A gorgeously illustrated and lively picture book retelling of the beginning of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. (One version of the latter here: The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgment of The Journey to the West).

Given that it’s a picture book, it concludes once the companions are all assembled, with a note that the real story has only just begun. But it stands well on its own as a playful adventure with tons of action.

I shamefully confess that I haven’t yet read the original, though I have obtained the version I linked above, so I don’t know how accurate this version is. But it tells a good story and might be an easy introduction to the premise and the main characters.

Illustrated by L. K. Tay-Audouard.

Monkey: The Classic Chinese Adventure Tale
I'm back!

There will be a few more catch-up trip posts, as there's tons of stuff I never got a chance to write up. Such as the obsession of many people we met with Cameron's movie Avatar. I swear, every other conversation, someone would mention it. I was beginning to think it would be impossible to escape back to the US without getting dragged to a screening. We probably would have been, except that we fled to Hong Kong... where Oyce called her Dad to tell him we'd arrived safely, and caught him in a movie theatre, watching Avatar.

The next day, we were having dinner with her aunt and uncle, and asked them if there were any good Chinese movies playing.

"Nothing's good!" said her uncle.

"That's not right," said her aunt. "What about that movie with the blue people?"

In an unrelated incident, I also want to mention something which happened in China. We went to a temple complex dedicated to the journey of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang (aka Tripitaka) to India. This was immortalized in the novel Journey to the West, which was remixed in one of my favorite manga, Saiyuki, where he was called Sanzo.

In an infamously poorly subtitled bootleg of the anime of Saiyuki, Sanzo, who might reasonably be called a monk or priest, is called a rabbi. The place he comes from, usually translated as Shangri-La, is called Asgard. Add to that some oddly-translated epithets, and the bootleg is known, at least to me, as "Rabbi Sanzo and the Fuck-Monkey of Asgard."

I cannot begin to convey my glee when I discovered that every one of the scholarly and otherwise well-translated plaques at that complex referred to "Rabbi Xuanzang."

I am guessing that both the anime and the temple used the same (strange) dictionary. There were also references on the plaques to amrita, the immortality-giving drink of the Gods, which is usually translated as nectar, or sometimes ambrosia or elixir. Here it was called a "wonder drug." Not very elevated!


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