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The end of the road for overland adventures?

Posted by somtam2000 on 6/5/2017 at 17:51 admin

While not Southeast Asian specific, this is an interesting piece on changing desires & demands for overland travel.

"Surprisingly, given the time he has spent in trouble spots, Hann says he has suffered only one really bad experience, which occurred last summer when he was leading a tour of western Afghanistan. His group was travelling through Herat under the protection of Afghan government troops when they came under attack from Taliban fighters. Several people in his party were hit by shrapnel, but no one was killed and the Afghan forces, who had three armoured cars, eventually managed to fend off the attackers. Still, it was a highly traumatic incident. “I don’t really like being shot at, I must admit, or being RPG’d, thank you very much,” he says. “Luckily, fortunately, we all came out OK. We were very lucky indeed. It could have been a complete disaster, a wipeout.”"

There seem to be fewer "long-term" travellers in Southeast Asia, but maybe there are just so many other shorter term travellers, that the longterm ones are getting lost in the mix. What are your thoughts?

Interesting piece and worth a read.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,863
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Posted by flijten on 7/5/2017 at 02:33

I feel there two things of interest in this story. First there is the growing paranoia of governmental travel advice. That canadian map is hilarious, but a bit more reasonable take of the Dutch government also has all of Indonesia yellow for instance. This probably just means "watch out driving and don't be an idiot drinking beer in a mosque in Bima" but the message might be interpreted very different. People are wired to terrorism and terrible things. When I went to Oman last year many people's first question was "is that safe", my mother in law even thought Morroco was a place that we should be warned about "be careful".

The truth is, we should always be careful. Think like we would at home. I was in Bangkok during the last big set of protests, before the coup. There were peaceful manifestations along that very big road with all the monuments for the royal family and there were daily riots nearer to some government buildings. Obviously you do not check out the second and keep track of the atmosphere of the first.

There is another side though. No tourist has anything to do in Herat. You simply are collecting an extreme country for your bag of stories but you put your life in extreme risk. For the same reason you do not go to Boko Haram country in Northern Nigeria. There is unjustified fear and there is plain stupidity. What is in the middle? Interesting places I guess. I'm not immune to a good story, and I do understand the guy that went to the whakan corridor for instance.

Think remains the keyword I guess.

#2 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 54


Posted by flijten on 7/5/2017 at 03:10

One more thing. If you're going to Afghan Taliban country with a tour operator and things go south, I understand one would be distressed. But sueing when you (should) have fully known what you had gotten in to... Dick move :(

#3 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 54

Posted by somtam2000 on 9/5/2017 at 15:36 admin

Yeah I thought it was an interesting story (which wasn't paywalled when I posted it, but is now!). People are still doing the big overland trips, but it does seem like a less-travelled route than in the early 90s (for example).

One bit that struck true with me was this:

Everything was fine, of course: as foreign correspondents say, it always is until something happens.

And I think, probably for a number of reasons, including internet and the global news cycle, this is more towards the front of many people's brains than it was previously. When something does happen, it is all over Facebook/Twitter etc in a way it never was before, and that really works to overstate the risks in many cases in my opinion.

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,863
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