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Touch the Dragon – A Thai Journey

Karen Connelly

I enjoyed Touch the Dragon, and throughout made little connection with Karen’s realisations, observation, and experiences comparing them with my own life of travels. Karen also taught me new things of Thailand that I never knew before dealing with geography, culture and religion like about the head being the holy part of your body. I found that interesting.

I enjoyed the book Touch the Dragon due to Karen’s description of the landscape and culture. When I started reading the book, I was very eager to find out about Karen’s surroundings, because for me, it is that element of a book that allows me to connect with the main character and imagine myself in the story. Karen’s descriptions like on page 70, when she is talking about men with machine guns get on the bus as she is heading to Phuket. This reminded me of the time when I lived in Tobago and because they where having problems in Trinidad with a thing called the Koo (political thing) everybody had to be in there houses by 6:00pm if not there wore police and military men out with guns and bats. Trinidad and Tobago are two countries together so if one country is having problems the other one has to follow even if they don’t have the same problem. Well any ways the point is my family and I where out after 6:00pm because we had wanted to see something I can’t remember what it was, but a military man had seen us walking down the street so he had stopped us. I was most defently shaking that’s for sher but my dad who is very good talker had said some stuff to the military man and all he said was, ok hurry and get inside your home. Man was I scared just like Karen on the bus. I would say it was one of those terrifying events that I would not like to happen again in my life time.

Karen’s descriptions and reactions to Thailand’s many varieties of “critters” were well done, especially those involving insects and lizards. Karen’s trip to the market is one of my favourites. It is when a pineapple seller explained to her how to cook a grey-green lizard called a dug-oo-wat, which was larger than an iguana. Another experience that she encountered was when it was raining and a lot of frogs and toads came indoors. Also the time when ants where crawling all over everything. These experiences with “foreign” creatures reminded me of my own. In Tobago, there was a lizard that would just sit on a tree all day. Some of the people down there said if you got real close he would jump on you and wouldn’t come off except if you got a mirror. This would get him off because he would see him self in the mirror and be afraid. I never believed there story but I also never tried getting close to one too. One more experience was “bugs and insects”, the same thing happened to us when it rained. We would get so many bugs and cockroaches in the house; my mom would have a fit and kill all of them with her special shoe. I swear she could have been an exterminator.

There was, however, one thing I disliked about Touch the Dragon. There seemed to be an ever-present sense that the book had been perfected a little too much. I don’t think it wrecked the book, but I do believe that it lessened the depth of reader-character connections, and in some cases made these connections difficult. If Karen didn’t take five years and four countries to create and edit the book I think maybe then the reader would have, even more of a connection to Touch the Dragon. When I say a better connection I mean that since she left at seventeen to go to Thailand, when she got back to Canada she should of got her work together then. So it would still have a teenager connection like “Go Ask Alice” and should have not perfected it much. For an example I found in the book was on page 77, “The chickens! Their pink leather bodies, heads and feet still attached, rise in such high pyramids that I worry they’ll tumble down and bury some unsuspecting child.” One more example is on page 4, “A few dark stains move up and down the walls, and my skin shivers, waiting for invasions.” Just little things like that is what I’m talking about dealing with connection not that it isn’t interesting just that if she made it more like her own writing instead of fancying it up. Maybe she should have only spent half the time she did in editing.

Overall, I think it was a very good book, and suitable for all ages. Touch the Dragon involved people experiencing and learning about new and nifty things-something I think more people should do. I found that also incorporated in the book was travel, nature, geography, medicine, human interaction, behaviour, language, and discovery-most of which are the basic ideas in most books. Therefore, I ended up learning much more to Karen and the country through this book. In addition, I think it would be a great book for exchange program co-ordinators and the exchange people them self. It would give them a sense of what other exchange people experienced, perhaps even preparing them for there to come adventure. Another place that would appreciate this book would be travel agencies, so they could promote their programs and to convince people of the benefits of exploration and travel, making more people want to have a sense of adventure in there lives. “When she sees me, she smiles and says in Thai, “Do you want to go know?” I dream we walk down the stairs together and out to the morning assembly. A thousand black-haired children are singing in the fields of Nareerat.

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