3 - The guide book
You are in: surefish >
ethical living > the guide
Date: 12 October, 2002
Kerala, Southern India -the ubiquitous rickshaw.
Photo: Andre Shine
author has the power to dictate the fate of individual hoteliers, restaurateurs
and of local religious and historic ites
exclusion from the index can be
the third of her six-part series on eco-tourism, Andre Shine outlines the value
and the deficiencies of the well-thumbed guide book when travelling responsibly.
Often my guide book returns home having aged well beyond its years - a metaphor
for my own beleaguered state. As my most precious companion it provides compulsive
reading from pre-departure to long after completion of my travels. It holds both
fond and frustrating memories.
Typically when we arrive in a strange environment we need to find a reference
point. What more obvious than the omniscient guide book - a comforting voice that
speaks our language! Inevitably guide books wield a great deal of influence on
the passage of independent travellers. And by the same token the author has the
power to dictate the fate of individual hoteliers, restaurateurs and of local
religious and historic sites. So can we truly say that independent travellers
who congregate at listed bars and restaurants - often to seek fellow travellers
- are independent?
can lead to a downward spiral. Exclusion from the index can be fatal and makes
life almost impossible for new entrants.
books that focus on developing nations are often written by authors from a completely
different culture. This means their advice is likely to accommodate western aspirations,
but how true is their interpretation, and is their advice in harmony with local
Immediately upon going to press a guide book begins to date. This has a major
impact on how the reader negotiates their budget. High inflation, typical in developing
nations, exacerbates price distortions. Armed with prices, quoted from guide books
2 or 3 years old, often leaves travellers feeling quite justified in sticking
to their guns. Language barriers don't alleviate the situation.
this isn't always the case but in 'has been' destinations, where the number of
independent travellers has diminished, the hostel owner becomes vulnerable to
Fortunately for the majority of us travellers, who want to capture these soulful
faces with history etched deep into their smiles, there are some simple guidelines
to follow. Another classic oversight can be variants in the location of high traffic
landmarks, such as transport terminals, on the local map.
I found myself driving a hard bargain, on arrival at a bus station, on the outskirts
of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. It transpired that since the publication of my 'less faithful'
guide book, the bus station had been relocated several kilometres further from
the centre of town. In shame I conceded on the - fair - asking price.
in doubt, observe the local transactional activities - they may provide a good
source for measuring the going rate..
article is part of a series - use these links to view the other eco-tourism articles