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The NYT on where to go

Posted by somtam2000 on 7/1/2016 at 22:08 admin

This year's NYT list of places to go features three destinations on turf covered by Travelfish, with Da Lat in Vietnam, the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and Bali's tourist heartland Ubud all getting a mention. I love Phnom Penh, but it struck me as a bit of a safe/lazy bet, while I don't like Ubud at all and haven't been to Da Lat recently enough to have a valid opinion. I dunno, can think of many other places that I'd have switched in for these three - especially Ubud.

What do you think of the list? Any you strongly agree/disagree with?

If nothing else, plenty of great pics and travel dreaming fodder.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,089

Posted by antoniamitchell on 8/1/2016 at 01:17

These sorts of things are incredibly contrived - they are desperate to list mostly places that a) aren't very popular with Americans yet, and b) haven't been on previous "where to go lists" (and this is their 11th list), all the while trying to find a mix of destinations from around the world. So they end up including places not because they're particularly good examples of their type (indeed, the writers and editors of these lists won't have been to most of these places, so will have no idea whether they're good or not), but because they tick the boxes.

They included Toronto (my former home town), which is a rather boring town, quite frankly. But the better-known or more interesting tourist destinations in Canada (East Coast of Nova Scotia, PEI, Montreal, Quebec City, Algonquin National Park, Niagara on the Lake (wine country), Whistler, Vancouver, etc. etc.) have probably all been on previous "where to go lists", so I guess Toronto gets her turn.

Dalat was okay, but rather cheesy (funny, how they didn't mention the swan pedalos in the article....). But the tier one destinations (HCMC, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue, and Nha Trang) are all probably too well known to Americans to be included. Frankly I would have suggested DaNang as a less-popular site, but they might have included it in a previous year.

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 569

Posted by exacto on 8/1/2016 at 10:30

I think the comment that these are safe/lazy bets is exactly correct. Consider not just the source, but also the audience. The NYT travel section finds its way into posh coffee shops all over the states, including the one we frequented in Sacramento, California. These articles are written for folks who have little or no international travel experience, not for people who run independent travel websites and have lived in half a dozen foreign countries. To most American travelers, Phnom Penh would be an incredibly exotic first foray abroad. That's why many American's first overseas trip is to London or Paris, where they can get a sense of the excitement of something different while not getting too far out of their comfort zone. It is not a bad idea to cut your travel teeth on something easier to chew and learn to walk before you run.

And for the record, antonia, I loved Toronto, although Tilapia would agree with you that Montreal is the real gem in Canada. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,831

Posted by antoniamitchell on 8/1/2016 at 14:28

Good point, Exacto. I think I've been travelling on my own for so many years now that I tend to forget how many people never - or rarely - go abroad, especially in America where plenty of folks still don't own passports....

I saw one list recently (I think it was a RG one) that recommended Hull, in the UK, largely because Hull has been named UK City of Culture for 2017. All I could think of is a rhyme my mother (who's from Leeds) used to say in her youth: "From Hell, Hull, Halifax and Huddersfield, may the good Lord preserve us!"

#4 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 569

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/1/2016 at 14:30 admin

Yeah I think the intended audience is a big one. Am sure you could ask ten repeat visitors to Southeast Asia to name their ten "must go in 2016" spots and you'd get a very varied list -- I too liked Toronto -- though I too liked Montreal a lot more.

The inclusion of Ubud in particular was jarring -- perhaps it fits well into the North American fantasy of what Bali is, but it is probably the most written about destination in the entire archipelago -- and with a bunch of links to fancypants resorts there, you wonder what is really driving this editorially.

Another whine about this list (and this has featured in previous lists also) is the catchall country ones. "Mozambique" Really? You couldn't narrow your focus down to something more specific than an entire country? Oh wait, handy there's a link to a tour company there - I guess they'll help me see the entire country without thinking too much.

It is well presented though - some great pics.

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,089

Posted by somtam2000 on 8/1/2016 at 14:33 admin

@Antonia - Rough Guides list for 2016 (or at least the country bit, they have four different lists) is here. LP is here.

#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,089

Posted by exacto on 8/1/2016 at 18:01

Ubud is a perfect example about how a place's positive reputation lives on long after it should. I remember when I first visited Ubud in 1998, I thought it was magic. There were still heaps of green rice fields back then, the spa culture was closer to traditional styles rather than the mass produced for tourist crap of late, it wasn't yet overcrowded, and prices were even affordable by backpacker standards. I'll always remember that early morning visit to the Monkey Forest Temple where there were no people and only well-behaved monkeys. Try that now.

Having said that, even though I resisted going to Bali on this last trip to Indonesia because I didn't want to spoil the memory, my travel mates who outvoted me on the issue absolutely loved Ubud for the shopping, cheap spa options, comfy digs, and killer food choices.

No matter, I suspect that NYT article will give lots of folks a great armchair travel opportunity. I wonder how long until Birmingham makes that list. Cheers.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,831

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