In conversation with author David Moore
David Moore has recently returned from a 10-month round-the-world trip with Audley, accompanied by his wife, Helene. After some gentle encouragement from family and friends, he’s recorded his adventures in his first book.
What kick-started the idea for your adventure?
Neither my wife Helene nor I backpacked when we were younger but two years ago, we decided that while we've still got our health, we should do it. Helene bought the biggest map she could find and each of us marked where we’d like to go with pink and blue pins. After four weeks, we'd worked out a route, but when we thought about how to make it work, we quickly realised we were out of our depth. That's when we found Audley. All of the tours and guides were taken care of, taking us into the places we were really interested in and helping us to understand the different cultures, histories and traditions.
You took in a broad range of destinations. What stood out?
The obvious one is Easter Island. Everybody knows what the moai statues look like but to actually spend three or four days exploring them with a local guide was extraordinary. Our guide, Tito, told us how his family and ancestors had been there for hundreds of years.
As Tito was guiding us around the island, his stories unfolded as we were standing right in front of these stone moai statues. He talked through why there are 900 of them dotted around the island and how they were made. It was those sorts of stories that were underneath the surface of what we knew about Easter Island.
You devoted a lot of time to South America. What else caught your eye there?
We loved Peru and thought it was probably one of the best countries we visited. We had a fantastic guide who, over the course of four days, told us the story of the Incas and the emperor Pachacutec, the creator of Machu Picchu. Nothing prepares you for that first sight of Machu Picchu, as you walk up and the plateau opens up in front of you. It was quite an emotional moment actually. It was incredibly calm and serene and I found it extraordinary, the whole place.
Did you opt for any intrepid destinations?
We went to stay at the Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica, an ecolodge overlooking the Madre de Dios River in the Peruvian rainforest — which was really out of our comfort zone. We were there for five days, right in the middle of the jungle, staying in their stilted cabins. Helene and I were walking with our guide early one morning and we heard a rustle high up in the canopy and saw more than 100 monkeys thrashing through the leaves above.
You visited Southeast Asia after time in Australia and New Zealand, which must have been quite a change?
It was, but that was the beauty of this trip, the contrast. We left Sydney, a cosmopolitan, international city and finished up in a fish market in Kuala Lumpur on the same day. Myanmar (Burma) was probably the one place we had least expectations for, but it absolutely delivered. We went ballooning over Bagan, going up at 5:30am, just as the sun was coming up and soared over 2,000 temples and monuments sprinkled across the landscape. It was extraordinary.
Did you have any other highlights in Asia?
It would have to be the Great Wall and Terracotta Army. Our guide took us to a part of the wall that not many people go to. It was a bit of a steep climb up onto the wall but once you’re up you can see it hug the top of the mountain, disappearing into the distance. We walked along it for two or three hours.
Our trip had been planned so that we saw the Terracotta Army the day after the Qingming Festival finished, avoiding the festival crowds. There are three pits open to visitors. These pits aren’t small — the largest aircraft hangar you can imagine covers Pit No. 1, which contains around 6,000 warriors. Our guide explained that they are continuing to excavate the site and it’s exciting to think what they might find in the future.
So, what led you to write the book?
It all started when I said to my children I'd write as I went along, sending them what I called 'Moore Ramblings'. A couple of friends heard I was writing and before I knew it, it kind of snowballed — quite a lot of people wanting to read my ramblings. Friends and family suggested I try and make a book out of it and thankfully a publishing company said yes.
What else can we expect from it?
We have done so many experiences that have been planned but it's often the unplanned elements which have been quite extraordinary. We met a lady with hair longer than her own body in the middle of a rice field, dug our own baths on the volcanic beaches of New Zealand and were given an oxygen tank to help us sleep at night in Lake Titicaca.
I also want to inspire others to push themselves out of their comfort zone. You can read about it and watch as many David Attenborough programmes as you like, but to fully understand things, you actually go and see it for yourself.
David's book, Turning Left Around The World, launches on 24 September, but is available for pre-order from 1 July at www.davidcmoore-author.com where you can also find more images from the trip.