FFC & WOYB: Travel Books

For this Friendly Friday Challenge we have a special treat. For the first time ever we’re having a combo event with the What’s On Your Bookshelf challenge, guest hosted by Donna, Debbie, Jo and Sue!

In this go-around, the topic is TRAVEL BOOKS and it’s a twofer. Post it once and tag it twice with “Friendly Friday Challenge” and “What’s On Your Bookshelf.”

Full instructions on how to link-up your post and see other submissions, can be found our Guest Hosts’ blogs:

Retirement Reflections, www.retirementreflections.com  by Donna Connolly

Deb’s World, https://debs-world.com/    by Debbie Harris

And Anyways, https://andanyways.com/   by Jo Tracey

Women Living Well After 50, https://www.womenlivingwellafter50.com.au/  by Sue Loncaric

For my submission I thought I’d round up the books that inspired me to travel. Starting with …

ORACLE BONES  by Peter Hessler

I read Oracle Bones around the same time Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China and The Elephant and the Dragon: The rise of India and China and what it means for All of Us were published. It was the early 2000’s and a time of global economies, emerging markets and rapid transformation due to technology.

5.OracleBones - Peter Hessler

Stories and books like these inspired me to visit China and eventually move to Beijing. What I found there was a world that was amazing, bewildering and different from anything I’d ever seen.  It was the beginning of my years of travel and impetus to start photography and writing.

Once I’d settled in Beijing and later Singapore, I explored the surrounding countries. Growing up I’d always favored science over geography and I’m ashamed to admit that I was largely ignorant about this part of the world. Many times, it was after I’d visited a country that I’d research its past. It was always a delight to discover authors who gave historical context to places and people seen.

Such was the case with Colin Cotterill who set his novels in Laos during the 1970’s, shortly after its communist regime took power.

THE CORONER’S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill

6.DrSiriPaiboun - Colin Cotterill

The Coroner’s Lunch is the first of the Dr. Siri Paiboun mysteries. Dr Siri is a world-weary revolutionary who at 72 years old, is pulled from retirement and appointed national coroner for Laos. He’s drawn into investigations of death and mischief and in the process pokes fun at a fumbling and idiosyncratic government.

I enjoyed Cotterill’s tongue in cheek writing style and his amusing portrayal of Dr. Siri and his associates.  Mostly though, I enjoyed stepping into the lives of everyday people living in Laos and reading about the places I’d visited.

Shortly after returning to Canada, I read this book by Ann Hui, a Chinese-Canadian writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper. Ever since I’ve been dreaming about driving across Canada. I’d like to find out if it’s true that every small town in Canada has at least one Chinese restaurant and sample regional favorites like Newfoundland chow mein, peanut butter dumplings and stir-fried macaroni. Hmmm. I’d like to drive across Canada anyways.


In her book, Ann Hui travels coast to coast, looking for small town Chinese restaurants and interviewing the owners on how they came to live there.

Chop Suey Nation is not my Chinese heritage story but I found it entirely relatable.  It’s a story about family, history and how in searching for somebody else’s story, we sometimes discover stories about ourselves.

It’s a bit like travelling.

I traveled to Beijing to find cultural roots which were hundreds of years removed from mine. In Beijing I saw familiarity in everyday faces on the street. Physical similarities which were later confirmed by my mother’s recollection of a great-great-grandmother who came from the north and not the south, like the rest of our family.

In Singapore and Hong Kong, I discovered histories echoing those of my parents and grand-parents. In the 1900’s thousands of people left China to seek fortunes or at least better lives, in places far away. Many Chinese left to work in British colonies and because of that, I found customs in Singapore that mirrored those of my parents and grandparents in Jamaica.

It seems to me that the benefits of travel outweigh those of simple novelty. Beyond the delight of new experiences, it is wonderful to find connections in culture and traditions. Equally wonderful is finding books that inspire you to travel and discover more.


  1. Sandy, thanks so much for the notification about my albatz.com site being taken over. I have spent the last few weeks trying to get to the bottom of this – I have been hacked by a former friend who has been stalking me both on and offline. He is out to destroy my entire online presence – if I hadn’t been warned I would have lost all my sites…. he’s probably trying to figure out how to hack my WordPress site as I write this – I am going to the police and contacting the CRTC about it. Such a nightmare but I at least got a head start on it thanks to you…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG what a nightmare! I hope you get this guy. Your profile link is still messed up, so I hope you get comment too. I hope WordPress is helping you sort it all out.


      1. So far I have complaints into multiple large faceless corporations – none ever answer my complaints directly but a fake Elizabatz Facebook page has been removed and a fake 3rd party access to my Google accounts has been removed. It’s like being in the middle of a bad detective novel with little clues coming up all over the place. Now I am being more proactive – contacting sites hopefully before he attempts to hack them… Again thank you, at least I had some warning…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Twofer” – love it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I read the Elephant and the Dragon at business school, I think. But the others sound interesting and I’ll look for them! I love books placed in exotic places, familiar or not. I just read Aunty Lee’s Delights which was a tongue-in-cheek mystery set in Singapore, it was just perfect

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m just in the middle of a Dr Siri book right now – it’s called ‘I Shot the Buddha’ and so far it isn’t my favourite. I think I’ve read about 5 of them; not the Coroner’s Lunch though. Anyway, great books if you’re travelling in Laos or parts of the nearby neighbouring countries of Thailand and Cambodia. I will have to check out your other two selections. The peanut butter dumplings reminded me of Ms. Vy who has cooking classes in Hoi An. She said when she went to Australia the food she loved most was peanut butter and banana sandwiches – a taste sensation combination that wasn’t part of traditional Vietnamese food…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always check out cooking schools when I travel too. In Hoi An I went to the Green Bamboo school, maybe the same? I don’t mind PB&B sandwiches, funny enough it was fav when I was in the tropics but I prefer PB&J now that I’m here.


  4. Hi Sandy thank you for the opportunity for us to join in with your Friendly Friday meets Whats On Your Bookshelf? I have visited China and Singapore so would be interested in reading your suggestions. The Coroner’s Lunch is one I’m definitely going to put on my TBR I love a good mystery.


  5. Thanks for the opportunity to join you and your readers in your Friendly Friday challenge Sandy, it’s been great to look at travel books and rekindle some of those feelings we get from the anticipation of travel as it’s been sadly lacking in recent years. I like the quote along the lines of books can help you travel when you can’t leave where you are. Your travel books and stories are so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debbie, it’s always great to meet-up and combine our communities. Sometimes I think the joy of travel is in three stages: anticipation, participation and recollection – and books help us along in all three ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can totally relate to your experience of finding familiarity in the faces of people in Beijing. I had the same reaction in Ireland even though I’m many generations removed from that heritage.
    Peanut Butter Dumplings! Sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it eerie and amazing at the same time!
      I have a feeling that the peanut butter dumplings will be tasty. I make satay noodles and peanut butter is a key flavoring. The Newfoundland chow mein is another thing … they use cabbage instead of noodles … which’d make it chop suey anywhere else ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for your invitation to cohost this challenge – it’s been a ball. I agree with your comments re books that aren’t just about a place – the facts, the figures – but get in under the covers and under the bones. Speaking of which, The Coroner’s Lunch sounds like the type of book that I’d enjoy… it goes without saying that Chop Suey Nation absolutely is. Peanut butter dumplings? Yep, I’d go there… stir-fried macaroni? Hmmmm….

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi, Sandy – Thank you and your team for inviting us to cohost ‘Friendly Friday Challenge’ this month. It has been an awesome experience. I completely agree with you about the benefits of travel which include a better understanding of cultures and traditions. I also agree about the immense value of books that inspire. Thank you for sharing yours. Chop Suey Nation looks especially appealing to me. It is so cool that we both lived in Beijing. Another connection!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not only in Beijing but we probably passed each other in WAB too ๐Ÿ™‚ My son was in High School so that’s why we wouldn’t have direct contact but he was always in one school band or the other.


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