Photo credit: Destination360

B is for Borneo, the third largest island in the world, located south and east of the Malay Peninsula and southwest of the Philippine Islands. The island is divided among three countries: Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, and is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It’s a beautiful land, full of flowers, trees, birds, and mammals, like orangutans and Asian elephants.

Borneo TomIn Borneo Tom- In Story and Sketch: Love, Travela and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia, Tom McLaughlin does what most of us can only dream of. He drops it all and moves to paradise, taking us along on his adventures. Boreno Tom is not exactly a memoir and it’s not exactly a travel book. It’s a collection of essays, covering everything from the Festival of the Hungry Ghost in Kuching to experiencing an earthquake in Indonesia. He snorkels with jellyfish, meets orangutans and treks to see a corpse flower. Each story is told with humor and a genuine love and appreciation of the land and people. Some made me laugh out loud and some were eye-opening and insightful.

And Tom has no trouble making fun of himself, either. Some of the hikes are just miserable, and sometimes people look at him like he’s a crazy white-guy, and sometimes he knows fully well he’s acting a little nuts, but is perfectly okay with it. He is who he is. And he finds love in Malaysia, marrying a delightful woman, Suriani, after getting all the appropriate permissions, and going through the traditional ceremony. He seems truly happy.


Image credit: Author’s website

I like the way the book was formatted. Each essay is relatively short, and is accompanied on the opposite page with a drawing done by Waterfront Niki, a well-known fixture along the Sarawak River walkway. I have to admit they made me smile as much as the essays did.

This unique book actually surprised.  I truly enjoyed reading it, and it made me want to go on my own adventures, although mine may not lead me as far away as Southeast Asia.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Memoir – Travel

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Published August 27, 2010
132 pages

Book source: For review

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