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NotThePars

Where's the Strangest Place You Want to Visit or Have Visited?

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I met a chap in Bishkek who was attempting to be the youngest person ever to visit every country in the world. He had a strange air to him and didn't seem to be enjoying his quest. The look on his face when someone told him that a girl three years younger than him had already achieved the feat was priceless.

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21 hours ago, 101 said:

Sounds great. I always thought about £8k was the very cheapest I could get there for. 

I had planned to visit every continent before I was 25 but Covid has taken 2 years off that. My plan was Morocco last year Asian city short break on the way to NZ and then finish off in 2023 at the Medellin Christmas Festivities.

Sounds great.  Colombia is supposed to be beautiful. 

NZ was also brilliant and if I was ever to emigrate anywhere it would be NZ.  Too old for that now 

Edited by paul wright scores

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On 30/03/2021 at 15:02, ICTChris said:

Varosha, it's really an area of Famagusta rather than a city in itself.  It was the modern tourist part of Famagusta and they left it as a bargaining chip for a peace agreement but that didn't go anywhere so it's just fallen into ruin.  I've been to Famagusta a few times and we went for a walk on the beach by Famagusta.  It's really odd - there is a modern five star hotel there and they have waiters in bow ties serving drinks to people on loungers and 100 feet away there are all these ruined buildings behind a massive barbed wire fence.  I didn't take any photos as they don't like yhou photographing any of the Turkish army places but this from Wiki shows it well - 

Varoscha.jpg

 

The TRNC is kind of odd - because it's unrecognised and there is no investment from anywhere other than Turkey then you don't have all the international chains and places like that, so it feels quite distinctive.  It's also a lot more run down than Cyprus, if you go off the beaten path then there are obviously people living in real grinding poverty.  

We went to Nicosia one day and crossed the green line and the difference between the Turkish part (old winding streets, little cafes and small shops) and the modern unoccupied part is massive.  The Greek part is a completely modern city, complete with KFC, all mod cons, everything a lot more up to date.   While this obviously hinders the residents of Turkish Cyprus (they voted in favour of the reunification plan in the 2000s but the Greek Cypriots rejected it) it does mean the beaches are left untouched and its a bit more authentic.  We drove up the Karpas Peninsula and it had these beautiful beaches that would probably be mobbed if it was an open country but were basicallyh deserted or had some rudimentary beach huts.

My dad lived in Cyprus during the 1990s when the border was onlyopen to tourists, Cypriots couldn't go across.  My cousin went to visit him in and they drove up to the TRNC and when they got back to the village they lived in people found out they had gone and loads of people came to them asking if they could go back and take photographs of their parents graves or check if their houses were still there - people forget the real tragedy of it all.

I should read a bit more about Cyprus. I only know that Big Boss spent a decade in recovery there in the 70s and early 80s before escaping with Ocelot.

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I was working on the QE2 in the 90s when it made it first visit back to the Falklands since the 80s conflict when it had carried the troops down.
I had expected some excitement from the islanders but they seemed not to care one bit.
The squaddies that we met however were glad to see someone from the outside world and considered the locals to be a wee bit weird.
The ships football team played an army team and after the game went to one of Port Stanley’s two pubs for a pint only to be told by the landlord that they didn’t open for another half hour and we would need to wait outside. This despite the fact we would probably spend more in the next hour than they normally took in a month.
The locals were also known as Bennies due to the woollen hats they all wore similar to Benny from Crossroads.

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Yemen;

Sana'a is (was) an amazing city, with one of the oldest settlements in the world, just off the circle next to the Airport. Highlights of the many trips over there was a taxi with no windows in Sana'a, a 7 hour jeep trip through the desert to Marib with armed guards, swimming in the Ocean at Balhaf with Stingrays, Somali pirates and war ships and a bomb attack on our compound.

Sakhalin Island, Russia;

The end of the Earth taking a 14 hour train journey from Yuzhno to Nogliki, proper 'Hills Have Eyes' shit. Got my visa revoked and ordered to leave the country but that's a story for another day.

Taiwan;

They love thier Karaoke in Taipei! Bought a heap of semi automatic BB guns for a laugh and took them to Singapore (where I was staying at the time), turns out this carried the death penalty at the time. Got away with one that trip!

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Sakhalin sounds like great fun to travel to, even though it's probably a bit of a bin and with a heavy, psycho Russian military presence. They've got a football club as well so you can make an away day of it. 

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15 hours ago, virginton said:

Sakhalin sounds like great fun to travel to, even though it's probably a bit of a bin and with a heavy, psycho Russian military presence. They've got a football club as well so you can make an away day of it. 

Yeah, the fashion is very 1987, only at the Airport and Train stations is there any kind of police presence, and yes you are right very psycho, humourless looking folk, they are built like absolute brick shite houses. Good pubs.

The further north, more remote you go, the stranger the people look.

Go in the summer time and it's like our summers, go in the winter and it's about -35 deg.

When I worked out there for a good 8 months, I had to do a Bear training course, in case we ever came in to contact with them, you are meant to walk towards them making as much noise as you can. f**k that!

We did see some wild Bears, a mother and cubs, luckily we were in the Jeep at the time.

Interesting place, very Soviet looking.

Edited by johnnydun

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Not a holiday destination, but I remember reading a coffee table book a wee while ago about "Places on Earth You Can't Visit" or something which contained the usual haunts - Area 51, Chernobyl, etc. One of them was the LHC at CERN, which I had a wee chuckle at as I have been there. It was just before the tunnel was sealed to visitors (we were the last tour group to go into the tunnel and see the actual accelerator and experimental equipment - subsequent tours could only see the computing labs, visitor centre, lecture theatres etc.)CERN%20057%20Crossing%20the%20border%20with%20the%20LHC.jpeg.jpegCERN%20034%20ATLAS%20Scale.jpegCERN%20063%20'The%20Ring'.jpeg

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On 02/12/2020 at 19:26, Hampden Diehard said:

I didn't get to Albania for the Scotland game, but I quite fancy heading there and getting out of the capital. Fascinating history and a wee bit feudal out in the sticks.

I remember going there in 1994 on a day trip from Corfu.

They bussed us to these Ancient Greek ruins called Butrinte, whilst interesting could have been any of the Greek ruins you see in Greece  e.g, Knossos

What was fascinating was the town of Sarande.  Lots of kids begging - even from the sea as soon the boat got in - desperate toothless old women selling nothing but doilies - horses and carts more prominent than cars, many houses with no electricity/water etc.  At that time Albania was just emerging from being the most isolated societies in the world and was poverty stricken.

Given they were just 5 miles across from the resorts in northern Corfu - it must have been strange for them looking across and seeing all the neon and laser searchlights from holiday bars/discotheques etc...

Anything retro communist block is good though - and also had very interesting trips to some other countries out there with Turkmenistan being the most f**ked up.

I have a thing for abandoned Soviet military facilities - and have noted three in Svalbard, Latvia (near Ventspils) and Kamchatka that look worth a visit. 

 

Edited by tarapoa

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On 30/11/2020 at 17:30, NotThePars said:

North Korea - in a parody of myself I would love to see the Hermit Kingdom for myself. A lot is written about it and a lot of that is untrue and while I know any visitors are going to see a heavily scripted and sanitised impression I would like to see a genuinely unique society for myself. Also the metro looks wild.

I've been, it is certainly scripted and sanitised, the metro is indeed spectacularly architectural; it is the deepest in the world.

I've got a brochure about its construction and what sums up the place is that Kim Il-Sung made a little joke on opening it.  "It is hard to cut the tunnel, but it is easy to cut the ribbon."  Not the dad joke, but that the brochure clarifies the remark as "even at the moment of triumph, the Leader's thoughts were with the workers".

What does startle is the lack of advertising.  The only things you see are slogans.  When I went it was still Kim Jong-Il, and there was a sort of hierarchy of propaganda:

-one per town: statue of Kim Il-Sung

-more common: huge posters of the two Kims

-even more common: long red slogan signs, things like "let us go forward as a unified Korea into the 21st century" (the 3rd Party Congress was particularly important for these)

-most common: sort of advertising billboard posters of idealised Koreans, plus the Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia flowers.

There was only one advert I saw, and that was for some knock-off Chinese car that was assembled there.

The people to go with are Koryo Tours.  I also went with them to Turkmenistan, which is like North Korea with a sense of whimsy.  But, unlike North Korea, you can go wandering around yourself (although Turkmen Plod tried to shake me down).

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On 02/12/2020 at 23:56, Tight John McVeigh is a tit said:

Had a long debate on this topic a few years ago with a friend who had went and someone who was all against it. How it is only for the individuals ego and ‘bragging rights’ but it doesn’t help the local people. The money goes to the government, it legitimises the leadership and of course you do not actually see anything that remotely reflects day to day life.

For me it was a mix of curiosity and history.  Could it REALLY be that bad?  In parts, no.  There are some obviously faked stories.  Like the one about Kim Jong-Il going around the golf course in 27.  That was a Western media concoction after journalists were invited to attend KJI opening the course.  One asked the question "is he good at golf?" and the response was "he is too busy working for the people to play golf, but I am sure he would be very good". 

There was also a story that all the old people are moved out of Pyongyang so that no westerners see pensioners.  Again not true, but the reason why you do not see pensioners is not positive for the regime - if they live on upstairs floors of towerblocks, they get trapped up there by broken lifts...

And then you see other bits.  No mechanism in the fields at all.  Everything is by hand.  You see people being hectored into repairing roads by loudspeakers on cars.  The problem is not so much the lack of equipment; it's a lack of fuel.  There is a legitimate reason for having a nuclear station, which complicates the whole bomb thing.  The chaperoning thing is in itself instructive; these are the BEST things they can show you.

One interesting thing is, of course, the North Koreans blame the west for the Korean War, but it is not THAT emphasised in the museums.  Cross the border to Dandong, on the other side of the Yalu river that separates China and DPRK, and in the museums there it is FAR more in your face (e.g. one of the things they display there is a centipede the Chinese claim the Americans infected with bacteria).

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1 hour ago, bluearmyfaction said:

For me it was a mix of curiosity and history.  Could it REALLY be that bad?  In parts, no.  There are some obviously faked stories.  Like the one about Kim Jong-Il going around the golf course in 27.  That was a Western media concoction after journalists were invited to attend KJI opening the course.  One asked the question "is he good at golf?" and the response was "he is too busy working for the people to play golf, but I am sure he would be very good". 

There was also a story that all the old people are moved out of Pyongyang so that no westerners see pensioners.  Again not true, but the reason why you do not see pensioners is not positive for the regime - if they live on upstairs floors of towerblocks, they get trapped up there by broken lifts...

And then you see other bits.  No mechanism in the fields at all.  Everything is by hand.  You see people being hectored into repairing roads by loudspeakers on cars.  The problem is not so much the lack of equipment; it's a lack of fuel.  There is a legitimate reason for having a nuclear station, which complicates the whole bomb thing.  The chaperoning thing is in itself instructive; these are the BEST things they can show you.

One interesting thing is, of course, the North Koreans blame the west for the Korean War, but it is not THAT emphasised in the museums.  Cross the border to Dandong, on the other side of the Yalu river that separates China and DPRK, and in the museums there it is FAR more in your face (e.g. one of the things they display there is a centipede the Chinese claim the Americans infected with bacteria).

I don’t believe you can take any of what you hear about North Korea (good or bad) at face value.

Your example on the golf story being fake is pretty well documented as originating in North Korea* and emphasises the stress and strain people are under in the country and the impact foreign visitors have on the country. 

*The story has been documented as being ‘broken’ by a widely reputable journalist and was a bit part of a bigger, serious piece on the terrible situation in North Korea and was included to emphasise the fear that people live under and will say what they think they should to prove their loyalty to the leader and not fall foul of prying eyes and ears. Of course all the embellishment is western propaganda and has caused the original point to be missed.

I had looked at going before and was close to going, but after a bit of digging, I decided (in my opinion), there was no justifiable reason to go. When your as closely monitored and your itinerary as tightly controlled there is something seriously questionable in it. 

Like anything there is no black and white and the west are far from innocent in this f**k up of a country, but even China constantly get pissed of with NK’s antics (who are also mostly likely taking the piss out them).

The collapse of the regime could be an even bigger disaster as well.

PS: Again in my opinion there is no justifiable reason for a nuclear power plant. It’s posturing. 

 

 

  

 

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I got the golf course story from someone who was literally at the golf course opening, who had no incentive to mislead.  Most North Koreans have never heard of golf and wouldn't know about low scores.  Naturally the golf course is only for elites and foreigners.

The worry about regime collapse is that the senior army bods were far more friendly to foreigners than the younger ones.  Same as in the western world; the further we get in time from conflict, the more extreme people's views are.  But a North Korean army would break down within a few miles because they'd run out of petrol.

And China would not support that.  China uses DPRK as a buffer between it and South Korea.  Crossing the river from Sinuiju to Dandong is already a culture shock; you go from a broken-down concrete nightmare that peters out into marshland over a bridge to a neon playground with a well-appointed quayside.  And that's going from Korea to a country whose GDP is around 65 in the world.  Imagine how it would be if South Korea abutted China instead.   China will only ever drip-feed enough to keep North Korea dependent on China.  If the Kim dynasty starts throwing its weight too aggressively (and they've been a lot worse in the past; two US soldiers were macheted to death in 1976 in the DMZ for trying to fell a tree) the Chinese will engineer the removal of an entire echelon of upper rank staff.

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6 hours ago, bluearmyfaction said:

I got the golf course story from someone who was literally at the golf course opening, who had no incentive to mislead.  Most North Koreans have never heard of golf and wouldn't know about low scores.  Naturally the golf course is only for elites and foreigners.

The worry about regime collapse is that the senior army bods were far more friendly to foreigners than the younger ones.  Same as in the western world; the further we get in time from conflict, the more extreme people's views are.  But a North Korean army would break down within a few miles because they'd run out of petrol.

And China would not support that.  China uses DPRK as a buffer between it and South Korea.  Crossing the river from Sinuiju to Dandong is already a culture shock; you go from a broken-down concrete nightmare that peters out into marshland over a bridge to a neon playground with a well-appointed quayside.  And that's going from Korea to a country whose GDP is around 65 in the world.  Imagine how it would be if South Korea abutted China instead.   China will only ever drip-feed enough to keep North Korea dependent on China.  If the Kim dynasty starts throwing its weight too aggressively (and they've been a lot worse in the past; two US soldiers were macheted to death in 1976 in the DMZ for trying to fell a tree) the Chinese will engineer the removal of an entire echelon of upper rank staff.

As said the golf story is well documented and archived as the original copy was in an reputable publication and by a well respected journalist. It only being a passing comment to underpin the fear the people live under was sadly missed/ignored and the sensationalism in the west began. 

China clearly prop up North Korea in an unfavourable way. Since the increase in sanctions China allegedly no longer report the oil exports (in full) to North Korea and North Korea do not report the exports of coal to China and China continue to utilise North Korean labour.

Regime collapse will happen at some point as a internal transition to something resembling economic normality seems unlikely but it is something I guess no one actually wants. I doubt the South Korea government themselves would want it.

Again in my opinion, you get more reality from Disneyworld and if any of the staff fluff their lines their the worst that will happen to them will be a reprimand.

Each to their own of course and as said, it was a place I had interest in going prior to several conversations and a bit of digging.

 

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On 04/12/2020 at 16:32, Fullerene said:

38p.  Equivalent to what a North Korean gets paid for 2 hours work.

I used to pay much more than that 20 years ago. At the black market exchange rates, 38p would have been about a week's pay for a local. But they got the odd ration coupon for a beer.

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