This light-hearted travel memoir poses a serious question: in a world alarmed by climate change, how easy is it to go long distances without relying on fuel-guzzling aeroplanes?
Surface Male is the true story of John Barclay's challenge to travel around the world, doing as much as possible by land and none at all by air. In a journey that took half a year, crossing three oceans, four continents and 23 countries - by passenger liner, container ship, freighter, motorboat, train, bus, tram, trolleybus, minibus, truck, motorcar, taxi, tuk tuk, motorbike and on foot - not a drop of aviation fuel was consumed.
Journeying on his own (and off the tourist track), without the benefit of pre-planning, he faced numerous difficulties and dangers. Equipped with little more than his own dogged nature and zest for adventure, John soldiered on, frustrated by language, confused, lost and molested - often the only European to be seen. Yet he found humour everywhere and was heartened by the warmth of strangers. The experience changed his outlook on the world. The story includes amazing scenes such as a hot night in a low dive in Mexico, the terror of a no-go area in Panama, a death-defying bus ride in Vietnam and John's escape from the authorities in Kazakhstan. He tells it all candidly, with wit and humanity, in a crisp style that holds the attention for 32,000 miles. The fascinating photographs are the author's own.