Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knife Tricks: Big In Brazil

Sherman Oaks, California

Good news: I am quoted at length in this article about adventure tourism, which was written by Paula Adamo Idoeta for

Bad news: It's in Portuguese.

Good news: I said something like:

I like to travel to unusual places in order to avoid the homogenizing effects of globalism. The more visited a country is, the more likely you could follow your daily routine as if you never left home. What's the point of that?

Countries are rarely hostile. A regime might have sharp disagreements with my government, or a specific neighborhood might have high crime and best be avoided, but it's inaccurate to classify entire countries as hostile. A famous example is the tendency of many middle-class Iranians to think well of the United States, regardless of the heat between the two governments.

Hysterical State Department and Foreign Office "travel advisories" are the worst offenders; two citizens are mugged on holiday, and the entire country is tarred for years as dangerous. Thailand during last week's "State of Emergency" and "demonstrations" was exactly like Thailand was every other day of the year. Frankly, bargain hunters should book a trip to Bangkok now; the news coverage has scared away tourists, and the hotels are responding by cutting rates.

My favorite trip so far was to North Korea. The country is a time capsule into a 1940s Stalinist regime. It is almost unrecognizable as a modern society. You see people working the fields by hand or with maybe one ancient Soviet tractor. There is no private outdoor advertising. There are numerous blackouts a day in the capital city of Pyongyang. Most people wear the same three or four cuts of clothing. And all North Korean citizens wear a red lacquer pin of national founder Kim Il-sung over their hearts.

Police states are the safest places in the world. Someone is always watching.

Statistically, the most dangerous thing a person can do is drive or ride in a car. Everything else is a distant second. So, no, I've never found myself in what I consider a dangerous situation. Common sense obviates 90% of problems, and some background research covers the other 10%. When in doubt, do what the locals do.

When my friends are nervous about travelling, I tell them that there are only about a dozen places on earth that are truly dangerous. But no one's taking a family trip to Baghdad or rural Liberia or the FARC-controlled Colombian mountains, so relax and enjoy the trip.

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Anonymous Fan of Bangkok Hotels said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's very informative. I love to read it and do hope to read your next story.

6:35 PM  

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