Tuesday, 6th October 2015
The Laos reading list
Travelling is fantastic, but a trip is about more than the actual journey itself. To get the most out of a holiday to Laos, read up on the country before visiting and immerse yourself in the culture afterwards, reliving your memories. While most people will read a guide book cover to cover before going away, consuming novels and non-fiction about a place also helps to unlock a country's secrets. With this in mind, here are some of the books you may wish to read before or after your amazing Laos adventure.
A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, Norman Lewis
Based on a 1951 trip through Indochina when much of the region was still under the colonial power of the French, Lewis helps readers understand the history of Laos. This passage about the country sums it up: "Europeans who come here to live, soon acquire a certain recognisable manner. They develop quiet voices, and gentle, rapt expressions."
The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong, Edward Gargan
A more modern look at the history of the region is presented by a war protestor who refused to join the draft to fight in Vietnam. He travels the length of the River Mekong, which is an important feature of all the countries it passes through. Gargan's depiction of Laos is one that will remain in the memory well after reading.
One Foot in Laos, Dervla Murphy
Murphy's 1997 bicycle journey through Laos came at a time when the country had only just opened up to foreign visitors. She goes even further off the beaten track and depicts the kindness of the Laotian people and how this makes up for the trials she experiences on the road. Much of what the author discovered in the 90s can still be felt in Laos to this day.
Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos, Brett Dakin
Offering a different perspective to many travelogues, Dakin worked at the National Tourism Authority of Laos for two years and therefore presents the country in an entirely new way. Characters include a prince connected to French colonialists, an American pilot who never returned home after the war, some of the poorest people in Laos and those among the richest.
Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos, Natacha Du Pont De Bie
While the title may not seem too appetising, this foodie adventure through Laos is one that all those interested in the cuisine of the country should read. From markets to indigenous restaurants, a tribal gathering to a guest house and even at a sacred festival, Du Pont De Bie can be found getting to the culinary heart of Laos in all its glory.
The Doctor Siri Mystery series, Colin Cotterill
This series of novels, which includes Disco for the Departed, The Coroner's Lunch and Thirty-Three Teeth, follows the adventures of Dr Siri Paiboun, the coroner for the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Throughout the books, the protagonist travels to different parts of the country to uncover the truth behind various murders.
Related news stories:
See the returned Buddha statues where they belong in Laos (18th May 2015)
Experience the wildlife of Laos at the Bokeo Nature Reserve (7th December 2016)
4 ways to keep active in Laos (14th January 2016)
10 reasons to make Laos your next destination (16th September 2015)