In 1991, there were 17 murders every day in Medellin, Colombia, making it the murder capital of the world. The hunting ground of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, Medellin was rife with violent crime and corruption.
I grew up in a small village called Caister-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. Norfolk’s a pretty rural part of the UK, positioned on the east coast and buffeted by the North Sea. Although I left my home county over 20 years ago, and rarely return apart from the odd visit, I still have a lot of affection for the county I grew up in.
We look at some of the world’s most divisive destinations destinations that continue to pull in the crowds
Should we or shouldn’t we go?
There are some travel destinations that no matter how picture perfect their landscapes or how much history steeped in their ancient lands, will always provoke a strong reaction in traveller circles. Whether it’s for political, geographical or social reasons, the world’s most divisive destinations will likely divide opinion for a very long time.
Below we look at some of the most contentious and divisive destinations that rightly or wrongly pull in the tourist crowds year after year.
“Do you have faith?”
Peter stumbled for a response. “I’m sorry?”
“Do you have faith?” the priest repeated matter-of-factly.
Peter stopped loading his plate with cucumber sandwiches. “Um, yes,” he managed before quietly shuffling away, elaborating no further.
The question, anodyne as it was, was unexpected. We had enjoyed a relaxing day at his friend’s summer wedding in the beautiful English countryside and weren’t expecting to share our religious affiliations with the head of service in the buffet queue.
Before I quit my job to travel, I worked at roughguides.com for two years and, before that, as Features Editor at Asian Woman and Asian Bride magazines. During this time, I noticed some common themes and phrases emerge in the travel writing I read: diners always enjoyed “hearty fare”, cabins were always “nestled among” something, and seas always comprised “azure waters” (that last one I’m guilty of myself).
My colleague picks up the two guidebooks strewn across my desk.
“Are you planning to take these with you?”
“Won’t they be too heavy?”
I shrug. “Peter will carry them.”
“You could just look it all up on TripAdvisor.”
“I prefer guidebooks.”
Her lips curl into a look that is half confusion and half disdain. “Okay,” she says in a tone that suggests it’s not okay at all.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience a decent cross-section of the world – rich and poor – and all the charms it has to offer.
From the pristine streets of Berlin to the dusty roads of Delhi, from the clockwork metro in Austria to the rickety network of dalla-dallas in Tanzania careering along at breakneck speeds, and from 5-star luxury in the Maldives to a cockroach-infested Cambodian dorm – they all have their allure and if I’m honest.
Last week I read The Case Against Sharing, a post on Medium which referred to Airbnb, Lyft and similar services as ‘Big Sharing’. The phrase immediately raised my hackles.
It drips with cynicism, taking something really quite lovely and reducing it to something soulless: a corporate vehicle that only exists to create money. ‘Big Sharing’ sullies the phenomenon of real sharing.
Many people say they want to have ‘travelled the world’ but how can we quantify this? Countries visited? Passport stamps? Borders crossed?
How many times have you heard someone say it? Or read a blog post about it? Seen it in an Instagram status or on a bucket-list? Scores of people (including me) say they want to ‘travel the world’ but how can we quantify this? By the number of countries visited? Stamps in our passports? Borders crossed? Cultures experienced?
Kia asked this question on Quora a while ago and received a response from Jay Wacker, a former Stanford professor who offered up Hasbro’s Risk Map as a measure, suggesting that you can say you’ve travelled the world once you have visited half the territories on the map – that’s 21 out of 42 in total.