Of all the threats to a traveler’s health and sanity, the risk of going to jail abroad must rank pretty high on the list. The world can be a scary, dangerous place where the life of the traveler is threatened on all sides. There are killer diseases, muggers, natural disasters and terrible karaoke music that all represent perils to the traveler’s health and sanity.But while most travel guides assume that responsible travelers will never be on the wrong end of the law, Road Junky knows that the police of most countries in the world are just the criminals in uniform and make no bones about extorting money from you, beating you up or, if all else fails, putting you in jail.So here are ten of the worst places in the world to go to jail. Travel there by all means but memorise the number of a good lawyer before you go.1. ChinaChina is the world’s largest police state and punishes people who do the wrong kind of Tai chi by sending them to labour camps to harvest their … [Read more...] about 10 Countries Where You Don’t Want to Go to Jail
Dumb ways to die
It had seemed like such a good idea at the time.I’d been knocking around a hostel in Ocean Beach, San Diego for a few weeks, keeping busy by alternating between various beds, bars and the beach, when I’d hooked up with Dave and Louise. Tired of the frozen margarita and Taco Bell cliché of Mexi-Cal borderlands, we decided to undertake an epic road trip down into the dusty desert heartland of the Baja, to experience authentic local life and hunt out empty beaches with perfect waves to surf.Two days later, we’d sourced a car and we were off. Recall if you will, the vinyl roofed sedan from Live and Let Die that Roger Moore describes as a “pimpmobile” after the occupants try to run him off the road. This was identical, or would have been if it was still the 70s. Unfortunately, this was the mid-90s; the black exterior vinyl of the roof hung ragged over the exposed and rusting bare metal. Inside, the cloth upholstery blew around like so many tattered … [Read more...] about Road Trip to the Baja Badlands
by Danielle Pearson,When Mary Shelley looked at the Alps, she did not see mountains, lakes and trees. Instead, she saw an earthly paradise, a landscape so sublime that words could only hint at the wonder that it inspired. Writing of the mountains, Shelley draws attention to all that is measureless and eternal; “placed in scaleless altitude in the stainless sky, heaven kissing… the glorious Alps, clothed in dazzling robes of light.” These words are from her 1826 novel The Last Man, in which the Alps play a crucial role in the fate of humanity. But Shelley’s first visit to this stunning landscape had been back in 1814, when she was still Mary Godwin. Just sixteen years old at the time, she had eloped with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and traveled with him across Europe.This was an incredibly scandalous move, the first in a lifetime of radical and independent behavior. Though very much in love, things were far from perfect for the couple—they couldn’t … [Read more...] about “A Fitting Costume to Our Last Act:” Mary Shelley’s Alpine Redemption
Staircase Rapid on Idaho’s South Fork Payette River may soon undergo a facelift, and the proposed surgery has spurred a vigorous debate about whether we should alter whitewater to make it safer. It has also instigated the predicable bleats of righteous indignation from the shirtless chest-beater set, who don’t yet know the difference between living fully and dying stupidly. Controversies like this tend to represent larger ethical principles for many people who are passionate about their outdoor sport. For those of us who’ve lost a friend in an outdoor activity, these stories can also carry extra weight: a reminder of a loss that, maybe, was avoidable. As reported recently in a story in High Country News, an outfitter proposed removing a large and dangerous boulder from the class III-IV Staircase Rapid, where a 45-year-old rafting guide named Dean Fairburn drowned in 2007. Although fatalities there are rare, close calls aren’t: 15 to 20 boats wrap on that boulder … [Read more...] about Dumbing Down Adventure, or Saving Lives?
It could be a heart attack. The pinch under his left pec could be the first squeeze of massive cardiac failure. With only his naive little brother to help him, he could die here, in the jaws of the Grand Canyon. Matt knew his therapist at the VA would call this kind of thinking “catastrophizing.” He tried to come up with other scenarios that were not worst-case. Maybe it was just a too-heavy pack pulling on his out-of-shape torso? Or it could be from the way he was braking with all his might against his trekking poles as he tried to lower his body over two-foot ledges. Matt took his eyes off his feet for a few seconds, sucked air, and looked out into the canyon. It was dead quiet and far more beautiful than he’d expected. And so damn big. Twenty miles wide and 5,000 feet deep—impossible to fathom until you were actually inside of it. Jake was about 100 feet ahead of him, practically hopping down the rocks. They were here because it was on Jake’s bucket … [Read more...] about Worst Nightmare: Man Down
Goodnight Hollow, Missouri - A boy walked into the woods and no one worried. In those days, 5-year-olds skinned squirrels and giggled and a child could open a sow's throat with a single steady swipe. Before they were taught figures, daughters learned how to season steaming possum meat. Sons of slaves plowed the rocky soil and mothers bled to death in childbirth and if a little girl cut her finger, and the cut oozed green and the finger swelled, then her father measured the child and he started nailing together a tidy box of pine. In the hidden hollows of Missouri's Ozark Mountains, which is where the boy lived, times were hard. It was 1903 and the boy had just turned 8, but there was game to hunt, hogs to butcher, and there was no pine box or preacher or slab of limestone to mark the boy's passing, because there was no boy. The woods had claimed him. Adults paid respect in private, on sagging elm porches, late at night, over lonely, guttering flames. They remembered the child's pale … [Read more...] about The Lost Boy of the Ozarks
If you believe certain reality shows, the most rigorous test of survival is to be caught naked in the high Alps by a chance plane crash that somehow never triggered a search, so you'd have to make it through the weeks by crawling down deadly ice runnels in the glacier to get sips of water. Dumb scenario? You bet! But it doesn't matter. I know I can survive the worst, and that's because the most rigorous test of hiking survival isn't the outdoors, it's the "Oh-Arr" Show or, to be proper, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. The twice annual OR Trade Shows held in Salt Lake City are where outdoor gear manufacturers trot out their new stuff for next year. That means right now we're fondling cool toys that won't be on store shelves until spring of 2009. It's quite titillating - in a gear sense anyway - or it would be if the show itself wasn't so overwhelming. This is barely controlled madness, 30,000 people wandering lost through roughly 2,500 booths spread across several city blocks. … [Read more...] about The Real Survival Reality Show
Dear Den Mother,Let’s say I’ve been lost in the woods for a few days when I happen upon a bunch of mushrooms. Which ones are safe to eat? – Wade Boggle, via email ➔ Short answer: None of ’em. Long answer: Don’t eat any mushroom that you wouldn’t bet your life is edible. There are plenty of tasty, edible mushrooms in the woods. There are also a lot of disgusting, poisonous mushrooms that look nearly identical to the good ones. Even mushroom foraging experts have to consult their guidebooks and sometimes mis-ID species. But beyond that, look at the benefit of abstaining: Mushrooms contain plenty of vitamins, but they don’t offer much by way of calories or protein—the two things you’ll need most in a survival situation. When you’re surviving’, you gotta minimize your exposure to risk. Eating a mushroom you feel just … [Read more...] about Den Mother: Are Any Mushrooms Safe to Eat?
In a suburban backyard in Southern California, Ted Nelson stood among a group of men watching a flock of pigeons soar on a blue-sky Saturday. It was mid-April 2006, and this was Nelson's first "fly," a competition among fanciers of Birmingham roller pigeons. Birmingham rollers possess a genetic disposition to roll in midair–they somersault backward so quickly that the birds resemble a pinwheel of whirling feathers. A top competitive flock will "kit," or fly together like a school of fish, and spin almost as one. "There they go!" a man hollered as the pigeons began to tumble. "Oh, that's a nice roll." Ted Nelson was new to the world of roller pigeons. Like a lot of Southern California subcultures, the world of "spinners," as the birds are called, had its own peculiar vernacular, trade secrets, and bitter rivalries. Nelson was a newbie, but he fit right in with his droopy mustache, dirty jeans, and old ball cap. Most of the competitors were blue-collar guys who enjoyed the … [Read more...] about Secret Agent Man
A STAGNANT BOG THE SIZE OF a football field blocks my way forward. I just scrambled shifting, fridge-size boulders and cut through hedge mazes trying to avoid it, but the terrain funneled me down to the water’s edge. I need to get across. Then, somehow, the miles will contract, the insects will quiet, and the thickets will part like the Red Sea. If I can just get across, I’ll make it to the hunting cabins at British Columbia’s Bug Lake, 9 miles away, in time for pot roast tomorrow night. God, I hope they’re making pot roast. Beneath the bog’s surface, a rock sits under a thick coat of orange sediment. I’m thinking a Super Mario hop that would briefly submerge one foot in about 12 inches of water should get me to the grassy bank on the other side, where I can skirt the bog entirely. One, two, three. I jump. My foot plunges through the “rock” and I sink to my navel in the glop. Adrenaline, chill, and fistfuls of grass propel me onto the … [Read more...] about Spatsizi: Canadian For “So Good, It Hurts”