A Short Ride in the Jungle

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2016-01-15
  • Publisher: Lost Classics Book Co

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In Western cultures the Truong Son Mountains are known as the Annamites, but throughout this book I refer to them by their Vietnamese name, the Truong Son, meaning “Long Mountain.” The Vietnamese called the Ho Chi Minh Trail the Truong Son Strategic Supply Route, hence to refer to them as Truong Son is more apt in this context.

In 1975, the southern city of Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City by the North Vietnamese victors. Today, in spite of this change, the city is still largely known as Saigon, except by some northerners and for official purposes. I refer to it by its pre-1975 name, Saigon.

Although the war that took place in Southeast Asia in the sixties and seventies is generally called the Vietnam War, the broad term that refers to the war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia is the Second Indochina War. This book is a journey through these three countries, hence I refer to the conflict as the Second Indochina War, as opposed to the Vietnam War. Often I just call it “the War.”

American intelligence and Vietnamese military cartographers used a different numbering system for the Trail on maps of the time. For example, the main north-south road through Laos was called 911 by the US and 128 by the North Vietnamese. Since I have been working from old North Vietnamese maps, I use their numbering system, as opposed to the US one.

There is some disagreement as to whether the Honda Cub is a motorcycle or a moped. It has an automatic clutch and is rather smaller than your average motorcycle, but, on the other hand, has three gears, no running board, and bigger wheels than most mopeds. Most Cub fans will insist their steed is a motorcycle, and within this book I refer to it variously as a motorcycle, moped, bike, Cub, and C90.

Author Biography

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent—better known as Ants—is an English writer whose favourite occupation is embarking on very long journeys in unsuitable vehicles; a habit which started in 2006 when she drove a bright pink tuk tuk from Bangkok, Thailand to Brighton, England with her friend Jo. Through the trip the duo raised $75,000 for charity, set the world record for the longest ever journey by auto-rickshaw, wrote a best-selling travel book, Tuk Tuk to the Road, and won Cosmopolitan magazine's Fun Fearless Female Award. Since then, she has ridden a Honda C90 3,000 miles around the Black Sea, organised the Mongol Derby, the longest horse race in the world, and survived an attempt to reach the Arctic Circle on an old Russian Ural with sidecar.

She writes regularly for publications such as Overland Journal (USA), Adventure Journal (USA), Ride (UK), Wanderlust (UK), The Guardian (UK) and Overland (UK). She's also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including the very popular UK chat show Richard & Judy and BBC Radio 4's Excess Baggage. She has contributed chapters to anthologies including Flightless (Lonely Planet) and A Girl's Guide to Travelling Alone, and through her blog, www.theitinerant.co.uk, was voted one of the “Top 100 travellers to follow on social media in 2014.” (Twitter: @AntsBK, Facebook: www.facebook.com/AntoniaBolingbroke-Kent).

She's also a regular public speaker at schools, travel shows, the Royal Geographic Society, and adventure, literary, and motorcycle festivals. In between travelling and writing, she works as a freelance television producer, making travel, adventure, and history documentary programmes for the BBC, National Geographic, Channel 4, and ITV.

A Short Ride in the Jungle was published in the UK by Summersdale in April 2014 to great reviews: it has been variously described as “beautifully written…jaw-dropping…truly wonderful…exceptionally well-researched…fantastic…part travelogue, part thriller…a classic to be.”

Table of Contents

About the Authorv
Author's Notesix

Map of Southeast Asiaxiii

1The World's Deadliest Road1
2The City of the Ascending Dragon15
3Going Solo27
4The Little Things43
5The Sorrow of War57
6Into the Long Mountains79
7The Kid on the Karst91
8The Race to Ban Laboy115
9All Roads Lead to Sepon135
10Girl on a Pink Moped151
11The Road to La Hap165
12Panther Revolts183
13The Bomb Brothers197
14Down from Dak Cheung221
15Mekong Sunsets241
16Trail Hunting with Mister D257
17The Lumphat Episode279
18The Long Way Round297
19A Saigon Conclusion319

Glossary of Terms349
Timeline of the Indochina Wars355

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