3 Things to Consider Avoiding in Developing Nations
I understand how me offering this advice is like a raging alcoholic suggesting what juice fast to follow for health and wellness.
I have sat with three, 400 pound tigers in their cage in Thailand.
I have been known to motorbike through hectic areas of Southeast Asia. When required to do so.
But after circling the globe for 6 years I learned a thing or 2 about developing nations. Or as some may deem these lands, 3rd world nations.
No blanket rules exist. I suggest you dive out of your comfort zones regularly, smack dab into your fears.
You may ignore these pieces of advice to enjoy some spectacular, fun, freeing travel experiences.
On the flip side though, if you are a new international traveler, animal lover, one with a Charmin soft stomach or nervous driver, think twice before doing these things in a developing nation.
1: Any Show Involving Animals or Zoos
I get it; you love animals.
You may want to get your furry creature Jones in a 3rd world land.
I am warning you though; in most cases, a zoo trip or animal show will be a depressing, heart-wrenching experience.
Sometimes, folks who struggle to make ends meet are so focused on themselves that they care little about the animals around them. Sometimes animals are seen as things, not sentient beings. Sometimes these animals are abused, either unintentionally or because folks in developing lands see animals as a lower life form without feelings or emotions.
The only animal thingee I have experienced was Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim, Thailand. We researched the place thoroughly and got clear on the fact that a Western ex-pat worked there around the clock and never once saw any signs of abuse or the tiger drugging claim passed around on the travel blogging circuit.
The tigers were gorgeous, well-fed, relaxed and chill. In the same regard, when ice blocks or play things make appearances, these guys spring into action. I mean REALLY spring into action. Unless adrenaline is being sneakily administered, these guys ain’t drugged. Nor have I seen any travel bloggers displaying video of themselves or staff drugging tigers at Tiger Kingdom in Mae Rim, Thailand. I felt clear going there.
In many cases though the animals will be appear to be in terrible shape, in impossibly tiny enclosures and either outright sick or depressed. You can feel it through the videos and articles I have seen online, and I recall motorbiking by an elephant riding place in Koh Lanta that ripped my heart out. Care not to repeat the scene.
Skip most animal shows or zoos in developing lands guys.
2: Street Food from Stalls without Much Foot Traffic
Those with iron stomachs can chance it.
Those without iron stomachs need to skip street food in developing lands if the stalls are in low traffic areas.
Eating from a non-busy street stall can lead to a world of pain and suffering experienced through both ends; bum and boca.
The logic: busy street vendors prepare fresh food regularly to serve their customers. Nothing sitting out in the sun or hot, humid conditions of the tropics, in many cases.
Less busy street food vendors see fewer customers and wanting to save money, may serve up meat today that was not consumed last night but that should have been thrown out last night.
I vividly recall a colorful Russian restaurant owner in Sihanoukville Cambodia who served delightful, trusted fare. Only fresh food. He joked about how his buddies bragged about eating big seafood dishes for $1 than puking and diarrhea-ing their guts out for days after.
$1 seafood dish = sitting out in sun for a day or 2 seafood dish in most developing lands.
Street food is actually okay in most countries if the cooking and prepping turnover is high.
Visit only popular street food stalls. Increase the chances that you will be consuming fresh food.
3: Road Travel in Major Cities
I wished to strangle the man – or masses – with my bare hands.
A cat food supply snaffu meant I had to motorbike to the grocery store in the busiest section of Bali. Before you laugh, the most highly trafficked area of Bali makes Times Square look like Death Valley.
This from a guy who grew up in New Jersey, one of the worst places on earth for driving.
I am a chill dude. I am a chill dude on motorbike. But this urban driving situation drove me mad.
Cities in developing nations tend to be highly overpopulated, with quite narrow roads in many city spots.
Unless you have the poise and balance of a Buddhist monk avoid driving on these roads all together.
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