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I almost know this book by memory know and it's going to be my loyal travel buddy on my upcoming trip to Indonesia. I prefer the rough guide to the Lonely planet - it's nothing I could point the finger on just a personal preference. Oh, I prefer the name . come on, as soon as they publish a new lonely planet the place is not lonely anymore :-)
I found this book a great help planning my trip and I'll write lots of reviews about it as soon as I return.
The Rough Guide is divided into the following chapters. The division is made by geographical area and is easy to understand/use. On page 3 you have a map on how the book is divided.
-Colour section - this is my favourite as it contains '30 things not to miss'. It's great to see photos of places you want to visit and can offer you alternatives you never thought about before. Some if the highlights include the Orang-utans in Bukit Lawang, Tangkoko reserve and Banjarmasin floating market.
- The Basics - general history and geographic information, Indonesia factfile tips&tricks
- Jakarta and around
- West Java
- Central Java
- East Java
- North Sumatra and Aceh
- Padang and central Sumatra
- Palembang and south Sumatra
- Nusa Tenggara
- Sulawesi (my secret favourite)
- West Papua
- The Context chapter with A-Z information with facts about people, music, art, lifestyle and religion
- a short language section which can be essential when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and nobody understands English.
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 Accomodation, City and surroundings and how to get there and how to get away.
I really enjoy looking at photos of places I want to travel to, they just put some meat on the bone. The Rough Guide has lots of high quality colour photos in the section '30 things not to miss'. I don't know why but I usually prefer the Rough Guide photos to the ones in the Lonely Planet.
My favourite in the Indonesia guide book is on page xvii no.7 food - I just love these colourful snapshots of markets.
There are many black and white snapshots throughout the book - but of course they are not as tempting as the coloured ones.
I really like the style of writing, it's not to showy and easily understandable for not-native speakers. The sections about history,lifestyle and people are witty and make a nice read.
The quick codes for accommodation and food prices (2$, 5$, 10$, 15$, 35$, 60$, 100$) make it easy to find something for every budget.
There is one thing in the Rough Guide I don't agree with, they don't review places that could be dangerous to travel to, don't even mention any towns or transport options - just a quick historical overview. As these situations change very quickly and it's also a personal opinion I don't like buying a travel book and finding a whole Island chain unmentioned.
This happened in the Indonesia Guidebook with Maluku - as the latest edition is a few year old the situation changed quite a lot and it would be nice to have some info about this region.
Of course I understand that they warn travellers but I think this goes a bit far.
As I already said above I value this book a lot and wouldn't want to miss it on my upcoming trip. The price is with 17.99 Pound normal for a travel book and the Rough Guides are still cheaper than the Lonely Planet guides.
An overall rating of 9 out of 10