Family Travels: Around the World in 30 (or So) Days

Family Travels: Around the World in 30 (or So) Days

by Richard Reeves

With a twelve-foot-wide map of the world spread across the wall of Richard Reeves's back porch, the award-winning writer and his family planned a month-long trip of a lifetime. The Reeves-O'Neill clan traveled through more than 15 countries, with each family member recording his or her thoughts at the end of each day. The result is a work with eight different…  See more details below


With a twelve-foot-wide map of the world spread across the wall of Richard Reeves's back porch, the award-winning writer and his family planned a month-long trip of a lifetime. The Reeves-O'Neill clan traveled through more than 15 countries, with each family member recording his or her thoughts at the end of each day. The result is a work with eight different viewpoints, but one shared passion for the world's diversity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Between June 30 and August 5, 1995, the Reeves family-two parents, five adult offspring and the 10-year-old daughter of one of the couples-tore through 18 cities in 14 countries of Europe, Asia and Africa and came up with this good-natured travel epic. First, the bill: $27,000, not unreasonable thanks to detailed planning, careful shopping for air fares and stopover allowances, economical routings and the use of discounts and coupons at good hotels, all without sacrificing comfort or, indeed, luxuries. But better than the tips on travel logistics are the excerpts from the entertaining logs each member of the family kept, which provide varying depictions of the same people, places and adventures as well as a delightful picture of the family itself. Reeves, a syndicated political columnist, recoiled from Nepal for its filth, while his wife, Catherine O'Neill, a political commentator, adored its architecture. In Egypt, Colin, 29, a TV producer, got a panic attack in a pyramid, while grade schooler Fiona complained about the stairs and the noxious smells. Reeves and his wife are more than superficially knowledgeable about their destinations, and, nearly everywhere, both had contacts, from ambassadors to American ex-patriots. It's a jolly, exuberant, informative tour of the world that, for all its brevity, manages a scope and vividness that would likely amaze and engage even Jules Verne. Photos. (Mar.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
A nationally syndicated columnist and former political correspondent, Reeves (Running in Place, Andrew & McMeel, 1996) joined with his wife, journalist Catherine O'Neil, to relate their latest family adventures. Their first mad dash around the world-in 22 days-was in 1981. The adventure was repeated the summer of 1995-this time in 30 days, with their family. The travelers consisted of the two journalists, a ten-year-old, a television producer, a rock singer, two chefs, and a newborn grandchild-all with interests as varied as the individuals. Traveling west from Los Angeles to New York, they encountered diverse lifestyles and politics; met heads of state, ambassadors, and ordinary citizens; and enjoyed open-air markets, surfing, museums, and clubs in 16 countries as they sped through Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Germany, and France. This is their tale-unique, moving, eye-opening, and captivating. For public libraries.-Ann E. Cohen, Rochester P.L., N.Y.

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Product Details

Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.29(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

In this excerpt, we join Reeves and family in Taipei, where they are booked in a hotel that has just suffered a fire of suspicious origin.

Day four of our adventure also happened to be the Fourth of July. Colin picked up the story:

Up at the crack of dawn in Tokyo, spent a couple of painless hours in the air with Singapore girls. The landing strip in Taipei is lined with golf courses and antiaircraft guns. Tropical jungle with pleasantly unbearable heat and humidity. Our hotel, the Grand Palace, is perched high on a hill and of truly monumental scale. It had starred on CNN and in all the international newspapers three days ago because the top several floors were in photogenic flames. The staff, noticeably looser and more jovial than their Nipponese counterparts, greeted us warmly....

Conor added:

I'm not too good with physical descriptions, but I can say that if you saw a shot of this place in a movie there would be a big Chinese gong sound accompanying the image. It seems like a throwback to some colonial time, and because it was empty and the staff was so jovial it reminded me of a Chinese version of the Hotel New Hampshire. I instantly loved it.

The warm greeting was understandable. After seeing the fire footage, we talked about whether or not to change our plans. The vote was unanimous: No way! It turned out that we were five of only nineteen guests being served by a large staff. Everyone else had canceled after seeing pictures of the fire, which destroyed the top couple of floors of the "new building" of one of the world's most striking hotels, visible for many miles in the style of a giant pagoda over the city.

I was told later by a magazine editor in Hong Kong that the Palace was having problems before the fire. Some traveling businessmen were avoiding the place because it does not allow unattached working girls upstairs. Taipei's sex tourism, they say, is second only to Bangkok's -- you can buy most everything, except a haircut, at the places marked by neon barber poles.

From Family Travels: Around the World in 30 (or So) Days


Catherine was surprised by the openness of the sex trade in Taipei, writing:

    The incredible spread of a red-light district right in central Taipei was a surprise to me. The barbershop poles became almost comical in their ubiquitous presence were it not for the sad sight of so many young girls sitting in modern hotel lobbies, with short, tight skirts, waiting for customers. I did not expect such a relatively rich country with a sense of traditions to be such a major center for prostitution.

Actually, prostitution is part of the tradition. While we were in the country, a new law was passed out of a parliamentary committee for debate that would levy fines of more than three quarters of a million dollars for clients of child prostitutes. Newspapers reported that the government seemed ready to try to rid the country of tens of thousands of child prostitutes.

Our rooms were immense in the old style, before air conditioning and before the universal sleekness of first-class hotels, with high ceilings, polished wood floors, and great balconies overlooking the city. There had apparently been stories in the Taipei papers speculating that the fire was arson, presumably to collect insurance money. When the manager spoke to us about the fire he kept referring to it as a "fire from natural causes," all in one breath. If electricity is natural, he had a case. The wiring, with copper showing through, looked as if it had been put in by the local equivalent of Thomas Edison.

The other big story in the China Post was about a shoot-out at the airport: "Gangster Shih Chih-chin had passed the customs inspection without his five hidden handguns being detected. He was discovered by an alert policeman to be carrying guns under his clothes. He shot himself to death after being wounded by police fire."

The pool down the hill was about the largest I've ever seen and Fiona and I headed for it. This was double-hundred country: the temperature was over a hundred degrees (Fahrenheit) and the air was heavy with humidity. Then we all stuffed ourselves into a taxi and headed for town. Catherine liked the fare. Four dollars.

Taipei itself was not impressive. On the walking-bicycle-motorbike-automobile progression that defines the cities of "developing" countries, Taipei is in transition from mopeds to cars. The new prosperity of the country shows in the bustle of the streets, a new central railroad station, and new subway construction everywhere, but the housing, stalls, and open storefronts are still as they were when the country was poorer. Food is still being cooked in many places outdoors on the streets. The only new and tall downtown building -- excepting world-class hotels built by those old Taiwanese families, Sheraton, Hilton, and Hyatt -- is a twelve-story Japanese department store, a Mitsukoshi. "Lots of mangy mutts," was Conor's observation. "Ramshackle sprawl," added Colin.

Fiona did not like the way dogs looked or were treated. But she liked palm trees, put-ons, and people. "I used to think there were palm trees only in California, Florida, and Hawaii. What did I know, I'm only ten years old," she wrote.

And she ended her report of the first day with:

There were a lot of people selling things on the sidewalk. I didn't like any of the toys, but I did like the calligraphy a man was doing in a shop and I asked him how much it cost and he gave it to me. He was really nice.

(Back home in Pacific Palisades, we took the calligraphy to our local experts at the Rickshaw Chinese Laundry, who after consultation with parents and grandparents, said the message of the sheet was something like an Oriental version of "The truth shall make you free" -- and good men would find that truth in the temple.)

Excerpted by permission of Andrews McMeel Publishing. Copyright © 1997, 1998 by Reeves O'Neill Inc. All rights reserved.

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