Boring Interesting stuff about international development tho There is no answer. I love all of Dervla Murphy s books Such a resilient woman who travels the world in the simplest of ways, meeting people and seeing parts others rarely reach This was the first of her books that I read since I was really interested to find outabout Laos and I have gone on to read every book of hers as it is published I d like to think that I could emulate Dervla, who like me is a traveller to a country rather than a tourist, but I fear I have insufficient guts for the extremes she goes to Nestled Between Vietnam To The East, Myanmar And China To The North, Thailand To The West And Cambodia To The South, Laos Has Long Suffered From The Depredations Of Its Larger Neighbors But The Biggest Bully In Its History Was The United States Which, Starting In , Carried On A Secret War Against Laos By The Time Of The Ceasefire In February , Laos Had Become The Most Heavily Bombed Nation In The History Of The WorldWhen Renowned Travel Writer Dervla Murphy Went To Laos In , She Discovered A Country That Had Only Just Opened Its Borders To The West What She Found Was A Country Where The People Kind, Gentle, Welcoming Than Compensate For Everything That Can Go Wrong But She Also Discovered That The Persisting Problems Bequeathed By Its Recent Past Are Tragic And Other Problems Threaten Its Immediate Future A Series Of Chance Meetings Left Her With A Profound Sense Of A Beautiful Country And A Unique Culture Threatened Once Again By The Extreme Pressures Of The Modern World I just finished the book today it is the first book by Dervla Murhpy I have read, and I am sure it is probably not the easiest read Dervla Murphy s views on colonial policies in small countries like Laos really hit the right spot and I agree with her views to a large extent Her knowledge is deep and goes so far beyond the shallow views of the silly Lonely Planet overview of things However, this comes with a price she tends to get preachy, and sometimes she can get a bit boring.Great read nevertheless and the final chapters on UXO, colonial policies and pseudo development in poor countries are particularly outstanding in my opinion. Thought provoking and useful insight into this beautiful country I was lucky to visit Couple of years ago and yes, there have beenchanges yet at the same time the country in this book was instantly recognisable Makes me want to return. a gutsy woman traveller much of the commentary is tinged with a delightful understated irony difficult to find books on travel in Laos apart from travel guides even those are few and far between will be interesting to compare with Ant Egg Soup the Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos Looking forward to being in Laos for Christmas New Year. I loved Full Tilt and I am a fan of DM but the longer that she writes thepolitical that she becomes In addition, she has a somewhat bitter tone at times, I just seem to enjoy her earlier works a lot . As ever I find Dervla s total bias to Western society annoying but find the places and situations she gets into amazing Her default stance of anything modern instantly being bad can get tiresome That said I ll contine to read her books as they are fascinating. I bought this book in Ventianne airport as I left the country and heartily wished I d read it at the beginning of my journey As someone who was living in Cambodia at the time and had familiarised myself with Cambodian contemporary history this was an extraordinary companion piece to books like Sideshow Certainly Murphy is heartily pissed off and has a few decent rants, as some other reviewers have peevishly noted, and for damn good reason Terrible things happened in this country while the rest of the world was oblivious, distracted by the Cold and Vietnam Wars The place was monumentally screwed and Laotians are complex and the government is repressive and omnipresent but you wouldn t notice that unless you step away from scripted tourism If you want your travel writing sweet and focusing on the nice, gentle, seemingly biddable side of Asian people that so beguiles those who want to spend a few days or weeks, then don t go here The way Murphy throws herself into improbably and, for most people, seemingly extremely brave or seriously foolhardy experiences on bicycles and enters under the skin of a country through her interactions with locals and her ability to put herself at street village level like few other travellers or writers always amazes me She goes to places not only off the tourist trail but into the unknown and unimagined I felt like a lightweight, butenlightened, tourist after reading this book which pretty much sums up the effect all her books have on me Her genre of travel writing has, as far as I know, only one author. Were I to return in a few years I would not find the same Laos , October 3, 2014This review is from One Foot in Laos Hardcover Published in 1999, after an intrepid lone tour of Laos by the author a charismatic 60 something lady on a bike From the temples and colonial architecture of the capital, up into remote mountains and tiny villages where foreigners are a rarity Ms Murphy chronicles her journey, from the amusing to the picturesque.This is, however, a serious book, focussing at length on USA s Secret war and the vast numbers of live bombs still making much land unusable on covert American co operation with the opium producers and on modern day development of the country by such benevolent sounding organisations as the United Nations Development Programme, and the horrific results of attempts to forcibly westernize a traditional society I have to say that my eyes have been greatly opened by Ms Murphy s expose of such matters.A very informative read.