Travel, Sex and Train Wrecks by Julie Morey is a memoir of Julie's travels in southeast Asia. Julie married young at age 23 and describes herself as a conservative Christian. She viewed divorce as a sin which is why when her ten year marriage ended, she was devastated. Wracked with sadness and questioning her religion, she set off to explore southeast Asia. She had previous travel experience, and had traveled with her husband, but this was the first time she traveled alone. Julie not only writes about her travels to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and India, but she also writes about the personal journey she embarked on to heal from her divorce and to discover who she was and what she believed in.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Julie visits Angkor Wat in Cambodia and experiences the monks chanting on the top of the temple. She describes how she feels closer to God than she had in a long time and and how her understanding and definition of God begins to change and evolve.
|monks at Angkor Wat|
I also enjoyed her description of spending ten days in a silent, spiritual retreat in Thailand. Julie spent ten days living sparsely and practiced meditation for hours at a time. With no talking, reading, writing, music, or any other external stimuli, she is forced to confront herself, her life, and the choices she's made.
|concrete bed at the spiritual retreat in Thailand|
I also enjoyed the chapter in which she writes about the duality of India. She describes India as a place that is full on contradictions. It is a place of indescribable beauty and squalor. It is a place that brought her frustration from the heat, the crowds, and the food and at the same time a place that brought her enlightenment. She both loved it and hated it.
|Julie in front of the Taj Mahal in India|
Like India, Julie's book has some contradictions as well. Julie blames the breakup of her marriage on her husband's alcoholism, but does a fair amount of drinking during her travels. A common motif in many of her travel stories include hanging out in bars and drinking. In Thailand she spends ten days practicing silence and meditation at a spiritual retreat and seems to make some progress in her process of healing. However, as soon as she leaves the retreat she is "out for a night of drunken debauchery" at the Full Moon Party. She admits to these extremes and says "I figured I would just go from one extreme to the other until eventually, I found a balance in the middle."
Julie admits to her inconsistencies in her book and explains how they were part of her journey of discovering who she was. I admired Julie's honesty and thought she was really brave to write about her experiences in such a personal and intimate way. And this book does get intimate! Not only about her steamy escapades with other travelers, but also with her spiritual journey and understanding of God.
By the end of Travel, Sex and Train Wrecks, not only has Julie spent seven months traveling southeast Asia, but she has found a new understanding of God, has accepted her new life without her marriage and without her husband, and has a new sense of self-confidence. She "was no longer scared to be alone, unsure of herself and unsure of what she was capable of." She found out she was more resilient, capable and resourceful than she ever imagined.
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Hear Julie reading an expert of her book.
To hear Julie reading more excerpts from her book go here:
Nov 4: A Bookworm's World
Nov 5: The Written World
Nov 6: The Novel Nation
Nov 7: Her Packing List
Nov 8: The Lazy Travelers
Nov 11: Justice Jennifer
Nov 12: Women Travel Blog
Nov 13: The Pin Junkie
Nov 14: A Certain Bent Appeal