Why live vicariously through the travel stories of others, when you can journey out and make your own unforgettable travel memories?
The best travel stories should stir up that sense of wanderlust, instead of sounding like a brag of one’s “unbelievably amazing” escapades; or unabashed celebrations of some exotic “East meets West” encounters.
Otherwise they become self-indulgent tales about how one woman “found” herself whilst travelling around the world.
When I was handed The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011, naturally, I was skeptical about its claim to “inspire women to explore the world”. What was the merit in pigeon-holing a likely diverse range of tales, simply by the fact that they were written by women?
Would these stories share more standard tales of romantic flings, or some New Age spiritualism, spouted ad nauseum in memoirs and self-help books?
I could go on with my perhaps over-critical attitude towards such “inspiring true stories” meant to warm the heart. But thankfully, I was proven wrong by this particular collection.
One of the strongest stories, ‘Masha’ by Marcia DeSanctis, reels the reader right in with its first three lines:
The first time I met Maria Konstantinovna, she was wearing a black leather skirt. It was Italian, brand new, and it was mine.
Other lively tales surprise, just on account of its subject matter: one writer tells of her experience as guest judge at a World Testicle Cooking Championship. Another shares her tense meal with a member of the Japanese yakuza.
Some writers wax lyrical on culture shock, unexpected encounters and yes, love lost and found abroad. Of course, there are hits-and-misses but as with differing travel styles, certain stories will appeal more to some readers than to others.
Read these stories in whichever order you like: reminisce about a city you’ve visited through a tale of another, reach out to your inner romantic poring over someone else’s love story and well, be inspired to roam the world.
The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011 retails for $19.33 at www.noqstore.asia.