Wild time in Africa
By BISSME S.
IT IS NEVER EASY to write a funny book but Adeline Loh has managed to do this in her first book, a travelogue of her adventures in Zambia, Africa.
“I’m more witty when I write,” says the 30-year-old Kuala Lumpur-born freelance journalist who loves watching funny movies and sitcoms. Her all-time favourite happens to be The Simpsons.
“I have always wanted to entertain people through my writing,” Loh says. “When something makes me laugh, I will always remember it. Whenever I look back at my troubled times, I will always look back with laughter.”
Peeing in the Bush (MPH Group Publishing, RM35.90) was the result of a trip to Zambia in Africa she made with her vegetarian friend Chan.
Tired of her routine life and dying for a great adventure, Loh resigned from her job as a journalist.
“Usually Asians travel only after they have retired and become old,” she says. “I didn’t want to wait till I am too old to travel. If you want to do something, why wait? Do it now!”
After saving enough money for the trip, she threw in her resignation, much to the surprise of her bosses and her friends, and set off for Zambia with Chan.
There, they faced off with angry hippos and buffaloes out to kill them; canoed through crocodile-infested rivers; and had to relieve themselves among the shrubbery. They were also thrown into a culture that was totally alien.
After coming back from Zambia in July 2005, Loh could not get the trip and their experiences out of her mind. She decided to turn them into a book.
“I was obsessed about the trip and always thinking about Africa,” she recalls. It took her more than two years to pen her thoughts down into a book. “I am such a perfectionist,” Loh says. “I was never happy with what I wrote and I kept changing the manuscript.”
Despite having written for various magazines for some 10 years, writing the book was not easy for Loh. “The biggest challenge [has been] making every chapter interesting and a page turner.”
The trip has also made her more open and less judgmental. “I have seen people who are worse off than me,” she says. “They have to walk miles just to get clean water.”
Now, she has learnt to always count her blessings and complain less. “Now I appreciate my country better. I have begun to see that a lot of countries are far worse off than ours,” adds Loh, who has also been to Japan, the United States, Mauritius and Australia.
When asked what makes her book different from other travelogues, she says: “It is uniquely Asian. There are not many travelogues written from an Asian perspective.”
She also find Asian travellers less adventurous, preferring to travel to safe places with toilet facilities and to shopping destinations.
“We are so different from Western travellers,” she says. “Westerners like to make travelling an adventure. As a child, I have always fantasised about going to exotic places and I have made this dream come true.” Her next destination will be somewhere in the South Pacific.
But writing will always remain her first love. She remembers her parents always leaving her at the bookstores for hours whenever they went shopping.
“I wanted to become a writer because writers are not stuck in the office,” she says. “They get the chance to go out and meet different people and do something different every day.”
Armed with a higher diploma in computer science, she went looking for a job as journalist in a computer magazine.
But going through her humorous style of writing, the editor offered her a job in one of the publishing house’s entertainment magazines instead.
In 2005, together with feng shui Master Philip Cheong, Loh co-authored the second edition of the Malaysian bestseller, Don’t Sit on this Book, a collection of funny, quirky Chinese taboos.
Being a kung fu exponent, Loh would love to write a book on martial arts one day.
Reproduced from The Sun of February 11, 2009