This book was not exactly what I was expecting when I read the premise. Not in a bad way though. The premise is about how one of UK’s premier musicians finds himself in the Golden Triangle working to infiltrate the trade of Human Trafficking. And that’s exactly what it was. But having read about books on human Trafficking before, obviously my mind jumped to conclusions. So in a way Beyond The Comfort Zone was refreshing.
Jim, as the author is referred in the book, was born in Northwich in 1961. He describes how he went from an unknown saxophone player to one who played for famous bands like Bros and Take That, But after years of playing and after opening his own production company, he decided he wanted a change, to go on adventures he had read about on NatGeo magazines. The first 50 pages or so describes his life before and during his music career. Although I had never heard of this musician or even the bands Bros and Take That (I don’t listen to Western music a lot), I was never bored. It was an entertaining tale.
In 2002, he finds himself in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I would have loved to know why he decided on this particular place and what was he really planning to do there. But seems like that was exactly what he was planning, to NOT do anything, probably just experience a new place. He meets many people along the way, foreigners as well as the local people. Franco was one of those guys.
Franco and Jim, armed with a hidden video camera just for the sake of fun and possibly coming away with something explosive, go to a Burmese village along the Thailand-Burma (Myanmar) Border. They find themselves wanting to capture something of importance, something that would capture the child prostitution that is so ripe in Thailand and that particular region. They come away with some footage which turns out to be very rare and before they know they are pulled into something much larger than they had anticipated.
Beyond The Comfort Zone was thrilling and entertaining. It was also sad because it was real. It made me angry and sad for the hundreds of children who are trafficked for prostitution every year. The author describes daily life in Thailand, not necessary from a locals point of view but not from a tourists viewpoint either. At times I did not want to read about Franco’s and his antics but they too offer a different view of Thailand. This book does not really dwell deep into the human trafficking issue, it is mostly the authors experiences and the adventures he had along the way. The last hundred pages or so had me holding my breath waiting to know what happened. This being a memoir only adds more to that feeling. All I can say is don’t judge this book by its cover. Recommended to those who like memoirs and those who like their memoirs to read like a novel.