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Archive for December, 2010

Now here’s an interesting reason to travel Dec 16

In the last post I promised to mention nice places, but this concept popped up, so I’ll put off the nice places until next time. Maybe.

You know how people are fascinated with the macabre. Horror movies are popular, we all wish the obituaries told what the person died of, and we slow down to look at traffic accidents. We like to see the grim and gruesome.

A lot of places to visit are not rich countries, and tourist dollars are an important part of their economies. Some of these places also experience natural disasters, sometimes on a large scale. Indonesia, for example is an island nation (tsunamis) on the Pacific ring of fire (volcanoes).

A river swamped by volcanic ash, called lahar. Kind of interesting, isn't it?

A big volcanic ash cloud can cut off air transportation, and with it, tourist dollars. Some enterprising tourist agencies are promoting the idea of disaster tourism. Instead of avoiding the area, come see the collapsed villages, the refugee camps, the devastated forests. I know Indonesia and Haiti have these opportunities, maybe other places, too. You can visit, and you don’t have to get dirty or do volunteer work. Bringing your tourist dollars is all the help they’re asking for. That should give some grim satisfaction.

You might think I’m being ironic, but this is for real. Here’s a link:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=indonesia-turn

Something to think about, eh?

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.

Category: Misadventure  | Leave a Comment