I’d like to travel to every location mentioned. I can’t single out any particular story as being a clear favorite but, if pushed to do do, I’d probably settle on the story of the Japanese fortuneteller with the interesting ancestry. This is a book that would be an excellent read at any time, but even more so if you are restricted from travel due to the pandemic restrictions or for any other reason. -Amazon Review
MIXING IT UP ON THE ASIAN TRAIL …”So I get up at dawn … marveling at fog burning off into mist tumbling down like the finest mosquito netting of silk …
The hills beyond the confluence, like shoulders of a woman undressing, the way the shroud of mist lifts off feminine curves, higher and higher … I tingle all over, feeling there on Borneo the dream tug of Joseph Conrad’s fiction.” By turns pathbreaking and intimate, this smorgasbord of travel essays scales down the sprawl of Asia by focusing on the unique and revelatory in sharp, crisp prose.
See up close and personal the razzmatazz of novice monks at play in northern Laos, the hustle of pedicab drivers in Ho Chi Minh City, the rainforests blazed on gutsy treks across Borneo and Thailand’s Elephant Island …Served up nice and spicy, Asian Trail Mix is travel at its most sumptuous. Snack on it!
Asian Trail Mix offers a rich array of vicarious travel experiences for the homebound. While reading this relatively short collection of travel tales, we roam through Raffles Hotel in Singapore, visiting the haunts of Noel Coward, Herman Hesse, and Somerset Maugham. We then journey for 22 hours by jeep to Berau in Indonesian Borneo, following in the footsteps of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim. We visit the Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation center, where orangutans orphaned due to habitat loss and poaching are prepared for reintroduction into the wild. With the help of an enterprising three-wheeled pedicab driver, we brave roaring traffic to experience the bustling Saigon. On elephant island in Thailand we backpack through the rainforest, avoid king cobras, and lie in a hammock looking up at the stars. Then it’s on to Thailand’s largest and oldest Buddhist temple, where fortunes are told with uncanny accuracy in the presence of a giant statue of a reclining Buddha. We meet novice monks in Prabang Laos where French colonial palaces are preserved alongside Buddhist Temples.
The latter part of the book is devoted to Japan. We earn how tennis came to Japan in the nineteenth century and became a major pastime for Japanese women. We tour the distilleries that produce Okinawa’s famed awamori liquor and settle in for a day of drinking. We discover how science fiction is becoming reality with a booming Japanese market for robotic pets. And we Watch participants risk a horrible death at an Onbashira festival, a once-every-six-year Shinto event that involves riding huge logs down a steep slope to a temple where they will be erected as posts.
On the whole a well written and engaging description of travel experiences.
About the Author
Eric Madeen is an award-winning author and an associate professor of modern literature at Tokyo City University and an adjunct professor at Keio University. His writing has been published widely – in Time, Asia Week, The East, The Daily Yomiuri, Tokyo Journal, Kyoto Journal, Mississippi Review, ANA’s inflight magazine Wingspan, Japanophile, The Pretentious Idea, several academic journals and so on. Sharpened in then world’s largest ad agency for clients as diverse as Mazda and Sony (Sony No Baloney!) his prose allows for an immediate emotional entry into a sublime, exotic land.
His two-plus years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Africa, where he built a primary school complex in an equatorial village surrounded by rain forest, inspired him to write the multicultural love story Water Drumming in the Soul, which resonates with the personal and passionate. Originally from a Chicago suburb, he lives with his family in Yokohama.