When it comes to introducing a country and its culture, I very much believe that a book needs to find a fine balance between being informative yet also engaging with the reader; communicating the facts in a relatable way, and not just embody a ‘copy-paste’ fact-sheet.
I am very happy to have been sent one of Culture Smart!’s guides and had found the book to be one that has struck that fine balance.
The tonality of the writing was very engaging- it was as though I was reading a story; being taken on a journey of the many wonders of Laos and its people.
Though despite all that is wonderful, the book is not afraid to have its own opinions when spurred on. It is this that makes the book a user-relatable piece of work. If I were to be extremely picky though, the one thing I’d hope to see was for the font alignment to be in a cleaner visual format, and perhaps even utilising a colour-coordination to present the different sections of the book.
I particularly appreciated the bite-sized pieces of different sub-topics- still maintaining that balance between description and concision. The book covered a whole range of topics in this format: from the cultural history and diaspora of the Lao people; its economic development within ASEAN (The Association of South-East Nations); to the everyday details and advice for travel purposes.
Personally, I really liked the Customs & Traditions and Private and Family Life sections. My partner is a second generation French-Lao with the lesser knowledge of traditional Lao practices and its finer cultural details. These two sections provided much highlights of a traditional Lao family, and drew a descriptive picture of what his family’s life could have looked like back in the days of being in Laos.
In addition to that, I truly appreciated the genuine and direct representation of the Lao people as an honest and warm-hearted community which I had found to be true from my previous trip to Laos.
The vendors in Lao villages would rarely think of increasing the price just because their customer is foreign and may have more money, so, unlike the bargaining that everyone is used to in other countries, it is inappropriate and unfair to haggle here. (P. 98)
Culture Smart! had indeed stayed true to its claim of being “the essential guide to customs & culture” and in providing an “illuminating and practical guide to the country’s culture and society.” In conclusion, I would hold confidence on this book for introducing me to new cultures and places that I have yet to travel to and explore.
Sponsored/Ad/Review Content Statement:
This is not a sponsored post. I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. The opinions are my own and based entirely on my own reading experience.
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