Soon after we booked our flight and hotel, Tom asked if we needed a guidebook.
“Guidebook? This is Hong Kong we’re talking about,” I said. “I know it better than Chicago. I know it in my sleep.”
Plus, I pride myself in packing lightly when I travel. Who needs to carry around bulky books? That’s why I’ll bring my Kindle.
But he had a good point. Would I really remember all the side streets off Nathan Road in Kowloon? And once we disembark the Star Ferry in Central, will I recall the quickest way to reach the escalators up to the Mid-Levels?
I thought about photocopying maps from a guidebook. I could bring the pages I’d need each day and leave the others in the hotel.
Then I started to think more about it. Carrying a guidebook isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t make me a lesser traveler. After all, when I backpacked around Southeast Asia in 1991, I survived without going broke because of Lonely Planet’s South-East Asia on a Shoestring.
This weekend as I cleaned the house for Passover, Martin, my two year-old, pulled out Exploring Hong Kong (ThingsAsian Press, 2009) and asked me to show him “Hong Hong”. Although the name of the city is difficult for him to pronounce, he can stay “Star Ferry”, “Peak Tram”, and “abacus”.
I love Exploring Hong Kong because it’s my kind of guidebook. It includes maps of most of the areas I want to visit, plus descriptions of the sites I’d like to show Tom. But it doesn’t have hotel or restaurant listings, and that’s okay with me. We’ve already booked a hotel and have plans for every lunch and dinner but two.
This guidebook goes into adequate detail about things unfamiliar to me, like the new airport and transportation to and from our hotel.
I’m glad Tom’s good sense won out over my stubbornness. With all the time we’ll save from being so efficient, I’ll have that much more time to shop!
Do you use a guidebook when you travel? If so, which is your favorite?