The Following review was contributed by: John Walsh
No Touch Monkey is sub-titled ‘And Other Lessons Learned Too Late’ and acts as the confessions of a woman traveling overseas in search of exotic locations, startling anecdotes and if possible good quality marijuana. Ayun Halliday begins this enjoyable compendium of experiences acknowledging the difficulties she had in organizing overseas trips with two small children and resolves to help the time they require to grow up pass more quickly by recounting her previous life as a would-be intrepid backpacker. The results are amusing and revealing of the everyday difficulties what is euphemistically known as the budget traveler routinely has to face – the constant fear of diarrhea, the relentless dirtiness and the lack of money that means that once the destination is reach ed, the traveler cannot afford actually to see the main attractions and instead has to invent ersatz sights which may be later presented as authenticity.
The author even seems to discover a worse problem than any of these – a succession of limp boyfriends who spend their time complaining and requiring comforting meals from McDonald’s. As a result, her backpacking in western Europe, her trips to Rwanda, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, together with her visit to Glasgow with her newly born son and husband to attend a lengthy acting workshop are characterized with a pleasing self-deprecation and some wit. Of course, there must be some triumphs to balance the minor disasters and these include the monkeys that give the book its title. Monkeys are often the stars of low-cost travel because they are not available wandering around at home and because their antics are generally free. As Halliday soon finds out when traveling overseas, people are ready to charge for pretty much everything imaginable and even a few things that are not.
This is a pleasant excursion into the problems of travel and will perhaps resonate most strongly with women and parents of small children. Owing to tragic recent events, of course, it is difficult to imagine anyone, especially Americans, being able to travel around in such an innocent manner overseas for the foreseeable future.