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I think your categorizing people too much here. Not everyone who decides to carry a Lonelyplanet book or similar, is a "package tourist".
Recently rode from Europe to Australia with my girlfriend. We went to lots of countries, that we had never been to before, and knew almost nothing about them.
I found it especially useful, that you can get at least some info about accommodation, when you´ll arrive to some new destination after a hard days riding, and the last thing you want to do is start searching for a place (when theres also a good possibility of ending up in some real rathole for a hotel/guesthouse like, say, in India or Indonesia). Yes, you can check them out yourself, and thats often necessary, too, but the books will still give you some idea, where to look from, and about how much you should spend.
Its also good to know, where there will be plenty of hotels etc. available, and where there will be less so, even if your not going to stay in any of the places covered by the book.
It is true that they are likely to guide people into the same direction, and sometimes the feeling of being in the ' backpacker trail' was quite clear, but we also went to plenty of places that those books knew absolutely nothing about, so didnt have time to really get fed up with that.
I dont think there's anything bad about getting a guidebook to a country that youre not familiar with, and it wont make you a package tourist unless you'll only go where the book tells you to. Going by bike, you'll have plenty of choice.
*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
if you can get very old LP guides they are quite interesting reads as you can see how much somewhere has changed, for example the 1980's description of Ashgabat as a dust filled derelict town was not quite the marbled splendour that I found in 06!
I don't take travel books with me as a rule of thumb (too much space), and it is noticable when you chance upon somewhere that has a good mention, suddenly there are other westerners that you would never had noticed otherwise.... good thing or bad thing I am not sure
That would be because I have developed a very strong opinion on it. What exactly would be the point responding if my opinion was vague and less than developed??
As other posters have noted, as soon as you check into a hotel from the LP, you will surrounded by german, dutch, english, australian, kiwi, canadian and american gap year students and backpackers. Whats the point going to mongolia / peru / pakistan to bump into that?
Maybe if you are travelling solo on the bike and you want to go to place where you know you can have a few drinks with some single western female backpackers?? I suppose thats a reason.
Originally Posted by Rebaseonu
What's next? People who use maps are all sheep?
Who said anything about maps? I was talking about books that steer people into the same a tiny handful of restaurants and hotels, and then give them the impression that they are "independent". In particular I was criticising the "backpacker" crowd, who treat these books like bibles.
Where did you get maps from???
At the end of the day, the reality is that the more you use guide books, the less you interact with locals. And as I said before, my view is that its the interactions with the locals that make the trip and the trip's memories.
As other posters have noted, as soon as you check into a hotel from the LP, you will surrounded by german, dutch, english, australian, kiwi, canadian and american gap year students and backpackers.
I agree with that but hotel listings and restaurants only take small part of the book, there are a lot of other information and useful maps too. I think it does not matter if one carries LP or just asks locals "about the place where backpackers gather" to end up in that place your describe. It is their mind set, not LP guidebook, that drives them to these places.
And I am also using GPS.......... Will I be removed from the HUBB now for beeing to sheepish ?
I think LP and other books, maps. GPS, internet info, local knowledge etcetera, can all be usefull, depending on how you use them.
Don't follow the LP book or any other book as as your only guide. Don't use your GPS without knowing where you are and where you are going. Don't beleive everything people tell you.
Use your own common sense and make decisions on all the information you have.
When I went over to cen. Asia I did all my navigation using a bit I had cut out of a world wall map, about 18" wide by 6" tall and it covered from the UK to China, no guidebooks just a collins english-russian dictionary.
I think the pathetic lack of a map actually helped because everytime I stopped and asked for directions the locals found it very amusing and I scored a lot of free tea/food etc on the back of it. Admittedly I was on my own with few time restraints so getting lost wasn't a problem.
I found myself using three 'LP' hostels/B&B's, which were very good but overpriced compared to the derelict former soviet block apartments that litter the area (as long as you don't mind the peeling plaster and cockroaches these are a great way to meet the locals). That said the LP places spoke english and were a welcome haven where I could talk to people without sign-language
When I came back north I rode backwards so I could recognise where I'd been to re-trace my route.
No need to go to those lengths and such difficult riding tricks: just cut a slot in the back of your helmet, as I intend to do, so that the eyes in the back of my head can take in the salient POIs (Places of Interest I think that TLA means!) .
(Apologies to anyone who is still interested in discussing LP)
I enjoy travelling with a back pack from time to time, I very much enjoy travelling by motorcycle and in some places you can't beat the train. Why make any judgement that one is better than another or that adventure motorcyclists are anything better than any other tourists?
Some seem to take a view that the way they do it is the best way to do it. The grief that Ewan and Charley have received seems quite irrational. They do say that ignorance is bliss and perhaps this is a reason for not reading about where you want to go. There's a good argument for that sometimes but just imagine not visiting the Taj Mahal if you're in Agra or the Colosseum in Rome because you've not looked at a book.
I quite like the LP - it has on the whole some useful maps and a fairly comprehensive coverage. What I don't care for is the descriptions for the places to stay and eat etc - a list with details, price etc would be enough. Each to their own of course and it varies from place to place and from author to author. It's the author that really matters, get a good one and you get a good guide book. Read the bit about the author in the front cover and you get a quick idea whether you will get on with it. What about Lonely Planet Morocco by Austin Vince? Would that work? At first thought yes but probably the poncho basher might feature too regularly in the "places to stay section".
In the case of this particular clown I can't help but feel he's a self publicist who has over egged the whole game. Of course there is artistic license in writing guides but I won't be buying his book on the back of his claims. As for the Colombian guide he never needed to visit to write the intro but I wonder why the actual guide writer could not manage this. That particular guide was not so great IMO - a bit thin but probably a consequence of the security situation in the country.
Did anyone ever try the Trailblazer Asia Overland? What a fantastic book with hand drawn maps and a real comedy element to it ("map not to scale following a few s" for example). Not sure if this guide is still in print but it's well worth a read whether you love or loathe guide books.
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