Wednesday, June 11, 2008

World's 10 Most Dangerous Travel Destinations

From Hopefully your summer plans don't include any of these "dead-stinations."

Risk ranking: 5 (1 to 5 scale, 5 being the highest risk)

If the presence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda aren't enough to deter people from visiting Afghanistan, there are an estimated 5 million to 7 million landmines scattered around the countryside. Food shortages are prevalent; infrastructure is basically nonexistent; and bombings in Kabul, especially around the U.S. Embassy, are commonplace. Great deals on carpets are sure to be found, though.

Risk ranking: 4

The U.S. State Department cautions that Americans should not travel to Chechnya and its surrounding areas, and if they do, they should "depart immediately." The latest large-scale uprising by Chechen rebels was the October 2002 takeover of a Moscow theater, in which 129 hostages and 50 gunmen were killed. Kidnappings in the Caucasus by local crime gangs are common. The State Department warns: "U.S. citizens have disappeared in Chechnya and remain unaccounted for."

Risk ranking: 4

Travelers to Colombia can take their pick from an embarrassment of risks: kidnapping, domestic airline hijacking, robbery and murder are all possibilities. This is a country where it's de rigueur for wealthy citizens to employ an army of Uzi-wielding bodyguards and ride in bomb-proofed SUVs. According to the U.S. State Department, there is a greater risk of being kidnapped in Colombia than in any other country in the world. In 2002, more than 3,000 people were reported kidnapped throughout Colombia. In the past two years, 18 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country.

Risk ranking: 5

Although the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is over and a cease-fire is in effect, the country remains volatile. Last April, six members of the Red Cross were murdered. In May, rebels kidnapped more than 20 people working at a Thai logging company. Sporadic fighting with Rwandan and Burundian rebels along the Congo borders continues to occur. Armed robbery, carjacking and assault are everyday occurrences.

Risk ranking: NA (meaning, off the charts)


Risk ranking: 3

Since September 2000, there have been more than 70 Palestinian suicide bomb attacks aimed at Israelis. The West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem remain the most dangerous areas. Travelers should avoid large crowds, buses, shopping areas, restaurants, clubs and cafes -- which doesn't leave much that could be considered safe.

North Korea
Risk ranking: NA

The government is totalitarian, the people are starving and the hotels are terrible -- who would want to go to North Korea? On top of all that, there's a simmering nuclear crisis. While Americans can travel there with a visa, be warned: There is no U.S. Consulate and the laws are strict. Foreigners can be arrested for shopping at "nontourist" stores, and it's a crime to show disrespect to North Korea's current and former leaders, Kim Jung-Il and Kim Il-Sung.

Risk ranking: 4

One of the most gruesome -- and visible -- displays of the dangers in Pakistan was the 2002 kidnapping and slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Foreigners, especially Christians, continue to be targeted there. Churchgoers in an Islamabad Protestant church have been attacked, as have several people in a Christian hospital in Taxila. The U.S. Consulate in Karachi is closed indefinitely, and the State Department warns Americans to leave.

Papua New Guinea
Risk ranking: 3

Although cannibalism is still practiced in Papua New Guinea, being eaten is one of the least likely threats to visitors. Violent crime is more of a worry, much of it attributed to local gangs known as "rascals." Law enforcement is inadequate; there are only 4,800 cops for a population of nearly 4 million. The State Department advises visitors to ask the hotel concierge for metal pipes, which can be placed inside windows to block entry from an intruder. The scuba diving in Papua New Guinea, however, is superb.

Risk ranking: 4

Torn by civil war for years, Yemen has become even more dangerous lately. The most notable incidents were the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, the 1998 kidnapping of 16 Western tourists and the murder of three American missionaries last December. In October 2002, the French oil tanker Limburg was set ablaze, killing one sailor. The most common threats to travelers are kidnapping and carjacking, although petty crime is low. Tribal kidnappings are normally resolved within a few days.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Sri Lanka


(personally, I won't be traveling to any "-stan")

Leisure Suit Fact Of The Day

LOTD fan Tom Kane sends along this story.

In college, I worked in the theatre costume dept. as an elective. One day I ran across a rack of leisure suits, and the old guy that ran the shop told me a hysterical story.

Apparently, he was a consultant to the Smithsonian on the preservation and restoration of historically significant clothing. He described the elaborate climate-controlled vaults in the bowels of the museum, with rack upon rack of cabinets, each with 6-inch high human-sized drawers. They carefully lay out the clothing on acid-free paper-lined cedar, to be preserved for the ages...

...except the leisure suits.

Yes, the Smithsonian has a collection of leisure suits, as the costume trustees felt they were a significant fashion moment. But unlike all the other pieces in their collection, they have determined the 100% polyester suits are fine on wide hangars on a rack made of plumbing pipe. They estimated no measurable deterioration would occur for up to 500 years.

SNL Classic Clip Of The Day: Ebony & Ivory

From 1982. Who says Piscopo was never funny? It starts off a little slowly, but stick with it.

Gnome Death

Like gnomes?

Mom always said never run with scissors

A sprinkler a day helps keep gnomeys away

Here, Sneezy, these might help

Everything I tell Horst goes in one ear and out the other...

Do I have something in my eye?

I'm growing a tail!

I think he got the point, but just in case, let's run through it one more time

Oops, I just remembered, Doc didn't want corn

"Hey, don't pin this one on me," said Gunther.


Ax not what your gnome can do for you...

Talk about a brush with death

Fritz always fancied himself a hole-y man

Cleaver? I barely know her!

Photos via
Die Screaming With Sharp Things In Your Head

Vid Of The Day: Numnut?

Another one from Lynn, who can belch the entire alphabet on just one swig of a Schlitz Malt Liquor.


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