What’s in a name?


I think it was Romeo who said it… Though it could have been Juliet… one of those whiny star crossed lovers said it.  In any case, this phrase has been cropped up and used by hundreds of thousands of people who think they know what it means.  Me?  I am not sure, but I needed an anecdote about names to get this article rolling…


It occurred to me the other day that when you name something a “Danger tour” people expect a certain amount of… well... danger.  It’s in the name right?  You would be disappointed if you went to an all-girl show and found no girls… the idea of an all you can eat buffet without any food is ludicrous. 


So I decided to step back and re-evaluate my ‘danger tours’ to see if they really lived up to the name…


Let’s see … South Korea.  At the time we visited everyone was fired up about Kim-jong il and his apparent pyong-yang nuclear reclaiming program and North Korea was firing test missiles over Japan.


Yeah, but we went to South Korea… and sure, we visited the de-militarized zone, but I don’t think any war was fast breaking out there… After all, a free lunch came with our tour… Danger rating... Low.

A very disappointing revelation.  It seemed so much more dangerous at the time…


Next up was China.  Now this was a communist country requiring a visa… we were off to a good start… But Chinese border control didn’t even search our bags.


We stayed in a gorgeous 5 star hotel (-1 danger point) and traveled in a group of 3 (-1 danger point) men (-1 Danger point).  We did hike along the great wall in an uncommon area that was not railed or repaired (+1 danger point) that we read about in a lonely planet (-1 danger point).  A fall from certain points though probably would have killed us. (+1 danger point) A fall from other places definitely would have. (+2 danger points).


Kinda evens out…Danger rating…Low to moderate.


India.  Now we’re talking… we need a visa, and Shots and pills! (+1)  This country is so swimming with disease and bacteria, you can’t drink the water! (+1)  We were traveling by local trains (+1) first class (-1).


Wildlife runs the streets unabated (+1), though it should be pointed out it consists mainly of hindu cows (-1).  We were only in a group of two (no adjustment) and I ate food from a train platform (+2). 


Remember those shots and pills?  Did I mention we didn’t have any? (+1) 

I found out later that China air is like the most dangerous airline in the world… (+2 postfact)


Getting there. Danger rating... Moderate


Ok, so this is a thing that one gets better at with experience… it takes time to develop the skill to creatively risk one’s life just enough to create an thrill of danger (be it illusory or actual) and at the same time be relatively sure you’re coming home in one piece and disease free.  Now we’re getting into a state of experience where we can define a formula:


To create a truly dangerous danger tour we should have…

An ancient society with different social norms (Korea, China, India)

The presence (or proximity) of violence like war or civil uprising (Korea)

A non-democratic, or visa-requiring country (China, India)

Travel by local trains (India)

Hiking in precarious locations (China)

No Preparatory Medications (India)

Eat local food (India)

Free Roaming Wildlife (India)

Questionable Airlines (India, China)


Yet to curb the possibility of having to have my corpse shipped home , a danger tour should include…

A larger traveling party (China)

Nice hotels (China)

Travel by special trains (India)

Eat in hotels (India)

Carry a lonely planet (India, China)


This having been defined, we set out to create the ultimate Danger tour, incorporating as many elements as we could to create the ultimate Danger tour.  The be all… end all  Danger tour.  And I feel we’ve done a pretty good job:


Around the world with D’ and Kuma Presents… EGYPT!


Lets take a quick look at the math… On the danger side…

  • An ancient civilization with different social norms (Islamic Country)
  • Travel by local train from Cairo to Luxor
  • Hiking in precarious locations… We get to crawl around inside the pyramids…
  • No Preparatory meds.
  • We’ll eat local food
  • Monkeys! Crocodiles!  Hooray!
  • And the kicker… round trip by AEROFLOT!  Yes, the worst of em all…
  • 12 hours stopover in Moscow. (going into town)


And yet at the same time…(the safely points)

  • Were going in a group of 3 (introducing “T-Money”)
  • We’ve booked, nicer than nice hotels…
  • We’re traveling from Luxor to Cairo by special sleeper train.
  • We’ll be sure to eat in a hotel sooner or later…
  • And the lonely planet is in hand…


So we have formulated a perfect balance between danger and safety, between chaos and order… we are prepared enough to feel confident, but have enough of a mystery ahead for butterflies in our stomachs.  Perfect.

This having been laid out, let’s see how it all worked out compared to the plan…


On to the story...