By Tamara Sheward
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 on 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 prominently. 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. Determination ear-marked their travels and, as Sheward put it, they found that “with a lot of harassment and a large vocabulary of abusive language you can achieve anything.”
This was a hilarious book. Chapter titles range from “The Annoyance of Being Earnest” and “Hello to What Unfortunately Is” to “Please Don’t Do Anything Weird.” The accounts would be horrifyingly embarrassing to most people, yet the realization of what continued to occur to this pair keeps the pages turning.
The very premise behind the book is intriguing. Who wouldn’t want to spend several weeks traveling with one’s best friend, rambling wherever the map took you? No outside worries, or distractions - just whatever the journey handed you! Unfortunately constant use of crude and abrasive language, drunkenness and drug use, continued to a point of severe distraction, ruined what could have otherwise been a great book.
This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter. She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.
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