Final Thoughts on Michael Crichton’s Travels

Loved this book.  How he sprinkled tidbits about his life and philosophies within a series of chapters about medical school and his exotic treks.  I skimmed through the last final chapters (the final 20%), but that is not uncommon for me.  My impression of Michael Crichton from reading this is that he was incredibly intelligent and driven, and incredibly restless.  What an amazing life that led to, and I can’t imagine writing a best selling novel while in Harvard Med School then leaping into Hollywood, etc.

Some final notes from his journeys: My favorite part was the section about climbing Kilamanjaro.  I didn’t realize that it was so tall (19K) and was so challenging to climb.  I love how there are three stages to the climb, including the rainforest at the base, then the meadows. It reminded me (kinda) of The Green Lakes trail in Bend, Oregon…  I thought the section about New Guinea was interesting, where the island is the second largest after Greenland, and is dominated by high mountains at the center.  Crichton mentions a couple of times in his book that high mountains – like those in Nepal — creates diversity in areas separated by short distances as the crow flies.  I thought New Guinea was interesting in that every piece of land is owned by someone, and they had to obtain permission to hike to a waterfall.  His description of the battles was interesting too, where time and intensity have a different meaning there, to the point where German tourists standing in the middle of a battle between two clans didn’t see one warrior behead another right next to them (OmG!!)…  He had some close calls diving, yet continued to dive.  In one, he lost his mouthpiece and was worried he was going to pass out; in another, he dove too deep and ran out of oxygen just as he surfaced and had to bypass safety procedures for avoiding the bends but avoided the bends, and in another he was carried by a fast current through a cloud of sharks (terrifying for him)…  He did not get along with his father, calling him a Son of a Bitch…  I loved his takes on Sean Connery, who he respected and sounds like both a talented actor and a man who is both direct and comfortable in his own skin…  They had an experience in Jamaica where a convict slipped into their car in Spanish Town, claimed he was a guide, refused to leave them, and in the end escaped with their watch and extra money through intimidation. Crichton later learned two tourists had been killed in the same area, which reminded him how lucky he was to escaped for so little cost (cheap watch and 10 pounds, I think)…  He experienced some incredible psycnics at the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain… He saw Mountain Gorillas and was shocked by how *huge* they were (bigger than theones we see in the zoos, which are the smaller lowland variety), and it dawned on him that they (the group) were the guests in the gorilla’s home. THeir numbers are rapidly shrinking (just 100s left when he wrote the book) and was heartbroken by that.  He learned that if a gorilla charges, it is important to stay in one place – to flee is the classic inspiring it to chase you.  He was charged once (the gorilla didn’t like his camera — and it was terrifying…  He visited “Shangri-la” (Hunza) and was surprised by how unpleasant it actually was…  Stepping just a few feet off the path in the jungle, he was immediately lost.  Yet, there are tribes who are never lost in the jungles…I liked that he called the Malaysians the Danes of Asia (low key and easygoing) except when it comes to religion. And I liked that he pointed out that in the culture life is out of our control, so it is better to adapt to what comes our way then to try to control everything.  

Just some initial thoughts.  There is so much more in the book and about so many places.   

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Final Thoughts on Michael Crichton’s Travels

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