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No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons…

No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late (Adventura…

by Ayun Halliday

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Originally from Indiana, Halliday is a hippie who has traveled to mostly exotic locations, often in the company of one boyfriend or another. She dislocates her knee in Suriname, lives in a dilapidated monastery in Vietnam, gets beaten by a hooker in Amsterdam's red light district and gets malaria in Africa. Halliday's life, at least these travels, is adventurous and nearly fearless. She goes to the most remote places and does dangerous things, which is how she ends up unable to walk and in terrible pain in a place that doesn't have a doctor, or takes drugs she bought from a child in Vietnam, then has a bad experience, something most of us would expect. The writing is fine and her stories are interesting, but her hippie-dippie decisions, like being such a world traveler but not knowing to pack something as simple as a protein bar or a bottle of water, are hard to understand. ( )
  mstrust | Jul 27, 2016 |
Yea... this book crashed and died pretty early for me. VERY clearly not my style. I ended up skimming the second half of the book because I just couldn't take it anymore. It was all over the place, jumping from here to there and I didn't like the prose all that much. I did not invest in Ayun at all. I didn't really like her all that much either, but perhaps that was because I never did really get to know her as a person. So on to other travel books. ( )
  Kassilem | Oct 7, 2015 |
As travel narratives go, this is an average example of the drug-seeking backpacker genre. Halliday is sometimes funny, but her tendency to elaborate on all the ways that she is an unpleasant travel companion override her attractiveness: She doesn't seem fun to share a room, bus, or foreign experience with. Much of the book is not about "lessons learned too late," but perhaps unintentionally about lessons never learned, particularly regarding recreational substances, cut-rate accommodations, and local water. In the last chapter she regrets not enjoying her travel more before she had a child. Had this been the book's starting point and organizing principle, it might have been more interesting, substantive, and memorable. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this book, and in fact have read it twice. I can relate to the authors experience and attitude. Her twisted and sometimes bizarre decision making process is much like my own, and so reading her stories is like reading a much hipper, more exciting, alternative history of my own life. She has led a very interesting life and I always enjoy her books (this is the second I have read). I hope she someday writes a story about traveling with Inky, as I'm sure that would be full of interesting stories as well. I recommend this book to anyone who likes the road less traveled. It's a fun read. ( )
  AmeKole | Jul 26, 2012 |
Ayun Halliday's No Touch Monkey is a collection of travel stories which reveal much more about the traveler than about the places she visits. This is more memoir than travel writing in my opinion. The majority of the book seems intent on telling stories which reveal Halliday's liberality.

Halliday travles the world according to Lonely Planet on a Shoestring Budget. She longs for authenticity, sniffing disdainfully at the fake backpackers, those staying in nice hotels with tour guides and bottled Evian. She, and various boyfriends, sleep in dingy hostels and B&Bs, go for extended periods of time without bathing, and feast on sugar packets.

What I was most impressed by was her tenacity. When her knee goes out, she doesn't jump the first plane out of Sumatra. She powers through malaria and stomach "issues" for which there is no truly descriptive, appropriate word. And she does it all - at least in the book - with a light-hearted, partial whine, self-deprecating outlook. The book was definitely humorous; although for me it was more a smile than a belly laugh.

I was least impressed by the lack of details for a traveler. While I can remember many, many anecdotes, I can't necessarily remember where they took place as the setting was quite often irrelevant. Much more detail is given to her hippie-alterna-chick wardrobe, beliefs, desires, and Birkenstocks. I would have liked a bit more on where she was, rather than so much of...well, her. That is just expectation though. When I read a travel book, I expect to learn a bit more about the location, the culture, than was offered in this book.

And here for the first time, another review I found of this book. Hopefully, the author won't mind. If you have reviewed this book and would like me to include a link to your site, please let me know in the comments. ( )
  EclecticEccentric | Sep 18, 2009 |
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Ayun Halliday may not make for the most sensible travel companion, but she is certainly one of the zaniest, with a knack for inserting herself (and her unwitting cohorts) into bizarre situations around the globe. Curator of kitsch and unabashed aficionada of pop culture, Halliday offers bemused, self-deprecating narration of events from guerilla theater in Romania to drug-induced Apocalypse Now reenactments in Vietnam to a perhaps more surreal collagen-implant demonstration at a Paris fashion show emceed by Lauren Bacall. From taming the wild dog packs of Bali to requiring the services of a bonesetter in Sumatra, Ayun Halliday offers up the best of her itinerant foibles as examples of how not to travel abroad. For instance, on layover in Amsterdam, Halliday finds unlikely trouble in the red-light district eliciting the ire of a tiny, violent madam, and is forced to explain tampons, which she admits, "might have looked like white cotton bullets lined up in their box," to soldiers in Kashmir "They're for ladies. Bleeding ladies. " A self-admittedly bumbling vacationer, Halliday shares with razor sharp wit and to hilarious effect the travel stories most are too self-conscious to tell. "… (more)

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