Friday, December 17, 2004

The Travel Book
A Journey Through Every Country In The World
Lonely Planet

"The World is a book and those who do not travel read only a page" - St. Augustine

If you are looking for a good gift this season especially for someone who is a world traveler then you may want to take a look at Lonely Planet's fascinating pictorial book. Recently published, it is titled "The Travel Book - A Journey Through Every Country In the World""

Consisting of 444 pages, 1200 images, 230 countries, and weighing nearly 4 lbs it is one complete and fascinating picture of our lonely planet.

As the flap jacket says - Ever since our first, faltering, upright steps, humankind has traveled. Everywhere is migration, exploration, pursuit. Terrible things have been caused by this restlessness, but it is also the source of much that is extraordinary and wonderful. This book seeks to inspire the right kind of travel in today's world, through a definitive expression of its promiscuous diversity and difference. The world is a breathtakingly big place, and this book has attempted to capture the spirit and magic of every single country. It shows the slice of life in every corner of the globe, and all points in between.

The world is viewed in a pleasing kind of egalitarianism- USA and UK get the same two pages with half a dozen pictures and a block of text as does Cote D'Ivoire and Togo. The book starts off in an A to Z format from Afghanistan, Albania, and Algeria and painstakingly works its way to Zambia and Zimbabwe. There is a sense of wonder as dramatically different countries follow each other. Belgium after Belarus, Martinique after Marshall Islands, Tuvalu after Turks & Caicos, Virgin Island after Vietnam. Countries are mysteriously handcuffed through history and heritage that now links their names through the English alphabet barely hiding a deeper connection shared by humans. The images are haunting - Gitaga dancers leaping in the air, volcanic plugs in Rumsiki, herders following a flock of sheep in Cotopaxi, donkeys picking their way down cobble steps on Santorini, and a bejeweled Bedouin girl smiling beneath a florid headscarf.

I flipped through the pages excitedly, stopping at some of the countries I had been to - Australia, Czech Republic, French Polynesia, Gambia, Israel, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vatican City.............and flagging the places I want to go to- Argentina, Bhutan, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Panama, Tibet, Turkey, Tuvalu, Vanauatu...........

Traveling with respect, curiosity, and a sense of humor is a satisfying and liberating pleasure. So travel more, travel well, travel safely. Wander around the planet or at least the pages of this book. Lose your way and find yourself some place else.

The books costs $US 39.99 but you can find it at Amazon for $23.99