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The Golden Chersonese

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  52 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
This well-known travelogue through Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia was first published in 1880. Isabella Bird, the world's most famous 19th-century female travel writer, has written a fascinating account of 19th-century colonial and local life in Asia. A classic in the genre of travel literature.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 16th 2011 by Monsoon Books (first published 1883)
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Zulhilmi Ghouse
May 19, 2012 Zulhilmi Ghouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book! I recommend it to all adult Malaysians. In fact, I'd go so far as to recommend it be included in the Malaysian high school syllabus as well, but alas the language is a bit too fancy.

From 20th January, 1879, to 25th February (This was 33 years before Titanic), Ms. Bird travelled from Singapore to Malacca, Sungei Ujong (I didn't even know where that was before!), Klang, Penang, and Perak, on boat, pony, and on foot (Yes, hardy woman, she was). She paints so vivid a descr
Feb 28, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I had a delightful canter of several miles before the sun was above the tree-tops, the morning mists, rose-flushed, rolled grandly away, and just as I reached the beautiful pass of Bukit Berapit, the apes were hooting their morning hymn, and the forests rang with the joyous trills and songs of birds. 'All Thy works praise Thee, O Lord!'"

Isabella ate with British functionaries--and with apes at the table, eating off of fine china. She rode in dug-outs through swampy lakes. She rode on frightenin
Aug 06, 2015 Haley rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-read
Read full review here:

I almost gave this one up–it is written from a very colonial perspective, and at first it came across with a very icky feel to it. There’s historical perspective…and then there is writing about other humans as if they are animals in a zoo.

I was left with a very bitter sense of distaste and decided to just put it away and take it off my Goodreads list. But, when I went to do so, the first review on the page is from a Malaysian gentlem
Feb 09, 2014 Leah rated it it was ok
I've read enough 19th century British non-fiction to know to brace myself for the inevitable deluge of unobfuscated racism, but this book was a little much. While it shows an interesting perspective on Malaysia during British colonial rule, Ms. Bird's voice as a narrator was hard to stomach, and I got the impression that she attributed far more humanity to the ants and apes than she did to the people she encountered in her journeys.
Huijia Li
Jun 11, 2013 Huijia Li rated it liked it
Shelves: history, travel
An interesting insight into 19th Century Malaya, through the eyes of an independent Englishwoman. I liked the narrator, and perhaps enjoyed the book more due to her acute observations. No doubt some of her sentiments were tempered by colonialism of that time, but she seems like a fair, level-headed individual, and reading her account was akin to taking a step back in time. Pretty cool.
Kenny Chan
Really took my time reading this. Savoured every word. Miss Bird virtually strolled through Malayan history during the early days of British rule. Great insight in the minds of the colonial rulers, the natives and the immigrant Chinese. Would love to travel together with her.
Jun 23, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Valerie by: Marcia Rider
Shelves: arewethereyet
First female member of the Royal Geographic Society!
Jul 25, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: colonial
Not easy to find good travel narratives on 19th C Malayan peninsula - this being one.
Wan Atiee
Oct 12, 2013 Wan Atiee rated it really liked it
I borrow this book from my friend. this book is really awesome. i take 1 weeks to finish reading it.
Graeme Laird
Jun 05, 2014 Graeme Laird rated it really liked it
As an introduction to Malaya in the late 1800's this was a fascinating insight to the people. Some of Isabella Bird's comments remain very relevant today although I am sure Malays would deny it.
Chris Fellows
Feb 06, 2014 Chris Fellows rated it it was amazing
It is like when Lucy goes into the magician's house on that island in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader". A long corridor lined with shelves of reference books, artefacts from exotic lands hung up as decorations, stuffed animals, but mostly in this case tropical plants in pots. Every so often there is a doorway leading to an unwritten Conrad novel. How I wish Miss Bird had written some of those novels! All the characters are kicking around in this book, cooling their heels. I plan to use her descr ...more
Jordan Magnuson
May 01, 2011 Jordan Magnuson rated it liked it
Read this while in Malaysia... Gotta love this Victorian-era adventurer.
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Isabella Lucy Bird (October 15, 1831 – October 7, 1904) was a nineteenth-century English traveller, writer, and a natural historian.

* The Englishwoman in America (1856)
* Pen and Pencil Sketches Among The Outer Hebrides (published in The Leisure Hour) (1866)
* The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875)
* The Two Atlantics (published in The Leisure Hour) (1876)
* Australia Felix: Impressions of Victori
More about Isabella L. Bird...

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