A Travellerspoint blog

September 2009

Take Me With You

by Brad Newsham

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Having read Brad Newsham’s first book ‘All the right places’ and thoroughly enjoying it, I was delighted to discover he had written a second book about his travels in the Philippines, India, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa over the space of 100 days. This is a refreshingly different travel book however, as the author’s mission is to choose someone to visit him in America, at his expense, from the people he encounters on his trip.

Brad’s plan was hatched when he was a 22-year old backpacking through Afghanistan, and 14 years later as a taxi driver in San Francisco, he finally manages to achieve his ambition.

His mission to take someone home with him is interwoven subtly into the book, rather than dominating his day to day travel experiences. The people he meets are described in detail and with sensitivity, and he takes time to talk to and get to know many of them. The book is packed with interesting descriptions about the places he visits, and he has the balance between humour and the serious issues just right. He is constantly observant and honest about the bad times that go with travelling, such as his realisation that India is not as great as he found it during his first visit: his journal is revealing as he glances over it and reflects on some of his more negative observations about the country. Similarly, he is aware that he shouldn’t take travelling for granted and that he must enjoy and remember the $2.50 rooms and the 50 cent beers.

Brad travels frugally and is not looking forward to getting back to the rat- race at home in America and also realises that he would love to travel for much longer if he had the financial means to do so, things that many travellers will be able to relate to. It would be hard not to warm to Brad and his generous, humble nature.

The writing style could have been better, but I was fascinated throughout by everywhere that Brad visits, and intrigued as to who would be the lucky person chosen to visit him in America. I think many readers would be able to relate to his insights along the way. The end of the book is heart- warming as he describes who he chose and their experiences together in America. Earlier editions of the book did not include this epilogue because Brad’s plans took several years to come to fruition; it would have been a less than fitting end to the book if the reader did not find out who was chosen. Overall, a compelling and enjoyable read.

You can find this book on Amazon: Take Me With You

Posted by bex76 13:46 Comments (1)

Paradise Updated

by Mic Looby

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The Author

Through the kindness of Eric (dr. pepper) and the wonderful people of Affirm Press (Melbourne, Australia), I received a copy of Mic Looby's first offering as a novelist - Paradise Updated. Prior to this endeavor, Mr. Looby had been an author (Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma)) and an editor (Lonely Planet Outback Australia) for guess who - yup - Lonely Planet. He is also well known for his illustrations in It's True! Frogs Are Cannibals (It's True!) by Michael J. Tyler and It's True! Animals Are Electrifying (It's True!) by Rick Wilkinson.

The Introduction

Welcome to SmallWorld™ - the Utopian sanctuary for travel guide authors and editors. Here is where your dream destinations are written down, catalogued, dated, updated and published for your reading pleasure. Here is where the fine line between fact and fiction also disappears in a haze of cost-cutting managerial decisions. Regardless, if there's a spot on this earth that someone wants to visit, you can be sure SmallWorld™ has an author on location to compile the complete travel guide just for you. Or, do they...

Welcome to Maganda. A country comprised of a small group of islands situated off the coast of South East Asia and virtually ignored by everyone except the young backpacking set - all carrying their copy of the travel guide (aka The Bible). The Bible is a lifetime's worth of work by SmallWorld's most notorious author, Robert Rind. He's a legend. A legend the publishers are eager to replace with just about anyone who is young, breathing and resembles a well-known actress. Who cares if she is inexperienced. She'll learn. Or, will she...

The Review

It took me awhile to actually get into this book but I'm very glad I kept reading. By the end, I was laughing hysterically with each turn of the page. You have a guide book publisher unwilling to pay an author's travel expenses because, "We can't afford to throw money at every guidebook author who wants to go travelling." That line alone forced me onward. Upon arriving in Maganda, the continual introduction to key characters (and finally) the infamous Robert Rind himself, had me hooked.

It is rumored that Paradise Updated is just a fictionalized representation of factual guide book publisher's tactics. I don't know and I don't really care. I can see the correlation with wanting to cut budgets, trying to appeal to broader (read younger) user base and altering a company's image. It happens daily around the world. But, it's the back story and the coming together of the key characters that make this book so enjoyable. Whether you believe the rumor or not, you will be wondering how Robert Rind has lasted as long as he has. And then there's poor Rudy...

The book is written in a travel guide-esque format. Bits from The Bible are interspersed at the end of chapters and chapters are also categorized in guide style. I recommend this book to anyone who has used a travel guide. I definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of becoming a travel guide writer. Kudos to Mr. Looby's first novel and I hope there is another on the horizon.

This book is not yet available on Amazon. Presently, it is for sale on the Affirm Press website: Paradise Updated

Posted by Isadora 13:09 Comments (0)

Europe on a Shoestring

by Lonely Planet

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Outline: A multi country guidebook covering Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia (limited to Moscow, St Petersburg), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine. Mainly geared towards the the general tourist and backpacker. Offering accommodation reviews and prices. Where to eat and how much it costs. Small highlights on on political and cultural history, activities and itineraries. Trekking guides. Maps of the country and cites.

REVIEW:

Costs: Strangely I found the opposite to most guide book flaws of outdated prices. Here Accommodation was highly inflated. Barcelona accommodation for the budget traveler starts at 30 Euro, while in reality hostels are 17-25. Therein lies the flaw of a book trying to be a backpackers and all round travel book.

Maps & Cities: The main cities are covered well considering the size, and amount of countries within the book. Don't look for too many off the beaten path references. Nor smaller towns. But for the main tourist attractions, they are covered quite well.

Countries covered: Europe is a large region, with many many countries. Trying to get one book to cover all is very hard. Yet when choosing, one can't help but think Lonely Planet has made it difficult to buy just one. Why Morocco and Russia are in here taking up European space, when several other countries like Hungary could have been expanded, I don't know. But for marketing it must work...

Overall: There is no way a book this size can cover everything. And, I don't thing it should considering who it's geared for. With that in mind this book is surprisingly good. It contains a lot of multi cross border information that most European travellers need. And the city guides are well laid out. The only real flaw within this book is that while pertaining to be for the Shoestring traveler (backpacker) it contains many hotel and eating references way our of that budget category. If they'd concentrated on the books shoestring readership a bit more instead of trying to cater to everyone then it would get a higher rating for sure.

Packing Space Guide: Its 1284 pages. 2 inches thick and weighs about 2 pounds. Won't fit easily anywhere but your daypack.

My Rating: 4/5

Buy it: Europe on a Shoestring is available from Amazon.comir?t=travellersp00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1741045916

About the Author: Dave has been traveling around the world in search of home for 5 years, photographing and writing about his journey on his website: www.thelongestwayhome.com.

Posted by TLWH 19:00 Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Secrets of the Red Lantern

by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen

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I adore Vietnamese food. Happening across The Red Lantern in Sydney's Surry Hills was one of the culinary highlights of my 2004 visit to Australia. The dishes I sampled there were handled with a lightness of touch and balance of flavour that I've rarely experienced outside of South-East Asia.

Imagine my delight, then, upon being presented with this beautiful book. As well as a substantial collection of recipes from the team behind the food served at the Red Lantern, the book provides a chronicle of the Nguyen family's journey from war-torn Vietnam as they create a life for themselves in Australia. Whilst not a literary masterpiece, Pauline Nguyen's deeply personal writing provides an engaging insight into the struggle faced by the Vietnamese emigrants both within their troubled region at that time and as they assimilated into a new way of life.

The story enriches the enjoyment of the eminently cookable recipes that are presented alongside. The well laid out and enticing recipes demystify the preparation of Vietnamese food in such a way that even a European amateur like me can turn out delicious and authentic dishes - the likes of Chicken Thighs with Tamarind and Sesame, and Crispy-Skinned Fish with Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce are now regular dinnertime favourites in our house.

Finally, I'd like to mention the book's production. Seldom have I seen such a beautifully designed and presented cookbook. I may eventually resort to purchasing a second copy as my exisiting one has suffered terribly due to regular use in my kitchen!

You can find this book on Amazon - Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart

Posted by magykal1 08:44 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food Comments (1)

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