Countries to avoid in Asia

Countries to avoid in Asia | Today we start a mini series of three blog posts about countries to avoid as a tourist. Starting with Asia we will hop to Latin America tomorrow and finish in Africa on Tuesday. Discouraging you from traveling to certain countries does not mean the locals are generally hostile to tourists. We rather blame the men in power for not stepping up.

Countries to Avoid: North Korea

Countries avoid Asia North Korea
Countries to Avoid: North Korea.

Countries to avoid in Asia: North Korea | Why? because of an unimaginably crazy government. People grown up in East Germany might be the only ones, being able to understand the horrific situation in North Korea. Just don’t go there. You would support the current rulers with your tourist spendings.

This is what you will miss out on: the Paekdusan Volcano and Mount Kumgang, both locations are actually very nice. Maybe in another life.

Countries to Avoid: Afghanistan

Countries avoid Asia Afghanistan
Countries to avoid in Asia: Afghanistan.

Countries to Avoid: Afghanistan | No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence. Economically, Afghanistan is considered very poor. In the last 30 years the country has been in chaos due to major wars – from the Soviet invasion of 1979 to warlordism and the U.S. American invasion. Russians, Americans, Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaida and IS-terrorists made this country a no-go for tourists.

This you miss: Panjshir Mountains – They are located in North East of Afghanistan. Very rough but beautiful landscapes.

Countries to Avoid: Pakistan

Countries to Avoid: Pakistan
Countries to avoid in Asia: Pakistan.

Countries avoid Asia | Open the roof of a house, throw in some kalashnikovs, some radical thoughts, a dash of togetherness, close the roof and wait for what’s coming out the door. You will produce the most dangerous people on earth, because Pakistan people are behind in virtually every index. Pakistan features along with 17 countries from Africa and India. Give an uneducated person a gun, and you generate suicidal Al-Qaida-Taliban-IS-men-slaughtering terrorists.  Don’t risk your life. Avoid these people.

This you miss: Neelam Valley, Hunza Valley, Swat Valley, Kaghan Valley, Kalash Valley.

 Countries to Avoid: Saudi-Arabia

Countries avoid Asia Saudi-Arabia
Countries to avoid in Asia: Saudi-Arabia.

Countries to Avoid: Saudi-Arabia | Due to the price decline for a barrel of crude oil over the last years from $92 to $42 the government of Saudi Arabia lost 50% of it’s future income. The country currently lives from its reserves, which might be gone within the next four years, if oil and gas prices do not go back up soon. In other words: it’s boiling under the hood already. Apart from this – for all those of you still going to Saudi Arabia: traveling into the desert is extremely dangerous for foreigners – especially women – due to the ultra conservative culture of armed Bedouins. Tourists in Saudi-Arabia have no access to hospitals, not even in emergency situations and with possession of a health insurance.

This you miss: Masjid an-Nabi in Medina, Grand Mosque in Mecca, Black Stone in Mecca, Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh

Countries to Avoid: Yemen

Countries to Avoid: Yemen
Countries to Avoid: Yemen.

Countries to Avoid: Yemen | Last in this list a heavy one. Don’t under estimate the dangers waiting for you in Yemen. Foreign Ministries of most countries worldwide advise against all travel to Yemen. Nobody will give any support or assistance to its citizens when in trouble in Yemen. Most embassies are closed. There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen and specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication. Avoid this country. Throughout the Old City of Sanaa spray painted slogans stain a labyrinth of ancient passages: “Death to America.” Tribal kidnappings are on the rise and foreigners were becoming lucrative commodities for al-Qaeda, which is headquartered in the country. Expats were whisked away at gunpoint from bustling commercial districts in broad daylight.

This you miss: Old City of Sanaa – one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites on earth. Socotra Island – contains some of the world’s most astonishing and unique plant forms. More than a third of the 800 or so species on Socotra Island are found nowhere else on this planet. Shoab Beach – crystal clear water, dolphins, wonderful landscape.

Countries avoid Asia. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here. Header image by Boris Khvostichenko – Dracaena cinnabari (Dragon’s Blood Tree). Wikipedia GFDL

Event Tourism: eSports

Event tourism eSports hits Genting, Malaysia | Parents are shocked, kids are in awe! Remember when your parents did not like seeing you traveling to Roskilde just to admire The Cure or Iggy Pop? Well, now you are a parent yourself, and you will have to eat this: A pretty hip version of event tourism was flying under the radar for a long time but made it big in recent years: eSports Tourism. Fans of Starcraft II, League of Legends, CS:G0 or Counter-Strike know what we are talking about. eSports events fill entire football stadiums. Latest destination: Genting in Malaysia. From January 23 to 28 the Arena of Stars at Resorts World Genting played host to 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams as they battled for a prize pool of whooping US$400,000.

Event tourism eSports Genting
eSports tourism is on the rise. Newest destination: Genting, Malaysia

One of the major driving forces behind this industry is the eSport Company Turtle Entertainment – organizer of events such as “Intel Extreme Masters” in Katowice (Poland, 2014) and “ESL One” in Frankfurt (Germany, 2015). The event at the Genting Arena of Stars was sold out – all 6,000 tickets gone within just 30 days of sale.

Who was coming? Predominately young digital natives, 16 to 26 years old and male. They are the prime target when it comes to eSports tourism. These customers are technology affine and as passionate about gaming as their parents were about U2. It is the 21st century version of social activity. Instead of going to the football stadium to watch Arsenal vs. Liverpool, kids fill an arena as big as Anfield to follow a battle between Fnatic and DC Dota2. Example: ESL One in Frankfurt (Germany) had an attendance of 52,000 people while the League of Legends World Final in Seoul (Korea) saw 45,000 fans filling the Sangam Stadium.

Genting is a Malaysian hill resort at an elevation of 1,740 metres (5,710 ft), one hour away from Kuala Lumpur. Turtle Entertainment did run this ESL One eSports event in the Genting Arena of Stars, part of a large casino chain with resorts and hotels.

Event tourism eSports Lanxess Arena
ESL One in Cologne 2015 at Lanxess Arena

Event tourism eSports. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Read more about Event Tourism here. Header image source: RedBull.

Tiger Temple raided and closed

Tiger Temple raided and closed | Very sad news for tiger lovers: It used to be a paradise for tigers and the #1 tourist destination for lovers of wild cats. But that’s history now. This week the world’s most famous Tiger Temple (Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno) has been raided and closed. Tiger Temple was located in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province, west of Bangkok. The buddhist monks living here received their first motherless tiger cubs from villagers in 1999. Numbers constantly went up. 150 tigers were counted in January 2016. The majority of those tigers were Bengal and Indochinese, a few others hybrid breeds. Tourists paid 600 Thai Baht ($16) to enter into this unique site, with additional costs to pet and feed the tigers. Thousands of tourists did flock to it every year. ‘Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno‘ became the world’s most popular tourist destination for tiger lovers.

Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno - the Tiger Temple
Wat Pha Luang Ta Bu Yannasampanno – the Tiger Temple

Why did Tiger Temple close?

Tiger Temple raided and closed; the setup: There have been ongoing battles between wildlife groups, Thai Department of National Parks (DNP) and the monks since the beginning of this mini zoo. Several times the DNP tried to confiscate the tigers. Each time the monks somehow held on to their animals. Things looked better recently: The temple applied for a zoo license that would have enabled them to legally continue holding tigers. Such license was provisionally granted, but then revoked soon after for reasons unknown to us. This week, backed by a court order Thai authorities launched a large-scale raid on the tiger temple to confiscate the animals. The 1,000-strong police operation is due to continue all week.

Although workers and volunteers at the temple spoke out against the operation, police and wildlife officials immediately started an operation to remove all tigers from the temple. Pictures from yellowpress journalists at the scene posted to social media showed dead 40 small tiger cubs lined up on a floor. In a Facebook statement, the monks said the mortality rate for tiger cubs at the temple was “comparatively low”. Since 2010 dead newborn tigers have been kept as proof against the allegations of selling cubs. One British who has volunteered with the tigers, told the media that tiger remains were frozen as proof that cubs who died of natural causes were not being sold into any kind of illegal wildlife trade. This might indeed be true, because a number of bodies was found in a state of decay as they have been there over five years. It would seem strange to keep the frozen bodies that long if the intent was to sell them.

Tiger Temple raided and closed
Tiger Temple raided and closed. It used to be a place of harmony between humans and animals.

Tiger Temple Accused of Supplying Black Market

So far nothing is really speaking against the Tiger Temple. “Missing permissions” to keep and breed tigers only means that some people in power did miss out on revenue. No cage was too small. No tiger did starve. In fact the opposite is true. Tigers at the site did live like in paradise. While the tiger population is shrinking dramatically elsewhere, this temple went from 8 to 150 tigers in its 17 years of existence. Crazy allegations were thrown at the monks: speed breeding, black market activities to satisfy Chinese demands (Tiger bones and body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine), illegal cross-border exchange with Laos-based tiger farms, animal torture and whatnot. Nothing has been proven so far.

Tiger Temple raided closed | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.