Where the Pavement Ends: One Woman's Bicycle Trip Through Mongolia, China and Vietnam

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"Mongolia. It was Erika Warmbrunn's dream. To escape deep into parts of Asia inaccessible to tours and guidebooks, to abandon herself to the risks of the unknown. And so, with only a bicycle named Greene for a traveling companion, she set off on an eight-month, 8,000-kilometer trek that stretched across the steppes of this ancient land, on through China, and down the length of Vietnam. Freed by Greene's two wheels from the tyranny of discrete points on a map, she found that the true merit of travel was not in the simple seeing, but in flowing with the unexpected adventure or invitation, in savoring the moments in between - the daily challenges of new worlds and customs, the tiny triumphs of learning a new way of life, the daunting thrill of never knowing what the next day would bring. Wanting to ride a Mongolian horse and finding herself in the saddle for four hours, herding fifty head of cattle. Asking for a hotel in a Chinese village and being taken into a family's home to share their grandmother's bed for the night. Pedaling into the Vietnamese highlands and being stopped along the muddy road by a father asking that she join his two-year-old son's birthday party. Accepting a Mongolian village's invitation to stop pedaling and stay for a while, to live with them and teach them English. In the doing and the telling, Where the Pavement Ends is a much richer experience than any line on a map can show."--BOOK JACKET.

Bronze Winner of the 2002 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Travel Books.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Winner of the 2001 National Outdoor Book Award, Literature Category

Erika Warmbrunn's plan began as a fantasy, a finger tracing an imaginary bicycle route through Asian places with exotic names. But after a theatrical translating job landed her in Vladivostok, her wistful dream took on hard road substantiality. Putting her acting career on hold, Warmbrunn started on her 8,000-kilometer pedal. Her account of this improvised tour of the subcontinent captures the wonder and otherness of other cultures without condescending. Too picaresque to be political, Where the Pavement Ends has the surge and wobble of our first favorite bike.

Library Journal
In 1993, this 27-year-old American woman set off alone from Irkutsk in Siberia and eight months later ended up 5000 miles away in Saigon. Hers was not so much a test of endurance, although there was plenty to endure such as eating sheep's head in Mongolia, confronting bureaucratic hassles in China, and fending off overly eager children in Vietnam but rather a journey of self-discovery. She stopped for a month to teach school along the way and took public transportation a couple of times. She writes poignantly and frankly of the dilemmas caused by First World low-budget travelers in Third World countries. Should they pay more than locals, what hospitality and privileges should they expect, and what should their impact be on the people they encounter? She confesses to occasional bad behavior, exasperation, and a lack of sensitivity. Travels such as hers are not so rare today, but thoughtful, honest, insightful writing about the cross-cultural experience is. A fine addition to public libraries; highly recommended. Harold M. Otness, formerly with Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Warmbrunn's account of an eight-month, 8,000 kilometer journey describes parts of Asia inaccessible to tourists. She recounts her encounters with the people and cultures of Mongolia, Arshaant, China, and Vietnam, as well as the sense of freedom and adventure she discovered while traveling. The narrative is intensely personal, focusing on the experience of traveling. Black-and-white and color photographs are featured. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780898866841
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books, The
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Series: Barbara Savage Award Bks.
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.97 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2006

    Thanks for the great ride!

    Go with Erika on a wild ride, one you'll never forget! Take a seat upon her (Greene's) handlebar seeing what she saw, but more importantly, feeling what she felt. Experience it for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2003


    I thought that Erika Warmbrunn had some really descriptive pictures in her book. I enjoyed rereading the first couple of chapters and remembering some of the details.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2002

    Enthralling and Descriptive

    As a former solo backpacker and AIDS Rider, this book combines both events. Erika's journey is told through humor, honesty and a true traveler's curiosity. I can't recommend this enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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