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South-East Asia has a rich history that stretches over several thousand years. At the crossroads of the Indian Ocean world, it facilitated contact between Western Asia and Eastern Asia for centuries, and was a key region in the maritime component of the silk route. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam have all played an important role in shaping the cultural history of South-East Asia, and today a dozen countries with over a hundred languages comprise this area. This tour will go through four countries, and straddle almost a millennium of history.
For those academically inclined, the classic Cambridge History of South-East Asia in two volumes (4 parts) is an excellent first stop for becoming familiar with the history of the region. Available from libraries and online book stores:http://bit.ly/VO304z
There is no dearth of travel guides for the entire region, but also guides for individual countries and others that are themed for cultural or natural heritage:
Bangkok is the bustling modern city of Thailand, and one of the top tourist cities of the world. It is therefore no surprise that it has its own tourist guides:
Pocket Bangkok by Austin Bush
Publication Date: 2013
Bangkok by Alec Waugh
Publication Date: 2008-08-12
The biography of the city is neatly laid out in Bangkok: the story of a city
Bangkok to Bali: Oriental Express
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dance_in_Pura_Tirta_Empul,_Bali.JPG Photo by Saranabhi
Selected and Annotated By:
Area Studies Specialist for South Asia
For more information about this and other Penn excursions, please visit the Penn Alumni Travel Web site.
Bali is the darling location of tourists to Indonesia, partly because of its unique culture in the archipelago. An island where most of the population practices Balinese Hinduism, it has long been studied by anthropologists, musicologist, and historians.
A Short History of Bali by Robert Pringle
Publication Date: 2004
Pringle provides a quick history of Bali, covering its history from before the Bronze Age to the presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Bali - Sekala and Niskala by Fred B. Eiseman; Fred Eiseman; Fred B. Eiseman
Publication Date: 2009
For those with a deeper interest in the culture and rituals on the island, the book by Fred Eiseman is still the standard.
For an understanding of present-day politics and culture in Thailand, a new book was just published in June of 2014. Baker has taught Asian history at Cambridge University, and Pasuk Phongpaichit is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. This book is a good source for insight on Th ailand's recent political, social and economic upheavals and multiple coups.
Ayutthya in Thailand was the capital of the Siamese Kingdom of Ayutthya from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries. One of the largest and prosperous cities in South-East Asia, it is given ample treatment in Derick Garnier’s book.
Located off peninsular Malaysia on a small island, Georgetown is the capital of the state of Penang. Founded as a British trading town and named after King George III, the city is known for its colonial fabric.
Penang Adventure: A History of the Pearl of the Orient by Raymond Flower
Publication Date: 2011
The quick and comprehensive treatment for Penang is provided by Raymond Flower in The Penang Adventure. Written with younger readers in mind.
A more scholarly approach is provided by Guan, who looks at the islands relations with the Malay Peninsula and other parts of Southeast Asia. In particular essays cover local trade, community organizations, and the transition from British colony to independent Malaysian state.
Set in postwar Malaya, this three-part novel is detailed and comedic. The protagonist of the work is Victor Crabbe, a teacher in a multiracial school in a rundown village. The novels trace his career progression which improves as his family life declines. Though more important than the details of the protagonists day-to-day life is the detailed fictional interpretation Burgess provides of the Malayan Emergency and the UK's relinquishing of its Southeast Asian territories. The title references a line from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Ulysses: "The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: / The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep / Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, / 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. The three volumes of the novel are entitled
"Time for a Tiger," "The Enemy in the blanket," and "Beds in the East." The trilogy was first published between 1956 and 1959.