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A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East Hardcover – 1 Jun 2001
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Terzani s thoughtful progression provides great pleasure because he is more open to the people, and people are always the real journey. Book Page
A marvelous traveling companion, Terzani entertains us with his reflections on subjects from astrology to political violence, from the depravity of Bangkok to the sterility of Singapore, and introduces us to the characters he meets along the way. O, The Oprah Magazine
An extraordinary and nuanced account of a journey through the Far East and Southeast Asia. Library Journal"
"Terzani's thoughtful progression provides great pleasure because he is more open to the people, and people are always the real journey." --Book Page
From the Back Cover
When a Hong Kong fortune-teller warned him not to risk flying for a whole year, Tiziano Terzani, an experienced Asia correspondent, decided to face the challenge directly. It was, he writes, 'like the first step into an unknown world'.
In the course of that year, the author travelled by foot, boat, bus, car and train, visiting or revisiting Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia – all the while consulting fortune-tellers, shamans and sorcerers and receiving much advice – some wise, some otherwise – about his future.
With time to think, he learnt to understand, respect and fear for older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of modernity. He also, in the company of monks and magicians, meditated on the general problem of destiny, of good or evil fate and how to deal with it, and on the problem of identity now that the ancient world of diversity seems about to succumb to the strident demands of 'development'.
The result is an immensely engaging, insightful and idiosyncratic journey, filled with unexpected delights and strange encounters. A best-seller and major prize-winner in Italy, the book – by 'one of Europe's most accomplished writers' (in the words of William Shawcross) – is a powerful warning against the new missionaries of materialism.
(And – yes – the fortune-teller 'did' save him from an air crash.)
"My undertaking not to fly turned into a game full of surprises. If you pretend to be blind for a while, you find that the other senses grow sharper to compensate for the lack of sight. Avoiding planes has a similar effect… It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent: I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn."
Top customer reviews
If you ever want a good initiation into the world of travel literature, this is the one. Bottom line, buy this book. It is worth every penny you spend...
Suffice to say that it will gently bring you to reflect on aspects of your life that may normally go ignored; additionally, it will give you a perspective on Asia that is both entertaining...and thought provoking.
During the year, he met several fortune-tellers, in any country he visited. All these interviews are reported in his book, together with Terzani's considerations about the future of Asian traditions confronted with the rising danger of globalisation.
This book was my first encounter with Terzani's writing, and I've soon become one of his biggest fans.
So much of what shapes these countries is not what is overtly visible, but what is in the hearts and minds of the people who occupy them. And that is something that every traveler hopes to learn -- the why. Mr. Terzani takes a closer look at what some might call mumbo-jumbo in a way that opens the readers eyes to ideas that are very strange to most of us, and yet they have been in practice for thousands of years.
The mysticism of the different cultures in countries from Thailand to Indonesia is an area I had not even been aware of as I planned and executed our trip. It is an area I wish I would have paid more attention to. From reading the book I learned that Malaaca (Malaysia) is "the most bewitched city on earth." Had I known that I may have been more observant when I was there. Maybe I would have seen a ghost or two...
We were lucky enough to be able to visit Angkor Wat, in Cambodia for a few days and it had a profound affect on my wife and me. That affect was heightened whan I read Tiziano's feelings about the temples. He writes: "Personally, I have always been more impressed by the temples in which the work of man seems in itself to touch the devine. There are few places in the world in which one feels proud to be a member of the human race, and one of these is certainly Angkor. Behind its sophisticated, intellectual beauty there is something profoundly simple, something archetypal and natural that reaches the heart without needing to pass through the head."
If you have an interest in Southeast Asia and have been, or are planning to go I would highly recommend finding this book and reading it. It is a beautiful work, interesting and unusual.
Unfortunately I do not believe it is available in the United States (?) I have only just found it in the UK. Good luck and happy trails.
Another thing I found irritating was his superficiality (he constantly jumps from one whim to another, first he says he'll see the best fortune-teller in each location he visits, then decides to stop that, then gets interested in the elections in Cambodia, and so on). I was expecting some continuity of thought/action, and more depth in his thoughts. I've noticed men seem to enjoy this book much more than women, and I was really surprised at some of the glowing reviews.
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