Monday, December 29, 2008

Art Review: Moe Murakami

Giant Robot had a tiny little blurb about Moe Murakami.

So I googled her and found her official site with lots more:


I have yet to come across a Murakami that I don't adore...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Review: Kafka on the Shore

One of Murakami's best, for sure!  I read this book in two sittings, and it's almost 500 pages. I literally did not want to put this one down.

There are two parallel stories going on at once.  One of a young boy running away from his father's prophecy of Oedipal proportions, another of an old man on a mission, whose memory has been wiped clean during a bizarre WWII incident.  The old man can talk to cats.  The young boy sees ghosts, and travels to others' dreams in his own dreams.  Johnnie Walker (yup, as in whiskey) and The Colonel (from KFC) come to life.  The unbelievable becomes believable.

Murakami writes of the loneliness and isolation of human existence like no one else.  He truly connects with the collective unconscious.  Freud and Jung would have a field day interpreting his books.  There are parts of the book that are pretty twisted, but this story still has hope.

Here is Murakami's official website, it's very moody and fun to look at.  I still have 4 or 5 books of his left to read, I just ordered a bunch from the library.   Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Twilight Original Movie Soundtrack

As I mentioned in a previous post, I dig this music.

My significant other compared "Bella's Lullaby" to the cheesy background music played when a Tour de France athlete is being profiled on TV. But I like it. I guess I'm a true fan.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Tea Forte

I received this box of tea from Tea Forte as a gift...delicious! 

The tea comes in little silken pyramids, and the flavors are strong.  3 of the teas have caffeine, and 3 are caffeine-free, so I can drink away, day and night.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Book Review: Breaking Dawn

So I actually read and finished this book a couple of weekends ago.  But I couldn't think of anything to post on Christmas day...and a review of this book seemed perfect, so here it is, a bit delayed.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

Book 4 of the Twilight series goes way off the deep-end.  I mean, shit happens, and I'll leave it at that.  Granted, these books are not based on reality, but it veers even further away from the norm and teeters on the bizarre.  It's written from the perspetive of Bella, then Jacob, and then Bella again.  And fear not, le vampire Edward features in it prominently.  Whew.


I'm officially a Twilight addict.  Once I get my hands on a book, I ignore my boyfriend, neglect house chores, and don't return phone calls.  I bombard my friends with emails about vampires.  I've spent way too much time googling "Robert Pattinson".  (Speaking of whom, he can really sing!  I downloaded the Twilight soundtrack, and although I may be a tiny bit biased, I recommend it.)




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

tulips

Gifted to me after a long weekend:)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays!



Super cute video.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: Signed, Mata Hari

A lovely, sad poetic look at the life of Mata Hari. The chapters alternate between the past (her life in Java with her abusive husband and two children), and the present--a jail cell, where she awaits a verdict on whether she is guilty or not of espionage. We know how the story ends--death by firing squad. But to this day, there is much speculation as to the facts, and the facts are not known. Was she a double agent or not? The records of her case are sealed until 2017.



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Book Review: Eclipse

I just finished book 3 of the Twilight series, which means I'll be stalking my friend this week for book 4, Breaking Dawn. Book 4 is the final book, I shudder to think what will I do when I'm done?

Eclipse is similar in setting and pace to the others--Bella is still in high school about to graduate in Forks, Washington, and yes, the story drags at times. Thank god Edward is back full-time (he wasn't in a good chunk of Book 2)...but he has some competition with Jacob's relationship with Bella. Jacob should just go away.

As I've said before, Meyer's writing isn't great, but she easily taps into the mind of a teenager. And I can't get enough of the vampires! Vampires are way cooler than werewolves.

I'm going to see the movie Twilight again this weekend. And I'm not ashamed.



Monday, December 8, 2008

Book Review: The Elephant Vanishes

An elephant vanishes, a dwarf dances, TV People interfere with life, and a little green monster shows up in a woman's house.

This is only part of what you'll find in this collection of Haruki Murakami's short stories. A quick read, and a fun escape.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

This book is massive. I read the hardcover version, which was a mistake. It was terribly intimidating. I preferred to use the book as a stepping-stool, especially when getting into bed. My bed is really high off the ground.

The story starts with a guy cooking spaghetti. He gets interrupted by a phone call from an anonymous woman, and his dull and monotonous life becomes anything but dull and monotonous. In true Murakami style, the unreal becomes real, dreams become reality, and reality is a life of loneliness and isolation. This book moved at a slower pace than the other Murakami books I've read, and I had trouble staying focused with it. I had it out on loan from the library, and before I knew it my three weeks were up. I skimmed through the end, and don't know when I'll be ready to attempt this book again.

Let me know if you had better luck with this one.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Book Review: New Moon

Ok, so I'm officially obsessed.

This is the second book of the Twilight series. After reading the first book, I saw the movie, and developed a massive crush on the vampire Edward. Granted, the movie is low-budget and silly at times, but it got me hooked. There is something about being in love with a vampire that is captivating.

Join the party, you must read this series!

I'm dreaming vampires, and waiting to get my hands on book three...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Book Review: A Wild Sheep Chase

A wild sheep chase indeed! I was in sheep heaven reading this book. It all starts with a mutant sheep with a star on it's back, which sets our main protagonist off to a sheep-themed adventure involving a Sheep Man and a ghost. As usual, Haruki Murakami creates a reality that is utterly bizarre, yet somewhat believable. One of his best books for sure.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: Twilight

Ok, I know this book is for teens. But my coworker read it and recommended it, so I picked it up. And could not put it down. Not sure why...the writing is not great, and some parts drag on slowly. But the two main characters--Bella and her vampire boyfriend Edward---are totally addictive. It definitely brings back memories of your first crush.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

weeble wobbles


I had the weeble wobble song in my head the other day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Honest Tea

 I've been picking up a bottle of Honest Tea every time I go to Whole Foods.

I like it because it really tastes like tea.  They brew from tea leaves and don't use a lot of sugar, so it doesn't taste like sugared crappy junk food.

Deep thoughts from the back of the bottle:

In 2700 BC, a Chinese emperor discovered the great taste of tea when a few leaves fell in a pot of boiling water.  The moral:  instead of saying "Oops," say "Why not?"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

chocolate heaven

The other night, I ate what was possibly the best chocolate bar ever.


Whole Foods 365 Dark Chocolate with Coconut Flakes.

I also drank a bottle of red wine with my roommate. The wine and chocolate paired deliciously well.

It led to the following deep thoughts: does the chocolate taste good with the wine, or does the wine taste good with the chocolate?

Monday, November 17, 2008

sidewalk toilet



Toilet on the sidewalk, right outside my house.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

sidewalk monkey

graffiti on the sidewalk, in Pacific Heights

Monday, November 3, 2008

Orchid Bloom


One of my orchids has a new bloom sprouting up!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Letter to a Gopher

Dear Gopher that Lives in My Yard,

I've blogged about you before, here.

I understand that you dig holes for a living. I've quietly sat back as you made a minefield out of my backyard.

And then my front yard.

But this time you've crossed the line.

So I'm writing to kindly ask that you refrain from digging holes in my potted plants.

Here's my potted plant:


And here's a close-up of my potted plant, with two freshly dug holes:



Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!



I love driving down to Half Moon Bay and getting pumpkins every fall. It's my favorite time of year.

There are a bunch of farms down south, but Farmer John's Pumpkin Patch is the best.



This big guy is the biggest of the season:



Here's my wagon of gourds:



They always give me random freebies. Last year it was a bunch of sunflowers, this year it was brussel sprouts, still on the stalk.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Last weekend, I spent the day walking around Golden Gate Park. This magnolia flower was the only one left on the tree. It smelled delicious.



I ended up at the Conservatory of Flowers, where they are having a special butterfly exhibit.

Granted, I've been to butterfly exhibits that had (ahem) more butterflies...but the ones they had were beautifully colored, and not at all shy. Some would fly so close and even land on you.



Better hurry up, it ends November 2!

(Butterfly photo courtesy of this guy:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

mushrooms

I love finding mushrooms, so imagine my delight when I parked my next to a tree with this enormous orangey-melon colored growth.





Monday, October 27, 2008

dolls



My friend Lisa forwarded me this article on Ball-Jointed Dolls. They look so life-like, and people can custom-make them to look like themselves. Creepy! From Japan, of course:)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

plastic frogs

Walking past someone's front yard in the city:



Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Yes, another book by Haruki Murakami.

I have to admit, it took me a couple of chapters to get into this book. The author dives right into a pseudo-reality, and I had no idea what was going on. Halfway through the book, I still had no idea what was going on, but I was nonetheless immersed in the story.

I was wondering how Murakami could write about unicorns with a straight face, but he once again creates a fascinating, magical world. Or maybe I should say worlds. This isn't a whimsical fairytale that ends with happily-ever-after. The tone of this book is dark and sinister, and we glimpse a world where people have no control of their lives or minds. The characters are dealing with loneliness and isolation, as they ponder the meaning of their existence.

I'm so in love with Murakami's writings, it makes me want to crawl inside his head and surround myself with his magic. I found this great interview he did with Salon.com which kinda allowed me to do just that. I love how he talks about weirdness!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

unicorns


As I mentioned in a previous post, unicorns play a prominent role in the latest Haruki Murakami book I'm devouring.

Which got me thinking about, well, unicorns.

For all you fellow unicorn-lovers (and I know you're out there), read what TIME magazine has to say about the recent spotting of a one-horned beastie.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In the News: Bottled Water is a Cesspool of Crap

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that bottled water has more contaminants than the water in your toilet.

Not their exact words...but bottled water in 10 U.S. brands had a combined 38 contaminants, including bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium.

This is so gross I can't write anymore. You can read the full article here.

the monarchs are here!



I've been noticing monarchs in my backyard, it's that time of year again. They head to the California coast every winter for the mild weather, and "overwinter", meaning they wait out the winter season. You can see them in clusters in the trees--- thousands of them. I've never been to see them, but this year it's a must for me.


Here's a great link
with more info on where to see them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Conde Nast Traveler Magazine

My parents decided to cash in their frequent flyer miles for magazines. They emailed me several times, asking me to pick a magazine they could subscribe me to.

I was feeling a little bit magazine-d out...but at their third request, I finally picked Conde Nast Traveler, because, well, I love to travel.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this magazine rocks! Yes, it definitely caters to lifestyles of the rich and famous. When I travel, I take a backpack, a Lonely Planet guidebook, and pretty much wing it. So while I won't be staying at any of the luxury resorts the magazine recommends, I'm getting tons of ideas for cool places to travel--Dubai, Bhutan, Rwanda. Definitely off the beaten path. And this is a thick magazine, packed with info.

The August edition was my first, and I found the articles and writing top notch. I was immediately won over by an article on chocolate that had me salivating for more--the author travels to Guatemala in search of the tastiest cocoa bean. Si, por favor!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: Sputnik Sweetheart

I spent a lovely weekend sitting in the sun, drinking green tea, and escaping to another of Haruki Murakami's deliciously surreal worlds.

Sputnik Sweetheart reminded me a lot of Norwegian Wood, with themes of unrequited love, loneliness, and an overall melancholy tone. The narrator is in love with his friend Sumire, who in turn is in love with a mysterious woman named Miu. The subtle nuances of their relationships are very real-world...until the book takes a sudden departure from reality. Leaving us to ask, what is real?

The book starts in Japan, and we travel with the characters to a Greek island. Murakami writes so beautifully that I could smell the wine, taste the olives, and feel the sand on my feet. I'd be ready to hop on the next flight to Greece myself, if reality did not intervene.

I gobbled this book up, and immediately picked up another Murakami book, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I'm only on chapter two, and unicorns have already made an appearance.

Monday, October 6, 2008

interview with my great-grandmother

I found this paper I did for a school project on the Great Depression. It's from May 1984, when I was in the sixth grade.

I interviewed my great-grandmother, who has since passed away. Reading this I can clearly remember sitting in her kitchen with my mom, writing down all her answers.

Just click on the images of paper, and it will expand to a more readable page.









My great-grandmother had a hard life, but I remember her being happy and laughing a lot. I think she'd get a kick out of being posted on the internet.

And I wish I kept up with my penmanship...my handwriting looks like chicken-scratch now.=)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

recycled toys


Check out this great blog on urban vinyl: (action figure designer toys). Made of all recycled products.

http://phuek.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html

So fun, so cute!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spaghetti Cat

Does anyone out there know what I'm talking about?

Ok, first watch this hilarious clip from The Soup:


Spaghetti Cat has recently gained celebrity status.

As I was looking through my online photos, I came across this:


It's Spaghetti Cat!

Monday, September 22, 2008

plastic = diabetes and heart disease

Oh my. Plastic is in the news again, and it's not good.


Click here
for the most recent research linking plastic to diabetes and heart disease.

Have I mentioned how much I love my new Camelbak bottles? They are diabetes and heart disease-free.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

herbs

I've been fighting a nasty cold/cough/sore throat for the past three weeks. I finally went to see an acupuncturist for a tune-up.

I love acupuncture...it totally mellows me out and puts me in the zen mindset.

The bad news is my acupuncturist told me I need to cut out the iced tea. AAAARRRRGGGHHHH! This is a problem, as I'm totally addicted to iced tea. Apparently it's too much cold yin energy, which is affecting the yang of my kidneys.

My chi is way out of balance man.

The good news is that I got this goody-bag to take home with me---full of Chinese herbs to boil into a tea.





I got my pagan on and brewed the herbs for about 20 minutes until it made two cups of tea.



I have no idea what I just drank. I thought it was going to taste nasty. (Especially as the acupuncturist warned me it was going to taste nasty.)

But it was good! It tasted kinda sweet, like licorice. And earthy, like mud.

And yes, I'm feeling better already.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Review: Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog

Doogie Howser rocks, literally!

Neil Patrick Harris
, who played Doogie Howser on the TV show, is currently starring in a mini-musical as Dr. Horrible, an evil villain who wants to take over the world.

You can download the 3-part musical here.

The script is hilarious, the singing is fabulous, and the goggles, gloves and galoshes are a way-cool fashion statement.

Enjoy:)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

venus flytrap seedling

It seems like many moons ago that I planted venus flytrap seeds. It took a while to sprout, but now look at my new baby!



See where the top leaf is split? At first I thought a bug had bitten it in half...but upon closer inspection I realized it is the trap! It actually has tiny little hairs on it that look like teeth.

I can't wait till it gets bigger. Then I can feed it my boyfriend when he forgets to do the dishes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

yellow watermelon

I never even knew such a thing existed!


It's delicious. And organic, of course!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Review: Norwegian Wood

I just finished my second Murakami book, and I can't wait to dig into another one.

Norwegian Wood is very different from his other novel I read, After Dark. It takes place in real time, and moves at a slow and melancholic pace. But the characters are interesting, and you are immediately drawn into their world. The book is beautifully written, and takes an intense and thoughtful look at relationships, love, and friendship.

It left me feeling a little bit blue, but hopeful at the same time.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Review: After Dark

I've blogged before about how much I love the art of Takashi Murakami.

There's an author named Haruki Murakami who I keep hearing about. I finally got this book of his at the library, and *loved* it.

As the title suggests, the story takes place after dark, from midnight to the wee hours of the morning. Murakami creates a surreal atmosphere, one that is both enticing and eerie. Even after reading the book, I'm not quite sure what happened...it's like I was in the Twilight Zone with the characters.

This book left me wanting more of Murakami. I just picked up Norwegian Wood, which some say is his best writing. Can't wait!

Monday, August 25, 2008

plastic in the news

Two rather conflicting updates on plastic. Is it harmful or not?

The first news is that toxins found in children's products will be banned. This is progress. This is good.

In other news, the FDA has reported that trace amounts of BPA are not harmful. But what does "trace amounts" mean? And do trace amounts add up to large amounts over a lifetime, therefore making it harmful?

I say better to be safe than sorry. If there's a safe alternative to plastic, use it!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August garden

It's been mighty foggy here in the sunset, which makes it extra magical that there is some new growth in my yard and on my windowsill.

They may be tiny, but 3 of the 4 pots of basil seedlings have sprouted up. They need more sun though!



The mint that got burnt in the heat wave a few months ago is making a major comeback. I love it in my iced tea. And it's also a really good excuse to make some mojitos:)



I got this little pine sapling as a favor at a wedding. What a cool and environmental idea.




I don't know what this flower is. Anyone? I didn't plant it, so it was a pleasant surprise when it burst into this gorgeous color. It must have been planted from the previous tenants, or maybe a random seed got blown into my yard.




And this flower is a champ. It's been through so much...I had no idea a bulb was planted here, so I've accidentally knocked it around many a time. Then I dumped a ton of dirt over it, and I keep forgetting to water it. Bad gardener! But like a trooper, it grew a strong stem months ago, and then finally managed to sprout out this gorgeous stalk of flowers. I've been watching the closed flower buds mature, and just this morning this one opened.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

octopuses in love

This cartoon is beyond cute. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: Summer of Naked Swim Parties

Fourteen year old Jamie is growing up in the summer of '76, but this isn't your typical coming-of-age story. Jamie's parents are hippies, and they are the ones throwing the naked swim parties. Which is so not cool when you're 14! There are hilarious conversations between Jamie and her free-spirited parents. Jamie often finds herself in the parent role, asking to have a curfew, or begging her mother to put clothes on. It's interesting to watch Jamie struggle with freedom and getting to know herself, when she has no parameters to hold her back. Instead of indulging in sex and drugs like her parents, Jamie is constantly worried about something bad happening, and has little interest in rebelling.

This is a perfect summer read, as Jamie spends her summer in her pool, at the beach, finding her first love, and finding the meaning of friendship and family.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bigfoot exists?

This is too funny to pass by. I can't make this stuff up!

Two men are claiming to have a Bigfoot corpse. The photo is too much.

Even more surprising---The New York Times is printing the story!

There's a press conference, and DNA testing coming. If this is a hoax, you gotta admit, they put a *lot* of work into it...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Elusive gopher spotted.

I've blogged about how the gophers are tearing up my yard, but I never see them.

My four nephews recently came out to visit me, and were intrigued by all the holes. Of course they wanted to see a gopher. The last time I had spotted a gopher was in 2006 in Golden Gate Park, so I figured their chances were slim.

I took the kiddos to see the bison in Golden Gate Park, but they were hiding in the back of the park, way out of sight.

But a gopher came out to play. Ok, it's not a good photo, but you'll have to trust me that this little guy was not shy, and popped in and out of his hole for a good 15 minutes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Aliens in San Francisco: I want to believe

Look who I found sitting on the curb by a gas station!



Guess that astronaut had it right...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Book Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

I read this book on the beach, by the pool, before going to bed, and during any downtime while vacationing in Costa Rica. I loved every minute of it.

Queen Elizabeth I is given her mother's diary at the beginning of her reign...her mother being the infamous Anne Boleyn. Anne was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, who ended up having her head lopped off.

The book gracefully moves back and forth from present time during Elizabeth's reign, to her mother's past, as Elizabeth reads through Anne's diary. I loved reading the innermost thoughts in Anne's diary, even if it is fiction. And Queen Elizabeth continues to fascinate. It's also a fiercely delicious look at women in power, at a time when this was not the norm. Feminists will delight!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Travel: Costa Rica

I spent a magical week in Costa Rica, and have been back for a few weeks, but I haven't had any time to blog about how fabulously fun and gorgeous this country is.

We flew into the capital San Jose, and spent one night there. It's pretty crowded in San Jose and not easy to drive around the one-way streets. We were renting a 4WD for the week, which would allow us to drive to see the active Arenal Volcano, and then further west to the beaches of Tamarindo, Playa Grande, and Papagayo. We stayed at the Hotel Presidente in San Jose, where we had a spacious room with a huge hot tub, and had good eats at the hotel restaurant. We were definitely off to a good start.

Arenal Volcano is a must-see, with fiery-red rocks literally tumbling down from the top. We walked as close as we were allowed, to the base, and stood on lava rock that had formed and then hardened when the volcano last erupted in 2000, killing 2 people . We were delighted to see and hear a howler monkey hanging out in the trees above us as we hiked in towards the base. It rained off and on, as it did most days in Costa Rica. Monkey did not like the rain, letting loose a banshee howl that lasted a long time and could be heard from far away.

My friend recommended Tabacon Hot Springs, another stop you can't miss. Lush forests of green plants and tropical flowers hide the many pools of hot springs, which are heated by the volcano. It's misty and foggy and about as atmospheric as you can possibly get. We stayed till it got dark, and it only got mistier, with shadows from the trees falling over us, and dim outlines of the stars in the sky. Yes, all while basking in the scrumptiously hot water...romantic is an understatement.

Another highlight (not for the faint of heart) is zip lining through the jungle! I was on a high for hours after this. We went to the Sky Tram company, and were lucky enough to be in a group of 2 (just us!), with two hilariously fun and funny guides. A tram ride takes you high up into the jungle, where we again saw adorable monkeys sitting in the trees--this time spider monkeys. From the top, we took 8 zip lines from platform to platform...the longest ride being 2600 feet, with a speed of about 30-40 mph. Such an adrenaline rush, and so much fun:)

After Arenal, we braved the roads and headed to the beach on the western coast. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Bula Bula in Playa Grande. The beach was pristine and empty, and we met the owner of the resort (a Texan) who was happy to hang out and talk about moving to and living in Costa Rica. Free entertainment was provided by Bert the African Parrot, possibly the biggest attention-whore ever. He loved doing tricks swinging on his perch, yelling out "hola! hola!", so you had to turn around every minute to see him in a new pose. He would literally look to make sure you were watching him. Here he is posing for a photo:


And Playa Grande:


We randomly ended up in a Hilton Resort in Papagayo after having trouble finding a place to stay. An all-inclusive price included buffet meals and all-you-can-drink drinks. This is usually not our style of traveling, and we felt like we were in the Twilight Zone half the time...such as when the staff had to get up and teach salsa dance lessons to guests. So we loaded up at the swim-up bar in the pool, and they weren't shy with the liquor:) Here is the gorgeous sunset we saw from our lovely porch:


We ended our stay at the Villa Blanca Resort at the Los Angeles Cloud Forest Reserve. I wish we could have spent more time here to explore, but alas we had a flight home the next day. The resort was darling, nestled in the foggy mists of the cloud forest:


Costa Rica is overflowing with tropical plants and wildlife. Irises are my favorite flower, and they grow mutantly huge there, in fabulous colors. Have you seen an orange and yellow iris before?



Iguanas were skittering around everywhere...this one slowly moved off the road as we approached:


As for the weather, it was hot and humid and in the 80's. It is the rainy season there now, which means less tourists. And the rain never lasted long and never held us back from doing anything...mostly it felt like a refreshing break from the heat. Nights could get chilly near the volcano and in the cloud forest, similar to San Francisco weather.

On a final note, we decided to venture away from the Lonely Planet guidebook, as the current edition out for Costa Rica was a few years old. We went with the Moon Guide, which I was overall pretty happy with. It led us to great destinations, and the accommodation recommendations were right-on. My only complaints were the maps were off, and the book didn't adequately explain travel directions and timing, a strong point of Lonely Planet.