I can’t believe I forgot to mentioned bookstores in my “10 things I love about central Java, Indonesia” post.
The bookstore, along with the supermarket, was one of the unspoken “Must Visit” sites for us. On the first day, we visited the Gramedia bookstore in Malioboro Mall. It looked like a regular Popular but inside it is 50 times more awesome because there was 49 times less assessment books.
The bookstore is part of the Kompas Gramedia Group conglomerate which also has a publishing division churning out volumes of out translated works such as The Hunger Games.
I decided that I should checkout the travel section to find out what sort of travel non-fiction is popular in other countries.
At the travel section, I found a dizzying array of travel guide books and literature. Most of them were money-saving indie travel guides with strangely similar topics: “Travel XX country with YYY rupiah!” Replace XX with a country with YYY the amount of money and you have a new book.
What caught my attention was a series of travel books in bright colors: Blue, Green and Orange. Like other famous women, the author was only known by one name: Trinity (which also happens to be the name of an ex-colleague’s daughter so that made more of an impression than, say, Jane).
The book’s subtitle was “Notes of a female Indonesian backpacker around the world”. Quite impressive, woman traveler and all that. Unfortunately, the book was sealed in plastic so I was not able to tachiyomi (a Japanese phrase for “reading while standing”) to decide if I want to keep it.
Competing with The Naked Traveler series was a book that reminded D of “Eat, Pray, Love” in reverse because the author “went to Europe and found a love”. Usually, a love story would be a good read for me but I was in my cynical stage (it fluctuates) that I didn’t really cared much about other people finding love.
When we visited the bookstore before our trip to Solo, I picked up The Naked Traveler over the lovey-dovey one because I felt terribly jealous of people who have found love.
The real review
I read the book on the rumbling train to Solo. The sky was dark outside, inside the train, women were sitting in circles talking to each other.
I didn’t like the book at the start. They were short stories instead of the long novel I was looking forward to. Chapters of short story were grouped under larger sub-groups.
The author wasn’t always politically correct and had a couple of fart and shit jokes which to my prudish eyes were a No, No. But I guess that’s the charm of the book–honest opinions from a woman traveller who doesn’t care if you think she should be politically correct or not.
Her book also has a certain romance to it, especially for people like me who haven’t travelled to that many countries. She’s been to so many countries that each story’s location doesn’t seem to overlap with another.
The book was also useful for me to brush up on my Indonesian. I picked up a couple of Indonesian slang.
I also like the book for the little illustrations at the beginning of each story.
By the end of the book, I decided that I like TNT enough to buy book 2 and book 3 once I head back to Indonesia (which is sooner than you think). The stories were light and humorous. And the politically incorrect parts feels like a friend telling you a private joke which you both would laugh over but look sheepish in the end for making fun of such trivial things.
One of the funniest chapters was the one which she discussed which countries have the best looking people. Italy was chosen for its men while Puerto Rico was chosen for its women. She wrote that even “coolies” in Italy were gorgeous while Puerto Rican women all looked like Jennifer Lopez.
Of course, being the un-PC person that she is, she even shared which country had the least attractive people. Ouch.
For those who can read Malay or Indonesian and like humorous writing, I would recommend TNT for you. I have a strong feeling that book 2 or 3 might have even better content because she would have gotten a hang of it.
TL;DR version of this post: I found an entertaining video review of the book by MyIndo.
Other travel reads
- Read: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
- Read: The Great Railway Bazaar
- Read: Eat, Pray, Love
Have you read The Naked Traveler?