Owen is one of the reasons why I find local bookstores so lovely. Owen is the much-admired orange tabby at Aardvark Books, the local indie new/used bookstore. The storefront is Owen’s living room. You can find him asleep in the front display window, sitting at the register, or just parading the ground. We’re friends since I scratched his back during a visit. He would come say hello and jump up on my lap.
The find today is Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story, a book that chronicles the evolution of Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. Lonely Planet’s first book, Across Asia on the Cheap, was written and published by an Englishman, Tony Wheeler, who met his wife Maureen in 1970. In July 1972, they set off on an overland trip through Europe and Asia, and arrived in Australia in December. The popularity of this overland route, first undertaken by vehicle on the 1955 Oxford-Cambridge Overland Expedition, declined when Iran’s borders closed in 1979. Written with strong opinions, it sold well enough in Australia that it allowed the couple to expand it into South-East Asia on a Shoestring (nicknamed the ‘Yellow Bible’). The series of guidebooks, which I swear by, caters to a generation of independent, budget-conscious (although I do not consider myself budget-conscious with accommodation) travelers long before the advent of mass tourism. I like the road less tread. Lonely Planet has accompanied me to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, England, and France. It would be so much fun reading how they started the company, more so their spirit of adventure, curiosity and enthusiasm.