Lonely Planet prude," Osborne (The Accidental Connoisseur ) d"/>

The Naked Tourist: In Search of Adventure and Beauty in the Age of the Airport Mall

Lawrence Osborne, Author . North Point $24 (278p) ISBN 978-0-86547-709-4

When a neighborhood is described as 'seedy' by some Lonely Planet prude," Osborne (The Accidental Connoisseur ) declares, "I immediately head there." But even the boldest of travel writers can become jaded by visiting locales that have recreated themselves in romanticized "exotic" images, making one feel one is merely playing the role of a tourist rather than seeing anything new. So Osborne sets out to visit a tribe in Papua New Guinea that's had barely any contact with Westerners. Instead of heading straight for the jungle, however, he embarks on a lengthy trek along "the Asian Highway," clusters of tourist attractions that lead him through Dubai on to Calcutta and Bangkok. The story is strongest when Osborne drops the world-weary tone and simply engages with his surroundings: a hellish drive through Indian jungles, for example, or a whirlwind tour of Thailand's inexpensive medical centers. Once he fully abandons his comfort zone and plunges into the remote swamps of Papua, his encounter with the Kombai tribe is anticlimactic. Although he writes of the "shimmering hysteria" that came with stripping away nearly all vestiges of modern civilization, Osborne's account never fully embraces that vertigo, remaining just another well-crafted travel story. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/24/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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