Not so idiotic after all – book review of “An Idiot Abroad”

Source: amazon.com

I finished reading the book An Idiot Abroad on Sunday. The book, published in 2010, was written by Karl Pilkington and describes his travels to seven wonders of the world – the Great Pyramids,Taj Mahal, Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu, Petra, the Great Wall, and Chichen Itza (not in that order, though). There was a television series depicting these travels too.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

As background, Karl Pilkington works with comedian, entertainer, producer, and comedy writer Ricky Gervais. As a result, each trip was arranged to include some rather unusual meals and unique activities to test Karl’s metal and stamina. Among these were:

  • Visiting street gangs and a nude beach in Rio.
  • Being abducted in Israel.
  • Living with cannibals in the Amazon rain forest of Peru.
  • Eating all sorts of odd things.
  • Visiting a dog farm in China (yes, a dog farm where dogs are raised for their meat).
Far short of being an idiot, I thought Karl handled all the stuff and situations he had to endure quite well and his reflections were both funny and insightful. This book is not the Three Stooges go on vacation.  One does have to get used to his British slang, but that is easy to overcome.
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I enjoyed the book because it looked at world travel from an average person’s perspective. The author’s dry wit also had me giggling many times, especially about a sloth he met (see below). To me, his humorous observations were funnier than the situations where he was being placed.  Here are a few examples from the book (page numbers were not given on my older version of Kindle):
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“…as I have a little bit of eczema on my leg and the mud and salt [of the Dead Sea] are supposed to be good for the skin. Hippos roll about in mud all the time and you never see them with eczema, so there must be some truth in it.”
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“It annoys me ‘cos I constantly get called a div or an idiot by Ricky and Steve and others, and yet dolphins are being called intelligent. They can’t all be bright. Out of this group of six there must be two or three stupid ones.”
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“A kid had a toad on a bit of rope as a pet; another kid showed me his baby sloth. He kept putting it on the floor, and it would try and crawl away, but what chance has one of the slowest-moving creatures on earth got of getting away?”
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“I got quite bored as there was nothing to do….I wonder if this is why sloths evolved to move slowly? There is no point in moving fast when living somewhere like this as nothing needs to be done in a rush.”
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“We ended up at a nice hotel in a place called Cuzco, which is a bit closer to the wonder of Machu Picchu. Cuzco is so high up there is 30 percent less oxygen here. I had to take altitude tablets otherwise I could have died. Just walking a few steps was really tiring. I’d like to see the sloth from the tribe live here. It would never move. It would be an ornament with a heartbeat.”
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“I woke up out of breath in the night. I know Machu Picchu is supposed to take your breath away, but not like this.”
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All in all, if you are searching for some light-hearted reading that is reasonably priced – less than $6.00 on my Kindle, I would recommend An Idiot Abroad.  It may not be Pulitzer Prize worthy, but it is a fun and entertaining read. Thank you, Karl.