This is a book of humorous travel stories laced with informative digressions on Asian history and culture. I deal with six different geographical regions, and have therefore divided the writing into six distinct sections.

The first is Burma, the police state par excellence, where I travelled off the government radar and spent time with several members of the underground resistance. The travelogue discusses the ongoing civil war, the current totalitarian political regime, and an interview I had with the last surviving king of the Shan people.

Selected stories from several trips to India come next, with highlights including my building houses among the untouchables, meeting the global leader of the Hare Krishna movement, and the tale of an acquaintance who financed his travels in India by selling his own children. I also discuss my visits to the shrines of Vishnu’s footprint, Shiva’s golden penis and Kali’s breasts, as well as pilgrimages to several famous Buddhist sites.

Then I detail the highlights of a trip through Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, including anecdotes of hallucinations in Phnom Penh, a high-speed scuffle with a pair of motorcycle thieves at the Killing Fields, and tips on how to use cockroaches to your advantage in Ho Chi Minh City.

After that, I give a brief discussion of the island nation of Singapore, my adventures therein, and how the country became the biggest success story of the orient in just thirty years because of an economically effective autocratic government.

This is followed by the story of my travels through Indonesia shortly after the Christmas tsunami of 2004. Beginning with the island of Bali, I recount a few tales of my encounters with the local banci sexual subculture there, then describe my visit to Java’s Borobudur, the largest Buddhist shrine on the planet. After that, I tell of an expedition I did to search for Rafflesia flowers in the jungles of Sumatra.

Finally, I include some adventures from my 2005 trip through Nepal and Tibet. At the time, Nepal was a political tinderbox, caught between violent Maoists on one side and a monomaniacal king who had declared a state of emergency on the other. After spending a few weeks there, I passed through the Himalayas to arrive in the capital of Tibet on the surreal day of a gala festival celebrating the 40th anniversary of Chinese “liberation.”

This book would be a valuable resource for all those planning to travel in South-East Asia who are interested in learning about the political and historical facts while still being entertained by a engaging travelogue narrative. Similar in style to the travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and Video Night in Kathmandu, I am confident that this manuscript would have no difficulty finding many eager readers.

Excerpts:

Hsipaw, Myanmar: A meeting with the last surviving king of the Shan people, and discussion of the Burmese police state.

Calcutta, India: An encounter with the world head of the Hare Krishna movement, and participation in the Juggernaut festival.

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Drug induced hallucinations and the thwarting an attempted robbery while on a motorcycle.

On Tibetan Independence: One of the book’s appendices, discussing the tenability of Tibetan Independence from China, in the wake of the 2008 Olympic Games protests.


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