Ever thought of Antarctica while planning your next holiday? In his new book “By Thumb, Hoof and Wheel”, independent researcher, journalist and former IAS officer Prabhu Ghate hopes that it persuades readers that one does not have to be particularly rich to travel but just young at heart and reasonably fit and curious to undertake journey to places that one only reads about but never dreams of actually visiting.
There are growing number of people who after several visits to the West and to places like Bangkok, Singapore and Dubai look for something different. The book describes trips the author has undertaken to South America that included Patagonia and the Antarctic.
Some of the trips are eminently doable, Ghate says, adding that the Gringo trail in Latin America and Silk Road are very popular.
Antarctica is like visiting another planet. Yet, both Patagonia and Antarctica are both reasonably accessible even to a budget traveller. He often tells his friends to put off upgrading their cars, Ghate says.
He explains how he flew to Buenos Aires, travelled down overland through Argentina to the ‘end of the world’ in Ushuaia and from there used a cruise (which came cheap) to Antarctica.
The book says air travel allows a plethora of fascinating stopover opportunities for travellers taking flights to the West. Addis Ababa, the major hub of Ethiopian Airlines, sits in the middle of a rich and ancient civilisation and has amazing landscape, rock-cut churches, the author says.
What is important, the book says, is to have interest in other cultures, an empathy for people, some tolerance for uncertainty and a willingness to rough it out occasionally.
He was struck when he noticed how carriage attendants in China invariably locked the toilets as the train approaches a station helping to keep the stations much cleaner.
Many of the railway station toilets in China are connected to biogas plants killing two birds in one stone, he says.
The most important reason to travel South is to experience it before it changes for ever, sucked up by the process of development and homogenisation, the book says.
The Silk Road is now a four-lane highway as vast areas of old housing are being knocked down in Chinese cities. It is still possible to do multi-country trips in the South flexibly and spontaneously, picking up visas on the way if one doesn’t want to tie oneself down to a rigid itinerary.
Ghate has visited over 100 countries. In the book, published by Bloomsbury, he has narrated his experiences during travel to South America, the Philippines, Africa, Patagonia and China.