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A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,911 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to risk flying for a whole year, Tiziano Terzani — a vastly experienced Asia correspondent — took what he called “the first step into an unknown world. . . . It turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years I have ever spent: I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn.”

Traveling by foot, boat, bus, car, and train, he vi
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 23rd 2002 by Broadway Books (first published 1995)
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4th out of 26 books — 2 voters


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Community Reviews

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Diane S.
A while back I read a book, that made a huge impression on me, it highlighted the native American culture and how so much of it is disappearing. This book in many ways resembles that one, though the location is very different, a look at the disappearing Asian primitive landscape, it being overtaken and changes through progress.

This is also, a book that I had never heard of nor probably picked up if it wasn't a recommendation pick from a group I am in. It covers so much ground, different beliefs
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Flyin
The premise is wonderful. A skeptical journalist is warned by a Hong Kong fortune teller to avoid air travel for the year 1993, and decides to heed the warning partially as a personal challenge (considering the amount of travel that his job requires) and partially to playfully indulge the superstition. So he travels by land and sea through Asia (as I am doing) and as he ruminates on how much more rich and alive the world becomes when eschewing airplanes & -ports, he gets into the habit of re ...more
Chiara Baroni
Reportage, diario di viaggio e autobiografia: Un indovino mi disse è un libro che difficilmente dimenticherete sullo scaffale. E leggerlo stimolerà il vostro apparato pensante, troppo spesso intorpidito da squallidi programmi televisivi che quotidianamente veicolano messaggi omologanti. Corrispondente dall'Asia del settimanale tedesco Der Spiegel, Tiziano Terzani viaggia per un'intero anno via mare e via terra, evitando di prendere l'aereo: un indovino cinese, infatti, lo aveva avvertito di non ...more
Mike
This book is very well written. I really like the author, he has a very easy-going and readable style; he's articulate, intelligent, observant, and deeply reflective. Whether you are interested his adventures in Asian countries and his thoughts on their cultural developments and how the west has impacted them, or his metaphysical musings and some surprising personal experiences as he searches out mystics, psychics, and fortune tellers, this books is a pleasure to read because the author is able ...more
Krystle
Well this certainly started out promising enough. But oh, did it ever wear out its welcome.

The constant visits to fortune-tellers—while an obvious thread to have running throughout—drag because they're not given much context or significance.
"So I found this fortune teller who's the most respected in the area. I gave him or her some information—some right, some wrong. (S)he gave me some predictions—some right, some wrong. Should I be doing this? What merit does fortune-telling have? Let me rumina
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Elisabetta
I read this book slowly at the beginning. Slowly like the travels Tiziano makes through Asia. When he decides to follow what a fortune telle told him years before in Hong Kong, maybe he couldn't imagine how travels can change when you decide not taking a plane for a whole year, and keep on working as a journalist in Asia. This is a lovely book. Tiziano was a real traveller, not a tourist at all. He describes the bad and good part of every country he visits, but he never complains like tourist so ...more
Vanita
Avessa a ciências ocultas e do obscurantismo, como poderia eu deitar mãos a um livro que envereda pela procura do melhor visionário de futuro numa viagem pela Ásia? A culpa é da minha amiga J., que me alertou para este livro do jornalista italiano Tiziano Terzani, que viveu grande parte da sua vida entre a China e a Índia e que ficou um ano sem viajar de avião por causa disso mesmo... de um adivinho, que lhe disse, 16 anos antes, que poderia morrer se andasse de avião durante o ano 1983! Esta é ...more
Jenny Brown
This travel book uses the device of the author's avoiding air travel due to a fortuneteller's prophecy to give the author an excuse to do several travels by land, mostly in SE Asia but also on a train trip to Italy. The travel parts are mildly interesting, though since the book is quite old, only of historical interest.

Unfortunately, he carries out his fortuneteller theme by consulting a randomly chosen fortuneteller everywhere he goes which could have been interesting, had he taken the time to
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Caroline
As a premise for a travelogue, it's certainly an interesting one: warned by a Hong Kong fortune teller not to fly during 1993 or he will die, on a whim an Italian journalist decides to take the hint and forgo flying for an entire year. Obviously as Asian correspondent for a German magazine this presents certain problems - how can one ensure one can make it to the right place at the right time, when travelling there can take days or even weeks instead of hours, assuming that it is even possible t ...more
Frahorus
Tiziano Terzani qui incontra un indovino che gli fa una tragica previsione: se prenderà un aereo entro i prossimi anni, morirà! Allora Tiziano, più per ironia che perchè credeva che la previsione si avverasse, viaggerà per tutto l'anno in giro per il mondo, senza mai salire in un aereo... Divertente racconto dei suoi viaggi, mettendo al centro gli uomini e altre culture. Bello!
Maria Grazia
Prima lettura 2010.
Libro celebratissimo, a cui si fa risalire la spiritualità di Terzani, è una ottima prova di giornalismo di viaggio, con molta autocelebrazione e una spiritualità secondo me un po' di accatto.
Verso la fine diventa anche stucchevole e noioso.
P.S. Non me ne vogliano i terzaniani convinti, forse semplicemente non è il mio genere.
Sandra
Letto. Devo dire la verità, non mi è piaciuto molto, è un pò pesante. Bello è il farci conoscere la mentalità orientale, che si può riassumere in questo pensiero:"Il saggio sa che la vita non è che una fiammella scossa da un vento violento".
Bronwyn
I don't have much love for this book. First off, I think it oversells itself. The map at the beginning details a round-trip journey from Phnom Penh via Russia to Europe and back via boat to Singapore. However, this trip receives very little mention, except for a few pages on his time in Mongolia. I was really interested in hearing about such a fascinating voyage and disappointed that it received very little attention.

Second, the author readily admits that he is no intellectual, simply a man of g
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Amy Hannon
I loved this book. It is the haunting story of a middle aged Italian journalist from Florence whose lifelong beat has been Asia. He has lived and worked there most of his life and watched it go through wars and "development." In 1976 a fortune teller in Hong Kong tells him that he will die in a plane crash in 1993 so he shouldn't fly that year. It's a long way off but years pass and when 1993 comes, now in his late 50's Tiziano Terzani decides he will organize his ongoing work so that he can go ...more
Allison Jane Smith
An enlightening and entertaining look at Asia, the changes it is undergoing, and the superstitions that dictate much of life for many from Malaysia to Cambodia to China.

After being told by a fortune-teller that he risked death if he took a plane in 1993, Terzani spent the earth traveling throughout Asia by land, visiting a local fortuneteller in every place he stopped. The resulting book is a bit of a cross between a travel memoir, a reflection on spirituality and superstition, and an examinati
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Jane Routley
Apparently this is a classic of new age travel fiction. I enjoyed it because it was a very different take on travel. He went to unusual places and interviewed fortune-tellers (and lots of other people) in each destination.But even now and then he'd really alienate me by saying classic new age tourist things about how nice it would be for the natives to remain as they are which is always pretty rich from someone who enjoys western plumbing and freedoms.
For instance when talking about the young wo
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jeano
Jul 18, 2007 jeano rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: SE asia backpackers
this travelogue had me in its grips all thru my SE asia trip. then i got home and found out from a pretty-reliable-but-extremely-cynical source, who had personal contact with the author, that terzani may or may not be a pathological exaggerator and jerk in real life. so now i don't know what to make of it.

well extramoral confusion doesn't detract from the book's merits, per se. the snapshots of singapore, thailand, hong kong, malaysia, indonesia, china, vietnam, cambodia, burma, and mongolia ar
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Andrea Bovino
Un altro di quei libri che ti lasciano senza fiato. Leggere Terzani è meglio che comprare un guida per un viaggio. Esplorare insieme a questo fantastico autore i posti da lui visitati è tanto semplice quanto reale.
La sua capacità descrittiva si mescola a un fondo di saggezza che è parte del suo scrivere e del suo modo di vivere. Scenari orientali a noi lontani, su cui si poggiano lo jin e lo jang, la luce e il buio, l'acqua e il fuoco: un equilibrio su cui si regge la vita.
Ancora una volta, in
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Jon
I enjoyed this book. Not "a real page-turner!" but one of those books that is just plain enjoyable and provides food for thought.

It is a recounting of a year in the author's life in the 90's. He had seen a fortune teller in the 1970's that told him not to fly that year, so he didn't. In not flying, the author was reminded again that life is about the journey, and that history, tradition, and the intelligence of thousands of years live outside of western "progress".
Sharman Egan
This was nothing more a continual diatribe against the negative effects of development in Asia. Heavy on exposition/editorial, light on narrative and scene. I think it could have been effective as an essay or editorial but a 365 page rant? In fairness, there was some reference in the book jacket copy to the anti-materialism message but I was not prepared for such a negative and one-sided book (surely there have been some positive effects of development like rising standards of living?). And also ...more
Melissa
What would you do if you were a journalist and told that you shouldn't travel by plane for an entire year? Would you heed the warning, or would you continue to do as you please for your jobs sake. Terzani decided to heed the warning and since he still needed to make a living, traveled around Asia and Europe any way but by plane.

After a fortune teller tells him that he shouldn't travel by plane, Terzani decides to make an exploration not only of Asia, but also of the different seers and fortune t
...more
Mrs
se solo lo avessi letto prima della mia esperienza indonesiana...
ma cio' che mi colpisce di piu' e' che io nel '94 ero a Bangkok, avevo 24 anni e avevo gli stessi identici pensieri che aveva lui: forse ad occhi attenti e sensibili le varie popolazioni sanno parlare con voce forte, molto piu' forte che a quelli che partono con i viaggi organizzati?
Nico Scagliarini
I always find particularly dramatic when I finish a book on a trip, and in this specific case was more noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First: I read the last sentence in the very moment I landed in Bilbao which was the destination of my flight and the beginning of my trip to Spain. Second: I started reading it during my last visit to my family in Italy. Third: while I was on the flight from Hamburg, I read about arriving in Hamburg. The passage is the following (translated by me, since I rea ...more
S.H. Villa
Before writing a review, I read through others and found that Tiziano had died in 2004 aged 65. I only recently re-read this book, one of my favourites.

Some of the reviews make much of his criticism of the 'modernisation' of the Orient, but for me the book was about Tiziano himself. I felt like I was getting to know a man of great humanity, intelligence and curiosity. Reading the book is like listening to a friend tell of his thoughts, feelings and adventures.

Thank you for walking amongst us, T
...more
Monica
Feb 23, 2012 Monica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Salamandrine
A fantastic journey that makes 600 hundred pages go by like 60 and leaves you wishing for a few more chapters!

Have been re-reading some passages these days. Need to alter my rating, to do it justice.
Hilariapdx
This was a true pleasure to read as well as informative. I really honestly knew nothing about Burma when I read this years ago. But I really wanted to go there after I read it.
Prospero
Un reportage intenso per scoprire i particolari di un sub continente ancora misterioso ed intrigante.
Una lettura riflessiva che cattura grazie ad uno stile sobrio che non stanca mai.
Mark
enjoyed this book as much for the descriptions of the places he visited as well as the adventures he encountered. I will have to read it again someday
Andrea
It is a travel memoir, made me want to quit everything and travel. I did go see a fortune teller in Hong Kong because of this book.
Mónica Leirião
"Viajar só faz sentido se regressarmos com qualquer resposta na bagagem"
Tiziano, obrigada pelas quase 600 páginas de viagem!
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187701
Tiziano Terzani was an Italian journalist and writer, best known for his extensive knowledge of 20th century East Asia and for being one of the very few western reporters to witness both the fall of Saigon to the hands of the Vietcong and the fall of Phnom Pehn at the hands of the Khmer rouge in the mid-1970s.
More about Tiziano Terzani...
La fine è il mio inizio Un altro giro di giostra In Asia Lettere contro la guerra La porta proibita

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“Every place is a goldmine. You have only to give yourself time, sit in a teahouse watching the passers-by, stand in a corner of the market, go for a haircut. You pick up a thread – a word, a meeting, a friend of a friend of someone you have just met – and soon the most insipid, most insignificant place becomes a mirror of the world, a window on life, a theatre of humanity.” 19 likes
“Per i prossimo dieci anni la tua vita sarà orribile, avrai grandi problemi e niente ti andrà bene", dice l'indovino. "E poi?", chiede ansioso il cliente. "Poi? Poi ci farai l'abitudine!” 2 likes
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