A LIT­TLE FLIGHT READ­ING

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

THE ti­tle sounds like the opener to a hoary old joke from the night­club com­edy cir­cuit. But, ac­cord­ing to Stephanie El­i­zondo Gri­est, this vol­ume is about ‘‘ ad­ven­ture, in­spi­ra­tion, cel­e­bra­tion, em­pow­er­ment and re­newal’’. In short, it’s to do with travel for a rea­son. Why such ‘‘ vo­tive jour­neys’’ should be the unique pre­serve of women, though, is a mys­tery and a mar­ket­ing ploy.

How­ever, de­spite the cutesy-pie Amer­i­can set-up and approach— ‘‘ Some­times we sim­ply need to re­mem­ber that there’s a twostep­pin’ cow­girl within each of us,’’ Holly Mor­ris, au­thor of Ad­ven­ture Di­vas , writes in her in­tro­duc­tion — there are great ideas here.

Cut through the girl­friend guff to a digest of info on ‘‘ places of pu­rifi­ca­tion and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion’’ (such as hot springs in Ja­pan), famed choco­late sites (Peru­gia, in Um­bria, holds a 10-day Euro­choco­late fi­esta each Oc­to­ber) and best des­ti­na­tions to learn the tango and belly-danc­ing.

One has to won­der when the mar­ket will reach sat­u­ra­tion with quick-grab books of this sort. Let’s at least hope we are over the ‘‘ travel be­fore you die’’ genre: how many of us ever planned to go any­where as a corpse? Susan Kuro­sawa Fiji David Stan­ley (Moon Hand­books, $39.95) MOON doesn’t have quite the global reach of Lonely Planet, Rough Guides or the two big Fs of the US pub­lish­ing world, From­mers and Fodors. But its um­brella com­pany, Avalon Travel Pub­lish­ing — an amal­gam of Moon, John Muir Publi­ca­tions and Foghorn Press — is the largest in­de­pen­dent travel pub­lisher in the US.

Moon’s hand­books first ap­peared in 1973 with ti­tles mar­keted as ‘‘ the cure for the com­mon trip’’; now there are more than 100 des­ti­na­tions cov­ered, in­clud­ing this sev­enth edi­tion of Fiji, which will be up­dated in Septem­ber. So read­ers can ex­pect lots more de­tail to come on new prod­ucts and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Mean­time, this ver­sion is wellor­gan­ised, full of use­ful back­ground and cul­tural de­tail (kava cer­e­mony eti­quette, the prac­tice of fire­walk­ing), and with an ex­cel­lent se­ries of maps that iden­ti­fies even the tini­est specks in the Fiji Is­lands chain.

Stan­ley has been in­volved since the first edi­tion in 1985; he has been trav­el­ling around the Pa­cific since 1978 and has writ­ten other hand­books on the re­gion for Moon. The Fiji-bound trav­eller is in good hands. (As this guide is about to be su­per­seded, check on­line sites for best prices: $26.99 from www.fish­pond.com.au.) Alexandra James PAUL Th­er­oux caused waves in more ways than one in 1992 as he pad­dled his collapsible kayak around the is­lands of the Pa­cific. Tetchy at the best of times, the Amer­i­can travel au­thor was at his grumpy worst.

Mind you, it wasn’t with­out rea­son. On page one of TheHappy Isle­sofOcea­nia he re­veals he and his wife are sep­a­rat­ing. Not a promis­ing start. He has con­cerns for his health — he wor­ries about skin can­cer — is stung by jel­ly­fish, robbed and even fears for his life.

Th­er­oux didn’t like most of what he saw. He man­aged to up­set the New Zealan­ders (Christchurch was

fright­ful bun­ga­lows, dirty hedges and twitch­ing cur­tains’’; Dunedin cold and fru­gal’’). The king of Tonga—‘‘the king of can­ni­bals and co­conuts’’ — is said to have banned Th­er­oux af­ter grant­ing him a rare in­ter­view. It’s a clas­sic.

The tal­ented Th­er­oux was hap­pi­est with his own com­pany, pad­dling solo and lis­ten­ing to the glo­ri­ous Kiri Te Kanawa through his head­phones. (* Sec­ond-hand from www.di­al­a­book.com.au.) Barry Oliver

GIRLS’ GUIDE

100 Places Ev­ery Wo­man Should Go Stephanie El­i­zondo Gri­est (Trav­eler’s Tales/Book­wise, $28.95)

GUIDE­BOOK

FLASH­BACK

The Happy Isles of Ocea­nia Paul Th­er­oux (Pen­guin, $25*)

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