The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis Travel fashion review: 2 great-looking cool dresses for the tropics

Written By: herbrunbridge - Mar• 10•15

Here at WoWasis, we don’t think girls have to look grungy to beat the heat in the tropics. And you shouldn’t have to have a dry cleaner nearby, either (out in the boonies, you may only have a sink). You should be able to look great day or night, too.


Tiana B V-neck sleeveless dress

Tiana B has a great collection of summer dresses that look great and can easily be washed in tropical conditions. Their Women’s Sleeveless V-neck wrap dress  looks absolutely terrific.  It’s 96% polyester with 4% spandex. It’s under $50, too. Or try the Short-sleeve lace dress, casual at its very best, 55% nylon, 40% polyester, and 5% spandex.formal. Each of these you can hand wash then hang-dry.

We’ve selected these for our WoWasis Travel eStore because they’re gorgeous, inexpensive, easy to take care of, cool, and travel well. Click on their links above for a better view, and you can order right on the spot.

Tiana B short sleeve lace dress

Tiana B short sleeve lace dress


WoWasis book review: Paul Gauguin in Tahiti: Noa Noa

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 26•15

GauguinNoaNoaNoa Noa, painter Paul Gauguin’s short book on his time in Tahiti, often gets ignored today. Gauguin, after all, has been chastised for “cutting and running,” leaving a family behind there. Gauguin, who died in 1903, isn’t alive to rebut anything, of course. But he does leave the reader with his sometimes whimsical and at times poignant account of the several years he spent there. And then, of course, there’s his art.

We here at WoWasis read this book when we were young, and it fueled our interest in the tropics. It was worth a revisit. We found a beautiful rendition of it in the book produced by book designer John Miller for Chronicle Books (1994, ISBN 0-8118-0366-X), and that’s the one you should read. There are other versions, some without Gauguin’s art, but art after all, is an essence of the story. Why read the story without he images?

Miller’s version includes colorful sketches drawn by the artist in the margins of his journal, as well as the woodblock prints Gauguin wanted to include, but wasn’t able, in the original publication. For the first time, they’re all included here.

AsiaPromoBannerThe story has become legendary, of his disagreements with his first Tahitian wife, of marrying his second when she was thirteen years old. He relates tales from Tahitian mythology that found their way into his paintings. He contrasts the way of life he found in the south Pacific with “the vices of a morally and physically corrupt society” from which he fled.

Radiating through the book are frequent references to the world of exoticism in which he had become imbued in his Polynesian world:

Close to the river Fatu, there was a general scattering. Concealed among the stones the women crouched here and there in the water with their skirts raised to waist, cooling their haunches and legs tired from the march and the heat. Thus cleansed with the bosom erect and with the two shells covering the breasts rising in points under the muslin of the corsage, they again took up the way to Papeete. They had the grace and elasticity of healthy young animals. A mingled perfume, half animal, half vegetable emanated from them; the perfume of their blood and of the gardenias which all wore in their hair. “Teine merahi noa noa (now very fragrant),” they said.

Historical research on the life of Gauguin continues evolving. His death was first reported to be as a result of leprosy, then syphilis. The discovery of teeth purported to be his indicates that he may have died of another cause. He will probably never be released from the cocoon of controversy, if even on a minor scale. We recently visited a friend who had a painting on the wall with a scarf covering part of the image, that of a young woman. It was an original Gauguin, and the owner’s Christian wife had covered the subject’s bare breasts. Too naughty for the household.

Bachelor in Bangkok: Khun Lee on what to look for in a Bangkok woman

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 21•15

BachBKKLKee1cFrom the ever-controversial WoWasis columnist Khun Lee:

I was out having fun on the town with a male Thai friend the other night, and I casually asked him what personality characteristics a Thai man looks for when sizing up a Thai woman’s attractiveness as a potential partner. I was really just wondering if in general Thai guys were similar to western guys in the way they measure these types of things. Well I must say that although this guy is quite young and innocent in many worldly endeavors, he gave me an extremely detailed and thoughtful response.

“When I look at a Thai woman, I consider 3 aspects of her life. First, I look at what she does with her free time. If she prowls around at night, frequents clubs, discos or other party places then I am not interested in her. If she spends her free time doing positive things such as improving herself, being with friends or family or engaged in some hobby then she may be a keeper. Secondly I look at what she does with her spare money. If she spends most of her money on expensive clothes or jewelry or other ridiculously frivolous items then I definitely am not interested. On the other hand, if she is smart with her money and is buying a property or otherwise investing it then she may be a good gal to know. Thirdly I look at how she treats her friends and family. If she is close to her family, has many good friends and acts respectful and true then I may well be interested in her.”

ThailandPromoBannerMan I gotta say that this guy may be young, but he really has nailed down the art of sizing up women as potential partners. I never really spent much time summarizing my own set of criteria in choosing partners, but after that night with my friend I started to think about his words and how similar his philosophy is to what I have always done in my life. I have always avoided women with expensive clothes and jewelry. Heck, I don’t care if she wasted her own money on that useless crap, is a spoiled rich girl and her family bought it for her, or some poor schmuck boyfriend just got fleeced. Any way you look at it she is to be avoided like the plague. What man wants a spoiled rich family girl, a girl who already has a rich boyfriend (or several) or a girl who is incredibly reckless and stupid with her own money?

As far as what a gal does with her spare time, I definitely don’t want a serious party gal for a steady girlfriend. Sure I would be happy to nail her a few times, but for a gal to hang out with on a regular basis who wants a tramp? My personal philosophy is that I will hold a woman’s hair back while she vomits only the one time. The next time it is some other guys turn to humiliate himself simply to get some easy hot monkey sex. Ooooh memories of smelling cheap booze, stale cigarettes and vomit are not going to make my highlight reel when I look back on my life experiences.

Then we come to choosing a gal who is close to her friends and family. He really is smart to include this in his criteria. When I look back at all the gals I have been involved with in my life, it has become clear to me that nearly all of the total whackos had very few if any real friends as they had obviously alienated all the people in their lives. Add on to this the fact that most of the crazy jealous control freaks have no one close to them and therefore must turn their aggression and hostility toward the new guy in their life.

My Thai mate is barely half my age, but for this one evening the student was the master.

I was watching a special on TV the other night about Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. We single guys around the globe, guys who enjoy all that being a single man on the go has to offer really owe a debt of gratitude to the first guy who dedicated his life to creating magazines, videos, gentleman clubs, and many other forms of entertainment that celebrated the single man’s lifestyle. As a confirmed bachelor I can testify to the fact that there is very little appreciation for or acceptance of the single man in this world of ours. Even in Thailand, the single man’s Paradise, I have to constantly make up excuses or white lies to explain why I happen to be single. Telling any person in this world that you PREFER to be single, that it is a choice you have made and that you thoroughly enjoy it will only draw blank looks, or worse, total condemnation. Thanks Hef for all you have done for us. We all owe you big time dude.

Speaking of the single lifestyle, my good friend Peter the Pie Eater had an excellent response the other night when a young lass who likes the amiable Englishman asked why he didn’t want to marry her. His response was “ I am still paying for my last marriage.”

I will wind up this month’s column with a funny story about one of my favorite bargirls in Bangkok. We all know that the game with the professional gals is just about fun for us and money for the gals, but sometimes it just gets too mercenary even for my savvy local guy taste. This lass was “married” to a foreign guy last year and I lost touch with her. Now I must say right here that I put the word married in quotes because in this life there is married married and bargirl married. Bargirl married is a big party where the gal and her family receive a bunch of money and gold after which she does whatever the f*ck she wants to. Anyway, this gal was “bargirl married” and apparently the guy died. When she told me the news I felt badly for the lass and told her how sorry I was to hear about her husband’s passing. Her response was “it’s no big deal, I can always find another guy.” Cold, bloody cold these gals can be.

Read Khun Lee’s other WoWasis columns for more advice on navigating the adult dating scene through the backstreets of Bangkok

WoWasis banned book review: ‘Saigon Gold’ by Hugh Scott

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 19•15

SaigonGoldScott1As a foreign writer, what do you have to do to get your novel banned in Vietnam? You mention things that ruffle the feathers of government censors, then refuse to re-write parts of your book. Hugh Scott, with his book Saigon Gold (2008, ISBN-13: 978-0979953484), which won the 2010 Gold Medal award for fiction from the Military Writers Society of America, encountered such a dilemma. But the author went ahead anyway and wrote an edition specifically to be sold in Vietnam.

As the author describes it, “A censored version of [the] novel is published in Vietnam. Absent are cover images of a captured flag of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of Vietnam (AKA a VC flag) and the Distinguished Flying Cross military decoration as well as all references to the Peoples Republic of China and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. To further satisfy government authorities, a map of Vietnam was modified to include the Paracel and Spratley Islands, presumably to prove they belong to Vietnam and not the PRC which also claims control. Even ‘South China Sea’ was changed to ‘East Sea.’ So much for improving international relations.”

You can buy the banned version outside Vietnam and you should, if you like well-researched, faced-past fiction that will keep you on your toes, plot wise, for all of its 372 pages. It was hard for your WoWasis review team to believe this book was the writer’s first (and his only one, so far). Three plot lines weave their serpentine way through the tale, which begins with an American former GI returning to Vietnam. There’s tons of intrigue, involving three countries, embassy and military staffs, and officials with multiple goals, not all of them legal. Yes, it involves gold, but the most compelling plot involves a potential Chinese incursion on Vietnamese soil.

VietnamPromoBannerThe author deals with Vietnamese personalities and philosophies in a realistic and measured manner, and our conversations with former Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army personnel aren’t very far different from those as written by Scott. He made two trips to Vietnam to check his resource material, and it shows in the small but important ways that add to the credibility of the story. When one of his characters makes a detour on an overnight drive from Nha Trang to Saigon (oops, Ho Chi Minh City, we mean), it’s pretty apparent that the author did that himself. This is an extremely complex novel that demands verisimilitude to be effective, and it holds brilliantly to that objective.

What you get here is an intense thriller with believable characters and a wild plot that isn’t marred by the gratuitous sex scenes that seem de rigueur for many novels written on the theme of western expats in Southeast Asia. Understanding that the reader might need a reference guide to the characters, the author put all 34 of the significant people appearing in the book in a two page glossary at the end. It’s useful, particularly in view of the similarities in some of the Vietnamese names.

We get the sense that this must have taken several years to write. The care the author took in getting the intricate plot and varied characters shows. And we’re still not sure what to make of the woman he hooks up with, more or less, at the end of the book. But perhaps that’s something for Scott’s next book. And we do hope there’s another one. He’ll have his work cut out for him. This is a tough one to top. Buy this book now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis book review: About Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 16•15

SelkirksIslandBookCrusoe, of course, was a fictional character created by Daniel Defoe, who published his book in 1719. But his story was partly inspired by the true story of a man who was marooned on an uninhabited island. Diana Souhami’s Selkirk’s Island: The True and Strange Adventures of the Real Robinson Crusoe (2001, ISBN 0-15-100526-5) tells the remarkable story.

Selkirk, a privateer, had issues with the ship on which he was sailing, The hull was heavily invaded by worms, and he requested that he be out ashore on the island of Más A Tierra (since renamed Robinson Crusoe Island), in the Juan Fernandez group, rather than continue the voyage. In short order he changed his mind, but the captain refused to accept his return and sailed off. And sure enough, the ship foundered and the survivors were captured by the Spanish, who imprisoned them. For fifty-two months, Selkirk was left to his own devices, marooned by himself on the island.

AsiaPromoBannerSouhami has done a credible job of research in relating the history of this fascinating character. He had a difficult personality, fighting with land people and crewmen alike, much of the time spurred on by bouts of drinking. He died at a relatively young age, from one or more diseases acquired during his tenure as an adventurer in western Africa. He married twice, his will contested by each of his wives, who learned that he appeared to be married to each, although the second woman was able to convince the courts that the first marriage was not legally binding. We’d wager that few readers will fall in love with Selkirk the man.

The author provides a fast-paced romp through Selkirk’s life, with fascinating tidbits interspersed throughout. Her passage on the ship-devouring Teredo navalis worm will be frightening for those readers who dream of going back in time to sail the waters in the oak-hulled ships of the seventeenth century. Likewise, her description of the necessary amputations at sea is horrifying:

Ballett thought it wise to amputate in the mornings but never at full moon. His dismembering saws were kept well-filed, clean and in oiled cloths to protect them from rust. He had an assortment of knives, mallets, chisels and stitching needles, some strong waxed thread, rolls of crude cotton and large bowls filled with ashes to catch blood. The amputee had to give consent and was told that he might die. ‘It is no small presumption to dismember the Image of God.’ Two strong men held the patient down. The instruments were kept from his view. Ballett, ‘with a steady hand and good speed, cut off Flesh, Sinewes and all to the Bone’. He left flaps of skin. He then sawed through the bone, sewed the flaps, stemmed the bleeding with cotton and propped the stump up high with a pillow under it. There was a vessel for amputated limbs ’till you have opportunity to heave them Overboard’. Even if only the foot was crushed the surgeons took off most of the leg, ‘the Paine is all one, and it is most profitable to the Patient, for a long Stumpe were but troublesome.’ There were dismembering snippers for amputating fingers and toes.

Then there were the island goats, which provided him with both food and companionship, as she quotes from Woodes Rogers’ journal:

His exercise and lust of the day was hunting and fucking goats. ‘He kept an Account of 500 that he killed while there, and caught as many more which he mark’d on the Ear and let go.’ His tally was of their size and agility and the quality of the chase; a chart like those kept of the variations of the tide, the phases of the moon or the days of his captivity on The Island.

The reality of being shipwrecked on an island clearly captivated the author, who’s done a terrific job of putting the reader right on the island, along with Selkirk. Not that any of us wish we were in that situation, of course with this desperate, difficult, and ultimately creative man.

Selkirk was rescued after 52 months, returned home, and recognized that he was only cut out for sea life. Shorelife being a series of troubles and mishaps, he returned to the ocean. His ships, his officers, and his ambitions proved again and again to be problematic. Souhami’s book is a timeless page-turner. At 246 pages, it’s one of the most compelling reads those of us at WoWasis have ever encountered.

WoWasis book review: ‘Scams & Swindlers’: investment disasters to be avoided

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 14•15

BrownScamsBruce Brown’s classic Scams and Swindlers: Investment Disasters and How To Avoid Them (1998, ISBN 1-86339-201-7) flies a bit under the radar these days, but it shouldn’t, particularly for those following the increasingly strange Cambodian death saga of Canadian journalist Dave Walker. Before we get to that, here’s why the book is compelling.

Author Brown was the Regional Commissioner in the Northern Territory for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) when he wrote this book. The financial scams he describes so eloquently are, as of today, as rampant as ever, as scam artists work day and night to part honest, well-meaning people from their bank accounts and retirement income. Brown provides actual examples from the annals of the Australian court system, detailing the intricacies of each scam, and providing warnings of what to look out for when investing money. We here at WoWasis loved his explanation of the intricacies of the Ponzi scheme and were enamored of his description of how investors are sucked in by scams runs by well-known personalities and New Age philosophies. The cult of personality, as the author cautions, can be a red flag when one is asked to invest.

So what makes it particularly interesting today, some 15 years after the book was written? It’s the chapter on scam artist James Guido Eglitis, who, under his assumed name of James Keuning, was banned for life from dealing in Futures by ASIC, after serving a term of four years in U.S. prisons for similar offenses before being deported.

Somehow, Eglitis has gotten himself involved in the death investigation of Dave Walker, as described in freelance journalist Andrew Drummond’s blog. It makes for interesting reading. As Drummond notes, Eglitis, who appears to be additionally using the pseudonyms of James An and Siu Jia (“Big Tree” in Cambodian), is currently on the run from Australia for fleeing bail in Queensland on charges including kidnapping and impersonating a police officer. And according to Drummond, he’s at it again, passing himself off, among various occupations, as both a U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs) and an Australian Federal Police officer as well, asking questions regarding Walkers’ disappearance and death. And no one seems sure as to the reason.

CambodiaSoutheast Asia, Thailand and Cambodia in particular, are magnets for world-class scam artists who, rather than keeping a low profile, seem to revel in the joys of bribing police and running various and sundry financially successful businesses, which often include adult entertainment operations. But that’s another book. We can’t wait for it to be written, especially if the author lives long enough to see it published.

For today’s readers, Scams and Swindlers has particular interest for those interested in some of the more nefarious characters in the Southeast Asian expat community. But all readers with the financial wherewithal to become involved in investing money will love this book. Bruce Brown doesn’t pull any punches and makes it understandable enough that there’s plenty for the lay reader to digest and strongly consider prior to giving away the family fortune.

WoWasis book review: ‘Americans In Thailand,’ a comprehensive history

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 12•15

AmericansInThailandBookCoverIf you’re like us here at WoWasis, you may very well be scratching your head, wondering why anyone would buy a book on a subject seemingly as narrow as the contributions of the citizens of North America to a country in Asia. We loved the book through. And think you will, too, especially if you have an interest in the history of Thailand. It’s surprisingly comprehensive and complex. As is brought out brilliantly and forcefully Americans in Thailand (2015, ISBN 978-981-4385-84), the actions and contributions of North Americans can’t easily be ignored. And it all starts out long ago.

This 300 page, handsomely illustrated book is the product of the work of six editors, Jim Algie, Denis Gray, Nicholas Grossman, Jeff Hodson, Robert Horn, and Wesley Hsu. The book follows a historical chronology, dating from early traders and missionaries and runs up to the present. We found ourselves taking tons of notes: who knew a missionary was responsible for the first Thai font?

There’s so much to read here, every page an unveiling. For our eyes, the most compelling stories involved the Siamese Twins, Cheng and Eng, Bangkok Post publisher Alex MacDonald, Tony Poe and American CIA and military involvement, and Father Joe Maier. But that’s only scratching the surface. The authors don’t gloss over much, either, referring to books such as ‘The King Never Smiles,’ which cannot be obtained in Thailand due to censorship laws. And speaking of writing, the contributions of noted expat writers, such as Dean Barrett, Christopher G. Moore (a Canadian? He’s North American, too), Harold Stephens, and Bernard Trink are discussed as well. The pages devoted to entrepreneur Bill Heinecke are fascinating.

ThailandPromoBannerFor the scholar, the book contains dozens of references to other books that elaborate on many of the stories, included in the text. We ordered several of these while in the midst of reading the book. We wanted to know more. The index is a good one, and so is the seven page bibliography. We might have preferred that the book had footnotes, but that’s a nit-pick, as in-text references abound.

There are an estimated 30,000 Yanks living in Thailand and this book should fascinate all of them. It’s also a great bedside companion to those sitting at home, away from Thailand, enjoying memories past or thinking about future adventures. It’s highly recommended as a fascinating compilation of stories and a wonderful historical and contemporary record. Buy it now at the WoWasis eStore.

WoWasis book review: The Lurline, when exotic luxury sailed the Hawaiian seas

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 08•15

LurlineCoverNot many of us could have afforded to steam from the west coast of the United States to Hawaii aboard the S.S. Lurline, Matson Lines’ luxurious floating palace. Nor on her sister ships the Matsonia, Mariposa, Malolo, or Monterey, either. By 1970, it was all a moot point anyway, as comparatively inexpensive air travel killed Matson’s Hawaiian passenger business. And in similar fashion to the outcome of Pan American’s amphibious Boeing B314 Clipper airplanes, those richly appointed Matson steamers have all been destroyed. No one even bothered to turn one into a stationary seaside hotel.

All of that adds a degree of wistfulness and historical cachet to authors Lynn Blocker and Nick Krantz, and Mary Thiele Fobian’s To Honolulu in Five Days: Cruising Aboard Matson’s S.S. Lurline (2001, ISBN 1-58008-232-7). The book captures the fantasy that represented the dream of exoticism that lay in Hawaii, land of leis, hula girls in grass skirts, surfing, beach-combing, luaus, and steel guitars playing under the balmy, moonlit skies. From 1932 to 1970, the Lurline embodied that fantasy. This book tells the ship’s story embellished with numerous photographs and ephemera, such as menu covers, advertisements, and postcards. It also covers Matson’s Honolulu hotels, the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana. The Lurline was first class passage only, and included in the book are a host of photographs of some of her well-known passengers. Exotic musician Martin Denny is there, too.

MoonAdNGEO_12481cWe what here at WoWasis would have liked to have seen is a tad more information on the sister ships. The authors mention that at one point, the Matsonia was renamed the Lurline, but don’t mention that there was a publicity gaffe involved when the “third Lurline” was put out of commission. The Matsonia was renamed to dull the outcry from people who preferred that the name Lurline remain on the seas. And what of the Monterey and Mariposa? As late as 1978, eight years after the Lurline last sailed, those ships were steaming under the Pacific Far East Line banner.

The book is a valuable one for people desiring to know about Pacific passenger shipping and the marketing of Hawaii as a destination. The Lurline was famous for her murals and menu covers designed by Eugene Savage, which are reproduced in the book. John Kelly and Frank McIntosh provided wonderful artwork for Matson as well, but are not mentioned, nor are their works reproduced and included. This is particularly egregious in terms of McIntosh, whose Art Deco-inspired artwork graced Matson’s menus until the beginning of the Pacific war.

AsiaPromoBannerThe book is worth reading and keeping, however, especially for those who have a whimsical fancy for long-lost romantic, exotic, and luxurious sea travel, and seeking a historical perspective on Hawaii as a travel destination.

WoWasis book review: Early exotic air travel to Hawaii: ‘The History of Pan American’s Flying Boats’

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 26•15

PanAmClipperWe here at WoWasis have all see those pictures of those magnificent flying boats leaving to Hawaii, the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge in the background. And we wondered: what was it like to fly in them? What services were offered? How much did a flight cost? Can we still see them in aviation museums? Roy Allen’s remarkable book The PanAm Clipper: The History of Pan American’s Flying Boats 1931 to 1946 (2000, ISBN 0-7607-2187-4) answers all those questions and more. It’s a fascinating read.

The story is centered around Pan American Airways founder Juan Trippe and his desire to offer air travel options from the United States to Hawaii and the Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. He was the innovator, utilizing such craft as the Sikorsky S-42, Martin M-130, and the iconic Boeing 314, among others. The book has wonderful photos of all these, as well as other aircraft in his fleet. Allen gets behind the scenes to describe the pluses and minuses of each aircraft and the reasons for the decisions Trippe made to evolve to more powerful airplanes. He also describes Trippe’s challenges in dealing with governments, plane manufacturers, and even his own board of directors.

A PanAm Boeing 314 clipper over San Francisco Bay

A PanAm Boeing 314 clipper over San Francisco Bay

The first PanAm Clipper to reach Hawaii, an S-42, arrived in 1935, essentially a test flight. The trip took 18 hours. But Trippe needed a larger craft, which came with the Martin M-130, carrying 8-10 passengers in three compartments, with a dining and cocktail lounge, formal evening meals, and Pullman berths. Trippe’s idea was to create an ocean liner in the sky, but the Martin’s overhead engines created enough compartment noise that he realized that changes were in order. The solution came with the legendary Boeing 314, which arrived in the PanAm fleet in 1938.

The 314 was the largest passenger airplane in the world at the time, carrying 74 passengers and a crew of 10. Among its innovations were proper toilets for men and women (waste was discharged over the ocean), 65 windows, a full-service galley, and a bar. The upholstery was fireproofed and there were ten life rafts. It made its inaugural passenger flight in 1939.

AsiaPromoBannerBy now, Trippe had added fueling stops in Guam and Wake Island in order to add the Philippines to his destination list. The 314 was also flying European and Latin American routes as well. The advent of World War II closed PanAm’s passenger routes in Europe, and with the war in the Pacific beginning in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, all of Trippe’s 314s were either sold to the British military or requisitioned by U.S. forces.

By the end of the war, the concept of passenger air travel changed. The building of military landing strips throughout the Pacific ushered in land-based aircraft, and the days of the transoceanic flying boat were over.

So where can you see PanAm’s Sikorsky S-42, Martin M-130, and the Boeing 314 today? You can’t. They’ve all been used for parts, scrapped, demolished, or were destroyed while being deployed. The last 314 was scrapped in 1951, a victim of changing technology. These beautiful airships, representative of the romance of early trans-ocenic passenger travel, are all gone, except for what you’ll find in postcards and books like Roy Allen’s.

The book’s a good one, 112 pages in large format, with a great story and lots of wonderful photos. There is one nit-pick. In photos, the Golden Gate Bridge is identified as the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and vise-versa. How could Allen and his editor have missed that?

Nevertheless, the book is worth reading and keeping, especially for those who have a whimsical fancy for long-lost romantic, exotic, and luxurious air travel, words that most certainly can’t be used to describe trans-oceanic air travel today.

WoWasis book review: ‘Art of the Aloha Shirt,’ indispensable for collectors

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 24•15

AlohaShirtBookCoverEvery casual guy, it seems, loves aloha shirts from Hawaii, and that includes your WoWasis review staff. They’re not typically all that expensive, and cotton and rayon fabrics hold up well with many wearings (not so, unfortunately, with Tommy Bahama silks — even with mild washing, we’ve found they tend to rip apart by the second year). Everything you’d probably ever want to know about aloha shirts is covered in clothing scholar Linda B. Arthur’s landmark book The Art of the Aloha Shirt (2008, ISBN 1-59700-586-X), co-written by DeSoto Brown.

An extraordinary aloha shirt print

An extraordinary aloha shirt print

The book discusses the entire history of this garment, with information on fabrics (who knew how tricky rayon was, in the early days), printing methods, and distribution and sales minutiae. The illustrations are exceptional, encompassing period photos and advertisements interspersed with color photos of the shirts themselves. Fashion historians will love this book, as it breaks the aloha shirt history down by decade. Much of the graphic material comes from the University of Hawaii’s Historic Costume Collection, where Arthur is a curator. Brown, a wonderful collaborator, has himself authored several books on Hawaiian historical subjects. The scholarship shows.

The large format, 100 page book is endlessly fascinating, especially in describing the crafts of hand-blocking, silk-screening, and roller-blocking. The illustrations are all-encompassing, including examples of Eugene Savage’s menu cover creations for the Matson ship Lurline, which were converted into shirt prints. The prose often leans toward the poetic:

This golden age lasted until about the middle to late 1950s-not really a very long time. In retrospect, when the output of this period is reviewed, the huge number of prints created was astonishing-and how eye-popping some of them were. Glowing, riotous, vibrant; hula dancers, throw-net fishermen, exploding volcanoes, palm trees. Recognizable actual places: Diamond Head, Aloha Tower, Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Park, Nu’uanu Pali. Actual people: Waikiki beachboys, Hilo Hattie, Hawaiian royalty. All aspects of Hawaiian culture and artifacts: kahili, poi pounders, fishhooks, musical instruments, feather capes. And flowers! Every possible flower: bombax, bird of paradise, angel’s trumpet, night-blooming cereus, lehua, torch ginger, vanda orchids. Occasionally, everything all mixed up: pineapples and grass houses and canoes, coral and fish intermingled with flowers, footprints and crabs.

AsiaPromoBannerArthur and Brown make it a point of saying that there is much misinformation out there in terms of origin of the shirt, and this book aims to correct it. They certainly have the bona fides to make a compelling argument. The book is highly recommended for clothing historians, people interested in Hawaiian culture, and anyone who has at least one Hawaiian aloha shirt in his or her collection. Buy it now at the WoWasis eStore.