Lonely Planet have a new series of books named Encounter Guides. Unlike the traditional Lonely Planet Guides which devote alot of space to accomodation recomendations and transport details to get from one destination to the next; the Encounter Guides pick one destination and focus on all the things to do in that area, including tours, resturants and cultural experiences. A few years ago the Bangkok Encounters Guide was released and it was extremly popular. Early 2008 Adam Skolnick spent 3 months in Phuket researching (eating, drinking and generally having a good time Phuket style….tough job eh) for the Lonely Planets new Phuket Encounter Guide. It was recently released and local newspaper Phuket Post interviewed the author.
To read the full interview from Phuket Post and see Amazing Bike Tours recommendation please read on:
Lonely Planet author finds some funny nightlife and captivating beaches on first Phuket adventure
Phuket has made it into Lonely Planet’s short list of destinations covered by their new Encounter series. Designed to be lightweight and compact, the new book is advertised as, “Twice the city in half the time”. True to his word, author Adam Skolnick has condensed a wealth of information onto the guide’s glossy pages. His summaries of Phuket’s attractions and expansive neighbourhoods have captured the island’s essence.
Adam’s words are backed up by some fantastic photography. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a 1,000 words, which is certainly true in this case.
The backbone of any guidebook is its accuracy, and aside from one odd price quote, the book is spot on. Adam swears he took an hour’s tour of Phuket Town for only 30 baht. While I have to take his word for it, I doubt too many other travellers have been so lucky.
Adam took time out from his busy schedule to tell the Phuket Post about his experiences writing the book and discovering all that Phuket has to offer.
He said the book was aimed at travellers who had already booked their hotel, were staying for less than two weeks, had some money to spend, and wanted to go beyond the traditional tourist traps.
The Encounters series is a more up-scale version of the traditional Lonely Planet guides, and is based around culture, dining and activities, instead of only lodgings and long term travel.
Adam said he had a pretty tight deadline and production schedule.
“I arrived on 1 February and finished researching and writing the book by the end of April,” he said.
icularly excited about the idea of coming to Phuket.
“But it revealed itself to me bit by bit, and now I am an enormous fan,” he said.
“I like it a lot. I think Phuket deserves to be considered a top-shelf Southeast Asia destination.
“Thailand’s Andaman coast is now my favourite part of Thailand.”
Adam said he went to every one of the places reviewed.
“I went to every place myself, although I didn’t eat in every restaurant, but I did check them all out.
“But I walked or motorcycled to and through every single neighbourhood and beach area in the book and checked out everything I could.
“Naturally I ended up with way too much, so to meet word count, I had to make some tough choices and omissions.”
Adam said there was an information box alerting travellers to the numerous muggings along highway 4233.
“A number of local ex-pats told me about the problems there, and I researched crime reports with the Bangkok Post, although we didn’t contact local police because I didn’t have enough time.”
Like most Southeast Asia destinations, Phuket needs better controlled development first and foremost, Adam said.
“Haad Kamala is in real trouble that way.
“I’d hate to see Surin, Nai Thon and Nai Yang become spoiled and over-built.
“And the cheese-ball sex industry factor is another issue.
“But, hey, that ship sailed years ago so there is no going back.
“Besides, Patong’s existence keeps the rest of Phuket relatively clean of it.”
What would Adam say to those people who have been to Patong and think that’s all there is to offer on Phuket?
“If they like it and don’t have any desire to explore elsewhere, I’d say, ‘Get the **** out of Patong’.
“But if they hate Patong and are reluctant to come and visit because of it, I’d say I thought the exact same way until I began researching this book.
“I found a multifaceted, culturally captivating, and drop dead gorgeous island full of life, good food and spectacular beaches off the tourist track.”
Adam said if he came back to Phuket, he would head for the upper northwest coast.
“Those beaches are exceptional, and it’s closer to Khao Lak, and the Similans — which is great for my diving problem,” he said.
Adam said he found the inspiration for his funny introduction to Patong just by walking through Soi Bangla.
“Go there any night of the week, and comedy will appear from all angles,” he said.
“But the best story I came across happened when I was on my first trip to Phuket.
“A street magician was giving an incredible performance, and he attracted a large crowd, including a crew of drunken old Brits.
“They all had what they thought were hot chicks on their arms.
“I just wish I could have been there when they discovered they were ladyboys.”
Adam said he would have liked to have included Amazing Bike Tours in the book.
“It is a new mountain bike outfitter which opened up only after I had finished the book,” he said.
“But they are open now, and they do awesome tours of Phuket and Koh Yao,” he said.