Although I read this several months ago I thought it deserved a little space on my blog now.
The Dark Tourist is written by comedian/journalist Dom Joly (always likely to be remembered as the guy with the big phone). The book is an account of his trips to a handful of more unusual holiday destinations; Iran, Cambodia, Chernobyl, North Korea, Lebanon and sites of assasinations in the USA.
I expected this book to be funny, and of course it was, but it was also much more informative and moving than I imagined it would be. The stories in some countries, especially Iran, Lebanon and North Korea, gave a real taste of what life is actually like in those places – which more often than not are a long way removed from the expectations that most of us have.
The chapter on Cambodia was the most memorable. Each of the destinations had some harrowing episodes in their history, but Cambodia seems to still be suffering the most as a result of things that happened in the past. North Korea is, of course, an incredibly difficult place to live and Dom gave such a good insight that I had to find out more by reading Nothing to Envy.
I suppose there is a link between this book and some of the training I do. My main message in training is always “don’t believe the stereotypes” and The Dark Tourist helped me to confirm that theory is true throughout the world – the first chapter involved Dom going skiing and getting drunk in Iran – stereotype busted!
I’ve visited 50-something countries, but only one of those featured in the book. I’ve moved Lebanon very high up my list of where to visit next, Iran has stayed near the top and Cambodia has slipped down a bit.