Tag: Developing World

A Very Different Take on Nepal

Writes Andrew Hyde:

A deep depression hit me about an hour into my visit to Nepal and lasted for the first two weeks. Nepal, as a travel destination, is nothing short of raved about. “The Himalayan Mountains are majestic and the people are the nicest in the world!” was a common travel tidbit I heard. What I found was a developing nation with deep problems becoming worse by the month with tourism hastening the poisoning of the well. The pollution is the worst I have ever seen. Air, land, sound and water, nothing is spared the careless trash.

(Via Kottke)


Lightning Flashes in El Salvador

Lightning Flashes in El Salvador Tracy L. Barnett

Tracy L. Barnett stepped off a bus, checked into a luxury resort and learned something about the indifferent forces of nature

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Reading Charles Dickens in Nigeria

George Packer argues in Lapham’s Quarterly that the great novels of the late Victorian years resonate more powerfully in today’s Rangoon, or Lagos, or Mombasa, than in the Western countries that spawned them. Here’s Packer:

The concerns of that literature—the individual caught in an encompassing social web, the sensitive young mind trapped inside an indifferent world, the beguiling journey from countryside to metropolis, the dismal inventiveness with which people survive, the permanent gap between imagination and opportunity, the big families whose problems are lived out in the street, the tragic pregnancies, the ubiquity of corruption, the earnest efforts at self-education, the preciousness of books, the squalid factories and debtor’s prisons, the valuable garbage, the complex rules of patronage and extortion, the sudden turns of fortune, the sidewalk con men and legless beggars, the slum as theater of the grotesque: long after these things dropped out of Western literature, they became the stuff of ordinary life elsewhere, in places where modernity is arriving but hasn’t begun to solve the problems of people thrown together in the urban cauldron.

(Via The Book Bench)


The Roads Between Us: A Journey Across Africa

The Roads Between Us: A Journey Across Africa Photo by Frank Bures

In a five-part series, Frank Bures explores the meaning of travel when arrival is not guaranteed

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AIDS Levy for Air Travelers?

There’s a proposal in the works to add a special tax, marked for efforts to fight AIDS in developing countries, to all flight purchases in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. A similar tax has been in place in France for three years and has raised nearly $1 billion. The Financial Times has the details on what the plan might look like.


Michael Jackson’s Global Impact

Michael Jackson star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Photo by Fabio Ikezaki via Flickr (Creative Commons)
REUTERS/Patrick De Noirmont

Love him or leave him, Michael Jackson’s international impact—from pioneering popular music and breaking down the race barrier in the entertainment world, to influencing foreign policy and perplexing people across the globe—cannot be denied.

As the world reacts to his death, we take a look at a sampling of global responses and remember some of his lasting impressions. 

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The Critics: ‘Fordlandia’

Greg Grandin’s new book, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, analyzes the surprising history behind the brilliant car mogul’s disastrous attempts to transplant the American way of life into a remote Amazonian village. Ford is credited as the father of America’s consumer culture, but his utopian plans to capitalize on new sources of rubber resulted in one of the greatest failures of his distinguished career. The critics are chiming in on the man behind the story and the modern day implications of exporting Americanism.

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Should Air Travelers Help Pay for the Poor’s Climate Change Woes?

Should Air Travelers Help Pay for the Poor’s Climate Change Woes? Photo by retromoderns via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by retromoderns via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s been a vexing question since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that air travel is the world’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Some 16,000 commercial jet aircraft produce more than 700 million tons of CO2 every year, the IPCC says. Though air travel accounts for between two and four percent of global warming attributed to human activities, that amount is expected to grow to 15 percent in 50 years.

Meanwhile, 45 million people are starving or malnourished because of climate change-spurred droughts, floods and other natural disasters. The Global Humanitarian Forum, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, says 300,000 people a year die because of climate change and that number will reach 500,000 annually by 2030. As negotiators prepare for a major climate summit in Copenhagen this December, they are also trying to figure out how developed countries (who produce the bulk of carbon emissions) can help save developing countries (who are suffering the most because of global warming). Taxing air travel is a favorite idea.

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From Scenic River to a Stream of ‘Black Gel’

From Scenic River to a Stream of ‘Black Gel’ Photo by Silver Surfer via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Silver Surfer via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The great master of riverine prose, Norman Maclean, was haunted by the crystalline waters of Montana’s Blackfoot River. But the residents of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, are haunted by the stench of the Buriganga, a river so polluted by human and industrial waste that it’s turned into a dead stream of “black gel,” Reuters reports.

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Brazilian Favelas, ‘Top Model’ Style

Brazilian Favelas, ‘Top Model’ Style Photo by .insanidades via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by .insanidades via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s not often that my life as a travel media watcher and my life as an occasional (OK, OK—regular) viewer of “America’s Next Top Model” overlap. So imagine my surprise last night when this season’s crop of would-be models landed in a Sao Paulo favela for an “edgy” Carmen Miranda-inspired photo shoot. Needless to say, the segment didn’t have much in common with the tales of favela-based slum tourism that I’ve read in the past.

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Still No Word on What Caused Scabies Outbreak Among Boston TSA Staff

Still No Word on What Caused Scabies Outbreak Among Boston TSA Staff Photo of Pohnpei's airport by Rob Verger
Photo of Pohnpei’s airport by Rob Verger

In late March, five TSA workers at Boston’s Logan Airport were infected with scabies, a nasty little bug that literally lives and breeds underneath the host’s skin.

The incident merited a posting on the TSA’s blog, reassuring passengers that there was basically no chance they could have contracted the bugs by going through security. (One of the many reasons why it would have been practically impossible for a passenger to become infected this way is that the TSA screeners wear gloves, and scabies is usually only spread through direct skin-to-skin contact.)

When I contacted the TSA this week to see if they had any leads in how the outbreak began, Ann Davis, the Public Affairs Officer for the TSA in Boston, said via email:

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Street Kids in Enzo’s World

Street Kids in Enzo’s World REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

On a trip to Granada, Nicaragua, JD Roberto confronts hungry children and considers how to explain them to his son

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Fox Seeks Optimism in Bhutan

We haven’t seen much of Michael J. Fox on television in recent years, but now the former Spin City actor has surfaced—surprisingly—in Bhutan. Following in the footsteps of World Hum contributor Eric Weiner, Fox visited the Himalayan nation this month to investigate the country’s vaunted Gross National Happiness policy, as part of a television special on the nature of optimism, due to air in May. 

I’m wondering what Fox uncovered given that Bhutan marks its one-year anniversary as a democracy this week. As we’ve seen elsewhere in the world, that transition can trigger a less-than-optimistic mood in the general populace. I haven’t seen much coverage of how things are going in Bhutan; perhaps it’s time for a Geography of Bliss sequel.


An End for Kashmir’s ‘Mughal Palaces on Water’?

An End for Kashmir’s ‘Mughal Palaces on Water’? Photo by shahbasharat via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by shahbasharat via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The beautifully carved wooden houseboats, which are area icons, date to the 19th century, when they shielded British officials from the subcontinent’s penetrating summers. Today, tourists rent the houseboats on Dal Lake, which, though seemingly lovely, is actually a dumping ground for untreated sewage.

To combat the pollution, Kashmir’s provincial government has asked houseboat owners to install pricey sewage treatment on the vessels within 90 days or face a shutdown, The Guardian reports. But the houseboat owners, many of whom live below the poverty line, say they can’t afford the units. “The government should pay for the sewage treatment units, or it should put all the 850 houseboats together and blow them up with one big bomb,” lamented Mohammed Azam Tuman, president of the Houseboats and Shikara Owners Association.


Slumming It: Can Slum Tourism Be Done Right?

Dharavi, Mumbai REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

Global Positioning: On the intersection of place, politics and culture

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Global Warming Tourism: The Rising Sea Level Slideshow!

Global Warming Tourism: The Rising Sea Level Slideshow! Photo by mrlin via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Florida’s Key West as well as the Maldives, Tuvalu and the islands of Pate and Ndau in the Lamu Archipelago off the Northern coast of Kenya are among eight places that rising sea levels due to climate change will soon make uninhabitable, according to a provocative slideshow at Treehugger.

I hope this doesn’t start a trend in “climate-change cruises.”


New Zealand: The Dream Destination for ‘Ecomigrants’?

new zealand Photo by Sami Keinänen via Flickr (Creative Commons).
Photo by Sami Keinänen via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Most ecomigrants, or people who leave their home countries because of climate change, are poor, desperate and often homeless. Consider the citizens of Bangladesh, where between 12 million and 17 million eco-refugees have fled in the last few decades because of increased flooding and other environmental catastrophes attributed in part to global warming. But in an intriguing Washington Post story, it appears that well-off people from developed countries are also worried enough about climate change to relocate to greener locales.

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Should I Give Money to Child Beggars?

Vagabonding traveler Rolf Potts answers your questions about travel and the world

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Interview With Rory MacLean: ‘Magic Bus’ on the Hippie Trail

Frank Bures asks him about the classic journey from Istanbul's pudding shop to Kathmandu

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R.I.P. Samuel Huntington

The author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order and other influential books has died at the age of 81.

I read “The Clash of Civilizations” while traveling in Asia in early 2001 and found Huntington’s theories about culture and the world fascinating, even if I didn’t always agree with them. (The book was based on this article.) I always thought the book should be essential reading for any traveler with even a slightly wonkish bent trying to make sense of the world.

In retrospect, early 2001 was an interesting time to be reading the book. As the New York Times obituary points out, Huntington was startling prescient, writing: “Somewhere in the Middle East, a half-dozen young men could well be dressed in jeans, drinking Coke, listening to rap, and between their bows to Mecca, putting together a bomb to blow up an American airliner.”

Other writers, like Benjamin Barber in Jihad vs. McWorld, have offered what I thought were compelling counter-arguments to Huntington’s theory, suggesting that it’s not so much a clash of civilizations but other factors behind many of today’s terrorist attacks. The two books could well be read together.

Huntington wrote many books, including, more recently, a controversial volume about American culture and immigration. It angered many.

Regardless, he was a thoughtful writer and an important thinker. Many readers—including travelers—will miss him and his contributions to political science and our understanding of the world.