Suggestions for Taipei venues for gay and lesbian visitors and places and activities for families with children are also helpful.
It was good to see a sidebar on the activity of indoor shrimping, an activity generally associated with drunken loners, furtive couples, criminal negotiations and sundry persons without a life. It is nevertheless something that the adventurous tourist might wish to experience and certainly the kind of place where a visitor might connect with grassroots Taiwanese culture. Another sidebar on stinky tofu happily embraces one of Taiwan’s more (to foreigners) noisome culinary attractions.
The weirdness of Taiwan is treated respectfully and helpfully, with a “Taipei Street Decoder” provided to help visitors address the ongoing issues with Taiwan’s Romanization of place names and prepares visitors for an inevitable confusion that this creates. The authors present a slightly optimistic picture of domestic travel within Taiwan for those with no knowledge of the language, especially outside of the main urban centers.
There are also occasional lapses in the editing. The architectural style of one temple that is mentioned on page 60 is compared to another that is not discussed until page 65, with no assistance from a page reference. A couple of other lapses with incorrect page references are a minor annoyance.
Sometimes the writing style can come across as a little gnomic, with one entry for a Taipei jazz club merely indicated that it has been in “the same location since 1978,” but providing no other details. There are similar examples scattered about the book, but again it must be said that for the most part, given the concision required by the style of the book and the amount of information it covers, most entries are pertinent and helpful.
There is a vast amount of useful information in Lonely Planet’s new edition on Taiwan, and it is remarkably accessible and easy to use. It is an ideal entry point for people planning a trip to Taiwan, covering all the main bases and providing room for sparks of idiosyncrasy.
Lonely Planet is once again serving as a trailblazer, doing what Taiwan’s own tourism authorities have notoriously failed to achieve in promoting some of the island’s very best tourism resources.