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Petri Wessman's weblog

Off to the land down under and hobbitland

So we’re off in a few hours. First to Sydney for a week, and then a tad over a month in New Zealand (where we’ll, among other things, tour the place in a rental hippie campervan thingy).

The 9+9 hours of flight to Sydney is bound to be “interesting” with 9-month-old Saiga along – especially since it looks like the plane is pretty full and their seating systems are in a mess, we probably won’t get a bassinet seat. Not to mention the return trip, which is over 24 hours. Joy.

We’ll try to avoid the vegemite, ravenous dingos and thieving hobbitses.

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Minireview: Everything that follows is based on recent, real-life experience that has been proven to work, by James Shepherd-Barron

Ok, I must admit that I picked this up in the store based on the title. I mean, look, you have to admit that ”Everything that follows is based on recent, real-life experience that has been proven to work” is an eye-catcher, combined with that matte-black cover. I first thought it was a joke book, then quickly changed my mind after a quick browse (and bought the thing).

It’s sort of what it says on the tin, a collection of advice based on the personal experience of a professional. In this case, a professional humanitarian aid consultant and ex-military helicopter pilot. The subjects range around the subtitle of the book: “Professional Survival Solutions”, i.e. what to do and what not to do when in a foreign (and possibly unstable) country, out in the field. The subjects range from first aid, to how to clear a landing pad for a helicopter, to how to deal with road blocks and vehicle hijack attempts, to how to try to dodge automatic AK-47 fire coming your way (dodge down and to your right, in case you wanted to know). It’s a fascinating book, and filled with real-life anecdotes to illustrate his points. It seems that being involved with humanitarian aid ground work can get very hairy very fast, and people get killed now and then. This book is one man’s attempt to spread information around, and it’s aimed mostly at newcomers heading out to the field (though this random world traveler also found it a great and informative read). It’s also quite funny in places – humor is probably a survival trait in work like this.

Warmly recommended for anyone interested in world travel / survival stuff. Most of the situations detailed here are ones that you don’t want to end up in, but many also are ones that you well might encounter if you step off the beaten track in a foreign country. Hell, even in your home country, in some cases, getting stuck with a 4x4 or encountering some other sort of (semi) emergency situation isn’t that far-out.

Bonus points for the hilarious “stress relief kit” on the last page.

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