The world is full of wonderful holiday destinations, but some are best avoided despite the delights they offer. Here are three countries to steer clear of in Asia.
For 35 years, various conflicts have been raging in Cambodia over the control for its territories. It is crawling with Interpol’s most feared fugitives and riddled with millions of land mines and has suffered severe deforestation. Although the numbers of land mines have been greatly reduced, every month, more than 150 Cambodians step on land mines.
In 1978, some westerners were killed by the brutal Khmer Rouge along with the Americans, Michael Scott Deeds and James Clark. The two were captured by the Khmer Rouge when they had sailed mistakenly into Cambodian waters.
Suspected as spies for the American CIA and Vietnam, they were tortured for over a month with electric shocks. Wherever western tourists go, they are trailed by beggars: the impoverished and disfigured victims of Pol Pot’s savage regime.
The countryside may be beautiful, but in many places, the bones of the victims of the Khmer Rouge litter the earth.
Although the Khmer Rouge is no more and some semblance of peace seems to reign over this country, anything can happen. Most people own firearms and The Forbes magazine lists Cambodia as one of the most dangerous tourist destinations.
Since the United States handed the keys of the kingdom back to Iraqi troops, places like Baghdad and Basra are said to be getting gradually safer. However, the Dutch expert on Iraq, Robert Soeterik says: “In general, the situation has improved, but Iraq remains a very dangerous destination, where people die or get wounded on an almost daily basis.”
He adds that tourists are still potential targets for terrorist groups in Mosul and the Kirkuk district.
Countries like Belgium and Brussels discourage their citizens from traveling to Iraq. In fact, the ravaged country is no longer a delight for tourists, having lost most of its rich heritage to the war. According to Middle East expert Robert Soeterik , only the religiously motivated may want to visit Iraq.
A severely impoverished country (even when compared with Africa), Pakistan is ruled by greed and politics. It is a lawless place where only five percent of the population is said to pay taxes; only 35% are literate and 30% live below the poverty line.
The gun culture in the country is almost as massive as the one in the United States, what with cheap weapons readily available from neighboring Afghanistan. The country is also the haven of terrorist groups like the Taliban and is thought to be hiding Osama Bin Laden.
Add to this frequent earthquakes and an estimated 4 million heroin addicts fostered by Afghanistan’s fields of poppy, yet Pakistan seems to feature on the travel itinerary of the adventurous – hippies, trekkers and mountain climbers.
But American adventurers are certainly not welcome in Pakistan. In 1999, they were proclaimed as fair game by the religious scholar Nizam-ud-din Shamzai who said: “the spilling of American blood is permissible.”
Besides, tourists are frequently injured and killed in the rapid fire between Sunni and Shia Muslim communities.
Dangerous destinations like Cambodia, Iraq and Pakistan attract those who like to live on the edge. But although these places are guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping, they put lives at risk.