Book review courtesy of ReviewTheBook.com.
Jennifer L. Smith (Author)
ISBN: 0-7414-5869-1 ©2010
Book Size: 5.5'' x 8.5'' , 156 pages
Category/Subject: TRAVEL / Asia / General
Review: Jennifer L. Smith has been one busy lady. Over the years she's traveled extensively and in Bamboo Byways she shares her experiences in Southeast Asia. As someone who loves to travel the back roads, I was pretty excited to see what she had to say about a part of the world I haven't made it to yet.
A few chapters in I realized that this book was not at all what I had anticipated. I didn't expect to learn so much about the traditions and history of whatever place I was being guided through. While that surely isn't a bad thing, it made for heavier reading that I had prepared myself for. One thing you can be sure of is that you will surely gain a breadth of knowledge about the people of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, while learning about the daily struggles and triumphs of ordinary citizens.
In the forward, Smith discusses the importance of understand other cultures and then delivers a solid read that helped me to better understand a culture that is far removed from the world of sitcoms and fast food I grew up in. I especially enjoyed the story of Sanun, the rice farmer and have to admit I may never look at a bowl of rice the same way again!
I would recommend this book for people who are planning on visiting this region of the world. It's a great primer on the history told by a woman who surely knows the region well. If you're someone who's looking for a collection of feel good stories you can breeze through on the beach, this one might not be right for you!
Personally, I really enjoyed this brief glimpse into three countries I know very little about. While I had hoped for more of a travel narrative, I have to commend the author on her research and insight. While this surely isn't the book I anticipated, I definitely learned a ton.