Book set around the world: Marco Polo Didn’t Go There

“It is the expectation itself that robs a bit of authenticity from the destinations we seek out.”

– Rolf Potts


One of the best ways you can travel meaningfully is by reading travel fiction/non-fiction on the country/countries you intend to visit.

I got interested in Rolf Potts when I heard he was the “Jack Kerouac for the internet age” and had written an essential travel book called Vagabonding. Truth be told, I didn’t find Vagabonding very helpful but I picked up his collection of 20 short stories to see whether it would change my mind. The book spans his real-life adventures in several countries and arguably his most famous piece, Storming the Beach, is about planning how to storm the movie of the same name on location in Phi Phi Leh, Thailand.

Some of the stories show how the best stories come from being open to the road like Road Roulette or from misadventures like Turkish Knockout, Be Your Own Donkey, and Up Cambodia without a phrasebook. I especially liked the shattering of preconceptions in Tantric Sex for Dilettantes.  It was also nice to see a travel story on Grenada: Seven (or So) Sins on the Isle of Spice although it wasn’t as juicy as the others.

What I liked most about his stories were the endnotes. Here, Potts explained why he had to write his story in a certain way or leave out certain details for his narrative arc. I think this shines a light on how writers have to create a story from the tangled strands of a real lived experience.  The endnotes also sometimes explained his motivations for writing the story. It felt very behind the scenes and I totally loved it.

Verdict: great read!

Have you ever read Marco Polo Didn’t Go There? What did you think about it?

rolf potts

11 thoughts on “Book set around the world: Marco Polo Didn’t Go There

  1. I have never read Marco Polo didn’t go there but I love short stories and if they are all about travel I am in! I like to see documentary about a certain country before I visit it. But now ever since the blog is becoming big I love reading them aswell! Less “what to do” and “where to sleep” kind of post but more personal travel stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never heard of Rolf Potts but I’m intrigued that he’s known as the Jack Kerouac for the internet age. I’m definitely going to check him out. I love reading travel books and stories and hearing other people’s perspectives on places I’ve visited.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I personally think travel is more about the experiences you have and the people you meet, much more than ticking off items from a pre-defined checklist. Rolf Potts seem to be doing that in spades. Time to read up on his books.

    Liked by 1 person

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