A different kind of guide book: Travelers’ Tales Thailand

Experiences in Thailand
By Leslie Welshimer

Traveling to unfamiliar places can be daunting or delightful. Getting answers to important questions in advance increases the odds that one won’t miss out on amazing experiences or unknowingly offend someone.

Before visiting a new place, I’ve found it to be immensely helpful to read and study up on topics like the culture, geography, local holidays and weather. Otherwise, you may travel six hours to visit a place, like the Surin Islands, only to learn it’s closed for the rainy season.

I came to Thailand in February 2009. In an effort to minimize my footprint on the Thai culture, I was determined to gain as much of an understanding as possible of Thailand. My goal was to arm myself with an arsenal of literature to educate myself before departure and along the way. I made a pact to only read books related to Thailand while in the country.

When I departed Seattle, my luggage contained four books:

A History of Thailand by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

Buddhism for Beginners by Thubten Chodron

Lonely Planet Thailand guidebook

Berlitz Thai phrasebook and dictionary

There was a fifth book I wanted before departure, but I was unable to secure it. Luck was in my favor because in March, the Hoyt family visited Andaman Discoveries. The family came with the book, Travelers’ Tales Thailand, edited by James O’Reilly and Larry Habegger. The Hoyts were finished reading the book and asked if anyone would like it. I raised my hand like an anxious grade school kid at a chance for a cupcake.

Travelers’ Tales Thailand is a Lowell Thomas Award Winner – Best Travel Book. It is a series of short stories or excerpts from complete books by highly regarded authors like Pico Iyer, Diane Summers and Jeff Greenwald.

I finished Travelers’ Tales Thailand in May. It provided an overview of Thailand with entertaining personal stories. The book reminded me a bit of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, but targeted at travelers.

It made the perfect book, as I could pick it up and read one story or more if I wanted. My only regret is that I didn’t read it before I departed Seattle. It contained enlightening tidbits about the essence of Thailand that would have helped shape my expectations beforehand.

Travelers’ Tales has more than 100 titles in print. I plan to make it a tradition to see if there is a Travelers’ Tales book available on future travels.

What’s next on my Thailand-immersion reading list? Kelly May loaned me her copies of, Culture Shock: Thailand (Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette) by Robert Cooper and Nanthapa Cooper, and Letters from Thailand, by Botan and translated by Susan Fulop Kepner.

What is your favorite Thailand-related book? If there is a book that you recommend for Thailand travelers, please feel free to comment on the blog or contact us to share your thoughts.