Before reading this book I never think about traveling on a ship container. Thus, why do you need a guide-book?
We usually evaluate a good book by the force of revealing aspects of the reality hidden beforehand to us. Maria Staal’s Time Zones, Containers ans Three Square Meals a Day is one of those books creating a “wow” effect when after reading the last word something changed in our way of thinking and understanding the world. As I advanced the very pleasant lecture of the book I was discovering how many unexpected things could happen while traveling in this not so usual way: observing and interacting with the members of the crew and talking about their personal stories, sociological and anthropological insights about the life around the ports, customs habits. Overall, a diversity of life we can’t discover otherwise. Add to this the style and you have the good cocktail of a successful reading evening.
During the three months spent on board, Maria Staal toured in and around Italy, Spain, Suez Canal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, China or US. Every stop is marked by a little special adventure, giving a certain dynamism to the story. The first person account is giving a lot of authenticity we are tempted to forget sometimes given the literary gifts of the author. Maybe I would have been very curious to find more details and info about the culinary experiences, but this apparent omission is completed by rich descriptions of the places visited and fine human observations. The dialogues are entertaining and the descriptions and various psychological observations are contributing significantly in driving the reader to the ambiance of the story.
If interested in writing (and about to finish your travel memoir), you can find in Maria’s book good advices about how to do a good writing management while on the road without missing the plasure of the travel: by organizing your time, using the period in between stops or the bad weather for finishing your work, doing a careful documentation and gathering all the possible leaflets and tourist information, but also by getting a glimpse into the local reality through the English speaking media and various interaction with the real local people.
I don’t know if I will do very soon a trip on a container ship – seasick sounds terrifying enough for me for continuing to rely upon train and airplane for my basic travels; and ship lag, a funny term I found in Maria’s book for the first time – but for sure I would like to read more books by Maria and more travel books in general.