Picture this – you’re on a ship travelling across the ocean and a storm hits. You and your shipmates get shipwrecked on a deserted island. Everyone is in a panic, but not you – you’re cool, calm, and collected. Someone suggests making a giant S.O.S. in the sand, but you suggest building a triangle instead, because you know that the triangle is actually the international sign of distress. You also know to light a fire at each point of the triangle using green plants as fuel to produce much more visible grey plumes of smoke. You find a mirror on the beach and you know you can use it to reflect the sun to attract more attention from passing ships. But first, you have to get to the highest point so that it can be easily seen. There’s a coconut tree nearby and you climb it skillfully. You even throw some coconuts down for the others to crack open and drink.

At the top you see that there’s an even taller peak, but it requires you to go through the forest. You decide to go there, but first you change into pants to protect yourself from insect bites and scratches from the dense foliage, and you tuck your pants into your socks just in case there are any leeches. Along the way you encounter different snakes and spiders, but you aren’t worried; you know how to recognize the dangerous ones, and none of these are it. You finally reach the highest point, and you see a ship in the distance. You face the mirror to reflect in its direction, and huzzah! – it changes course towards the island. Everyone is rescued and you’ve become a hero.

Kevin Brauch, Thirsty Traveler

Okay, so maybe you’ll never be in a situation as extreme as this, but if you were, you’d be prepared if you’ve read Gareth May‘s book, “How to Drink Snake Blood in Vietnam”. Survival is just one of the categories of information that this book presents. It’s a book geared to making any man, a “Man of the World”. (Incidentally, this was the original title when it was first published.) Perhaps you want to impress your girlfriend or wife with your knowledge of food, wine and local customs as you travel the world. Or you want to earn respect from your buddies as you expertly pick out beers in Germany, tell the authentic cigars from the fakes in Cuba, and know how to say “Cheers” while making a proper toast in whichever country you’re in. Or perhaps you want to set some physical challenges for yourself by learning how to river surf or scale the tallest mountains in the world.

Whatever their interests or motivations may be, “How to Drink Snake Blood in Vietnam” has something for every guy. Personally, as a travel enthusiast, it made me want to travel the world even more, having learned about what else is out there that I haven’t seen yet. Maybe one day I’ll even get to travel to Vietnam – where if ever want to drink snake blood, with book in hand I’ll know exactly where to go and what to expect. It’s a light and entertaining read – a collection of “badass wisdom” and facts; some of which will come in handy in a man’s everyday life; and the others, if nothing else, can be used in conversation to captivate the crowd, or that girl you’ve been eyeing. A recommended read for any man.

“How to Drink Snake Blood in Vietnam” is available on Amazon.


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John Tan

John is an avid traveller, but equally loves being a tourist in his own city. With camera in hand, he enjoys discovering the sights, sounds, tastes, and everything else that Toronto has to offer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@iam_johntan) to see what he's been up to lately.