Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nicholas Greenwood- Bound Tightly with Banana Leaves

I swapped something else for this book in a little hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam. I liked it and was able to identify with some of the more bizarre elements, but felt that others were perhaps exaggerated or placed outside of context. I was shocked to discover that this was written in 1992; but then again, i was talking to a monk in Cambodia (who is very young) who remembers when Angkor was populated only by monks- and their dark history is still so very recent. Although not all of SE Asia has the same history- obviously- it seemed like so many of his stories had taken place years and years ago rather than within my own lifetime, and this causes me to assume that either my perceptions are wrong or things have changed immensely since then.
However, as I said before, in some ways it seems very much the same.
I was particularly moved by his representation of the Burmese (now Myanmar) people's struggles and even less oppressed people's daily tribulations. HIs humor and candor are refreshing, and it provides a true farang/traveller's perspective and experiences in a very intruiging place, but occasionally miss the mark and fall flat. Overall I enjoyed it, particularly the moments that I felt must be common to all who enter SE Asia for the first time, and these moments made my reading quite enjoyable.

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