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Book Review: Three Men in SeA by Ashok Yeshurum Masillamami

Three Men in SeA by Ashok Yeshurum Masillamami is a wonderful book that is part travelogue, and part memoir and historical journal. The title is impressive yet intriguing. Well SeA stands for Southeast Asia. The trio of Terry, Gerald, and the narrator Ashok fulfills a long pending travel wish. Thus, in 2012, they travel together through four countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. However, the book also has tales from Sri Lanka, which was visited by Gerald, as he grew there and spent much time of his life.

After the travel experiences the book also sheds light on many historical points, especially dredging up the Tamil roots in India and elsewhere. The book is a boon for travel lovers. It also provides travel information for digital nomads and slow travelers, as it comes handy with what to have there and what things to be avoided.

Before you commence the book, the author has given the backdrop details about their trip. What actuated, what worked, how many initially opted, how these three roped in and so on? Whatever information it serves is authentic and real and genuine. As their journey materializes by landing in Thailand, the trio explores the streets dazzling with pulsating nightlife, especially the Walker Street: Pleasure Paradise.

There they come across a market that is basically run by beautiful women offering Boom Boom with glimpses of STD (short tight dress). A close look reveals that in Thailand it was more of a traveler cum reveler experience. However, it must be noted that Pattaya and Phuket offers scintillating beach experience. Throughout the book, the travel experiences are portrayed with snatches of images of the trio.

Thailand was bustling with a gamut of activities and places like floating market and museums and royal place built of teak wood, yet it offers them some majestic temples of Budha that run the historical and cultural values of the country live…one such example was Wat Traimit Temple.

Their second country was Cambodia, it offers a rich lineage of temples (also known as Wats). The country was a French Colony and got its full democracy in 1998 after war. It is also famous for Khmer empire rule. One of its dictators was Pol Polt who killed thousands of innocent people for no specific region. The country’s historical architectural wonders are inspired by Gopurams of Tamil Nadu, as there are many big and grand temples. The author found traces of Tamil and Hinduism in Cambodia. Like other countries it does have its share of royal palaces and museums.

Next in the line they visit Laos and Vietnam. Laos is a landlocked country with excessive beauty of nature with lakes, Mekong River, wildlife, and surprisingly it puts across the vestiges of silk route that existed for thousands of years.

“The Jar Site in Laos is one of the most important prehistoric, archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. Clusters of jars, shaped out of solid rock, apparently two thousand years old were found scattered across the plains. These jars were used to hold ornamental glass beads, bronze bracelets and cowrie seashells.”

Vietnam was a special country to them. It sounded substantial with rich history and sad past of war. Anyone who wanted to know what reckless atrocities the USA and its allies carried on the people, can read the live accounts of some people given in the book. Vietnam was once divided into North and South. They later tried to seize control over North by siding with the USA. The war was ugly.

In any form be it museum or pagoda or temple, whatever place they visited it has a story hidden behind its fa├žade. Three Men in Southeast Asia is a rich book with a diversity of wonders of human endeavour, historical mysteries and nature’s bounty, in a true sense.

Ashok must have made points while travelling so as it came as it is in the narration. However, the scope of the book is way lengthy, transcendental in its essence, it could have been better if it could have published in more than one book. For instance, one book for one country. If you ever wanted to travel through books, this one fits your itinerary in the most convenient way. From narration to personal anecdotes to pictures, the literary aspect of the book is brilliant.

You can order the book from the publisher. 


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