I think Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, stated it best. This book “is like Crocodile Dundee produced by Monty Python and directed by Woody Allen.” Albert Podell, the author, recently became the first U.S. citizen known to have visited every single existing country in the world, plus some that are no longer countries (over 190, but who's counting...). This also brings up the argument of what actually constitutes a country? Does it need to be recognized by the United Nations?
The book is definitely not politically correct. It is a travel essay book with attitude. If you are easily offended, this might not be the book for you. Travelling can be a messy business. The author gets into the gritty details (disturbing meals, not washing for days on end, bathroom accommodations, etc.). But, the author is also extremely educated about the countries he visits. You will learn a lot as you read.
When travelling, instead of utilizing the safety, crime and poverty country indexes of the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, Podell has developed his own scale that indicates safety, crime and poverty, which utilizes the grade of toilet paper and bathroom accommodations in a given country. It actually does prove to be a good indicator of safety, crime and poverty, and what to expect when travelling.
The book also offers many unique tips for travelling to unique places (here are a few):
· Taking heaps of cheap T-shirts with you to use to barter for services and other items in certain countries.
· How to determine how much gas you will need to purchase to cross a desert.
· What to do and what not to do in front of visa officers/staff.
Summary: Extremely educational, fun to read, and I think I’ll become a better traveler having read this book.
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