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My Favourite Books To Read Whilst Travelling in South East Asia

By on Aug 2, 2011 in Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

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I’m a bit of a book hound and nothing rivals the comfort of a good book whilst stuck in the back of a Bemo traversing through the backwaters of South East Asia. A decent travel book can make the tedious hours of travelling fly by or even distract you from the oncoming truck baring down on you as your crazy driver chats on his phone whilst completing an overtaking maneuver on a blind corner (hello to all my readers out there about to take the road to Sapa!). So with that in mind I wanted to share with you five inspiring books that I have read on the road, that have not only offered me a great read, but also stopped me from losing my marbles in South East Asia.

Mr Nice

by Howard Marks

Mr Nice by Howard Marks

This great read is a popular book along the South East Asian backpacker route and is often a conversational point of many drinking sessions – is he good or is he bad? This autobiography follows Howard Marks, an Oxford graduate, a successful business man, an English spy and a convicted drug trafficker from the 80’s. His adventures takes him through Thailand, Philippines, Afghanistan, China and India in a time where all you had to do to get off the beaten track was to leave the airport.


The Girl in the Picture

by Denise Chong

The Girl in the Photo - The Story of Kim Phuc The Story of Kim Phuc is an emotional personal encounter of the Vietnam War. Set in a country ruled by communism, it takes the reader on a journey through history, violence, repression and represents one girls struggle for survival, who subsequently became the subject of one of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War. I read this whilst travelling through Vietnam and can admit to shedding a few tears whilst reading it. The book was able to give me an insight into Vietnamese life over the last 40 years as well as placing many of the  destinations into context. Reading this will change the way you travel through Vietnam!


The Beach

by Alex Garland

The Beach Forget the movie and watching Leonardo DiCaprio getting his freak on on Phi Phi Island; this novel is the real deal. Many travellers will know about this book and if you don’t, you might want to grab hold of it before heading off to Thailand. The Beach follows the notion of a bunch of young travellers finding a secret idyllic place away from “tourists” and trying to keep it all for themselves. Needless to say it all goes terribly wrong! If you’re into Thailand and this whole debate about travellers versus tourists and concept of psuedo travel this book makes for a great read.


The Lonely Planet Story

by Tony and Maureen Wheeler

The Loney Planet Story Long before Lonely Planet sold up to the BBC (I said sold up not sold out), Tony and Maureen Wheeler set off from the U.K. to Australia on an epic overland adventure. This great book not only follows their highs and lows of travelling through South East Asia, but also takes a look at how they developed the “Yellow Bible” and went onto become the largest guide book publisher in the world. The world isn’t so lonely any more that’s for sure. Warning: Reading this on the road will make you want to start your own publishing company!


The Wrong Way Home

by Peter Moore

The Wrong Way Home by Peter Moore One of my favourite books and writers of all time, The Wrong Way Home follows the adventures of Peter Moore, an Australian who sets off to travel from London to Sydney on $5000 via the legendary 1960’s hippy trail during the early 1990’s. With a mix of humour and a whole lot of luck, Peter avoids being shot in former Yugoslavia, kidnapped in Afghanistan and ends up finding the answer to whether the hippy trail is still alive and kicking?


Do you have any suggestions for a great read? I’m always on the hunt for an exciting new book and I’d love to hear about your favourite travel book (fact or fiction) to read when visiting South East Asia – let me know below. Happy Reading!