Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Decline and Fall of a Lonely Empire

I live in a household where books come and stay forever, even guidebooks. Since this household is in Thailand it contains a generous amount of guidebooks to this country--most of them published by Lonely Planet. And after buying the latest edition of Lonely Planet's Thailand, I'm grateful to have the backlist, because the current edition takes "travel light" to whole new arenas.

Tomorrow I'm finally going to Phimai to see the pre-Angkorean Khmer temple and also to make a side-jaunt to Phanom Wan. So of course I turned to my latest LP Thailand to see what bus I would take to go to there. Surprise!! There is no Prasat Phanom Wan in the new edition of Lonely Planet--it's been wiped off the Lonely Planet map by some freak asteroid.

It does still show up in the edition just before this one, so I do have the information I wanted, and it will probably be somewhat less than over-run because for Lonely Planeteers, it no longer exists. Good for me, maybe good for the temple, which is still occupied by monks as a holy place who may not yearn for sightseers, but for those people who believe LP is going to give them the whole scoop about a country--maybe not so good.

I am not a Joe Cummings groupie by any stretch of the imagination, but when I look at the old LP guides that he did for Thailand, I mourn his loss. Under his reign, LP was filled with history, culture, language, and it steered travelers to interesting spots that they would otherwise never know. Now it steers travelers to the most palatial hotels and trendy dining spots.

Is this for the greying traveler? If so, it's the wrong move--I'm over 60 and if I wanted tips on living the luxurious life on the open road, I wouldn't turn to Lonely Planet. They are who I went to for the back story, the quirky spots, the things that would help me give depth to my travels. But not now...






6 comments:

Kristianne said...

Are you telling me I should not have just purchased that LP from EBBCO?

janet brown said...

Take it back and get something else! We have four or five different editions on the shelves here.

Will Yaryan said...

I wondered why the latest Thailand edition is full of rave recommendations for high priced resorts, instead of the bargain guest houses. Now I know.

Janet Brown said...

Yes, it sucks--bring back Joe Cummings, I say! Let's start a movement--

Tokyo Ern said...

Yep, Lonely Planet is no longer aimed towards the money-saving (read poor) backpacker anymore. I enjoyed their "Journeys" series as well but most of those went out of print. I really miss those.

As per your request, more random photos are now up on my blog.

Sarah Mackenzie said...

There is a new word for LP's new audience which sadly needs absolutely no explanation - flashpackers. I kid you not.