Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Report 4: Blundering Around Isaan

"Blundering Around Isaan" is Peter Jaggs' second book about times in Thailand, the first being "From Beggar to Butterfly", published a year before this one came out in 2007.

"Blundering" is based on true people and events, and weaves an entertaining story of his unexpected journey into the Northeast of Thailand, living with a bar girl and the people of her village. Based on that, I took the liberty of labeling this post as fiction and non-fiction.

His original plan was to come to Thailand and immerse himself in the nightlife of Pattaya for a half a year, but that plan was dashed as quickly as his rented jet ski flew up the sandy beach and smashed into a fruit cart, leaving him bruised and cut up. That failed effort to approach the shore, cut his engine and slide gracefully to a stop on the sand as the locals do earned him a two hour visit to the police station, and left him 150,000 baht poorer.  With only four traveler's checks left when he limped out he said to himself "That's the end of my six months in Thailand, then".

As it turned out, a bar girl named Kung suggested he accompany her back up into Isaan to visit her family - a trip he could afford.  They clambered onto a bus to the Northeast. Once there, he was introduced to her sami (husband) - and there the story really begins.

Jaggs style is casual and free-flowing. He has an eye for everyday detail - as do I - so I went through the 291 pages at a slightly slower pace than I sometimes read things, just to enjoy it. I was in Thailand at the time, and on a journey into Isaan myself (you can read that 28-part saga by clicking here) and it was a great way to finish my day before going to sleep. Better than what was on the TV at the rooms we stopped at, that's for sure!

There are many tales of his times with the locals, including Kung's uncle Loong, considered a somewhat loopy elder of the village. Fishing, drinking, gardening, hunting and more drinking filled his days for the time he was there... along with plenty of other more colorful experiences.

The book is available through Amazon (as a Kindle, too), in book stores in Thailand, or in print or e-book through the publisher's site Bangkok Books for $6.99US.

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