Pristine. Exotic. The last frontier. These are some of the common impressions of people on Palawan. The breathtaking sights of Puerto Princesa, Coron and El Nido has been one of the poster destinations the Philippines boast in their tourism campaigns. No doubt Palawan is replete with natural wonders and culture dating from thousands of years and Into the Green Zone: Palawan Islands, a 288-page hard-bound coffee-table Book hopes to capture all these things that makes the Palawan magnificent, from its breathtaking archipelago, rich culture and exciting developments.
The premise, retrace his route from his travel narrative that shot him to fame with his Great Railway Bazaar. It was a book published in 1975 recounting his railway journey from London to Asia, Japan and Back through the Trans-Siberian express. 30 years later, around 2005, Paul Theroux, now much mature, relived the journey which resulted to the book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.
I have never read his Great Railway Bazaar but I found it wasn’t a problem with this book as we would give glimpses on what it’s like on his first journey. In fact each chapter can stand alone, like if you want to read a portion on Japan or Vietnam, it would not be a problem.
But take heed this is not a guide but more of a personal account and he does it with exceptional writing. He’s a keen observer and touches a lot on the social and the political state of a country. His narrative is fluid and emotional at times but can be brash and egotistic as well. But one thing is for sure, he is a very good writer even if I sometimes don’t really agree with his views.
What I really enjoyed is portions where he met up with different authors I also enjoy reading like Haruki Murakami and Pico Iyer in Japan or Isaac Asimov in Sri Lanka. I’m glad to read about these authors for a change and to have them traveling together in one book was exciting. It also gave me an idea of how the mind of a travel writer likes Theroux works, learning about his method on recording while he travels.