Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Any book of lists with a number in the title perhaps deserves some mathematical anaylsis. So first, the numbers.
The 2003 original edition of this book sold three million copies and was number one on the New York Times best seller list.
That's impressive -- and it spawned a number of spin-offs, not the least being Travel Channel series and, more recently, an app.
But there are other numbers you can apply to this updated edition.
The United States gets 209 of the illustrated pages (Canada which it is coupled with an additional 32) and China gets just 22 in total, and they include six and a half on Hong Kong. China also gets lumped into the East Asia section with Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia and South Korea.
So there is a considerable imbalance at work here and, when you look at the travel suggestions on places to say, the book seems even more pitched towards the high-end American market.
Beautiful though Wharekauhau Country Estate in Palliser Bay is -- and it is, I've stayed there -- few travellers would be able to afford the wallet-cleansing tariff of around NZ$620 a night, in the off-peak season. Yet that gets a separate entry here as a place to see in New Zealand.
Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (which includes Papua New Guinea) get 53 pages, quite a chunk more than sprawling and diverse China. And here too the rational is on the exotic, picturesque, pampering and mostly pricey.
Books such as these give a skewed persepective on travel in my experience.
The edges are smoothed out, the pretty takes precedence over the problematic but more interesting, and the colourful photographs give the impression that the sun shines constantly and there are few people around. You will look in vain here for crowded streets let alone people: New York has an image of the top of the Empire State Building for example, the beach at Goa is deserted and Tokyo gets a sumo wrestler and two geisha girls.
So this is about pretty places.
Still, I did look up some things about Morocco and Stockholm where I am headed and the cursory information was enough to make me look to other sources. And I also learned where I couldn't afford to stay.