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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.┬áThat 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?

Interlude… Nov 08

Here’s a little interlude on traveling while you’re traveling. Specifically, in taxis.

Rule of thumb 1: Most drivers are competent, honest, and interesting people. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to carry on a conversation. They are typically good sources of “inside” info about their town. At least that has been my experience.

Rule of thumb 2: You don’t have to be paranoid, but not all of them are, that that’s what makes for this article.

Rule of thumb 3: (And this is a good business practice in general). Make sure everything is agreed on before you get into the vehicle. Once you’re inside, you’re committed to whatever you agreed on, and whatever you didn’t agree on, you’re stuck with whatever the driver decides: Is the fare for you only, or for you and your bags? Is the fare for the whole group or for each of you? Trust, but verify.

Rule of thumb 4: A word about the vehicle. Before you get in, make sure the meter works, and be sure he turns it on. If you put your luggage in the trunk, don’t pay him until everything is unloaded. In some areas taxis without meters are legal. If this is the case (common in the Caribbean, in my experience–not a lot of possible destinations, so they have standard rates for standard destinations), agree on a price for the whole trip before you get in.

Cute taxi in Indonesia

Rule of thumb 5: Unless you want him to take a round-about route, specify that he take the shortest (or fastest) route. This applies mainly to metered rides. When I was young and naive, I got the grand tour on my first visit to Nashville from a fellow who did an excellent job of distracting me by pointing out the sights as he tooled along.

Remember, people enjoy showing off their knowledge. Be an eager student of your teacher, your driver.

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