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A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East

A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East [Kindle Edition]

Tiziano Terzani
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

It was 1976 when Tiziano Terzani was warned by the fortune-teller in Hong Kong: "Beware! You run a grave risk of dying in 1993. You mustn't fly that year. Don't fly, not even once." Sixteen years later, Terzani had not forgotten. Despite living the life of a jet-hopping journalist, he decided that, after a lifetime of sensible decisions, he would confront the prophecy the Asian way, not by fighting it, but by submitting. He also resolved that on the way he would seek out the most eminent local oracle, fortune-teller or sorcerer and look again into his future. So after a feast of red ant egg omelet and a glass of fresh water, he brought the new year in on the back of the elephant. He even made it to his appointments--Cambodia to cover the first democratic elections; Burma, for the opening of the first road to connect Thailand and China; and even Florence to visit his mother, a trip that would take him 13,000 miles across Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia and Siberia. In this way, the jet-hopping journalist rediscovered the art of travel, the intricate chains of chance which lead to discovery, and the mass of humanity he'd overlooked in his rush for newsworthy quotes. And he also saved his life. Terzani's odyssey across Asia is full of revelations and reflections on the dramatic changes underway in Asia. Having spent two decades on the continent, he brings a deep love for the place to his journeys, but also the eyes of someone troubled by the changes he sees. Burma and Laos, finally open to outside contact, are now funnels for AIDS and drugs; Thailand has been traumatised by its rapid development; China is an anarchy fuelled by money rather than ideology and Mao has been transformed into the God of traffic. Surrounded by the loss of diversity wrought by modernism, Terzani asks if the "missionaries of materialism and economic progress" aren't destroying the continent in order to save it. Fortunately, there is a flip side to his occasionally dispiriting commentary, which Terzani discovers in his hunt for fortune-tellers. Through his side trips to seers who read the soles of his feet, the ashes of incense, even the burned scapula of sheep, it becomes clear that the Orient of legends, myths and magic still determines people's lives as much as the quest for money. By staying earthbound, Terzani lived to tell of an extraordinary journey through the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of Asia.--Lesley Reed

Product Description

Warned by a fortune-teller not to risk flying, the author – a seasoned correspondent – took to travelling by rail, road and sea. Consulting fortune-tellers and shamans wherever he went, he learnt to understand and respect older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of Western modernity.

William Shawcross in the Literary Review praised Terzani for ‘his beautifully written adventure story… a voyage of self-discovery… He sees fortune-tellers, soothsayers, astrologers, chiromancers, seers, shamans, magicians, palmists, frauds, men and women of god (many gods) all over Asia and in Europe too… Almost every page and every story celebrates the mystical and the unknowable. It is a fabulous story of renewal and change… Terzani is already something of a legend. He has written magnificently all his life. Never better than now.’

Yes, the fortune-teller did save him from an air-crash in Cambodia. Looking back afterwards, Terzani reckoned that ‘I was marked for death and instead I was reborn.’

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 663 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; New Ed edition (8 Mar 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007B5IC3E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,440 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is one of the most beautiful travel books I've ever read. Terzani travels across Asia looking for the most capable fortune teller, but the search for the fortune teller is an excuse to focus on people and the way they live their lives; it's an excuse to rethink the western rationality and compare it to the oriental one; it's an excuse for showing the reader slides from Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam....; it's an excuse to tell you about Asian political regimes, and economies and societies. In other words, it's an excuse to make you think. At the end of the book the reader discovers that the perfect fortune teller, the one who really can read the future, actually exists. But the reader also discovers that he has just read one of the best travel guides to Asia.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exotic and mesmerising... 4 Feb 2004
By A Customer
For anyone who has travelled through places such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam; or who wishes to gain an insight into this fascinating part of the world; this book provides a very entertaining and educative read. The author's self-imposed 12-month ban on flying as a result of an encounter with a fortune teller and his numerous further encounters with others along the way provide a fascinating backdrop to a lush, rich description of Asian culture, with both a historical slant and a modern twist. The author writes poetically with many a profound point to leave you mulling over how much life has changed here, and what remains constant. For those who have travelled through these parts - a chance to go back and immerse yourself in the memories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars facinating book, well recommended 14 July 2001
By A Customer
I borrowed this book when I first read it, and liked it enough to recommend it to a friend, who bought me a copy as a leaving gift on my return from Singapore. Although I did not live in Asia as long, or travel as widely, the book epitomises how different lfe seems only one step away from the rush of modern life. I agree that the author seems too harsh about Singapore, but should be forgiven as this book has a wider scope than tourist destinations. Although I believe the book to be accurate, there is an amusing translation of "hua ren" as "flower men" rather than "exiles/expatriates" Only one of five tonal versions of the word means flower. However, everything else seems to be accurate, and descriptions are vivid enough to tempt readers to visit at least one of the many places on his journeys.
The investigation of various methods of fortune-telling is properly sceptical, but gives a broad view of how many there are, and how different cultures have very different approaches. The helicopter accident lends credence to the original warning, but is overshadowed by the richness of life available in travelling more slowly.
Intermittent references to his own history and family life, and details of how different the world seems at a slower pace, provide the reader with an opportunity to pretend this is a series of letters from a friend. One who took a road less travelled by and was kind enough to relate the tale.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... I love this book 1 May 2003
By A Customer
I read this book while I as travelling from Vietnam to Thailand. One of the most interesting travel books I have ever read and it is so much more than just a travel book.
The author writes with so much passion about the way he sees a country and you get the sense that the journey is not merely journey in these different countries but also his own life journey. He talks about life, death, religion, spirits, culture and so much more.
Although I didn't agree with all of his observations, his thoughts on modernisation definately makes you think.
Definately one of the best books I have ever read - totally enjoyable too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man in touch and in love with SE Asia 20 April 2003
This book grows on you. At first I was annoyed at some of the inaccuracies about Laos, the country from where Terzani starts his journey, and with which I am very familiar. I thought this was going to be just another piece of slipshod journalism. However, it is difficult not to be absorbed by the author’s engaging style and, if one treats this as a personal view of the region rather than a factual description, it is a very enjoyable read. Terzani is clearly in touch and in love with SE Asia and manages to capture some of the region’s magical atmosphere in a way that few others have achieved. His disdain for modernity and wish for a return to true human values rather than the constant race to get rich is a theme repeated throughout the book. He explores this deeply and spiritually and provides much food for thought. His love-hate relationship with China and the Chinese in this respect is something that many who have lived and worked in China will echo. His search for fortune tellers becomes a bit repetitive and a bit narcissistic, but also amusing. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in SE Asia and its people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful 2 April 2003
I can't add much more to the previous customer reviews on this book, only to say that I have a love of this part of the World and recently got back from a 4 week holiday travelling around Malaysia.
One of my companions on this trip was this amazingly interesting book. I kept my other companion amused with passages from the book throughout our journey.
Now I'm home, I've told so many people about the book (somehow it seems wrapped up with my holiday)that I'm sure the book will pass through several hands.
A simply wonderful book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystic and traveling
My favourite book at all times. A great book when traveling to Asia. Just love the insight and background spiced with a story.
Published 25 days ago by Simone Hauser
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
A fantastic read and amazing travelogue it is rare to find something so intelligently narrated, hard to put down. Great
Published 1 month ago by Michael Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
An interesting book. I learnt a lot - history/politics/people and enjoyed the read whilst doing so. It does not matter if you believe in matters of fortune telling and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by nagging dragon
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read...
A beautifully written lament for the disappearing customs of his beloved S.E. Asia. Humorous, objective, philosophical, a personal travelogue of sorts.
Published 3 months ago by Rupert Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
The author vividly described the countries and their many customs and religions that he visited in the year that he decided not to fly anywhere, due to a fortune teller's... Read more
Published 3 months ago by lindaR
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fortune Teller Told Me...
An incredible 'true' story that makes one very aware of the mysteries in life that cannot always be explained. Fascinating.
Published 8 months ago by Carolyn Stubbs
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight
An interesting insight, but potentially a bit outdated now, as written more than 15 years ago. Worth a read though.
Published 11 months ago by Izibee
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written!
A beautifully written book giving much insight and information about people and places which I probably may never visit! As an ardent but poor.... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Whitewave
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Amazing...
I'm italian and I know Tiziano Terzani very well, as a writer.. I have read almost all his book, and "A Fortune-Teller Told Me", is definitely one of his best work. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Roberto
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fortune-Teller told me...
A superbly written book about parts of the far East. Interesting angle on the author's travel during a year of strictly 'No Air Travel' as recommended by a fortune teller many... Read more
Published on 13 May 2012 by E. Moss
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