A sheltered young man sets off on a trip to South East Asia in an effort to escape his business-oriented father and his pretentious North American lifestyle. The hot sun, the bug bites, and a man who calls himself Ben lead him through the lust, ecstasy, and agony of a life too far from home.
Origin of the book:
In 2011, I drained most of my savings into a five-week-long backpacking trip to South East Asia with my friends, Antoine and Michael. It was my first real experience traveling outside of North America, and needless to say, I was anxious and over-the-top excited. I even purchased a camera to documented my trip in a “travel show” style I’ve grown to adore. Sadly due to my sprained knee, gum infection, and acute case of homesickness, I only managed to film the first three weeks of my trip. I entitled the series The Chronicles of Elliot Chan.
Here is the first episode:
Here we encounter a landslide:
And here we visit an elementary school in Bayombong, Philippines:
The trip was exactly what the 22-year-old me needed. I learned more about myself in those five weeks than I did in my five years of high school. Sparked with new inspiration, I wrote Ben, a novella about a boy who finds himself alone in a foreign country, clinging onto a friendship as strange as the culture and landscape. Far from autobiographical, the novella was an exploration to seek out all the things I hated while traveling. It’s hard to confront the same challenges back home, and I miss those minor/major inconveniences of living in a place where I was ignorant to the directions and languages. My trip was hard, and I regret giving up when I really could have kept on going. This story was my way of facing my disappointments head-on.