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Papa Mike's Cook Islands Handbook
Papa Mike's Cook Islands Handbook
by Mike Hollywood
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.36
39 used & new from $4.81

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moon Guides: Tahiti Handbook by David Stanley is much better, September 25, 2004
Sorry to disagree with one of the other reviewers, bu the COOK ISLANDS are NOT a "little known" island chain. I am sorry to say that the small island of Aitutaki has been over-built with INCREDIBLY expensive (for the poor service & mediocre food) resorts that charge 5 star prices (and more) and deliver 2 star service & food, pollute the fragile lagoon with OTWB (over-the-water-bungalows) that can cost $US 600+ per day. An nearby, off-shore tiny atoll (where one can go for a day snorkel picnic) is now over-run with tourists, an over-priced shack where one can stay for the night & a refreshment/food stand.

If you purchase David Stanley's TAHITI HANDBOOK you get maps, culture, history, religion, politics, flight & ferry schedules, reviews on food, dive shops, car rentals, excursions and lodging in all categories, on ALL of French Polynesia, the Cook Islands & Easter Island, all in the same book for a reasonable price. If this other reviewer had read the COOK ISLAND section in David's book he'd know that the Cooks are not a remote, untraveled island chain, but an island chain frequented by Kiwis & Ozzies who get MUCH better deals (on hotel room rates) by booking through their own local travel agents as opposed to US travel agents, and he'd also learn that sometimes, self-booking and negotiating with the smaller hotel's owners can produce a better rate, and a better experience, than relying on a US packager that wants to shove you into a pre-packaged plan that pays him/her the biggest commission. David's 25 years of traveling the South Pacific incognito makes his advice INVALUABLE. He also includes the feedback of readers, I know, I am one of them. Tahiti Handbook is more extensive and reliable than Papa Mike's or the unreliable (on price & room rates & maps) LONELY PLANET'S COOK ISLANDS.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2012 12:15 PM PDT


The Tribal Arts of Africa
The Tribal Arts of Africa
by Jean-Baptiste Bacquart
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.77
44 used & new from $18.78

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but AFRICAN MASKS is a better book on this subject, September 25, 2004
AFRICAN MASKS by Iris Hahner-Herzog is a superior book because the color plates are more numerous, larger and printed with greater resolution. Some of the photos in Tribal Arts, especially the smaller black & white ones, were difficult to read about because the plates were scattered across the pages in no apparent relation to their descriptions in the text. What's worse is, some had no descriptions at all and some art was referred to where there were no photos. While trying to indentify a particular mask that I owned, I found I had to skim the text backwards, to try to find the description of a photo...since photos that were on the righthand page were described earlier in the text (on the lefthand page). Whomever edited this book seemed to have no regard for a visually organized presentation.

The CONTENTS were divided regionally and then sub-dived by tribes in those regions, this was informative and helpful, especially if one is trying to identify a masks (and you know the region by not the tribe). This IS a very good book for someone who is a collector or very interested in the subject, but if you are just buying ONE book on this subject, IMO, AFRICAN MAKSKS is the better book.


Moon Handbooks Tahiti: Including the Cook Islands
Moon Handbooks Tahiti: Including the Cook Islands
by David Stanley
Edition: Paperback
46 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't leave home without it!, April 21, 2004
Every time we plan a visit to Polynesia (4x) or Fiji, the first thing I do is buy the most recent version of David Stanley's Moon Guide because they are the most reliable & comprehensive. David travels incognito & he actually visits the pensions & hotels; unlike other travel writers who rely upon the reviews of others. While Fodor's is aimed at what I would term the 'average American tourist', David's guide includes comprehensive reviews of different classes of lodging, detailed village, island & trail maps that are invaluable to those who like to go off on their own. Since he's a diver, he's assessment of dive shops are invaluable, but most importantly, since he doesn't accept 'freebies' so he's not adverse to slamming a resort for bad service or advising you not to eat some place. If all you're looking for is an insular vacation at a 5 star resort with hotel arranged excursions, then just take the advice of your travel agent. But, if you want a truly special, individual experience then Moon Guides' Tahiti is for you. Every one of his South Pacific guide books (we own a few) has extensive sections on the history, culture & religion of the islands... with extensive reviews of lodging, excursions & restaurants, so you don't just have to accept the opinion of your travel agent. Many times, travel agents push clients to resorts that pay the biggest commissions, instead of attempting to match the traveler's personality & lifestyle to a hotel that might pay a smaller percentage in commissions. I've found David's Moon Guide to be more reliable than the Lonely Planets books in the categories of hotel reviews, his review are more informative & his maps are far more accurate. If you're buying one guide book, then this is the one... If you want the best FP vacation possible, read this book before you call a travel agent...David also advises readers on how to book it yourself or get the best deals with the most informed FP travel agents.


Into the Heart of Borneo
Into the Heart of Borneo
by Redmond O'Hanlon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.83
186 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At times screamingly funny!, July 5, 2002
This the fifth book I've read on traveling in Borneo, and in certain ways it rivals my favorite (Eric Hansen's "A Stranger in the Forest"). O'Hanlon is not only literate and well-informed on the subject (Borneo), but he's one of those highly-educated writers who doesn't take himself (or his elderly, unathletic) traveling companion (a famous poet) too seriously. The screamingly funny parts are when O'Hanlon is either making fun of himself sweating like a pig, covered with flies and falling down or up one muddy trail or another while his Borneo native guides are laughing themselves silly at his ineptness. O'Hanlon is fat and out-of-shape and his small, powerfully strong, local guides never let him forget it for a minute!

O'Hanlon is able to describe characters so well, one feels as if you are on the boat with them; the three guides are lovingly drawn (unlike other travel writers who don't view their local guides as complete people).

For those with an interest in the ecology of Borneo, birds, or river journeys, there is much to learn through this engrossing read. I recently saw a documentary that filmed the "remote" areas where O'Hanlon's journey took place and I am sad to say it has been totally deforested by the Indonesian timber industry; huge corporations that are destroying the Borneo rainforest due to graft and a lack of enforcement by the Indonesian goverment... Subjects that O'Hanlon writes about in this book. Think twice about buying teak furniture, much of it comes from poached wood that is illegally cut from Borneo's rainforest, a sad coda to this funny book.


Northwest Passage: A Photographer's Account of his Twenty-Three Day Journey Through the Perilous Northwest Passage -- From Alaska, Through Canada and the Northwest Territories, to Greenland
Northwest Passage: A Photographer's Account of his Twenty-Three Day Journey Through the Perilous Northwest Passage -- From Alaska, Through Canada and the Northwest Territories, to Greenland
by Robert Glenn Ketchum
Edition: Hardcover
42 used & new from $3.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Etheral photos of ice, snow, the sky and water, December 2, 2001
If you're looking for a photography book with 'beautiful, Kodak moment' pictures of wildlife, the Inuit, wild flowers upon the tundra, etc., this is NOT for you. But, if you like "nature" photography at its minimalist best, these photographs are glorious, providing, like me, you enjoy looking at photos of fog upon the water and the patterns that ice floes make upon the land and sea.

I was a tad disappointed in the text... because it's "poetry", as opposed to the photographer detailing his journey. An account of Ketchum's journey is in another part of the book, but it would have been far more effective, if his observations were next to the images, instead of a poet's musings on the area, which left me unsatisfied and with questions about certain images (like where they were, etc.). This is a remote area that we know little about and the photographer's account and observations next to his photographs would have been most helpful and informative.


All Elevations Unknown: An Adventure in the Heart of Borneo
All Elevations Unknown: An Adventure in the Heart of Borneo
by Sam Lightner
Edition: Hardcover
95 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Borneo fascinates you, this is worth the read, December 2, 2001
Although Lightner's account of his climb up a mountain in Borneo is not in the same league as Eric Hansen's STRANGER IN THE FOREST (an account of his 3 month trek across Borneo in the 1970;s--a great book), this book's historical accounting of WW 2 battles fought in Borneo (based upon the biography of Maj. Harrison) gave me more insight into the tribes and history of this magical land.

Like other readers, I found Lightner's writings about Maj. Harrison's battles with the Japanese soldiers far more interesting than the snippy arguments he details between himself and the film crew that documents his climb. It was amusing (as a woman) to see that a group of men can be just as catty to one another, but Lightner goes into far too much detail about these highly personal spats, and many times, leaves me wanting more detail about the flora, the sights, the sounds and smells and to learn more about the indigenous guides that the author is traveling with.

This book made me want to read more about Maj. Harrison's amazing and brave liberation of Borneo because Harrison, like author Eric Hansen 30+ years later, fell in love with the tribal people of Borneo; he grew to respect their customs, and in many instances their ecological reverence for the rainforest in which they dwelt. Hopefully, the biography of Maj. Harrison will not remain out of print for too long. If you're interested in climbing, the rainforest or in Borneo, this book is worth your time.


Malaria Dreams: An African Adventure
Malaria Dreams: An African Adventure
by Stuart Stevens
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.08
137 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, a fast read, December 2, 2001
If you enjoy reading about travel disasters and the frustration of arguing with soldiers in a military dictatorship who would just as soon shoot you, then you will enjoy Malaria Dreams. Driving across the Sahara is certainly not something I'd ever entertain... so reading the adventures of someone who was crazy enough to attempt this dangerous journey was a joy. Well-written, funny, excellent descriptions and good characterizations.


Jaguars Ripped My Flesh
Jaguars Ripped My Flesh
by Tim Cahill
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.38
118 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of his others..., December 2, 2001
I felt that there were too many essays on Cahill's travels to a particular part of South America in this collection and these essays seemed to all blend together; they just weren't as funny or entertaining as previous collections of his work. For the first time, I found myself bored reading a Cahill collection. PECKED TO DEATH BY DUCKS or ROAD FEVER are far superior works because they contain essays that are much funnier and less redundant.


Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy
Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust, and Lunacy
by Eric Hansen
Edition: Hardcover
96 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, fascinating even if you don't garden., December 2, 2001
One does not have to raise orchids to laugh their head off reading this book. After reading Hansen's previous tome, STRANGER IN THE FOREST (about his trek across Borneo), I couldn't wait to read ORCHID FEVER.

His first chapter is as good as STRANGER; well-written, visual descriptions, insightful characterizations and his usual ascerbic wit/commentary on the absurdity of the orchid world kept me glued to the book. Alas, since it's so short, I couldn't bear the thought of finishing the book so soon, so I took more than a month to read it by only allowing myself to read a chapter per week...like savoring a fine wine.

Since ORCHID is more of an anthology, a collection of essays on the entire orchid world; the most eccentric, bizarre, real-life characters that populate this microcosm, it didn't hurt to savor ORCHID in this manner because it's really not a book but a collection of essays written at different times.

The chapter on trekking into Borneo to collect undiscovered orchid species, and the chapter when he finally meets the mean-spirited orchid judges, were highlights of the book. I laughed out loud numerous times. You don't have to be an avid gardener to enjoy this book. If you enjoy reading about truly NUTTY, obsessive people, then you will love this book. It's irrelevant if you can't tell an orchid from a rose... these essays offer engaging, idiocyncratic characters, high drama, suspense, pathos and hilarity.


Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea
by Eric Hansen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.67
139 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If this area of the world interests you..., December 2, 2001
Hansen's STRANGER IN THE FOREST is one of my favorite travel adventure books of all time. I found ORCHID FEVER fascinating and funny, albeit too short, but MOTORING W/ M, his earliest tome is just not as well-written as the others. Sometimes the descriptions are lacking and sometimes the narrative isn't easy to follow, probably because Hansen doesn't know where his quest will take him. I found his adventures interesting, the lack of sanitation in Yemen, and his ability to deal with it, amazing... but I found myself wondering how he managed to eat in squalid "restaurants" and never become ill? Since he doesn't detail his health, but details the filth, it was an area I wanted to know about. His trek into the mountains, without a permit, and his run-ins with the Yemeni military were fascinating and frightening, but ultimately, I found his final journey to the island, where he'd buried his journals 8 years before, unsatisfying because he rushes through the final adventure and doesn't detail the actual dig for his journal. 200+ pages of Yemeni history, culture and adventure and then a few scant paragraphs on the finale of his 8 year quest left me wishing he'd written more about his experiences trying to find his buried journal on the island. This earlier work also made me realize how much he has improved as a travel writer... Hansen is still one of the best, but this earlier work is not the best example of his writing prowess.


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