Book review: Adventures of 2 Girls

adventures of 2 girls cover
Adventures of 2 Girls back
Adventures of 2 Girls back cover

Let me start off this book review with the back cover of Adventures of 2 Girls so I do not need to summarize what happens in the book.

Just kidding, my photo’s too small to be read anyway.

Adventures of 2 Girls is the travel memoir of Singaporean women Pam and Ning who took a career break (and family break) to travel for 9 months.

To put things in context, the two ladies are not ordinary people who decided that they want to cross off many items from their bucket list. They were already famous even before their trip: Pam is a journalist (which she does not stop reminding us of in the book) and Ning is a professional magician.

Still it’s rather rare for people from the region to take career breaks. Legitimate career breaks are things such as furthering your studies so you can climb higher up the career ladder or marrying into a rich family that only requires you to have male babies for them.

As you can see, taking time off to travel is not one of the legitimate options for a career break but Pam and Ning did it (which I applaud). The two ladies put together S$100,000 (the heck, I can’t even save $50,000 if I starve myself for 20 months) and went on a journey to many places, including a stop in Paris where Ning did a Cordon Bleu course.

“Fun read”

adventures of 2 girls cover
adventures of 2 girls cover

The book’s layout is different from the other travel memoirs. Instead of a long continuous story about their journey, the book is divided into independent chapters with standalone stories–similar to how Indonesian blogger/traveller Trinity organizes her The Naked Traveler series).

While the book spices things up by including perspectives from both ladies, I couldn’t really tell who’s who without points of reference, such as “I looked at Pam”, because the editor seem to have turned the two voices into one tone.

Overall, the book is a fun read. It’s fun to see how the two BFFs put up with each other through thick and thin. (I’m pretty sure BFF meant “best female friend” and not “best friend forever” as it seems to be commonly known these days.)

There were a few laugh out loud moments and I give credit to the authors for not lazily stuffing the book full of photos to pass off as a travel memoir.

However, the short chapters weren’t satisfying. Perhaps I am too used to long rambling travel memoirs where the author describes fellow passengers in detail and brings us along every turn of the street.

Another part of Adventures of 2 Girls which I’m not a big fan of are the areas where religion is pushed into my face–it’s a little like how I wished the section about seeking spirituality in India would finish quickly when I read Eat, Pray, Love.

I would recommend borrowing the book from the library because I believe that most of the content are available on their blog.

Checkout reviews of other travel reads:

Have you read Adventures of 2 Girls? How do you find the book?

Read: To Vietnam with Love

I usually read up on places I am visiting before a trip. Whether it is travel guides, blog posts, recommendation sites, I read them all.

I picked up <<To Vietnam with Love: A travel guide for the connoisseur>> as an afterthought. I was at the library and my arms were already heavy with two other guidebooks.

But I’m glad I did.

<<To Vietnam with Love>> is one of the rare travel guide books that breaks away from the tradition guidebook structure. (I believe the <<To Asia with Love>> series have have the same format.)

The “traditional” travel guide structure is the main reason I don’t review travel guides here.

In a regular guidebook, I find:
->History of City
->Sights to see
->Eat
->Accommodation
->Things to be careful of
->Nearby fun stuff

<<To Vietnam with Love>> is structured differently. Instead of having cities as chapters, it has different themes: Eating, Shopping, Sightseeing, Local culture and etc.

Under each theme, different writers introduce us to the Vietnam he or she has experienced. At the end of their story, there is a blue box that lists the addresses of the places mentioned.

A break from tradition

I was very much in love with this refreshing structure and the layout. The stories were short enough to keep me captivated. They were also useful since the authors give a part of the Vietnam they know to us. (But not very useful if you want a This is What You Should Do kind of travel advice.)

The introduction of the guidebook is spot on. After reading the stories, I felt like I was listening to someone’s travels in Vietnam after a dinner at someone’s house.

The book is also a contrast to other travel compilations.

One thing I don’t like about travel compilations such as <<The Best Women’s Travel Writing>> (please don’t blacklist me) is the length of the stories and the layout of the page.

Most of the pieces of such compilations are long short-story. The text spans from the left border to the right. Adding these two together makes a rather unpleasant pleasant reading experience, even though the stories are great.

A caution to crybabies

Most of the writers in the book are Americans. Since the US has fought in the Vietnam War, a lot of the stories were about revisiting the country as a veteran or a relative of the veteran.

A warning to emotional people like me, these war-related pieces made me weep over my lunch. (Heck, I wept when Hedwig died in the last Harry Potter book.) I had to wipe tears off my cheek or risk eating my tears in my porridge.

Overall, it is a very good book to have, especially if you are not visiting Vietnam. For folks who want itineraries, it’s much better to get the normal travel guidebooks.

Check out other interesting travel book reviews here:

Read: The Great Railway Bazaar
Eat, Pray, Love (Skip the India section.)
Round the world with NT$100,000 (Chinese)
The Naked Traveler (Indonesian)

I’m heading to central Vietnam soon. Any reading recommendations?