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July 02 , 2010

Tell Them to Get Lost

Travels With the Lonely Planet Guide Book That Started it All


Travels with the Lonely Planet guidebook that started it all. 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. Along the way Brian meets a cast of folk from the old guidebook who are still manning hotel desks and serving in restaurants. He also encounters mishap and adventure at every step of the Banana Pancake Trail - breaking bread with a gang of ravenous rats; swimming with a hungry goat-and-possibly-also-human-eating crocodile; crashing his scooter (twice); being wanted by the police and propositioned by Gary who likes 'pens', and getting lost everywhere . . .
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