Viceregal Lodge in Simla
Photo of the Viceregal Lodge in Simla by Mat Booth used under a Creative Commons license.

Barbara Crossette, The Great Hill Stations of Asia (Basic Books, 1999).
Across Asia, European colonialists built “hill stations,” refuges from the heat and disease of the lowlands. Usually at altitudes between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, the hill stations were built at elevations too high for disease-carrying mosquitoes, even before the link between the two was known. As Crossette writes, “[c]olonialism came and went, but the hill stations are still there, from Pakistan on the old Northwest Frontier of imperial Asia, across India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam to the mountains of Luzon in the Philippines, where Americans built one too. The hill stations are overgrown, often overpopulated, and no longer European now, but most have not lost their unique appeal.” In 1997, Crossette traveled across the region to visit the hill stations. This book combines her research and an account of what she found.

Here is Google Book Search. Here is the first chapter of the book. Here is a bio of Crossette. Alexander Frater reviewed the book in The New York Times. Kenneth Champeon reviewed it for ThingsAsian. Daniel Costello wrote about it on his blog. Crossette describes the book as “a labor of love” in this interview with Harold Channer.

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Adonora, Indonesia
Photo of Adonora, Indonesia, by Kee-yuen used under a Creative Commons license.

Tim Severin, In Search of Moby Dick: Quest for the White Whale (Little, Brown, 1999).
An account of Severin’s travels in the South Pacific on the hunt for the elusive white whale. His first stop is Nuku Hiva, an island in the Marquesas where a 21-year-old Melville jumped ship from the whaler Acushnet and where Severin finds many of Melville’s sources. Next, he visits Pamilacan, a Philippine fishing village, whose fisherman leap onto the backs of whale sharks. Then he goes to Tonga, where a Tongan harpooner reenacts the kill. Finally, he travels to Lamalera, Indonesia, where fisherman hunt sperm whales by hand from Stone Age boats. Perhaps Severin is less obsessed than Ahab, but he certainly has a better time.

Google Book Search has an excerpt and some other stuff. Here is W. Jeffrey Bolster’s review in The New York Times. Here is Elizabeth Feizkhah’s review in Time Pacific. This travel guide suggests that whale sharks are no longer hunted on Pamilacan.

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