14 September 2011

That *other* writer and his *other* outdated guidebook

So. This.

A new book has come to my attention. It's a humorous memoir by a writer who traveled around a continent using only "the guide that started it all." Hilarity ensues. Lessons are learned. History is explored. So much has changed. So little has changed. And so on. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

Nope, that's not my book. That's some OTHER guy who did the same thing I did, but touring Southeast Asia with a 1975 copy of Lonely Planet. His name is Brian Thacker and his book came out, uh, two weeks ago. It's called Tell Them to Get Lost: Travels with the Lonely Planet Guide that Started it All. From the book synopsis on Thacker's web site:

When Tony Wheeler wrote Lonely Planet's first-ever shoestring guidebook, South-East Asia offered 'cheap and interesting travel without the constantly oppressing misery of some of the less fortunate parts of Asia'. Certain 'hotspots' in the region attracted the tourist crowds, but there were many 'untouched places' too.

So have Tony's recommendations stood the test of time? Just how much has South-East Asia changed since the Wheelers ambled through the region in flared pants? Brian Thacker decides to retrace Tony and Maureen's footsteps through Portuguese Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Burma using the original 1975 South east Asia on a Shoestring as his only guidebook.

Part of me wants to read this right now, because it sounds hilarious and insightful, etc. The other part of me ... the other part of me wants to go test the structural integrity of his wall by giving it some massive smacks with his cranium. But I presume there's plenty of room in this nascent genre for both of us.

To be clear, I'm more amused by this coincidence than annoyed. It was inevitable that someone else would also have the--if I may say so--great/bad idea to travel in this willfully-misguided way. Brian Thacker, I hope we meet someday and have the chance to swap outdated-guidebook stories. And when we do, you're buying the beers.

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