In every positive sense, this book was not what I was expecting. I was expecting a travel book with an emphasis on business trips, a how-to guide on how to maximize your time and efficiency while abroad. In a sense, I didn’t expect the book to be fun. Recently, I’ve found myself reading a lot of nonfiction, usually guides on how to be successful in various niches or fields with the occasional historical piece. This book was not one of those books.
The book is self-aware and never really tries to be a guide to anything really, aside from Dowson’s own analysis of it as a guide on how not to go on business trips. The book is clever and funny a lot of the time; one of my favorite parts was the comparison between Indiana Jones’ Lost Arks and electricity bills.
The book is split into two parts, each focusing on a separate trip. The first part is in South America (and you will find yourself wondering why he decided to travel to so many countries in such a short time) and the second in Southeast Asia. The two parts are different, yet both are equally engaging and fun. I found myself looking forward to being able to pick the book up again.
All in all, I found Oliver Dowson to have created something unique. It was fun to compare my own travel experiences (albeit much later in time than his trips), especially in places I have visited myself, like Quito, Ecuador. Reading about Dowson’s reactions and interactions with unfamiliar places and cultures was both exciting and a learning experience. While there was plenty to be learned about the inner workings of businesses that people like myself may have very limited knowledge of, it was the cultural experiences that was the real winner in my eyes.