Lonely Planet Indonesia 9th Ed.: 9th Edition Paperback – Jan 11 2010
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LONELY PLANET aims to cater for every independent traveller, whatever the destination, whatever the style of travel and whatever the phase of the journey.
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The Kindle might work for books that one reads from start to finish, but it does not work with a very large book that one browses through and where one jumps from one part (where one currently is) to a vastly different part of the book (where one plans to go next).
First of all, it lacks a table of contents, so you have no clue what is actually where in the book. I had to look into a printed copy to get an idea of the rough outline of the book.
There is no usable index either and even when using one of the hyperlinks they only take to a Kindle page in the approximate region. If you try to search for, let's say 'Bali' it will take you to all mentions of Bali in the book, which are hundreds. You can then skip through every single one of them to get to where you want to get. Then you have lost the page you came from and start searching for that.
The maps are, while blown up 4 times (and thus spread over four Kindle pages), are still too small to read and with legend separated on another page really cannot be read. Some of the smaller maps have not been enlarged and are totally useless.
The printed LP benefit from a very careful layout which gives you an idea where you are. In the Kindle edition, you never have a clue where the next bit of important information could be found.
Lonely Planets on Kindle need a lot of work to be of any use. I would not buy one again.
Actually it was so bad, I would like to get my money back.
The main problem with LP is that they became successful. Once, you could rely on a fairly complete rundown of all the town's ramshakle inns, hostels, and eateries. No longer. About half the book is devoted to activities that might best be described as "Fodorland". You know: "If you want the very *best* French pastries, here's where to go." "Yes, the Ritz Carlton is respectable at $120 a night, but for the best spa offerings spend a little more and book at the Astoria." I DID NOT SPEND TWENTY-SIX HOURS ON A PLANE TO LAND IN JAKARTA AND EAT FRENCH PASTRIES! LP authors are obviously now overfunded and spoiled.
And also lazy. I can't tell you how many times I looked for how to do something and the guide basically says "The tourist office should be able to help you with...". Well, no ship! The frequent excuse for this is, "Well, things change constantly...". Yeah, so get out there more often and update the guide more frequently!
As an example: nowhere does it tell you where to take cooking classes outside of Bali. Nowhere does it mention that there is a local train from Bogor to Sukabumi... And NOT from Sukabumi to Bandung (despite there being a track!). Buses from Bogor to Cipinas? Didn't see it. Car rental? Niltch. Also, what happened to the "Highlights"? I don't need an itinerary, I need a list of must-sees.
Disappointing. I'll update more later.
1) Jakarta is SAFE. Asian megalopolises are amazingly safe by western standards (like Bangkok or Seoul) and Muslim megalopolises are also amazingly safe by western standards (as Cairo). Jakarta combines both of these in one. It's a city of 20 million with a crime rate that must be multiplied by a two digit number to reach that of London, Paris or New York, not to mention Johannesburg or Mexico City. Violent crime is virtually non-existent when compared to the above cities. Yet in the media, two bombings (of 2003 and 2009) get a lot of press time, but the everyday truth gets almost none. And the truth is that you are more likely to encounter violent crime in even a mid-sized city or many small towns in the USA & Europe then in Jakarta! For a city with such a population and so much poverty this is a true miracle.
2) Jakarta does have good shopping, very cheap prices for hotels and a fast and uncrowded system of public transportation. These things are omitted by many guides, especially the last one. And the Transjakarta buses are a true miracle. Many people don't spare them a glance as they are no metro or rail system, but they are ingenious (as experts say). They have their own lanes along the roads and stops every 1 km or so. And the system covers most of the city today, but is still planned to grow almost double in size. The 2010 edition of LP Indonesia in the moving around section (and a boxed text) gives justice to Transjakarta. Another first as publications are concerned (as with crime).
This may not be much if you need a guidebook to Bali, but as you already know from the other reviews that the book is comprehensive and covers all of Indonesia (as almost no other does), the fact that it gives justice to a place with bad and undeserved reputation should also count for something. Most of you readers come from a country that shares the same problem. As many due. Think about what the Europeans thing of the USA or the French of the UK. All the negative stereotypes. Wouldn't you like a book that truthfully challenges all the lies about your country? Well this book battles such stereotypes on Indonesia and yet doesn't give ANY propaganda, just the bare truth. That's one more reason to buy it!
"Get the Rough Guide, not the Lonely Planet." This is the advice I read most often nowadays. It seems that Lonely Planet simply shift stuff around in their new editions (deleting a lot that was useful) without improving anything, instead letting their famous name do the selling. The focus seems to have shifted from budget travelling to high end tourists - yet I fail to see how rich tourists on package tours, staying in expensive hotels and hiring drivers, require a guide book to get them through a country.