Saturday, May 23, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-19: Memorial Day/Start of Summer

With Memorial Day right around the corner, this week's Weekly Geeks gave us a few choices to play with, Memorial Day as a tribute to those who have served and Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer, and I am going to take advantage of both.  Question #1 asked if we have a favorite book or movie about war.  I don't.  (Well, I love Braveheart, but I don't think that really counts.)  I did read something that spoke volumes to me though, and I blogged about it last year after my return from Washington D.C.  This note was left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and I think it says as much in a few short lines as any author could put into a book.

In case you can't read it, it says, "Dear Heroes,
I sincerely hope I am soldiering with the same courage & bravery you all did."  

I'm not sure of the signature, but I think it is SFC E. Orque.  Thank you to SFC Orque and all the other military personnel who are out there serving our country, to all those who have served in the past, and especially to those who gave their life doing so.

On a lighter note, WG also asked, among other things, about our travel guide preferences and vacation habits.  I haven't really read enough travel guides to say that I have a favorite author or publisher, but I think what I like is books that are written by people who live in the area.  I'm not necessarily a touristy kind of gal.  Sure, if I go to Paris, I'm going to want to see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.  In London I visited Westminster Abbey (What?  Westminster Abbey is on Twitter??) and Kew Gardens (What? Kew has a Treetop Walkway?  Kewl!  Sorry, couldn't help it.  Ah, the things you learn building links!), and in Sydney, I at least saw the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, even if I didn't spend any quality time with either of them; but I generally just want to know what sights are actually worth seeing, what's a rip-off, and where the really good restaurants are, not just the ones that are paying to be in a guide book.  That said, I realize that this is a bit of a double-edged sword.  For those of us visiting, this is great info to have.  Tell us all about the local gems that the tourists don't normally visit.  For the locals, this can bring in additional tourist dollars, or it can just despoil all the local places that the tourists normally don't visit.  What do you think about "insider" books that give away local secrets?  

I recently purchased Adventure Guide to Thailand by Christopher & Lindsey Evans who, according to the About the Authors section, currently split their time between southern Spain and Thailand.  Huh.  According to, this book has no ratings at all.  I wonder if I should be concerned about this.  

I also bought the National Geographic Traveler: Thailand, 3rd Edition because it's National Geographic, and they seem like they wouldn't lie to me, and I liked the pictures.  What can I say?  A travel book has to have at least some pictures.  I want to see the places you're recommending to me.  And maps.  I need good maps.  Not because I'm a good navigator, but because I like to have a sense of where I am and where I need to go.  Even if I can't get myself to where I want to be, I CAN point at a spot on a map and look confused and helpless long enough for someone to take pity on me.  I call this the slow loris method of getting what I want.   

Both of these books seem to have a fair measure of all the things that I like-local knowledge, good pictures, maps, and attractive covers-so I have high hopes.  Oh, did I mention I'm going to Thailand this summer?  I didn't just buy the books at random.  We have a 10-day trip planned, with the main focus being a wedding in Pattaya, but otherwise, we are free to roam.  I know I want to visit the painting elephants, but other than that, I have no real plans.  I've never been before, and I don't really know much about Thailand at all. 

So, has anyone been to Thailand?  Can you recommend any good travel books?  Have you read the ones I have, and are they any good?  Travel books aside, what are some things that I should definitely see?  What are some things that I should definitely NOT see?  Any other recommendations? 


Anonymous said...

Maybe not strictly travel books, but Bill Bryson's books tend to read like them, and they're incredibly more fun and interesting. I love his style of writing.

I really do want to visit Thailand sometime soon. Don't know when, but it's on my list of things to do.

Kim said...

Have I been to Thailand?
Sadly the only "foreign" country I have been to is Canada!!!!

Thanks for sharing the little note found at the memorial--how very poignant and appropriate for this weekend.

Have a lovely weekend--

Dreamybee said...

anothercookiecrumbles-Bill Bryson is great! Not exactly travel writing, like you said, but still a great way to get the flavor of a place.

Kim-I've never been to Canada, so you've got me beat there! Thanks for stopping by, and you have a lovely weekend too!

Jeanne said...

What do you think of the series that does each Hawaiian island "revealed" with insider secrets? (Here's the Oahu one:

I find that I don't tend to use too many of the most insider secrets, like the beach access to a cheap lunch at a military place on Waikiki, but that they help me steer clear of the worst tourist traps, and pick things appropriate to do with kids.

Dreamybee said...

Those Hawaii books are actually pretty good. We've used the Oahu and Big Island ones. We've found some pretty nice little secluded beaches that way. I find the restaurant advice to be a little hit or miss, but that seems to be the case with restaurants here in general. They change ownership and employees so frequently it's hard to get any consistency or they go out of business before you can check them out.

pussreboots said...

Thanks for sharing all those links. Happy WG.

Rikki said...

You are right about the insider places and tourists. I love to read insider guides to know what's hot etc. but when it comes to actually going there as a tourist, I feel out of place. We once were in Prague and told by a friend who was from Prague about this great little pub in a side street that we had to go to. Once we were there and found it we couldn't even read the menu outside and decided to not go, even though it probably would have been much nicer than the tourist trap we ended up in, LOL. As for the locals' feelings, I never mind when tourists show up at my favourite hang outs, after all it shows interest in local culture. Now isnt that idiotic of me, to think both ways?

Dreamybee said...

pussreboots-My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by.

Rikki-It does depend on how foreign a place is as to how far off the beaten track you want to go. Some people thrive on that, but I am more comfortable if I can at least speak the language, even if it's just a little bit. Sometimes you want the comfort of a tourist spot.