Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kazakhstan is the new Thailand.

In a recent column in Outside Magazine (you can catch the Podcast here--The Big Idea: Be Afraid. Please.-- though it's probably not worth the effort), Tim Neville points out that Americans of the 21st century are no longer afraid of the so-called dangerous parts of the world, and that, in fact, a little unrest may even make a locale that much more attractive. Neville says he used to be the only guy around that could drop the exciting travel story--his tale of being accosted by Bolivian gunmen would without fail make the ladies swoon--but now compalins that, "I'm likely to be one-upped by some guy in khakis showing off snapshots of his fiancee posing with Thai soldiers on their way to seizing Bangkok." As he says, a coup is pretty hard to top.

For travel writers like Neville to stay in business (and pretty soon, for Joe Average Traveler who wants a good story to tell), the ante will need to be continually upped. Should we be rubbing our hands together in anticipation of some truly absurd undertakings, or--if I can use this strong of a word--do we have a crisis on our hands? Will adventure become mundane? That's the indication out of the Explorers Club, once a bastion of ground-breaking adventurers that has now become a sort of old age home, because, quite simply, there's very little that's new out there for the next generation to tackle. Either way, prepare yourself for some truly odd juxtapositions in the pages of travel magazines in the coming years. It will be up to you to decide whether you should laugh at just how silly it is for Outside to be running a feature on surfing in Alaska (surfing? in Alaska???), or whether to cry because you just don't care.


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