The Adventure, by Chapter (with excerpts)
A thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking story of, quite literally,
a jolly pilgrim making his jolly way around some of
the most fascinating places in the world.
– Abbie Grace, Xmediaonline
Below is a chapter-by-chapter run down of the travel and philosophy book The Jolly Pilgrim.
Part 1: The Bicycle Ride
Records a 150-day bicycle ride from London to Istanbul, living in the wilderness and travelling 6,429 kilometres through France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
During that period I have my heart broken, spend 12 days in a Croatian infection hospital, read the Bible in full and am surrounded by feral dogs in a Bulgarian forest. The commentary discusses the challenges involved in organising such a journey, and sets out the book’s key observation: that we should consider the human project over longer time frames.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 1:
Click here to see pictures from Part 1.
Part 2: Metropolis
Forty days living in Istanbul, during which I set up a community based around a backpacker’s hotel, swim the Bosporus in near-zero temperatures and explore the significance of several talismanic historical sites in and near the city.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 2.
Click here to see pictures from Part 2.
Part 3: Asian Fluctuations
Following a one-night stand with a woman in Istanbul, I pursue her to Asia.
With four days to spare, I visit Cambodia where I am robbed by motorcycle thieves (who steal my passport and plane ticket) and temporarily stranded. Part 3 concludes with my bribing the local police, making my way back to Thailand and meeting my lover in Bangkok.
Part 4: Down Under
Arriving in Australia, to try living in a city with which I had no connections and where nobody knew me. Everything goes wrong. In this chapter the double-narrative structure tells the same story from two different angles.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 4:
Click here to see pictures from Part 4.
An intriguing travelogue – part adventure story, part reflective musings.
- National Geographic Traveller
Part 5: Hindustan
A one-month trip to India, to attend the wedding of an old friend, and in the hope of resurrecting my relationship with the love interest from Part 1. I also finish reading the Qur’an.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 5:
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Part 6: The Boiling Pot
Five months living in Sydney’s bohemian quarter, working for an international law firm during the day and at a drag club at night.
From Part 6, the narrative style changes to start setting out the ideas explored in the final chapters. These include how the extant religious faiths are the current form of a religious dynamic which has been evolving since prehistory, and describing the changes wrought to human society by the invention of agriculture, from around 10,000 BCE.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 6:
Click here to see pictures from Part 6.
Part 7: Magical Mystery Tour
Hitchhiking 2,800 kilometres along Australia’s east coast from Sydney to Cairns, encountering an eclectic mixture hippy intellectuals, crackpots and beach bums.
The commentary deals with how the human brain is hardwired to think about the world in a specific, narrow way, which leads to human discourse focussing on a restricted range of topics.
Part 8: On Bread Loaf Mountain
Arriving in Latin America with a backpack and a plan, I rent a rustic apartment in a favela on the hill of El Panicello in Quito’s Old Town, to isolate myself from the wider world and set out the philosophical and historical ideas for which The Jolly Pilgrim is a vehicle.
Part 8 describes the beginning of the creative process which led to the travel book and how the isolation that process necessitated led to a gentle form of madness. A major sub-theme is the Spanish Empire’s sixteenth-century conquest of the Andes.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 8:
Click here to see pictures from Part 8.
Entertaining and inspiring.
- James Reed, Chairman, REED
Chapter 9: Global Deconstruction
The travel story records my trip across the Amazon and Andes to the Pacific coast, then through Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina to Buenos Aires.
The commentary sets out the political, cultural and economic evolution of the human project over the last 10,000 years. It argues that the human project is on a decisively upward trajectory, and that most of the major problems humanity now faces are historical inevitabilities implicit to setting up a global civilisation on a planet from scratch.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 9:
Click here to see pictures from Part 9.
Chapter 10: Pilgrim Unplugged
The travel story records the journey north through Paraguay to Brazil, then up the Atlantic coast to Rio and finally through Amazonia to Guyana on the Caribbean coast.
The commentary sets the ideas from Part 9 against a first-principles reframe of the humans project: that we’re a species of impetuous and hormonal primate, which has crawled from the mud and pandemonium of Earth’s ecosystems to construct, from scratch, without any guidance, a world-spanning civilisation. It’s climax moves onto metaphysical questions, asking, given that reframe: what is actually going on, on this planet?
The conclusion invites the reader to consider their place in the universe stripped of the illusion of individuality imposed by the human psyche’s internal hardwiring, pointing out that we’re subroutines within the larger pattern of the cosmos, and that real immortality – the kind that resonates with how the universe truly is – comes from being part of a greater whole.
Click the picture to read an excerpt from Part 10:
Click here to see pictures from Part 10.
Menus – the travel book