A friend of mine got a job through UN in Kinshasa, Kongo a few months back.
Me and my husband planned to visit her... well, that was before we read about Kinshasa and Kongo (in the end actually just half a page or something in Lonely Planets guide to Africa) and understood that it's not a very good idea to go travelling there.
This made me wonder... which is the most odd, obscure or little travelled country people here on tp have been to?
I'm not so interested in which war plagued or instable countries tp members have travelled to (war correspondents have filled me in on that subject!).
Just really unusual countries or places, which neccessarily doesn't have to be the most distant btw.
Where was it and what was your experience like?
I'd say for me, it was actually the first time I ever left my home country. My dad had been in the Peace Corps when he first got out of college. Later after he had married and had three kids, he decided to move the entire family out to a remote island in Micronesia where he had been stationed years before. Though I was only 7, it was a place I'll never forget. For the most part, we were the first white people any of the islanders had ever seen and they treated us with a hospitible curiosity. So for a year of my childhood, I ran around in a loin cloth, played in the ocean and lived in a hut. Too many stories to really go into, but for me, the answer to your question is Punlap, Micronesia.
I suppose the most likely passport stamp that I would have that other North American or European travellers wouldn't have would be Mongolia.
However, probably the most obscure place I have been was some place on Zanzibar in Tanzania. I was in a van that was on it's way north from Stone Town towards Kendwa. About half way there, the van started making all manner of strange and not healthy sounding noises. We pulled over at some small town garage to have the van looked at, and the van was pronounced dead. We would have to wait a couple of hours for a new van to arrive.
There was myself and a couple from Poland in the van, and we disembarked and hung around the garage waiting for the new van to show. Soon we were surrounded by a gaggle of small children. The woman from the Polish couple actually spoke Swahili, and that amazed the children, who spent most of the time giggling and running away, then approaching close again. They were especially taken with the Polish woman's blond hair, which a few of the braver ones actually touched (at her invitation).
We gave the children some gum, but apparently they had never seen gum before and were unsure what to do with it. We tried to teach them how to chew the gum, but they refused. The van driver explained to us that the only other white people these children would have likely seen would have been doctors, and thus they were suspcious of anything given to them by whites, as it was most likely medicine and thus not very tasty.
Finally the new van arrived, and we set out on our way north again. The children laughed and waved and said goodbye. It was such a nice experience, because so often in Arusha and Stone Town, people approaching and interacting with you are doing so because they are trying to sell you a tour. It was nice not to be the "target" during an interaction for a change, and to let yourself be fully open and unguarded in interacting with the people.
Seeing land mine signs (and victims) in Cambodia was pretty different. Not much of that in the US.
Getting beer out of a vending machine in Iceland was unusual (so was the beer--I'll never drink that again!).
I think most of the other travellers on this board have been to far more unusual places than I've been, though.
South Georgia is probably the most unusual places i've been that most travellers won't have stamped in their passport. It is definitely off the beaten track. Also i would have to say Pakistan. Travelling up the Khyber Pass before Michael Palin got there is something i am quite pleased about!!!
Sark - Small island, part of the Channel Islands and just 9 miles from where I live. No cars, just horses and bicycles and the odd tractor. Like travelling back in time.
Great Barrier Island - 70 miles off the coast of Auckland. Not exactly a seperate country, although it felt like it and I've yet to bump into anyone else who's been there.
[quote=rbyslipahs]Getting beer out of a vending machine in Iceland was unusual (so was the beer--I'll never drink that again!).
Where in Iceland was that? I'm pretty sure that vending machine was breaking quite a few laws.. Alcohol laws in Iceland are really strict.
GregW your story reminded me of my husbands grandma who went to Kenya in the 80s - she was the only white person on this busride and the whole bus were oh so fascinated with her pale skin and straight hair and too curious to stay away. Many came up to gently touch her har and skin. She said it was a very weird but quite beautiful experience..