I just finished this book....
"Catfish and Mandala" by Andrew X. Pham.
The author is a Vietnamese American and this is his true account of his journey through his birth country, Vietnam, on a bicycle.
But it's more that that. As Mr Pham tells of his bicycling experiences, he also fills us in on his family history.
He is a good writer and has an interesting story to tell, like how his father was held and later released from a labor death camp after the fall of Saigon. His parents and their five children, including the author who was eight years old at the time, began to make their way south, staying with relatives, until they made a dangerous night time escape from the country on a fishing boat.
They were almost lost at sea. When they were finally picked up by an Indonesian freighter, they were out of food and water, low on fuel, sick and exhausted. They spent time in a refugee camp in Indonesia and finally made it to America with the help of a Baptist charity.
The Pham family had a difficult time adjusting to life in the United States, but his parents were hard workers and made a good life for their family. But, the author felt a strong urge, as a young man, to go back and visit Vietnam. Since he had experience with long distance bicycle travel, he made the decision to tour Vietnam by bicycle.
It's not an easy trip. Mr Pham does have relatives that he stays with for awhile, but he feels out of place and a bit dismayed or embarrassed by their ways and by the ways of many Vietnamese he has encounters with.
On his journey he is treated rudely and disrespected when the Vietnamese people learn he is a Vietnamese American. Several times he finds himself in danger because of this resentment. But then often he is helped and befriended as well.
There is a lot more to this book, but I don't want to rewrite the whole thing here! It was a very good book and I highly recommend it. Good descriptive writing, interesting and educational.
I will read other books by this author!