When I was picking places to go on my round the world trip (RTW), I simply pulled out a map, looked at the countries, continent by continent, and figured which ones appealed to me. But I didn’t rule any place out.
The 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre (‘incident’ as Chinese officials call it) reminded me why many people have no desire to go to China. You probably have your own list of places you won’t go, even if someone paid you. Human rights abuses. Treatment of women. Child slavery. Perceived threat of danger to tourists. Long prison terms. Dictatorships.
Let’s talk about some of those places:
There is a reason Cuban Americans say they would celebrate in the streets the day Fidel Castro dies and the government collapses. He locked away many people and has killed others for defying his rule since his ascension to power in 1959.
The USA does not allow direct flights to Cuba, the lasting result of being Communist so close to American shores and the embargo after the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the hypocrisy is apparent. There are plenty of countries that have ties to the US with the same political situation as Cuba. What is the difference? We’ll see what happens with the new US administration slowly allowing more travel to Cuba.
A few people have told me they will never go to China because of that government’s support of the regimes of Sudan and Zimbabwe. The recent 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre brought a crackdown on Internet usage and huge police presence in the Square to prevent any types of ceremonies to reflect on the incident. They blocked Internet access to services like Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to award China the 2008 Olympics in hopes of forcing wide the doors of democracy. Not so successful IOC. China is cracking the door open on some capitalist initiatives, but the ruling class still hold firm over the populace.
THE MIDDLE EAST
From Israel to Saudi Arabia, I know some people avoid this entire region like the plague. People perceive the threat of violence from the actions of a few. The treatment of women is another sticking point. Human rights? Democracy? Palestinian vs. Israeli? Israel v. The Rest of the Region? The fact that the majority of 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia means some Americans will never step foot into that country.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
My own beloved Stars and Stripes is a no fly zone for many people. Do you really need a list of reasons why? Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, the hard process for tourist and school visas, the death penalty existing still in many states, on and on. The ‘Imperialist Yankees’ have a lot of admirers, but also plenty of haters.
Barack Obama’s election may open eyes, but many won’t come here on principle. I got plenty of love from fellow travelers right before and after the Presidential election, but I can only imagine what it would have been like to travel abroad a few years earlier. But for the most part, Americans don’t have to pretend like we are from Canada anymore…
And these are some of the obvious ones we can talk about. Essentially you can close your eyes, pick any country in the world off a map, and find a reason not to go there. That is absolutely your right and how you spend your time or money is completely up to you. Before you write it off, examine your reasoning.
Do the conditions still exist or is it more perceived then actuality? Is it rumors, innuendo and false news reports clouding my impression of the country? Will I be completely unhappy going there? Is there anything worthwhile that I want to see or do?
Maybe your biggest question is: Can we separate the respective governments of countries you want to avoid from the citizens, culture and history you want to see?
Does popping into Shanghai mean you support Chinese Internet censorship?
Does jetting to Havana for a cigar mean you condone Castro’s 50 year reign?
Does going to New York for sightseeing or Vegas for gambling mean you support the ‘war on terror’?
Everyone’s answer is different. What’s important to you? Ultimately you have to pick and choose what you are comfortable with.
Fortunately the world is such a big, captivating place that you can skip places and still not have all the time or money to get to everything you want to.
Just don’t let it stop ALL your travel.
With that said, where will you not travel to? Is your concern crime, terrorism, human rights, the government in charge or some other reason? Let us know in the comments!