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Bad Karma: Confessions of a Reckless Traveller in Southeast Asia Paperback – November 1, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beer-swilling Aussie backpacker Sheward and her best mate, El, set off on a jejune journey across Southeast Asia with the agenda of having a look and annoying the world. The dyspeptic duo succeed at both dubious goals, screaming at the locals and belittling other travelers as they barrel along an unplanned, madcap tour of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. They omit no traveling cliché (right down to overcharging cabbies and a stolen camera) and pass up no opportunity to misconstrue or poke fun at local religions and culture. Sheward's writing lacks the satirical prowess that would make the self-absorbed duo more likable, though occasional hiccups of elegant prose help to balance the contradicting metaphors and near-endless whining. A reader who manages to hang on to this freewheeling bitchfest to the end will get the paltry reward of watching Sheward and El swallow an overdue dose of humility on a trip to Cambodia's Killing Fields, at last gaining some insight—however self-serving—from their disorganized travels. (Nov.)
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Review

“Sheward’s writing is fast and furious. A roller coaster off the rails, with beers.”—Adventure Travel Magazine

 



“The girls make a delightful comic duo. Sheward’s prose is superb.”

Backpacker Magazine

 



“Wild-child writer Tamara Sheward, whose adventures are recounted in a humorous collection of politically-incorrect tales of Asian drug dealers and stoned backpackers . . . is irrepressible.”—Sydney Morning Herald

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897335651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897335652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,094,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a disturbing and unfunny book - the adventures of a lager-lout whose goal was to escape the typical backpacker scene in South East Asia. The book chronicles the author and her friend, who were ill prepared and insensitive to local culture, customs and religion, as they ridicule, insult, swear and treat with contempt local individuals in which they came in contact. How can people find humour in this?
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Format: Paperback
In some, there is a deep desire driving them to escape the masses and to travel into the unknown. Born of this desire, Tamara Sheward and her best friend, Elissa, jump at the rare opportunity to spend three weeks backpacking in a foreign land. Their destination: Southeast Asia. Bad Karma Confessions of a Reckless Traveller in Southeast Asia, as told by Sheward is the result of their travels.

Without any planning and certainly without any preparation but for the purchase (and theft) of some rather useless travel guides, the two set off an a haphazard adventure. This adventure would take them through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam; countries ill-prepared for these two Australian guests. It would be an adventure they, nor the reader, will soon forget.

Almost from the very beginning of their "vacation" trouble seems to follow the pair. Unwelcome as farang (or foreigners) at seedy hotels, their first night was a foreshadow of what was to come.

Characters such as a Train Nazi, the Kip Kid, and Mama Hahn and her floating party dot the landscape of their journey. Prescription-free Valium, a flight only the stoned could appreciate and a slew of religious cults and varieties also played prominent. Accidentally cursing a host family with a death curse, hitchhiking in a bootlegger's truck and getting stuck in a Viet Cong secret sniper hole are all characteristic events found within the pages of this account.

Surprising no national incidents were sparked along the way. While the two were not invited to leave (the majority of the time), it is not likely that they would be a welcome sight by many who encountered them.
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Format: Paperback
As a female traveller and travel book fan, I was looking forward to reading about a part of the world that both intrigues and scares me. "Bad Karma" did a good job of reconfirming both those emotions. I forgot that they were only traveling for 3 weeks. I think it took me that long to read the book. Their journey felt much longer.

It took me a while to get into the book. A lot of the initial experiences are just odd and foul. But as I neared the last 1/3 of the book, I found it hard to put down. Perhaps, just like the author took time to indoctrinate herself to a new part of the world, I needed some time to get indoctrinated too. The book really hits it's stride with the experiences in Vietnam. Some were laugh-out-loud funny. Cambodia was good too, but a little too short and the ending wrapped itself up a little too neatly.

Overall, I'd say this is a good book if you're into travelogues and summer reading. Just don't expect to find yourself on the next plane to Bangkok when you're finished.
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Format: Paperback
A fantastic Aussie swig of a travelogue from two endearingly self-obsessed vagabonds getting their picaresque kicks backpacking through Southeast Asia. As the duo bounce around countries, they pull no punches in satirizing their surroundings.

Bad Karma is a gloriously unremitting narrative of two hilarious individuals who deliberately set themselves opposite whatever culture they encounter. If they were not so flippantly hilarious, their self-absorption might be nauseating. As they progress from Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, they finally get a dose of much-needed humility while visiting the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Simultaneously hilarious and humbling, Bad Karma is enough of an experience to encourage your own freewheeling adventure through foreign territory. You try reading this and not booking plane tickets afterwards.
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