Tag Archives: destinations

5 top countries for travelers hoping to avoid extradition

With tax season just over, now is the busiest time of the year for travel to the two-dozen countries that have no extradition treaty with the U.S. To help travelers on the run chose which country is right for them — whether for a life-time stay or just until a statue of limitations runs out — we’ve once again put together our top 5 under-the-radar picks for anyone hoping to avoid extradition.

Maldives

With predictions that a rising sea level may result in its disappearance by 2085, this Indian Ocean nation has more to worry about than what your back-story might be. So unless there’s a possibility that somebody is willing to trade you for a Russian arms dealer, you’ll pretty much be left alone. Come here for the sun, the beaches, and the high-end resorts so pricey that to afford them you practically have to have stolen a serious amount of something.

Many of the resorts, such as the Huvafen Fushi, have overwater bungalows with glass panels in the floors for viewing sea life, and, if necessary, a quick escape. Be careful, though, whenever counting large stacks of money in your room, as the panels often make it easy for passing snorkelers to view your life. For an American, the Maldives, despite its distance, is not a perfect home away from home. Talk of opening a string of international fast-food restaurants at the airport has so far come to nothing. And getting re-runs of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is sometimes difficult. But if you are here for the long stay, converting to Islam can help, as can being religious about applying SPF 50.

China

While there is a misperception that Western travelers with a criminal background are not welcome in China, the opposite is often true, especially if the travelers arrive bearing significant trade secrets. Even if you have nothing to barter, a population of 1.4 billion makes it easy to get lost in the crowd. And should you run afoul of Chinese authorities, a prison population that includes more than 6,000 foreign inmates means you will sometimes be able to barter in English for cigarettes. Americans will find much about China to remind them of home, including Subway (440 outlets) McDonalds (1,964 outlets), KFC (5,854 outlets), and the Great Wall (0 outlets).

United Arab Emirates

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness has never considered avoiding extradition by fleeing to the United Arab Emirates. In the UAE, money can buy a $1,223 cupcake, a $24,000 per night hotel suite, and an $8 million (diamond-studded) cell phone. Gold-plated SUV’s are not that rare, Lamborghini police cars are not unheard of. Still, the law is Islamic law, so don’t spend money on alcohol consumed outside of a bar, restaurant, or sporting venue, or anything that’s any fun at all during Ramadan.

Russia

A tall latte at Starbucks in Moscow costs twice what it does in New York City. And you can be riding in the back seat of a taxi one moment and in the trunk the next, on the way to have your vital organs removed for profit. But beyond those niggling kinds of concerns, Russia is just about ideal for anyone looking for a new identity to call their own. In Moscow, live quietly but comfortably in the luxury of such accommodations as the Ritz-Carlton, where your personal butler and his government minder will soon know your name.

Become familiar with Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, whose distinctive domes are recognized worldwide as the inspiration for the American news organization, The Onion. At the Kremlin, pass a pleasant hour, perhaps with a small group of friends, contemplating the unauthorized removal of the 190-caret Orlov Diamond on display there. And if it becomes time to get out of town, what traveler doesn’t imagine a journey on the Trans Siberian Railway? Just make sure you ask for a round trip ticket.

Bhutan

For relieving the stress often associated with traveling to avoid extradition, there may be no better destination than Bhutan. One of three countries in the world with no diplomatic relations at all with the U.S. (Iran and North Korea are the other two) this Himalayan hideaway allows you to conduct your affairs with the assurance that the only place you are ever likely get snatched to is heaven. One of the highlights of a Bhutan stay is a visit to the sacred, and isolated, cliff-side Buddhist monastery of Taktshang, or the Tiger’s Nest.

Make the strenuous hike to the monastery from the town below in about three hours, where you will be rewarded with the discovery that no cameras, phones, or recording devices of any kind are allowed. Which for somebody hiding from the law is by itself almost worth the trip. A bonus is that the monks who live at the monastery often practice meditation that requires extended periods of silence, diminishing the chances that somebody will even accidentally give you away.

BobCarriesOn editor-in-chief Bob Payne is currently under audit.

5 coolest places in America: The Lawsuit

We learned today that BobCarriesOn.com is facing a lawsuit by an irate reader who blames us for the severe frostbite he suffered while visiting, allegedly at our recommendation, one of the places featured in a story we recently ran, “The 5 coolest places in America.”

The reader maintains the story should have warned that in none of the places were open-toed sandals appropriate winter footwear. We maintain that he, like far too many Internet users, must have read no further than the headline.

If you missed the story, below are the places we mentioned. Before making plans to visit any of them, please read the descriptions carefully.

Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska

A work settlement during the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, the now abandoned Prospect Creek Camp holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States: -80 degrees F, on January 21, 1971. Tourist attractions include the pipeline’s Pump Station 5, two still-fluttering airstrip windsocks, and what is believed to be one of the largest collections of pre-Internet pornography ever assembled.

Rogers Pass, Montana

Located in a remote wilderness area on the Continental Divide, Rogers Pass holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states: -70 degrees F, on January 20, 1954. Tourist attractions include one of the largest remaining concentrations of grizzly bears in the lower 48, and various garments belonging to previous visitors who attempted to outrun them.

Peter Sinks, Utah

A basin-shaped natural depression allegedly named for a man who would have done well to look elsewhere for a homestead site, Peter Sinks holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah: -69.3 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include various locations where it is speculated the would-be homesteader may have succumbed to the elements during his first and only winter at the Sinks.

Riverside Ranger Station, Montana

Pay attention here, because the town of Riverside, Wyoming, is sometimes listed as holding the record for the coldest temperature every recorded in Wyoming: -66 degrees F, on February 9, 1933. But according to the weather website wunderground.com, that temperature was actually recorded at the now non-existent Riverside Ranger Station, which in 1933 was located where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, now stands. Tourist attractions in the Wyoming town, which has a population of 53, include anybody who can give directions to West Yellowstone, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eight hours away.

Maybell, Colorado

Vail and Steamboat may have their après ski scenes, but the coolest place in Colorado is Maybell, population 72, which is home to the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state: −61 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include the restaurant, the gas station, the general store, and, during the spring, a depth of horse poop today found in few other American communities.

Six places to see in Detroit before you die

Should you unexpectedly find yourself in Detroit because of a diverted flight or a wrong turn off the interstate here’s a guide to every place you will want to see, quickly.

Detroit Metro Airport

Departures with Delta and Spirit Airlines help make Detroit Metro the 44th busiest airport in the world. Popular dining options are to go. Insider Tip: For overnight visitors, be aware that the onsite Westin Hotel does not routinely check for concealed weapons.

Amtrak Station Building

Wolverine Service transports rail passengers from Detroit’s Amtrak Station Building at 11 W Baltimore Ave, to Chicago’s Union Station. One-way fares are as low as $49, which travelers using the waiting room are advised to keep in their shoe until the ticket is purchased. Insider Tip: Do not make the sometimes-fatal mistake of confusing the Amtrak Station Building with the Michigan Central Station, which ceased to be a rail depot in 1988 when Amtrak halted service there.

Detroit Greyhound Station

Although the Detroit Greyhound Station is located in one of Detroit’s less upscale neighborhoods, fatal shootings at the station itself happen only occasionally. Visitors should not, however, arrive between the hours of midnight and 1:30 a.m. when the station is closed, but other neighborhood businesses are not. Insider Tip: Greyhound Express Service can have you in Los Angeles in as quickly as 2 days 6 hours, 35 minutes, not including delays due to traffic or having to remove disruptive passengers.

I-75 North

For visiting motorists this interstate highway, which travels through the heart of urban Detroit and north to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, can be surprisingly safe, as the congestion that often frustrates anyone hoping for a quick escape discourages carjackers. Insider Tip: Do be aware that due to Detroit’s economic condition congested highways are becoming less of a factor.

Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry Terminal

Visitors planning to make use of the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry are advised to arrive by truck. The ferry goes only five times a day, but in twenty minutes passengers are not only out of Detroit but also out of the U.S. Insider Tip: Overland travelers whose bags contain hazardous or radioactive materials will find this an especially convenient departure route, as all such materials are banned from the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Detroit Police Department Central District Police Station

Visitor’s who have been the victim of a crime in the Detroit area should report to this station, conveniently located at Woodward Avenue and West Grand Blvd, where it is sometimes possible to get directions to any of the above-mentioned sites. Insider Tip: Be advised that the 11-year-long Federal monitoring of the Detroit Police Department is no longer in effect.

10 buildings most likely to baffle future archeologists

Some day, when archeologists and other scientists are pulling away the vines and trying to figure out the significance of some of the world’s most mysterious ancient buildings, here are the ten most likely to baffle them.

Luxor_Hotel

Luxor Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Future generations, perhaps informed by the alien race that first created the Egyptian pyramids and later returned to take credit for them, will think they understand what the Luxor Hotel building is: a sanctuary for people who are happy to go without sunlight for a thousand years. But they’ll be as mystified as the aliens as to how it ended up in Las Vegas.

Giant Picnic basket

Longaberger Headquarters Building, Newark, Ohio

Scientists will spend untold centuries looking in the wrong place, in what was once known as the U.S. state of New Jersey, in search of evidence of a rumored race of human giants — giants grown so large from protein shakes and energy bars that the earth could no longer sustain them. The scientists will believe they have discovered proof of the elusive beings’ existence, though, in a place once known as Ohio, when they find the almost fully intact remains of a seven-story high picnic basket.

Dog Bark Park B&B

Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho

Created as a bed and breakfast accommodation, and described by its chainsaw wielding builder as the World’s Biggest Beagle, the Dog Bark Park Inn may someday be pointed to as a dire warning from the past about the risks of genetically modified pet food.

Dancing building

The Dancing House, Prague, Czech Republic

Originally nicknamed the Fred and Ginger House, this current Prague landmark building will look to the uninformed of future generations like a cross between an episode of the ancient classic “Dancing with the Stars” and the melted aftermath of a thermo-nuclear blast. Scholars will shake their heads knowingly, however, in recognition that all has been explained, when they discover that one of the designers was architect Frank Gehry.

Selfridges Birmingham

Selfridges Department Store, Birmingham, England

This building will be a tough one for future explorers of the past, because not even contemporary observers can find a reasonable explanation for why the scale-covered urban British structure known as Selfridges looks like it does. However, immunologists working only from old photographs may someday suggest that it could have been a giant mutant virus, capable of luring an earlier, more primitive race with the questionable promise of reasonably priced consumer goods.

Agbar Tower Baecelona

 

Agbar Tower, Barcelona, Spain

For most delvers into the mysteries of humankind’s past, what is now known as the Agbar Tower, or Torre Agbar, will be easily recognized, just as statues on Easter Island are today, as a boastfully oversize phallic symbol. Strengthening that assumption will be the discovery of ancient texts describing one of the 473-foot tower’s most striking features, its nocturnal illumination, unfortunately mistranslated as nocturnal emission.

upside down house

 

Upside-Down House, Trassenheide, Germany

As all records may soon be archived on electronic databases, followed by several millennia of no electricity, future generations will be unclear as to how the previous epoch of human history ended. Upside-down houses similar to this one, located in a small German seaside resort town, should suggest, though, that it ended badly.

Fish shaped building

Fish-shaped building, Hyderabad, India

Everyone in times-to-come will easily recognize this four-story piscatorial contrivance as one of many failed attempts to escape earth aboard a spacecraft. Who its specific passengers were meant to be, however, will remain a mystery until someone, probably part of an Indian National Monuments cleaning crew, notices a barely legible inscription at the base of the craft, just behind the anal fin, reading, “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish Food.”

Aldar Building

Aldar headquarters, Abu Dhabi

Archeologists of the 31st Century will certainly find themselves trying to unravel the mystery of what we know today as the Aldar Headquarters Building, in Abu Dhabi. And while they may be perplexed as to why an earlier society would have felt the need to mint a coin that measured 361-feet in diameter, some as yet unborn historian will easily make a name for him or herself by hypothesizing the oversize piece of change to be representative of the moment in history when pickpocketing ceased to be a viable career path.

Gate of theOrient

 

The Gate of the Orient, Suzhou, China

Unless procreation, perhaps adjusting to a post-apocalyptic world, goes in a radical new direction over the coming millennia, people will no doubt still understand the meaning of “to get into someone’s pants.” What they won’t understand, as they contemplate the ruins of The Gate of the Orient building, in Suzhou, China, is why the pants had to be 990 feet tall.

 

 

Was Easter Island mystery result of dispute over large, sugary drinks?

After centuries of debate, scientists think they may have solved the mystery of why the ancient people of Easter Island abandoned work on the statues they are famous for and suddenly disappeared, as if they all went to the store for milk and failed to return.

“We’ve found evidence that the Easter Islander population was decimated as the result of a dispute over the regulation of large sugary drinks,” said Bob Payne, lead archeologist for a university research team that based its findings on an extensive study of the island’s ancient sporting venues, movie theatres, and fast-food restaurant parking lots.

“It’s clear that the island’s statue carvers, who’d been unhappy with one particular local chief ever since he’d tried to institute noise restrictions limiting the amount of stone chipping they could do on nights and weekends, had finally had enough,” said Payne.

Scattered all over the island are piles of what were originally thought to be stone chips from the quarries. But Payne’s team discovered that the “chips” are actually the broken shards of returnable bottles, which he believes points to some kind of deadly deception on the part of the carvers.

“It’s likely the carvers lured the chief’s allies – consisting mostly of those who could afford to commission more than one or two statues a year — to one of the more popular fast-food restaurants and then quickly did them in with obesity-causing 16 oz. drinks,” said Payne.

After that, Payne surmises, the carvers, having dispatched the people whose investments generated most of the jobs on the island, had no more incentive to finish the statues, which, it turned out, worked only moderately well as a form of currency, especially if you needed change.

“With little reason to stay, the survivors all probably sailed, unknowingly, to Peru, aboard large Polynesian voyaging canoes whose navigators’ skills were not up to those of their contemporaries,” Payne said.

There does appear to be a happy ending to the story, though.

According to Payne, most of the stone carvers settled on the slopes of the Andes, where home prices were reasonable, taxes were a fraction of what they’d been on Easter Island, and the first primitive convenience stores offered sugary drinks in any size you wanted.

Equally fortunate, Payne said, the Easter Island survivors’ skill as carvers, coupled with their deep understanding of noise abatement ordinances, has allowed them to spread across the globe, to the street corners of virtually every major city, where they have flourished as the producers of the Andean flute music we all know so well today.

If it had been you with the shotgun, would travel humor writer Bob Payne have survived this Philippines shopping excursion?

Never in his life had travel humor writer Bob Payne been so frightened by someone trying to please him as he was by the saleswoman in the men’s clothing department of a crowded store in Cebu City, on the island of Cebu, in the Philippines.

Payne was trying on a pair of blue jeans, which he needed because he’d somehow neglected to bring any from home for a journey that virtually required them.

The Philippines is a nation of some 7,100 islands, of which the two largest, Luzon, where Manila is located, in the north, and Mindanao, the Muslim stronghold, in the south, account for 65 percent of the land mass and 60 percent of the population. But Payne was planning to ignore these two and instead focus his visit on the Visayas, the centrally-located myriad of palm fringed, mountainous islands and islets connected by a network of passenger vessels that promised, as one guidebook put it, to “suit only those prepared to rough it.”

To help in Payne’s preparations for roughing it, the smiling saleswoman had suggested a locally made brand of jeans called Canadian Club. Payne was trying them on in one of the store’s curtained cubicles, and they fit fine, except for one small problem.

The hole for the button that allowed one to button one’s fly was sewn shut. Payne tried to explain this to the saleswoman, who had followed him to the cubicle and was standing outside repeating “You like? You like? You buy? OK?” But Payne’s explanation didn’t seem to be getting through. So, perhaps sensing from his tone of voice that a sale was possibly slipping away, the woman ripped open the curtain to see for herself what the matter was.

“Oh, OK. No problem. I fix,” she said, her smile becoming even broader. And with that she whipped a razor blade out of a side pocket of her blouse, went down on her knees, and grabbed hold of Payne’s pants just above the missing fly hole. Payne, it is important to note, was still wearing the pants.

“No, no,”  Payne yelled, and was immediately sorry he had. Among the people who came running toward the agitated foreigner with a Filipina woman down on her knees in front of him was a store guard fumbling with a pump-action shotgun.

Luckily, the guard, perhaps sensitive to the criticism leveled against one of his counterparts for annihilating a shoplifter a few days previously, did not shoot. In fact, once the situation had been explained, he was in the forefront of people rummaging through the stack of Canadian Club jeans looking for a pair in Payne’s size that didn’t have the fly sewn shut. And he was pleased mightily when it was he who discovered one.

This first appeared, in a slightly altered form, as the introduction to “Where the smiles are magic,” in the November/December 1996 issue of Islands magazine. Although he has always kept an eye out, travel humor writer Bob Payne has never again seen a pair of Canadian Club jeans.

BigStock photo.