Vacationers are often mistakenly called travelers. A vacation is a time for a physical and mental recharge; a time to hit the reset button of the soul. A traveler is someone who drinks in cultures like fine wine, eats history and art like a gourmet meal. A traveler is a connoisseur of the world. The all inclusive beach resort, umbrella shaded Mai Tai’s and steel drum bands are certainly fun and relaxing. A vacationer would not be as relaxed with threats of gunfire, civil unrest and blatant human rights violations against its citizens. These ethical maelstroms are often grist for the mill for a certain breed of traveler. Many erudite travelers journey the world to make a difference, find a cause or to report the atrocities our global citizens wreak upon each other. Here are five locations on the “must not see” list for vacationers and “locales to contemplate” list for the serious traveler.
Reason to Go: The pleasant climate in the heart of Africa offers ample outdoor activities. Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, borders the second deepest lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika. In the second largest city of Burundi, Gitega, the Museum of Traditions displays ancient artifacts of the area. Gitega has a large open market in which vendors sell leather crafts, ceramics and woodcarvings.
Reason Not to Go: Travel advisories have been issued by the US and Australia stating civil unrest and high crime are rampant throughout the country of Burundi. Amnesty international warns that the civil war which ended in 2003 advocated the use of rape as a weapon of war. An alarmingly high rate of sexual assault continues to be reported with little governmental intervention.
Reason to Go: East Timor offers a unique opportunity to see the unusual blend Indonesian and Portuguese cultures. Superb diving and secluded beaches are around every corner east of Dili. The city of Baucau has unusual street markets with huge pyramid shaped piles of potatoes and patchwork pavement
Reason Not to Go: The CAVR report shows that a wide array of human rights violations during the period of 1974 through 1999 has gone unpunished. Little has been done to deliver justice to the East Timorese people.
Reason to Go: The Kingdom of Bhutan sits high in the Himalayas bordering Nepal; one of the few places on earth where the traditions and culture are untainted by Western civilization. The ancient spiritual sights consist of awe inspiring temples and landscapes. Travel is very limited in Bhutan. Most people will not be able to see the real treasures of this country. What is available to see is well worth the experience. Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. Pre-paid, pre-scheduled tours are required for entry into the country.
Reason Not to Go: The Nepalese in Bhutan have been the subjects of ethnic cleansing, discrimination and exile. Many of the Nepalese are unable to work because of the current laws. Although the monarchy has made strides to become a democracy, the Nepalese refugees are not permitted re-entry to their homes.
Reason to Go: Kyrgyzstan is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. Glaciers, lakes and beautiful mountain ranges are the ideal setting for skiing, hiking and mountain climbing. The historic Silk Road begins in the Kyrgyz Republic and traverse across China. The famous trade route is credited to the development of early world trading: a cultural wonder.
Reason Not to Go: Civil unrest has prompted extreme violence. Police have been accused of excessive force in the attempt to restore order. “Those in effective authority are responsible under national and international law to protect the lives and safety of everybody in Kyrgyzstan,” said Sian Jones, Europe and Central Asia Acting Deputy Program Director.
Reason to Go:Eritrea borders the Red Sea which is purported to be the area in which humans first expanded out of Africa. This area may be the home to the oldest ancestors of the modern human race. A large Italian influence is visible in the local culture. Unique to Africa, the Tour of Eritrea is a bike race throughout the country inspired by Italian occupants. The city of Asmara is known as “Little Rome” attributed to the Italian architecture.
Reason Not to Go: The definition of serious crimes may be dissimilar to the definition by most modern countries. “Serious crimes” often carry the death penalty, long prison sentences and corporal punishment. Drugs, homosexuality and photographing government building are illegal. Ignorance of the local laws is not excusable.
Burundi Embassy http://www.burundiembassy-usa.org/tourism.html
Southern Africa Direct http://www.southernafricadirect.com/guides/country/burundi
Smart Traveler http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Burundi
Amnesty International http://www.amnestyusa.org/all-countries/burundi/page.do?id=1011127
Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com/east-timor
University of California http://www.ess.uci.edu/~oliver/silk.html