Jim Rogers, is a Wall Street success story and legend who is often nicknamed “The Indiana Jones of Finance” due to both his adventurous lifestyle and investing approaches. After retiring in the early nineties he circled the planet on a motorcycle, which landed him in The Guinness Book of World Records and resulted in his first book, Investment Biker, covered by KickassTrips previously here.
In 1999 Rogers set out on another world-record drive around the world in a custom-built yellow Mercedes convertible (on a monster truck’s suspension), pulling a yellow trailer, together with his fiancee, Paige Parker.
Rogers wanted a combination of sporty car luxury and off-road competence. Rogers’ design team noticed that the 1997 Mercedes SLK two-seat convertible and the shorter Gelandewagen share the same wheelbase. The body of the SLK was adapted to the G-wagen chassis, and a small trailer was designed nicknamed the ‘Millennium Mercedes’ (custom-made six cylinder, 3 litre, turbo diesel)
Starting out in Iceland, the trip took three years and encompassed 116 countries, many of which are rarely visited, in a continuous swath across Europe, the former Soviet Republic, China, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. No one had ever driven overland following these routes, a total of 152,000 miles, another Guinness world record. Rogers’ insightful commentary on the political and historical topography of these diverse countries cuts through stereotypes to give us a glimpse of the world the way it really is, for better or worse.
Jim and Paige began their journey on January 1, 1999, in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland; or Thingvellir, 30 km from the capital to be exact. Though Jim is a man of money in every sense, he is not shorn of romantic notions either – Thingvellir is the place where the ever-shifting tectonic plates beneath the Eastern and Western Hemispheres come together. During their roundtrip of the volatile region, they were caught in a heavy blizzard and had to be rescued – an early drama which left Paige understandably shaken.
He talks about each country visited from both a traveler’s and investor’s perspective making comparisons between the country’s current political and economical situation with his observations made ten years earlier (when he visited on his Investment biker trip). It is this comparison that is one of Rogers’ major motivations for his second circumnavigation of the globe as he wants to observe first-hand what the world’s situation is at the turn of the millenium.
Like Investment biker, this travelogue differs from other RTW narrations, in its original and refreshing view on the world from the perspective of a world-class investor. He comes up with many practical advises of whom not all may sound happy and positive but they sure have their sensible moorings – ‘ground up’ as Jim says. The practice of teaching Gaelic language in Ireland a case in point. Jim vehemently advocates teaching German, even Chinese in Irish schools. ‘When they are 35 years old, all Gaelic will get them is a job washing dishes,’ he says. ‘The sad fact is that within the next 100 years there maybe only about 30 languages left in the world.’
This is a gutsy travelogue adventure from a guy who shoots straight from the hip, and it really hits the mark. It is a journey of discovery – a world across borders, beyond politics, beneath the economics and sometimes stunted under the awning shade of history.
The book is available on Amazon.