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SLITHERING SOUTH: by Steve Van Beek. Hong Kong: Wind & Water, Inc., 2001. 430 pp. with map and glossary, $11.95.

Sliding (or bumping) down the shallow Ping River, the long tributary that joins the Chao Phya and flows through Bangkok, Steve Van Beek pondered his odyssey. Having begun in the river’s headwaters near the Burmese border, he had paddled from the still-natural north into the polluted south, rested on his oars midstream and realized that “I was more interested in the journey than in the destination.”

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