Johnston is a middle-aged, married journalist who jumps at the chance to go on an adventure tour rafting an unexplored section of the Boh river in the Borneo rain forest, even though her husband is afraid for her safety and her back had just gone out. A horrendous series of mishaps and unexpected unpleasantries follow, starting with the airport losing her luggage (she spends much of the rest of the trip envying and attempting to borrow the other rafters' air mattresses), continuing with the river being far more dangerous than its advertisement suggested, and culminating in her hitting menopause in the middle of the rain forest-- a place which, if her description of it is even slightly accurate, I would pay to not visit.

The rafters spend the entire trip being plagued by sweat bees, stinging bees, leeches, and various forms of jungle rot. Poor Johnston faces some of my very least favorite experiences-- being attacked by bugs, being sick, suffering from ailments she's embarassed to discuss, being the only person there without a boyfriend or companion and having to watch a gorgeous younger woman kissing a handsome tour guide in front of her, being underequipped and unable to pull her weight due to her back injury, and not even seeing any picturesque wildlife until the very end of the trip.

However, despite her understandable misery which may have affected her reactions, I still wanted to give Johnston a primer in feminism. She keeps moaning on and on about how she'll never be attractive again and can never again have physically taxing adventures now that she's hit menopause. WTF? Did the Menopause Fairy hit her over the head with the ugly stick? Does she think that just because she felt physically unfit to go on one of the most physically taxing adventure trips I've ever heard of, she must now spend the rest of her life knitting?

The descriptions of the rain forest are fascinating, but the characters (except for the gorgeous French woman, Sylvie, whom Johnston is completely obsessed with as the foil for her own descent into cronehood) are not developed well, to the point where I kept having to flip back to the beginning to see whether the guy who got dysentery was the conservative Australian, the conservative American, or the gorgeous tour guide. The whole trip-- to call it poorly planned is like saying Mount Everest is tall-- is clearly a recipe for disaster, and they were luckily no one was killed or seriously injured. But not much is made of that in the end: the rafts arrive safely, and Johnston goes home glad she had the experience and glad it's over. This is an interesting account if you want to read about Borneo, but it lacks the writerly or introspective or muckraking pizzazz that would have made it memorable.
Johnston is a middle-aged, married journalist who jumps at the chance to go on an adventure tour rafting an unexplored section of the Boh river in the Borneo rain forest, even though her husband is afraid for her safety and her back had just gone out. A horrendous series of mishaps and unexpected unpleasantries follow, starting with the airport losing her luggage (she spends much of the rest of the trip envying and attempting to borrow the other rafters' air mattresses), continuing with the river being far more dangerous than its advertisement suggested, and culminating in her hitting menopause in the middle of the rain forest-- a place which, if her description of it is even slightly accurate, I would pay to not visit.

The rafters spend the entire trip being plagued by sweat bees, stinging bees, leeches, and various forms of jungle rot. Poor Johnston faces some of my very least favorite experiences-- being attacked by bugs, being sick, suffering from ailments she's embarassed to discuss, being the only person there without a boyfriend or companion and having to watch a gorgeous younger woman kissing a handsome tour guide in front of her, being underequipped and unable to pull her weight due to her back injury, and not even seeing any picturesque wildlife until the very end of the trip.

However, despite her understandable misery which may have affected her reactions, I still wanted to give Johnston a primer in feminism. She keeps moaning on and on about how she'll never be attractive again and can never again have physically taxing adventures now that she's hit menopause. WTF? Did the Menopause Fairy hit her over the head with the ugly stick? Does she think that just because she felt physically unfit to go on one of the most physically taxing adventure trips I've ever heard of, she must now spend the rest of her life knitting?

The descriptions of the rain forest are fascinating, but the characters (except for the gorgeous French woman, Sylvie, whom Johnston is completely obsessed with as the foil for her own descent into cronehood) are not developed well, to the point where I kept having to flip back to the beginning to see whether the guy who got dysentery was the conservative Australian, the conservative American, or the gorgeous tour guide. The whole trip-- to call it poorly planned is like saying Mount Everest is tall-- is clearly a recipe for disaster, and they were luckily no one was killed or seriously injured. But not much is made of that in the end: the rafts arrive safely, and Johnston goes home glad she had the experience and glad it's over. This is an interesting account if you want to read about Borneo, but it lacks the writerly or introspective or muckraking pizzazz that would have made it memorable.
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