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Availability of English language reading materials in SE Asia

Posted by ms1892 on 2/4/2010 at 18:35

I am setting of on Tuesday for a 2 month trip around SE Asia.

I love reading and dont think i could bear the long flights and trains etc without a good book. Is it easy to find English language books, particularly in Cambodia and Vietnam? If so, is there usually a good selection and are they reasonably priced?

Is it foolish of me to be considering carrying a backpack of books around with me?


#1 ms1892 has been a member since 23/12/2009. Posts: 38

Posted by Dylan on 2/4/2010 at 23:38

Ha--I had the same concerns when I was over there recently. I ended up bringing 3-4 books from home to hold me over until I could find an english-lang. bookstore, of which there are many (of varying quality). I also managed to trade with fellow backpackers...with mixed results. Some pulp, some good stuff.

In cambodia especially, you'll encounter a glut of the same 10-12 photocopied books that seller/street vendors assume western travelers are into--a few on the Khmer Rouge, a few recent bestsellers, a gratuitous marijuana-heavy travelogue, etc. Your best bet is in Phnom Penh, where you can pick up some quality books at brick-and-mortor stores (I copped Crime and Punishment and a Tom Robbins paperback) for not too much $.

Saigon has a few choice spots as well in the usual backpacker and expat quarters. Just don't expect much $ if you're trading in old books.

In the end, I lugged around 4-5 books at all times, some read, some on queue, just to make sure I was never caught without something to read on those interminable bus/train/boat trips.

#2 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

Posted by ms1892 on 3/4/2010 at 07:54

Thanks for the reply Dylan. It pretty much confirms what I had suspected.

I am probably going to take a fair few books with me anyway. Im sure I can swap them on the way and if the worst comes to the worst and I have to dump them to save on the weight, I guess i can live with that.

Of course I really blame Steig Larsson for my current dilema. I am about 50 pages into the first of the Millennium trilogy and so in addition to the reading materials I was planning on taking im now going to have to cart around all three of his books too! Oh well, what is another 1800 odd pages!?!

#3 ms1892 has been a member since 23/12/2009. Posts: 38

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