Pico Iyer is a veteran travel writer, and this was an earlier publication which details some of his thoughts and experiences as he traveled through parts of Asia in the 1980’s. Of course, a lot has changed since then, but overall I really enjoyed this read to places of the world where it’s unlikely that I’ll visit. (Although after Iyer’s wonderful and gushing description of Tibet, I’d love to go there if I didn’t have to drink yak milk… 🙂 )
This book is not a straight-forward chronological narrative set-up; Iyer’s chapters jump around from place to place, going from Nepal to China to Hong-Kong to Bali. However, this changing around does nothing to detract from the reader’s experience as Iyer is a thorough narrator and each chapter is long enough to describe what he feels about his travels.
This was a good solid read – remarkably solid, in fact, as there are pages where the writing is so dense that it’s like fighting through a rain forest with a blunt machete. However, these dense passages are spread out and once I had accepted that this book was going to take some tenacity and a blindness to the clock and calendar, it was a good experience.
It’s opinionated travel writing, for certain, but not in an “in-your-face” way so I, as the reader, didn’t feel that I was being forced to view countries through Iyer’s own particular lens. He provided enough balance around his opinions that you could see the rest of the picture and this I really enjoyed. I liked this read, slow as molasses as it was, and would happily pick up another of Iyer’s works.