Perilous adventure travel celebrated in spring books

Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:22pm EDT
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Planes that crash, ferries that sink and crowded buses that tumble off cliffs are enough to make most travelers run the other way, but for travel writer Carl Hoffman they are starting points for adventure.

Hoffman's "The Lunatic Express: Discovering the World ... via Its Most Dangerous Buses, Boats, Trains, and Planes," published by Random House imprint Broadway Books, is one of several this spring to present unusual travel possibilities.

"The place to discover something is right in its messy heart: in urban cities and on these incredibly hellish and crowded conveyances," Hoffman told Reuters.

Hoffman seeks to test the dangerous and uncomfortable ways most of the world's population moves from one place to another, but which generally do not find their way onto the itineraries of those traveling for pleasure.

Each chapter begins with a news report of a tragic accident -- a minibus in Kenya that plunged into a river, or an ocean ferry that capsized -- followed by Hoffman's attempt to experience it himself.

He flies from Havana, Cuba to Bogota, Colombia on the "notorious" Cubana Airlines, befriends commuters on the overstuffed trains of Mumbai and relies on the kindness of strangers in Kabul.

In "Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World," published this month by Penguin's Riverhead Books, Seth Stevenson recounts how he quit his job to spend six months circumnavigating the earth without ever boarding a plane.

Instead, he and his girlfriend take a container ship across the Atlantic, drive across the Australian outback, cycle through Vietnam and ride the Trans-Siberian rail.   Continued...

<p>Commuters travel in a suburban train in Mumbai February 24, 2010. REUTERS/Arko Datta</p>