of Deceit 

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  1. Sounds like a wonderful story. I think it's important to give back to the developing countries you visit as well. I usually take children's books and school supplies to hand out to kids.

  2. interesting idea. I think you should def look into it.

  3. I love Three Cups of Tea too! It was the summer reading book for freshman at my university last year and Greg Mortenson even came to speak, which was so inspirational. This year our book is Mountains Beyond Mountains, another great motivation to be a volunteering tourist. I am so excited to read about your travels!

  4. I love his first book! I'm currently reading his second book, Stones Into Schools - have you read it yet?

  5. beryl - no, i've seen it in a few bookstores along our trip but I haven't picked it up yet.