“In my life, I’ve had the fortune of visiting forty-four countries, and if I were forced to write down my favorites, you might mistake it for a list of Government Travel Warnings . . .
. . . The fact that I’m still alive might speak two things about me:
1) That I’m a fucking moron—a verylucky fucking moron—with no regard for my poor mother’s heart rate or emotional well-being.
2) When it comes to traveling in unstable or dangerous places, I might know how to avoid getting machete’d in the face.”
– Steve McDonald, Backpackology
“. . . you might call me overly cavalier,
which is fair.
Cavalier is a great synonym for stupid.
My name is Steve . . .”
– Steve McDonald
A quick glance over the U.S. Department of State page and you might mistake the entire world outside of English-speaking North America as a seething warzone of murderers and misanthropes. Other sources are not quite as paranoid. And taking into account the sheer number of people travelling the world at any given moment free of any incident whatsoever, a more complete picture can start to be imagined.
Despite warnings ranging from Lonely Planet to Wikitravel to Thai coworkers, my trip into the ‘hostile’ southern provinces of southern Thailand a few days after a highly publicized bombing had passed by entirely without mishap. Granted, I had stayed in the city of Hat Yai for less than 24 hours. But it still served to reinforce my opinion that while our confidence is sometimes shaken, most people are interested in just living rather than actively seeking to do others harm. Given my initial, but likely far from my last, stint in troubled region it seemed appropriate to share Steve McDonald’s Guide to Not Dying in Scary Countries, his farcical, yet practical guide to dealing with situations one might encounter.
Blogger Steve McDonald of backpackology.org does a fantastic job of capturing this sentiment on his travels through the mostly unknown lands of Central Asia. His forays into places like the notoriously dangerous Khyber Pass are loaded with insightful observations, intriguing interaction with locals, and a comedic overtone to every story that all make for a remarkable read.
Though he took a small detour back to the U.S. early in his grand two-year voyage, I hope to see him on the road and posting again soon.