A Backpack and a Bit of Luck - Stories of a Traveller with No Sense of Direction
by Zhang Su Li
Marshall Cavendish, HK$99
Travel requires an open mind, otherwise it's just tourism. Kuala Lumpur's Zhang Su Li decided to get lost for a while, something she's apparently prone to doing from time to time, and has gathered something of a journal of her experiences in 15 stories in A Backpack and a Bit of Luck - Stories of a Traveller with No Sense of Direction. It's an amusing read, notably interesting because this is travel seen from the perspective of an English-educated Malaysian whose first priority is not to locate the nearest source of Big Macs. Some of it sounds familiar, but Zhang manages to veer off the beaten track with rather alarming regularity, only to be caught in the orbit of some benevolent stranger or other. Zhang genuinely likes people and she's a good storyteller. Particularly good is her journey to Atlantis, which, despite Plato's rather poor directions ('he's a philosopher not a historian'), she decides is in the Aegean Sea and heads for the Greek island of Santorini. India leaves a big impression, but one suspects the dignity of the impoverished people in Myanmar will stay with her for longer.