Culture

On Re-t(o)urns


After an extended hiatus--too much life lived writing about life lived out on the road--I'm back. And just in time to hit the road again, and begin collecting more material to write about.

Thus, news of further travels, will I soon report. Promise.

Hey, promises I am good for. Truly. It may take time, but I do stay true to my word. For instance, that book I've been promising loyal readers for two years now has finally been published. It includes my most memorable moments and insights culled from travel on five continents over the past five years. And, the added bonus is that some of those moments were originally reported in some form in this blog. Stories about people, places, practices, philosophies--the works. Like the subtitle says--the journey of life--so, basically, everything you'd want from a travel book, and more. Truly.


I don't normally think about travel, except when I'm doing it or writing about it, but since I am in the midst of preparing to get on a plane, I gave it some thought today.

Assisting me was an encounter with this piece in The Los Angeles Times travel section. The writer talks about how, given the instability in other parts of the world, Asia has become an attractive destination. I recall a certain blithe non-chalance about traveling in places like Egypt and Turkey, which I detail in the book, where things probably were dicier than I was giving them credit for (and I managed to emerge, luckily unscathed, foolishly unperturbed). Still, given recent ugly incidents involving western correspondents last month, it is probably wise to begin employing greater caution in travels to certain countries. Perhaps regions like Asia make more sense at this time in world history for certain people--particularly westerners.

There has been a lot of Asia in past Peripatetic Postcards dispatches: Taiwan, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. Maybe Australia, if your geographical imagination stretches that far south. Some of those sites are in the book--associated with lost luggage, the search for replacement dentures, shopping in a night market, a visit to a war memorial and the contemplation of death in a retirement home (and more).

As for actual tours, I have taken a couple, which I share in the book--day trips in Austria and Thailand--but I generally tend to eschew them. The major reason, aside from money, is that they violate one of the tenets of the peripatetic creed: the seat-of-the-pants, spontaneous, come-what-may element of discovery that forms my core travel philosophy.

But . . . that's just me.


As for you, fair reader, I wonder, what region you would most be inclined to travel today? Which leads to a (n imprecise) poll question (excuse the lumping of very different places into geographic blocks):



And then since we were talking about tours, how about one more:



And finally, since I'm being so nosy, how about this one for good measure:



Thanks for weighing in . . .

and, talk to you soon--I promise.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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8
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Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

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