Jim Benning’s World Worsts
Name Jim Benning
Who? Co-founder, co-editor WorldHum.com. World Hum stories appear often in The Best American Travel Writing and other anthologies, and the site has won Lowell Thomas awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, including, in 2006, the gold award for best Internet site. Jim’s own travel writing has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, The Washington Post and other publications.
Countries Visited Dozens.
1. Worst Bus Ride The harrowing drive through the mountains from Jiuzhai Gou to Chengdu in Sichuan, China. Extra points for the big bag of fresh yak meat the driver bought at a stop along the road and tossed in the bus aisle. The lower we descended in the mountains, the warmer it got, the greater the stench became, and the more yak blood streamed over the bus floor.
2. Worst Visit to a Tropical Paradise During a military coup. I happened to go to Fiji. The capital was under martial law. It was, um, a little tense.
3. Worst Tourist Trap Kuta Beach, Bali. I love Bali, but you’ve got to get out of Kuta and away from the cheesy T-shirt shops, thumping bars and tuk-tuk touts.
4. Worst Photo-Op for Tourists The real-life donkey painted to look like a zebra on Revolution Avenue in Tijuana. Photos of sombrero-topped, tequila-filled tourists posing with this poor donkey or one of his brothers are collecting dust all over the United States and the world. Why? There’s nothing Mexican about this. Free the donkeys! Burn the photos!
5. Worst Overrun Sacred Spot The tiny cemetery on the island of Janitzio in Lake Patzcuaro during Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Tourism officials were promoting the place to death – no pun intended — and it seemed that all of Mexico had descended upon the cemetery, trampling graves, pushing one another, ruining what is otherwise a beautiful, sacred tradition.
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