Keith Bellows’s World Worsts
1. Worst Travel Advice “Make sure you plan everything.” That’s baloney. Surprise is part of travel. I often book the first and last night and then figure things out in-between. It’s valuable to go to a local tourist office — you just get better information on the ground than you can before you leave. Even with something like booking a safari, you’ll usually end up getting a better deal.
2. Worst Flight Toss up. It might be the Air Rangoon flight from Kuala Lumpur on a 1952 DC-something with chickens, goats and a pilot who was probably used to driving a school bus. The plane was making spastic jerks all over the sky then finished off with a near-death landing. Or maybe it was a private-jet flight that got caught in a thunderstorm. We were hit by lightning a few times, then the lights went out and the plane dropped a few thousand feet. My fingerprints are still in the arm rest.
3. Worst Tour Group I don’t take many tours, but when I do, there’s always one jerk. I was on a tour in Mongolia and there was a guy who made everyone’s life miserable. He had a complaint for everything. The guide was about a phone call away from having him ejected.
4. Worst Overrun Attraction Ankor Wat. You arrive at this majestic, primeval place, but you don’t get the sense of it because of all the visitors. We’ve got pictures on a busy afternoon where this whole edifice is covered in scrambling tourists.
5. Worst Words for a Travel Story Beautiful, surprising, idyllic, gorgeous, pretty… I call them non-words. Travel writing is about granular detail.
6. Worst Meal When I was in Jordan I was squatting beside Bedouins and eating rice with lamb chunks off this large communal plate. As the pile of food diminished, we realized we were eating right out of the head of a lamb. And then came the soup — a lamb’s eye floating in broth. It turned in my mouth like a soft marble. Other bad meals were somewhat expected. I mean, if you order a hamburger in Dublin, you’re asking for it.
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