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Going by the Travel Book

January 12, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

"Tahiti & French Polynesia--A Travel Survival Kit" by Robert Kay is a 136-page briefing that includes cultural highlights, facts, maps and eight pages of color photos. The places to stay, etc., are limited but sufficient (Lonely Planet: $7.95).

Fielding's 1986 guides include "Selective Shopping Guide--To Europe" ($5.95), "Economy Europe" ($9.95) and "Europe" ($12.95), all by Joseph and Judith Raff; "Mexico" ($12.95) by Lynn and Lawrence Foster, and "Bermuda and the Bahamas" ($7.95), by Rachel and Walter Christmas. The above-average texts are updated, but a certain sameness of past presentation prevails. Fielding's new publication, "Motoring and Camping Europe" ($8.95) by Patricia and Robert Foulke, is also good but occasionally ruminates on such topics as watching a peacock mating dance.

Satisfying your gastronomic urge, settling into a hotel, or possibly gaining a papal audience is covered in "Italy at Its Best" by Robert S. Kane. It's a nuts-and-bolts guide of thoroughly descriptive and candid information (Passport Books: $9.95).

Tourists or residents should find the self-guided tour book "Beaches of the Big Island" worth the investment. It describes Hawaii, the largest of the island chain, with its volcanoes, lush landscapes and wind-swept beaches. With more than 100 photos, detailed descriptions, maps and facilities, including seasonal and permanent hazards (University Press: $12.95).

Frommer's offers their collection of 1986-87 "Dollarwise" publications to "Switzerland" ($11.95) by Darwin Porter, "Egypt" ($11.95) by Nancy McGrath, "Skiing USA East" ($10.95) by William Berry, "Skiing USA West" by Lois Friedland, and "Florida" ($10.95) by Marylyn Springer. There are two more volumes on "How to Do It on $35" (a day) for "Hawaii" ($10.95) by Faye Hammel and Syvan Levey and for "England" ($10.95) by Darwin Porter. All of them clue you in on the amenities, transportation, sights, et al. The skiing guides project the feeling of new information while the other guides are great for the first timer (Simon & Schuster).

Most of the information needed is in "Ford's Freighter Travel Guide" ($7.95): worldwide routes, costs, accommodations and amenities plus bits of advice, schedules and shipboard jargon and, most important, who to contact for this non-regimented route to many ports of call.

"Japanese Business Etiquette--A Practical Guide to Success with the Japanese" by Diana Rowland outlines the most successful way to negotiate and socialize. An American may think a hai (yes) answer means the deal is closed, when it usually means that the listener is indicating that they hear and understand what the speaker is saying. Business or pleasure travelers should find this compendium useful and invaluable for understanding a culture sometimes a world away from the American way (Warner Books: $8.95).

Enjoy the powder? Then try "Colorado Cross-Country Skiing" by Lisa Stanton. A serious winter mountaineer or chairlift snow bunny should enjoy this detailed volume. It includes sketches from easy to difficult trails, close-by accommodations, accesses and just about anything to make a fun vacation. You may obtain a copy for $8.95 (plus $1 handling) from Westside Press, P.O. Box 1457-P, Glenwood Springs, Colo. 81602.

Anyone interested in the "old sod" will enjoy "Ireland" by Dervala Murphy. The outstanding photography by Klause Francke records in black-and-white and color the sea-battered coasts, landscapes and bogs, including the expressive faces of the people who always seem to find time to banter a bit (Salem House/Merrimack: $24.95).

Dana Jinkins and Jill Borrow explore the beautiful islands in "St. Vincent and the Grenadines" (Norton: $29.95). The color photography is great; the text sufficient to depict the history, people and their way of life. Market scenes, carnivals, sports, including the everyday business of living, are well covered.

"Kilimanjaro--The White Roof of Africa" by William Lange is an unusual account of the 16,000-foot dormant volcano. The reader is put close to the shimmering ice-capped mountain in text, color photos and reproductions of historical drawings and maps. Kilimanjaro was first reported on in 1843 by European explorers; their descriptions of that time are included with observations of climbers. Also touches upon the surrounding vegetation, people and animal life (The Mountaineers Books: $24.95).

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