Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan
Utlissima per conoscere le contee pi¨ sperdute nel corso del mio secondo viaggio al Monte Kailash,
Fondamentale per chi viaggia nel Tibet Orientale ed Occidentale, fuori dagli usuali circuiti turistici. Avevo acquistato la (costosa) prima edizione per preparare un viaggio nel Tibet sconosciuto mai realizzato. L'ho prestata ad amici che per primi hanno poi affrontato questi percorsi e ne hanno anche realizzato interessanti libri fotografici.
La edizione 2009 Ŕ la miglior guida al Tibet. ╚ cambiata l'impaginazione, uniformata alla grrafica delle Foot Print, ma soprattuto in questa edizione vi sono moltissimi aggiornamenti e notizie in pi¨.
The greatest strength of this book is that it is the only guidebook to give a substantial account of all parts of the Tibetan plateau, both inside and outside the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region. For that reason it is, despite its conspicuous faults, indispensable for the traveller to Tibet whose itinerary extends beyond the familiar lands of central Tibet. The book is not to be confused with "Tibet Handbook" by Victor Chan.
"Tibet Handbook with Bhutan" is a guide to all Tibetan regions governed by the People's Republic of China, with additional chapters on Bhutan and the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. It would have been useful to include the Tibetan borderlands in Nepal and north-west India ─ although it is no doubt expedient politically to imply that no part of Tibet lies outside the territory China governs.
At 650 grams, the new edition (paperback) is almost twice the weight of the first, hardback, edition - a curious development for a travel guidebook.
The book includes useful background information about Tibetan religion, iconography and history. The bulk of the book deals with the regions of the Tibetan plateau by devoting a section to each one of the 158 counties into which the People's Republic of China divides it. This approach turns out to be surprisingly intelligible.
There is extensive information about religious places, and buildings and their contents. There is much less information about other matters such as topography, agriculture, educational facilities, military establishments, and political structures. It is as though, in a way, those things belong to a different Tibet.
The book enjoys the benefit of the author's experience as a scholar and tour guide. It also suffers the limitations of that experience, and is often short on practical details for the independent traveller. It is written in a concise style that betrays no trace of personality.
The second edition has been expanded considerably, mainly with valuable information about counties where information in the first edition was inadequate. Unfortunately, the author has not taken the opportunity to check the much more extensive material carried over from the first edition. If he would make time to do that, he would find innumerable internal contradictions within the text and between the text and the often wildly inaccurate small county maps. Almost any numeral, particularly distances, should be treated with suspicion. The relationship between the county population figures and those in the 1996 edition show impossible fluctuations; they go unremarked, but indicate that at least one of the sets of figures is worthless, and perhaps both. The inherent confusion in the existence of both Tibetan and Chinese names for the same places demands a consistency of usage in a guidebook which this one does not quite manage to attain.
An indispensable book, with the scope to become much better.
Dr Gyurme Dorje, is a Tibetologist, who has been involved in Tibetan studies for over 30 years, and has authored several books on diverse aspects of Tibetan culture. His handbook has the advantage of being continuously updated.