Monday, April 28, 2008

I've been making such good friends with Wikitravel that I sometimes blend Wikitravel and my experiences into one. Of course, Wikitravel is useful for more than just trying to backpack through Europe. For example, they have pages on Antarctica, outer space and even Somalia. I think the website's real power in suggesting a place to stay in Kabul, Pyongyang or Mogadishu, or informing me about delicacies such as otka: "camel meat that is dried and then fried in butter and spices".

Sometimes the pages tell you more than is intended. Consider, for example, Somalia, which I think is probably the most fascinating place on the earth. Many African states are states in name only because the government is weak, but Somalia is best defined as the land not controlled by its neighbours. Somalis really can't agree on anything. The Somalia travel guide says that "generally the only rule that can be agreed upon is that Somalis drive on the right side of the road." The Mogadishu travel guide tells me that "the only traffic rule that can be agreed upon is the traffic drives on the left side of the road." Fortunately, I don't think I'll ever have to sort that out for myself. This is supposedly a country that suffers from both droughts and floods, and "independent travel will most likely lead to your death."

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