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Book Review: by Lang Reid
all the publicity recently over the Tour de France, I was regaled with two
wheeled tales from SE Asia, in book format, “Lollipop Fury”. This recent
publication came from Bangkok Book House (ISBN 978-974-8446-19-6) and was
written by Michael Deveney, following his bicycle tours through Thailand,
Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
In some ways (most ways I suppose) I was expecting a log of bicycling
events, a home-grown Tour de Thailand, but that was not to be the case,
despite one reviewer on the back cover proclaiming it to be “a travel tome”.
So if you are looking for a road map and a list of potholes, then this is
not the book for you.
It begins with a section called Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand; then Louang
Prabang-Vientiane, Laos; followed by the Bolaven Plateau, Laos; Ho Chi Minh
City; Mae Hong Son-Chiang Rai, Thailand and Indochine Redux.
The concept was that author Michael Deveney takes the reader through the
various regions, on his bicycle, and at the beginning of the book, he does
try to do just that, whilst being mindful of the fact the most people are
not into lycra and 52 speed Shimano gears. However, he does give us an
example of what happens when you cannot get the dedicated bicycle shoe out
of the keyway in the pedals - you fall off, which he did at the Hotel
Indochine in front of several startled guests.
Later in the book, it appears that he gets tired of stringing everything
together with pedals and two wheels, and just starts reminiscing, which
quite frankly, I found a better way to read his collection of short stories.
At B. 450 it is not an expensive read, nor is it an expensive guide to the
foibles of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. However, it does give the
reader a collection of vignettes, even though the way they are two-wheeled
joined together does seem a little strange at times, as I mentioned above.
In the Indochine Redux there is a most amusing item about baldness, the
scourge of the Europeans, and something almost unheard of in the local Thai
male population. Me jealous? I must also take him to task over his
assertions that Thai females do not wish for large breasts. According to the
local cosmetic surgeons here, breast enlargement and nose lifting are the
two most favored operations.
This section goes on into the practice of removing shoes before entering a
house - followed by the grimy feet routine afterwards, as well as the rather
indelicate Chinese custom of not cutting mole hairs. This is where Deveney
is a natural story teller, and all done without the need of a bicycle pump.
Towards the end of the book, Deveney writes, “I seem to have spent my life
doing daft things,” and then goes on to give very brief snippets. Honestly I
would have liked him to give me more, fill those snippets out, because he is
an entertaining writer, rather than give the reader yet another take on bar
girls, and “Hello sexy man,” which has been done to death, to death, to
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