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Three Moons In Vietnam (Abacus travel) Paperback – 2 Jan 1997
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Frank, engaging and at times hilarious. (EASTERN DAILY PRESS)
Maria Coffey has a good eye, a real fondness for the country and describes it well. (FINANCIAL TIMES)
This is the story of the author and her husband's journey around the "real" Vietnam by leaky fishing boat, sampan and coracle, rickety bicycle and battered bus, a journey that took three full moons. It reveals a Vietnam where people survive their terrible past with dignity and humour.
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The problem is the book is fairly dull, and very much contrived. Mrs. Coffey mentions in a number of places in the book that the entire reason for going to Vietnam and taking the "path less traveled" is to write a book about it. One can't help but roll his eyes, then, when the same story line is repeated over and over:
1. The author and her husband try to travel via non-tourist boat to some destination.
2. The locals and guides they approach are reluctant to, citing police concerns, despite the author and her husband waving lots of cash at them like ugly Americans.
3. Mrs. Coffey and her husband insist, and off they go.
4. They often have to hide, because (as they were warned) the police come. (roll eyes)
5. They get sick, or lost, or face lots of discomfort, because after all, they are hiding on some small boat where they should not be. (roll eyes)
Then Mrs. Coffey complains a lot, completely relies on her husband to do all the asking for directions/getting on a boat etc., even though the whole trip was her idea.
Despite Mrs. Coffey being a professional writer, her writing became tiresore and, frankly, a chore to read. This is coming from someone who was particularly interested in how she perceived various locales in Vietnam, especially the ones I had just visited. A disappointing read. The only good thing is that I had not wasted $ on a "legit" copy of the book!
I am deeply touched by The Three Moons in Vietnam. For me, it's not just a guide book for tourists, but a very profound story about my country which I left in 1980 and never return back. Throughout the book, I can revisit my beautiful country, its culture in its very essence and see how my people survive after so many terrible years in the last half of the century. I refound the pictures of my friends, of my family and sometimes a reflection of myself, imagining each ancient city where I had lived, each dirty road I had passed by, each beautiful resorts I have stayed and especially, people that I always had in my mind. I read the book with tears in my eyes and of course, laughs too. I really love the simple style, the sweet heart of the author, her sincerity and especially the humour she patched up now and then into the stories. It's ashame that a native Vietnamien like me still don't have enough detailed knowledges about my country,its history, its marvellous landscape and its people til I read this book. Even there are not much, those details of history surprise me a lot throughout the book and make me very happy. Strongly recommend not just for tourists, but for all Vietnameses who still have a heart for their country too.