The Visa Collector

A blog about travelling with a Filipino passport, and life overseas

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Book review: Lonely Planet Taiwan


By Robert Kelly, Joshua Samuel Brown


Take your tastebuds touring around the buzz of food stalls at Taipei’s Shilin Night Market
Soak yourself in the steaming, smooth waters of the Taian hot springs
Hike the Walami Trail to the sound of monkeys crashing through the jungle canopy
Emerge from the temples of Penghu straight onto some of East Asia’s finest beaches.

Other reviews for this book available here

This is an updated version of the book that I bought before I embarked on my first overseas adventure: Taiwan. I bough my book way back in 2000, so there are arguably quite a number of updates to this book by now. I found the original book very very helpful in providing the lay-of-the-land so to speak. General locations of points of interest, what one could actually do on the island for recreation, and very basic survival tips. Briefings about social norms, for example, were quite useful.

Coverage of the island was also excellent. Information was not restricted to the capital or the cities. Even details about the smaller islands around the main island were available. For my first few months, the maps within were a God-send.

There were even attempts at pointing out useful phrases for everyday use. However, if you’ve never really spoken Mandarin, or some other tonal language, these tips will — quite frankly — be of very limited use. You have to hear the language, and learn the phonetic rules, to say them effectively. It will do any traveler good to remember that tones change the meaning of words. On one occasion, I met with friends, who were helping me learn Mandarin in exchange for my helping them with English, at a McDonalds. I had picked up the Mandarin word for “secret”, and wanted to practice it with them. Unfortunately I messed up the tone by saying the word with a flat tone, instead of a downward one. So instead of saying “I have a secret”, I instead said “I have breasts”, to the amusement of the people in the adjacent tables.

The book was, and it appears to still be, written from the standpoint of a Westerner seeking to get a taste of Asia. While it did provide insights into what such a traveler would encounter when seeking to reside on the island over an extended period of time (e.g., work considerations, etc.), these are often not applicable to Filipino workers whose job options, as well as nature of entry, are quite different. Nevertheless, it remains a good book to have.

Dec 20, 2010