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Archive for the Category "Misadventure"

Some places not to visit Dec 03

Okay, these are my opinion. Some people, maybe many, might disagree.

Vietnam. Maybe you’re a vet and would like to go back and check the place out again. Go ahead. Just remember that the prevailing philosophy of the communist countries in that part of the world is to Fleece the Rich American. You’re best off in a group, and it’s not as cheap as, say, Indonesia. Vietnam is working on improving its tourist image and skills, and they’ve come a long way, but they have a long way to go.

Cambodia. Improving, but still too poor to offer much. The cities are, crowded and uncomfortable, and if you get out in the countryside, watch out for land mines. They have done a lot of work on their roads, and I recommend you stay on them. The country was hurt pretty badly in the Vietnam war era, and they are still recovering.

They do have Angkor Wat, which is spectacular enough to justify a trip. Be careful of the surrounding area, though. Mostly slipshod development.

One of the most spectacular human-built structures in the world.

Philippines. Unless you’re going back to visit relatives, you will find lots better places to visit. About every human-occupied place is full of trash—they don’t clean up very well. The government and lack of “peacefulness” in the culture aren’t super good for tourists. Beware of the food and water. Not much gourmet food here. Not much in the line of historical buildings, either.  Here’s the first word in a text box on their official tourism site: “Pursuant…” Friendly, eh?

Underwater adventures are okay, though. The hill country in the northern part of Luzon with all those rice terraces isn’t bad. If you like to sail among islands, you’ll find more than 7000 of them to sail around. Not all the natives are friendly, though. One good thing about the populated areas: the educated folks pretty much all speak good English. I get a lot of customer service agents with Philippine accents. They’re easier for me to understand than the folks from India.

Burma. Oops, Myanmar. Forget the shave. Oppressive, unfriendly government. Poverty. Go someplace else.

Enough gloom and doom. Nice places next time.

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Breaking news, sort of Nov 09

I’m interrupting the travelogue of cheap travel destinations to share some photos with you. We’ve been looking at the part of the world that includes Indonesia, and I already made passing reference to Mt. Merapi. Reuters has posted a series of pictures you’re not likely to see in the US newspapers. Some of the pictures are pretty graphic. Here’s an “attractive” photo

Molten lava flows from the crater of Mount Merapi captured in this long exposure photograph taken from Klaten district in Central Java province late on November 2, 2010. (SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

This is a time exposure. click to enlarge

Here’s the link:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/11/mount_merapis_eruptions.html

Don’t go there unless you can go to help out. This event hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage in the US, and I haven’t checked out ways to donate help, but this is not vacation material, and it’s occurring right in the middle of a very attractive part of the world…

The place that wasn’t there Aug 02

As I browsed around Old City, I chanced upon a building named Independence National Historical Park, operated by the National Park Service. The place immediately piqued my interest. Last weekend I had marshaled at the two-day PA Dutch MS bicycle ride through rural eastern PA. 600 bicyclists in 100-degree heat for 100 miles (or less, depending on the bicyclist). In the evening we had supper at Millersville University and I happened to sit across from one of the other marshals, a young lady who works for the National Park Service. Although I have absolutely no romantic intent (scout’s honor—I’m happily married), we hit it off, being both hard-core long-distance motorcyclists and nature enthusiasts. So I figured I’d check the place out.

The style of the building didn’t exactly fit this area of town. This is the only photo of the place I could find—I copied it from a photographer who goes by “lindalunacy.” Thank you, um, Linda.

You can see a little of the building in the lower right corner of the photo. The style of the building matches the tower.

It turns out that the bell tower houses the Bicentennial Bell, a gift from England back in 1976. The Queen came over for a visit and personally presented the bell. Her comments are inscribed on the inside wall of the tower. The message is the best description of a war from the point of view of the “loosing” side that I have ever read. The gist was that England learned a lesson and didn’t repeat the mistake with her other colonies, and now we’re good friends.

Alas, the building was closed. Permanently. I was thinking about chiding my friend for letting the National Park Service fail me, but I saw (and accosted) some official-looking people who happened to be walking toward the building. I learned that it’s closed because its contents are being moved to a larger, nicer site in Valley Forge. The building was a museum with loads of artifacts. Might be worth a trip to Valley Forge when the move is complete.

Perhaps in your travels you have found an interesting-looking place that was closed. Feel free to tell us your adventure.

The devil’s own route to Devil’s Bridge Dec 29

The Caribbean used to have two Devil’s Bridges, but one of them broke not too long back , so now Antigua is the sole lucky possessor of a land bridge in the Caribbean. Here’s a picture:

Devil's Bridge, Antigua

That’s one of many pictures. It’s a photogenic place. When the waves are in a mood to crash, the spray can be spectacular.  The immediate area is mostly undeveloped, maintained by a Friends-of-the-Bridge-type organization. It’s a bit off the beaten path, and therein hangs a tale.

Several locals told me I ought to go find the place—off the beaten track, but definitely worthwhile. They even all gave me directions. Maybe it’s the relaxed style of life on an island like Antigua, maybe it’s that they hadn’t actually been to the place themselves in years, maybe it’s that no matter where you go on Antigua you’ll find something interesting, but everyone gave me bad directions! They were all approximately right, but they all lacked critical details. I thought I was getting close, and one fellow said, “Next left, go straight until you come to it.”  That led me to the Devil’s own road. It consisted entirely of cement truck dumpings. The puddles of now hardened concrete weren’t even slightly smoothed together.

Devil's road—looking back

At the end of that causeway I found a nice view of an unknown bay with a nice line of surf out a way,

Bay with surf

—and a pile of hundreds of conch shells.

A few of the shells in the pile

The remains of an overturned auto chassis and several broken surfboards lay nearby. Creepy.

On this sort of adventure, even wrong turns are interesting. Several more worthless directions and a couple lucky turns later, I found the place.  Yup, off the beaten path, but worth seeing. See the photo at the beginning.

Have you struggled to find something, only to encounter adventure on your way? Share with us.

Interlude for humor Dec 27

We interrupt this fascinating series on the backroads of Antigua to bring you news of someone who didn’t have quite as good a time on their vacation:

My thanks to Tony Carrillo, the extremely funny and offbeat cartoonist of “F-Minus.” Here’s a link to his site: http://www.fminus.net

Got a travel cartoon you like? Share.

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