The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am

Country guides spawned city guides, which reinvented themselves as shopping guides, dining guides and guides to all that is luxurious and therefore desirable.

There are guides to things to do; guides to 'green' things to do; guides to being physically adventurous; guides to film locations; guides to annual events; best ofs; top 10s ... How many ways can publishers dress up travel books while selling the same old same old?

But here, hiding behind the travel industry's original cliche, is something different: The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere. Where is the middle of nowhere? It is in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is Heard Island, north of the Antarctic; it is Bosnia-Herzegovina and several African deserts. Each of the contributors has a different mid-point and most describe it with a wistfulness, even reverence, suggesting they'd rather be there than here, whatever its privations.

Some candidates invite disbelief. The bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest point on the Earth's crust, is a spectacularly out-of-the-way choice, but can the neon nightmare that is Las Vegas really be a nowhere? Apparently so, bearing out long-distance Arctic skier Ben Saunders' contention that a personal middle of nowhere is the most suitable place for reflection.

A spirit of surrealism haunts many of the essays in this volume, a product, perhaps, of the solitary nature of most of the excursions. Also emergent is the realisation that the middle of nowhere is as much a state of mind as a tangible location.

Middle of Nowhere is soul food for the thinking traveller; it advocates the opposite of settling down with a good book, subtly suggesting that the reader find his own reverie zone. Where, or what, is it to you?

The Lonely Planet Guide to the Middle of Nowhere is available at, priced HK$273.