A bit of an awkward one for me here so really bare with me as I attempt to skirt around the area of politics while directly referencing it but yet, somehow not causing some form of diplomatic incident with Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan you say? Ahh well, allow me to explain. Without giving a full history of central Asia it’s generally considered to be a worse place for human rights and press freedom than North Korea. So while I let that sink in and we imagine some form of ‘Totalitarian Premier League’ for reference could I possibly draw your attention to the burning fiery abyss below? Nope, that’s not a religious recruitment drive…….
It is also home to the Dervaza gas crater which has now been on fire since 1971 and is roughly translated as ‘The gates of Hell’. I think you’ll agree it looks pretty bloody awesome and the big kid in me is already wondering how quickly I could cook a bunch of shashlik if I had a suitably long stick.
Now I would personally love to visit, but the question is should we? Thinking aloud where is the line or where is and where isn’t ok to visit and should that influence our desire to travel and experience new places?
On the flip side of all this is always the argument that you are supporting the local population, after all there are a lot of fairly questionable regime’s out there and millions of people travel to them every year. It’s not like you tapped the Generalissimo on the shoulder, tipped him a few notes and said “Buy a few tanks for me”.
Ok so maybe we avoid the really bad ones, what about the slightly iffy situations that result from annexation and territorial disputes. Kosovo and the Crimea jumping to the front of my head right now but there are a lot more.
Stop, who goes there?
Some are naturally easier than others, the current disputed territory between Armenia & Azerbaijan is clearly a great way to get yourself classed as “Persona non Grata” in the other. But what about places like Kashmir or the Donbass? Who will be more annoyed and do we end up balancing up the pros & cons of countries against each other to decide which.
“Sorry pal, there’s more to see here so I will be less upset if you PNG me”.
While sometimes we have no choice but to engage, while traveling I think I probably represent a good chunk of people who just want to jump on their choice of transport and explore. This country has interesting things I want to see, why should that be such a difficult thing to do?