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Lonely Planet Country Guide: Bali and Lombok - Iain Stewart

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Genre: Travel / Author: Iain Stewart / Edition: 11th Revised edition / Paperback / 396 Pages / Book is published 2007-03-01 by Lonely Planet Publications

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      16.06.2009 20:16
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      Disadvantages

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      I'm using the 11th edition, published in March 2007.
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      The fact that this is already the 11th edition shows how popular the Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok is. Just mentioning the word 'Bali' lets us that we are stuck in rainy England dream of golden beaches, crystal clear water and a pina colada in the sunset.
      And that's basically what the LP promises us, holiday fun without end, easy travelling and a relaxing atmosphere.

      Both islands are well covered but the focus is on Bali - the more well known destination. Looking through the book I was surprised how expensive (by Indonesian standards) everything seems to be, my first thought was that the writers were living a good life without thinking about budget travellers but I soon realised that Bali is just incredibly expensive.
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      Chapters

      - Quick reference with exchange rates and important phone numbers and phrases. In this book they use a scale to describe the price of the accommodation: up to 250,000 RP is 'budget', between 250,000 and 800000 RP is 'mid range' and over is 'top end'. They tell you that 800,000 is roughly 75$ but don't add what 250000 would be. Annoying when you first have to play around with the exchange rates.

      - Coloured map over two pages, highlights are marked and described. The centre piece is Bali and smaller in the corner is the map of Lombok.

      - Destination Bali - this is my favourite as it contains photos to places that are described later in the book. It's great to see photos of places you want to visit and can offer you alternatives you never thought about before - of course it's also nice to look at them after your trip and enjoy your memories of these great places. The photos are divided into sections; 'Beaches & Islands', 'Culture', 'Eating, Drinking & Merriment', 'Treat Yourself' and 'Getting away from it all'. The later is my favourite section, I just prefer nature to party.


      - Suggested itineraries - Travelling in Indonesia is normally incredibly difficult and time-consuming due to the vast distances and the not always reliable ferry times. As this book only centres around two islands travelling is pretty straight forward and uncomplicated.
      The Itineraries include round trips to the best diving sites, party total on amazing beaches and the roads less travelled where you wont see another traveller in one week. Allow at least one more week than the suggested time, you don't want to rush these amazing places,

      - History - well written history section from the early ages to recent political events. A timeline for a quick overview is given on the bottom on every page.

      - The sections is dedicated to the 'national psyche', important and helpful information if you really want to understand the local lifestyle and the social Dos & Don'ts. The most important tip is 'never to lose face'. This actually goes for most Asian countries and is a really big part of everyday culture.
      An emphasis is on the tourism industry and tips how to behave & dress so you don't offend locals.
      It's a Muslim country, and even if Bali is one of the worlds best party destinations locals are often religious and prefer the tourists to dress modestly.

      - Architecture - an overview over the most common types of architecture that you are likely to see.

      - Environment - this section is rather short as beaches are described in the next chapter. Basic info about flora and fauna.

      - Bali & Lombok Outdoors - the section for all surfers & divers. All info you need to plan your perfect activity holiday.

      - Food - this section is really good with useful descriptions of the local varieties and a food guide with translation.

      The Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok is divided into the following chapters organised by geographical area. The chapters are easy to understand and but not well structured as they try to cover too big areas.
      They all share the same with practical and historical information at the beginning as well as the highlights of the region. This is followed by Accommodation, City and surroundings and how to get there and how to get away.

      - Kuta, Legian & Seminyak
      - South Bali
      - Ubud & Around
      - East Bali
      - Central Mountains
      - North Bail
      - West Bali
      - Lombok

      - Directory with useful A-Z guide from accommodation over scams to women travellers.

      - a short language section which can be essential when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and nobody understands English. I don't think you'll need it if you only stick to the beaten track, tourism is the main industry of Bali and you'll have no problem finding menus in English.
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      Photos

      I really enjoy looking at photos of places I want to travel to, they just put some meat on the bone. The photos in the first section were not so impressive, standard tourist snapshots and not the stunning views you are used from the LP guides. The section in the middle is a lot better, the photos seem more vivid and are more interesting. My favourite is the amazing photo of Danau Segara Anak on Lombok.

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      The Shoestring books

      Lonely Planet publishes a variety of books aimed to help budget travellers - they include Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. I don't like them and would rather buy the books separately. I bought the Southeast Asia Lonely Planet and was really disappointed. They are just not detailed enough and unpractical to use due to their enormous size.
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      The Indonesia Guide

      There is also a Lonely Planet Indonesia but Bali is only described as a party destination. If you plan on staying longer and especially if you want to dive/surf you should get the Bali LP as well.
      If you use Bali only as a stopover the Indonesia Guide is enough.
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      Downside

      Not much to say here apart from the obvious focus on Bali and that Lombok is not well enough described.
      The focus is on beaches, beaches and nothing else. But there's so much more to see on both islands, especially on Lombok, stunning landscapes, beautiful boat tours and green rice paddies.
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      Rating

      It's a good Guidebook and definitely recommendable if you plan on staying longer. If you only stay for a few days on Bali the Indonesia guidebook should be enough.

      In combination with the Lonely Planet website and the forum it's good to plan your trip.

      The price is with 13.99 Pound normal for a LP Guide even though it only covers a tiny bit of Indonesia.

      An overall rating of 08 out of 10
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