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Slithering South Paperback – 2002
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A wild, often hilarious, ride down Thailand's longest river. A tiny teak boat set in the Ping River deep in the Golden Triangle takes the author on a 58-day voyage of discovery through Thailand's heart. Along the way, he meets Sin the Buffalo Man, the Cowboys of Tha Sala, Jamrat and the "Boom Boom Girl", and dozens of other intriguing characters. One dark night, poachers prey on him; on another, he is a murder suspect, as he learns far more about rural Thailand - and himself - than he bargained for. --- from book's back cover
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Top Customer Reviews
In the beginning of his over 400 pages long travelogue the author tells us about the building of his boat, from the first sketches, in the sand, to what it actually adds up to. Not exactly what the author expected. ‘It wasn’t the sleek-lined, pointed prow boat that would glide through the water. It was a bulky fat tub …’
This is what often happens throughout the 400 pages, the author has one idea, but the Thai people he meets have a completely different idea and understanding. Luckily Steve has the river to guide him, otherwise he probably would have finished somewhere close to the north pole. As it is he manages to peddle his bulky fat tube from the upper Ping, deep in the golden Triangle, down the Chao Phya to the Gulf of Thailand in little less than two months.
Together with the author the reader also learns a lot, not having to many fixed ideas is the least of them. For the enriching lives experience, unfortunately (?) each of us will have to make his own journey. Reads like this can inspire us there.
Then, I read "Slithering". It isn't that I was humbled by my ignorance. Yes, some of that. But what Steve's book did was to take disparate pieces of information gathered over the years in my mind and make them clear. He made sense of them. And he did like a "fellow traveler". Not like a lecturer.
Turns out that Steve has enormous self-discipline in terms of recording what he saw and experienced of a day. He mentions as part of the narrative that he records the day's events. By doing so, he doesn't write history in concrete. He uses his notes to encourage his memory so that "Slithering" is an amplification, a highly enhanced version of his notes.
In this travelogue, one really feels one is with him. Each day retains its surprises and yields its insights. Steve has an ability to see what's before him without missing much, whereas I would have some kind of artificial threshold that something would have to exceed before I would notice. Thus, he stimulates out of me my own experiences, perceptions, feelings that lay fallow in my mind. For that I am eternally grateful.
I commend his book as a way to experience yourself in the situations he describes. A way to extend yourself further than you thought was possible through another's experience.
It is a classic book.