Lonely Planet Writer

The best of Thorn Tree, 2010 edition

Thorn Tree flame wars

To close our 2010, we thought we’d take a look at some of our favourite Thorn Tree forum discussions this year.

One of our most popular discussions unfolded early on the India branch, exploring how Kathmandu has changed over the years. Ratings, rankings and badges of honour were a consistently hot topic, with the community taking on the most overrated U.S. destinations, the most overrated but worth it destinations, the cities with the most confusing street layouts and the most remote places they’d visited.

Tech travel was all the rage in 2010. The iPad was a source of controversy: is it more hype than help? Photography experts held court on camera performance in extreme cold and provided DSLR tips for newbies, while others compared notes about which - and how many - gadgets to trip with. Meanwhile our gear heads told us what to wear on a glacier, budding photographers got advice from Lonely Planet photo guru Richard I'Anson, and we confessed what we couldn’t live without while travelling.

On the topic of travel red tape headaches, there was great advice on how to restore digital photos if security officials delete them, while body scanners and TSA searches got a dressing down by many annoyed travellers.

Our resident foodies on Get Stuffed cooked up some of our most delicious forum conversations, including the best sweet snacks across the globe, the best street food, eating with your hands, songs for food lovers and the effects of travel on the tummy.

The language lovers on Speaking in Tongues gave us some of the year’s most edifying chitchat. They tackled the conundrum of mastering accents, the spelling of 'aeroplane', language mix-ups, the origin of place abbreviations, the verbal cues which indicate someone is new in town, the harmony between music and language, road sign ambiguity, the most useful language for travel, and even more accent goodness.

Some of our favourite discussions were the deep stuff of life, from members looking for more than just itinerary approval. We learned about falling in love on the road, managing that love; the complexities of travelling in retirement, the murky ethics of poverty tourism, how hitchhiking has evolved, how to cope when you’re not getting love for your travel bug, whether to plan or go with the flow, and when to look like a tourist. We debated whether the web has killed indie travel, and whether there’s an age limit on couch surfing.

In the 'strange and sublime camp' we had discussions on Indonesian black magic, New Zealand as post-apocalyptic haven and err... what’s that in the water?

Finally, aiming for the world record for the longest forum thread is the ‘Supreme tradition of spelling bees’. Started in 2007, it’s still going strong, clocking up nearly 5000 messages to date. This is the Thorn Tree at its social, eclectic best. On that note, we’re pleased to see the infamous Cyclotouriste thread lives on in internet meme land. Its latest incarnation was in the form of Mexican wrestlers.

Cyclotouriste goes Mexican

We salute you Cyclotouriste, wherever you are.

Thanks to our amazing members for a terrific year of conversations about the world and its curiosities. You even helped plan a wedding.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned for 2011. We wouldn’t be Lonely Planet without you.