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Phaic Tan: Sunstroke on a Shoestring    by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner & Rob Sitch order for
Phaic Tan
by Santo Cilauro
Order:  USA  Can
Chronicle, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Phaic Tan, a hilarious spoof on travel and travel guides, will have you chortling, from its subtitle, 'Sunstroke on a Shoestring' to a description of local religious beliefs, summed up as Confusionism - even the contributor blurbs and Useful Expressions are funny. The book is filled with travel photos (usually with a shift in context).

It seems that Phaic Tan is somewhere in Southeast Asia. Its capital is Bumpattabympah. The country is renowned for: its exotic Thong On province 'where sea meets souvenir shop' along a Mildew Coast; the mountainous Pha Phlung with spectacular mud-sliding activities; and fertile Sukkondat whose primary crop is opium. The region's history is covered, including a Political Structure chart with a Benevolent Dictator at the top, Snipers at the bottom and characters like Junior Crony and Chief Bribe-Taker in between.

Holidays include Kick Boxing Day on December 26th. After weddings, happy couples are showered with sticky rice. Reflexology is applied to auto mechanics. The country's folk music is often used to extract confessions from political prisoners. The epic Mhahamaybrahama poem 'is considered a masterpiece of poetic procrastination.' The Floating Stock Market is the only one in the world that closes for high tides. And if you go as a family, be wary of hotel Kids' Clubs that ask if your offspring belong to the Textile Workers' Union.

This latest 'Jetlag travel guide for the undiscerning traveler' continues in a similar vein. Those who've already been to Southeast Asia will enjoy a skewed perspective of the familiar. Those who haven't may never leave home again. Enjoy Phaic Tan!

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