First of all, I think that it is very irresponsible as a woman traveling alone to just spontaneously end up in a foreign city in Southeast Asia without any advanced preparation. It irritates me to the n-th degree when privileged travelers go to other country and impose their culture and language on others-this is exactly so far what I am thinking about the author.
A fun read, but it sure makes you not want to travel to those countries ever.
Its a bit like football you can love watching it but you wouldnt want to read about it. Australians Tamara and Elissa attempt to get off the backpacker trail and do Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The book opens with her spouting about how shes come to hate backpackers and how she wants to go somewhere she wont encounter drunken Australians pissed up on cheap bear screaming Aussie Aussie Aussie oy oy oy at the tops of their voices. One night in a bar she comes across Wazza, a very drunk Australian who lives in Cambodia and has succumbed to his feelings of home-sickness and popped back to good-old Aus. He tells Tamara through a slur of beer fumes that if she wants a place with hardly any foreigners she should try South East Asia. This is the point at which I started to doubt the sincerity of the I want to see the real SE Asia and keep away from backpackers premise. But lets give them some credit they only spend one day in Bangkok, griping about drivers ripping them off (do ALL Australians do that when they are travelling or only the ones Ive met?) and failing to find most of the things they vaguely set out to look at. Their first stop up north is a disaster if only theyd read the guidebook instead of just looking at the name of the town and thinking hmm, sounds interesting. If I read a travel book I want to know about what they saw, why they went there, whether its worth a visit not where I have the best chance of scoring a few foils of out-of-date Valium. The overly sincere spiritual types doing their yoga and rebalancing their chakras come in for plenty of gyp as do any other travellers who drink too much (definition of too much = even more than Tamara and El) and look set on having too good a time. (An aside if you want to look like a really cool druggy traveller, is Valium really an appropriate drug of choice?) Passing through some of the most beautiful countries in the world, they almost completely fail to actually go and see anything. And yet Sheward writes as if its all just so clever and so funny that you or I would actually want to read about it. If the principle of Karma is that good deeds in this life are rewarded in the next then I strongly suspect that Tamara and El will be coming round again as cockroaches next time. You werent learn anything worth knowing about South East Asia from this book but you might learn more than you want to about silly Aussie backpackers.
Probably, but I'm not enjoying their company enough to read on.
I've met stupid people. But I felt Sheward was doing nothing in the pages I read but ridicule the people of Thailand, its food, its culture, everything.
They meet two fellas who invite them along on their visit to the Pak Ou Caves, a Laotian place of worship, filled with statues of Buddha's, where Tamara, chronic goof ball that she is, makes of her too many snafus. Tamaras aloofness gets her challenged by crazy Mama Hanh, who sparked join after joint and poured countless bottles of wine down her gob. They miss hearing the Dos & Donts lecture and, of course, Tamara adds another insult to her list and gets shoved out of the temple by one of the priests she innocently followed into a male only section. Tamara tries to lighten things by volunteering in an audience participation to emphasis the difference in sizes from Vietnamese to American in one of the sniper holes. El has to return to her teaching job which leaves Tamara alone...except for that ever present new-ager Pancho, who is now her new bunk mate.