Mike visited:

» Thailand
» Myanmar (Burma)
» Laos
» Cambodia
» Vietnam
» India
» Nepal
» Egypt
» Jordan
» Uganda
» Tanzania
» Malawi
» Mozambique
» Swaziland
» South Africa

View a map of his route.

 press/awards earned a few nice mentions in the press, including's vote as best travel blog on the Web. Read about it on the Press/Awards page.

Travel During a Time of War

"Where are you from?" the shopkeeper asked.

"United States of America," I replied.

His eyes widened and he smiled before asking the inevitable follow up: "What are your thoughts regarding the war on Iraq?"

And so another lengthy discussion on the U.S.A. and the war in Iraq begins. It's sad to say, but some of my best conversations in India have started like this (and they can go on for hours – literally. Indians are world-champion talkers). Through these discussions I've gained the most insight into how Indians view world politics, the United States, and the concepts of democracy and freedom.

I've also gained valuable personal insights in these discussions. In many ways, I'm the empathetic, world-traveling, global citizen that I aspire to be. But in other ways, I'm a classic American: stubborn, slightly defensive, with latent cowboy tendencies.

Times of India illustration.
On the Outside Looking In
It's been interesting to watch the events of the conflict with Iraq unfold from outside the U.S.A. From the early UN meetings, to Europe's division, to the "coalition of the willing", right up to the "shock and awe", I've had a much different viewpoint than I would have at home. I've consumed different, more globally-minded media; I've spoken with people who are coming from completely different backgrounds and have entirely different outlooks on world affairs; and I've been offered valuable insights into how the rest of the world views the United States – and American individuals.

A Different News Diet (News Masala?)
India is a nation of readers; the population's consumption of newspapers is phenomenal. Everyone – from Delhi's power-businessmen to homeless folks in rural areas – seems to have their nose buried in a paper each morning. And of course the main topic these days is the war on Iraq.

Cover of the Weekly International Outlook, April 7, 2003
Fortunately for me, India has several English-language dailies that are of remarkable integrity. The reporting is solid and, for the most part, impartial. (Like most printed English in Asia, the papers could use good proofreaders, but why split hairs?) Most interesting for me are the editorials, which are almost exclusively anti-war (although not exclusively anti-US). Most editorialists question the US's motivations for entering the war, and they blast the US for defying the UN; at the same time, many editorials acknowledge the crimes of Saddam Hussein and the need for regime change in Iraq.

The only pro-US, pro-war editorial I've seen, entitled "Why I'm Behind America", was a spoof that used the US's preemptive strikes on Iraq as justification for India to attack Pakistan without the UN's (or America's) approval.

I'm betting that the television coverage here is different from coverage at home too. The main channels are BBC News and the European edition of CNN. So there's an emphasis on Britain's role in the conflict, and a slightly critical approach to reporting American news. Don't get me wrong, the coverage is top notch – it's just framed a bit differently than the TV news I'm used to.

Discussions with Other Travelers
Of course, the war has dominated many of my conversations with other travelers too, most of whom are European. I've sat in on many roundtable discussions and, because I'm always the only American present, usually take a good pounding. I do occasionally have an advantage because the discussions are held in English, which is not the first language of some participants.

These discussions sometimes stir up defensive, nationalistic feelings in me, and I often find myself arguing for points I don't necessarily believe.

Cover of India Today, April 7, 2003
The Unanimous Sentiment
In all of my discussions regarding the conflict – with Indians, Europeans, and everyone in between – I have not met a single person who supports the War in Iraq.

Do I Feel Safe?
I have felt absolutely no hostility directed toward me as an American in India. I've met some individuals who are vehemently anti-war and anti-US, but I've never felt in danger of anything more than a lengthy rant.

I recently visited Jama Masjid, a famous mosque in Old Delhi, and fell into a conversation with some Muslim men (Muslims make up 15% of India's population). Initially, I was tempted to tell them I was Canadian, just to spare myself some grief, but I promised myself a while ago I wouldn't play that card unless it was absolutely necessary. So I told them I was American and the conversation naturally turned to the war in Iraq. And although, like everyone else, these guys were against the idea of war, they were not the least bit hostile toward me. Nor did they make mention of jihad or any business like that. Like so many people who disagree with the US, they were quick to point out that they're against the leaders of the country – not the individual citizens.

Will the War Affect Vagabonding?
Nepal is my next destination, and then Tibet – both peaceful countries in terms of Islamic or anti-US tensions. The war won't change my plans there.

After Tibet, I had planned on visiting Egypt. Cruising down the Nile, diving off the Sinai Peninsula, exploring the pyramids – these are things I've dreamed about my whole life. But as much as I don't want to let the war affect me, I think I'll give Egypt a miss. Life is long – the pyramids and River Nile will wait for me. And, of course, flying straight to Kenya is nothing to cry about.


What do you think?

  • Are you presently outside your home country? What kind of sentiments regarding the war have you encountered?
  • If you were in my shoes, would you travel to Egypt or other Muslim countries in the coming months?
Posted on March 31, 2003 02:57 AM


Comments (post your own below)

I wouldn't skip Egypt. Syria, Afghanistan, the West Bank, maybe, but not Egypt. I think you'll find, like you already have, that most Muslims have no animosity toward you personally, only the American government. Egyptian president Mubarek has even supported the U.S. You'll be fine.

Posted by: Todd Adams on March 31, 2003 07:03 AM

I'm in the same position you are, but exactly reversed. I'm an Indian living in the US. and I really liked this post. I notice all the same things you do, but not in the same form, instead, their mirror images.
The way the media is, how people think differently here, than they do in my homeland.

Good going. hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

Posted by: Prashant on March 31, 2003 09:21 AM

oh, and if you're looking to go out in Delhi, be sure to check out Dublin in Maurya Sheraton and Ssteel (or some similar spelling) in Asoka Hotel.
Eat dinner in Bukhara (in the maurya too) if you have the chance.
If you want to do what the locals do:
1. Check out India Gate at night, and eat ice-cream there.
2. take an auto-rickshaw somewhere, anywhere.
3. Eat chaat at Chandni Chowk (at your own risk). Safer alternative, and almost as good is Bengali Market.

any delhi-ite would be able to direct you to all these places.

Posted by: Prashant on March 31, 2003 09:30 AM

Great update Pughey! It would be tragic to skip Egypt. I'd be far more concerned about travel in other parts of Africa. Stay safe my friend.

btw, the wedding date is set for Oct. 3rd. any chance we'll see you there?

Posted by: Chad on March 31, 2003 12:23 PM

Why would you skip Egypt? It is a tourist-friendly country which receives at the very least a few dozens of US visitors every day. You would only be one of them.

Egypt is not Dubai, definitely, but the atmosphere is as relaxed as it gets, just as you would find it in other touristy Arabic countries such as Tunisia or Jordan.

Hateful attitudes in Egypt towards US citizens are unheard of, under normal circumstances. The fact that you're visiting their country already means you appreciate and want to approach their culture.

Disregard the CNN cliché. These fellows are not fanatics, but avid newspaper readers. They know it's not your fault that your country is involved in a war against a neighboring country they don't sympathize that much after all.

Instead, most of them will regard you as a potential customer. Just use your common sense and, if you eventually decide to say you're Canadian, do not forget to gesticulate a lot.

Good luck with your banana lassis.

Posted by: cave canem on March 31, 2003 01:07 PM


It's interesting to hear your perspective. Like you, I've been forced to rely on media sources outside my comfort zone. Life in Lake Tahoe limits the media coverage that this former city dweller has grown accustom to.

Instead, I regularly tune to two of the three radio stations we get here in the mountains. I've found that NPR and BBC news radio offer a very candid, somewhat non-biased and refreshing perspective to this war and world news.

Now an avid listener, long gone are the days when I use to sit and flip between CNN and Fox's skewed coverage of the war effort. No longer do I need to have my news spoon fed from jackasses like Wolf Blitzer, Major Garrett and Sheppard Smith (What kind of names are these anyway?!) The truth will set you free…or at the very least give you commercial free radio.

Take care Pugh,
Be safe during this fuckered-up time.


Posted by: MJ on March 31, 2003 04:56 PM

Believe it or not, the closest, most impressive, comprehensive, extensive, unbiased news coverage on the war I have seen so far has the Al-Jazeera stamp on it. They still apply censorship to any news regarding the Qatari Royal family, but who really cares about them.

Posted by: cave canem on March 31, 2003 06:30 PM

Am I ever glad I stumbled onto this page. This web site is very well done and quite inspiring. This entry is fantastic and has given me the inspiration to include some of the destinations that I was considering cancelling on my own RTW trip.

Keep it up!

Posted by: JR on March 31, 2003 06:38 PM

Big Mike,

On the option of visiting Egypt, brother I would do it if I had the chance. But then again I'm not in your shoes, so do what your instinct tells you. But I would stay away from the other places.

Posted by: Danny on March 31, 2003 08:02 PM

Hi Mike,

If you recall, I recently wrote to you regarding travel in India (and Egypt) during these times of (preposterous) war. It almost seems as if you were answering my question at greater length with your latest journal entry. I appreciate the insight, and after reading the responses that people wrote to you regarding Egypt, I think I will tentatively leave the land of the Pyramids on my itinerary.

Regarding my experience as a traveling American during the war, I too have met with nothing but friendly inquisitiveness and lively conversation. In fact, my first act following America's first bombs over Baghdad was to eat at a Muslim restaurant directly across the street from Phitsanulok, Thailand's only mosque. The friendly owner of the restaurant and I had an engaging chat about world affairs, shook hands, and parted ways. It was an encouraging encounter to begin my postwar travels. Like you, I have met people who are very much anti-American at the moment, but nobody has come remotely close to threatening me or ever making me feel as if I am in danger. Here's to both of us (and any other itinerant Americans) continuing to have safe passage.

As always, I really enjoy your I'm off to go write my latest travel journal entry to my friends back in the States...I'd start a website, but I don't want to steal your glory! (and I don't know how!)

Continued safe travels,

Scott Urbach, Bangkok (one day removed from Delhi, India!)

Posted by: Scott Urbach on April 1, 2003 04:06 AM

I have read many online travel diaries since about 1995, when I was first exposed to them, and, of course, most of them were made after the fact. Those of you who have been able to create your webpages "on the go" are inspiring. Without a doubt, yours is the most advanced and interactive I've seen so far. It's great that you can post questions to your readers, i.e. going to Egypt, or muslim countries, and get feedback. Just amazing. I am elated that the technology exists for you to do this, and sad that this will soon become too common place. Nevertheless, I am optimistic.

Take Care,
Roger Merritt

Posted by: Roger on April 1, 2003 01:37 PM

I wonder if the 'anti-' sentiments would be the same if a country other than the US was at war in Iraq? It seems to me that the elements of 'America' and 'Bush Jr' promote the sensationalist dissent that I see every day. The comforts that so many middle-class citizens work hard every day to enjoy and our leader who has been villified since day -1 in the post that he was *voted* into, sadly, these things are such easy targets for those that have-not, or those that lost the race.

Posted by: luckythirteenxxx on April 1, 2003 01:50 PM

I forgot to mention before: I found your site at the same time I am engaged in reading "City of Djinns: a year in Delhi" by William Dalrymple. What a coincidence; how timely! Have you read the book? By the way, I'm a Librarian.


Posted by: Roger on April 1, 2003 02:09 PM

Referring too "...they were quick to point out that they're against the leaders of the country – not the individual citizens."
This is like saying that an individual’s contribution, say to recycling or peace protesting or human rights is not reflective in the global outcome, or the wider picture of cause and effect. It is true or may be true that people throughout the world to not show any animosity to Americans despite the war, but these same folk go home and say "god these Americans, or American culture this and that." In this way they build a counter-racism that contributes or affects not the individual but to the same global and collective outcome as afore mentioned. Americans need to be Americans and accept it and not try to dissociate or justify the actions of their government with something outside themselves. It should be enough to say I am against the war - anything more is out of your control.

Posted by: Philip on April 1, 2003 02:21 PM

I am a New Zealander and travelling in the states right now. Visiting many friends from different places here and we talked about the war as much as we drink and eat everyday. The Americans are in fact very friendly.
so far I have heard ONLY ONE person agreed with the war, he thinks the war is the only way to remove the evil. The rest of opinions are disagreed. you are right Mike, it is not the individual, it is the ideal of the leaders of the country who want the war. I think you will be safe wherever you go. Well, i hope so.

By the way, I will be in Europe in May and planed to go to Egypt in June or July. I am travelling alone, anybody have any ideal for where to see in Europe? i have only know very little of it for readings.


Posted by: michelle on April 1, 2003 04:45 PM

Great entry - very interesting. The closest you can get to that kind of alternative coverage here is Google! News which references many English dailies world-wide.

Keep it up and stay away from SARS!

Posted by: vince on April 1, 2003 09:31 PM

I am an American living in Ukraine. People here are overwhelmingly against the war, but it doesn't seem to come up much in everyday conversations with Ukrainians. I have, however, been in several debates with other Americans. I am against the war myself, but many of the Americans I meet argue the pro side. I'm not sure if this is because they really feel that way, or because they feel they need to defend the US in a time of war.

Good luck in your travels, and be safe!

Posted by: elizabeth on April 2, 2003 09:57 AM

I discovered your site while researching for my own RTW trip with 2 other people (one other American and one non-American). We're obviously very concered about traveling during time of war but glad to get a hands on perspective from an American. It's been refreshing and inspiring to read about your experiences and how the world has been reacting towards you. We've re-routed our itinterary to South America in the hopes for a safer route but now I feel a little more confident about venturing to other places after reading your comments. Can you offer any other advise to Americans in regards to safety and precautions while traveling abroad during this volatile time?
Thanks for the insight and I look forward to updates from the rest of your trip.

Safe travels~


Posted by: Peter on April 2, 2003 11:08 AM

If I were in your shoes, I think I'd skip Egypt for the time being. While the Egyptian government may voice support for the US, the populace certainly does not. Remember the 64 Japanese tourists who were murdered at Luxor in '97.

Posted by: Sheila on April 2, 2003 01:04 PM

hello mike
time to celebrate.....a thing started is a thing half done, and here we are already.
you started as one man, one world, one year and you certainly have turned out to be the man that took the whole world along on a one year trip.
when you look at something a gazillion people see it along with you, when you are well, we cheer you along. when you are not, we stop to say a prayer for you.
O Captain! my Captain!
do not sail into your home harbour without your one true possession that we all treasure.
be safe - follow your heart

Posted by: dar on April 3, 2003 12:14 AM

I am an American leaving in six weeks for a RTW journey and after some debate have decided to keep Egypt on the itinerary. Despite what I see on CNN and other major networks, the stories I have read and heard from other travelers is that the majority of Egyptians do differentiate between Americans and American foreign policy. I understand that there is some risk, but I know that risk is inherent in any trip. If upon my arrival, I find the political climate is too intense, I'll travel on to my next destination and come back to Egypt at a different time.

Also, don't forget that tourism is one of Egypt's main sources of revenue and they desperately need travelers right now. How could I ever pass up diving in the Red Sea?

In the end, it's all up to you. Listen to your gut and follow it.

By the way, thanks for your reply regarding travel budget, the info helped out.

Again, love the site and can't wait for the next update. Perhaps I'll run into you on the road somewhere....


Posted by: Jill on April 6, 2003 01:40 AM

Life is short, go to Egypt!
Seriously, you never know when you will be back and a trip round the world that doesn't include the Pyramids and the Sphinx at Gizeh is not complete!

Do these things to be safe:

-The Gizeh pyramids in Cairo (and accompanying museums) are supported as a tourist destination and highly protected by the Egypiant goverment. Plus, the Egyptians there are EXTREMELY accustomed to loads and loads of tourists from all over the world, not just the U.S. In fact, they earn money from those tourists and have no desire to make people feel unsafe there. So you will have a lot of measures working in your favor.
-It is outlying areas I would avoid. I would go to Egypt, absolutely but in this one case only, stick to the beaten path. At obscure destinations in Egypt, you may get a nicer flavor for modern Egyptian culture but you can do that next time! You will still get a sense of that and a very important experience it is.....during this historical time. I think you'll be glad you braved Egypt.
-Remember that at it's at out of the way/nontourist destinations that you're likely to run into religously conservative Egyptians who are not tourist-savvy or tourist-dependent for income.
-And avoid being labelled American, yes. For the Egypt leg, just become an honorary Canadian or Aussie.
-Remember you will blend in with the Germans, French, and many other Europeans when you are at major tourist destinations such as the pyramids. Egyptians aren't particularly mad at Europeans right now.Freely mingle in international groups.
-Do not hang out or associate with any large groups of Americans or American-focused hotels because any American-only group could be a target.

happy trails

Posted by: X on April 6, 2003 01:50 PM

thinking of you...

Posted by: jessica zierten on April 6, 2003 05:08 PM


Great website and greetings from Japan! I am an American teaching english near Tokyo. While the war is followed in Japan it is definitely a different perspective than CNN portrays. Good luck in your travels I always enjoy your updates.


Posted by: Ryan Smith on April 7, 2003 07:17 AM

Hey Mike -

I just got your postcard, it took about a week to get to California. Thanks!

My $0.02 would be to go to Egypt. Keep your wits about you, but as most of the other posters have said, people are frequently smart enough to distinguish between the individual citizens and their countries fucked up foreign policies. I've been to Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, and Cuba and have always been amazed at the hospitality and generosity affored to me by the locals I've met, even though I've come from the country responsible for their "regime change." Mostly people have been curious, especially in Cuba, and having the chance to meet and talk person-to-person does a lot to educate and broaden both people's perspectives.

Posted by: Mary Taylor on April 7, 2003 03:03 PM

It is so funny to hear your experiences with news and media on the "other side" when the TV behind me (NBC to be exact) is claiming their coverage of the war as, (and I quote) "NO HYPE, PROVACTIVE, THE BEST NEWS COVERAGE ON THE WAR."

Posted by: Amy Dileo on April 7, 2003 05:32 PM

Hi Mike,

I work in several missions in 3rd world countries. I enjoy learning their customs and eating their food.

I do not know anyone who wants war. I know literally hundreds who support war when atrocities that can't be resolved by peaceful means must be stopped. How many of the anti-war people would be here if others like Saddam were not stopped.

It is important to remember that no person has killed more Iraqis and Muslims than Saddam. This fact seems to be lost.

It is also important to remember that history shows that 80% of the people are wrong 80% of the time.

It is fortunate that our grandchildren will be able to reap the merits of this war as you and I have benefited from the outcome of WWII.

I wish you the best on your journey. Isn't the handiwork of our Creator beautiful?

Posted by: Paul Van Noord on April 7, 2003 06:33 PM

Hey Mike,

Miss working with you and the gang. Life will never be the same and this war isn't help the unemployed either.

I found this post very intriguing and an interesting world perspective on the war. Sitting here in Chicago and seeing the war coverage makes me wonder what the rest of the world sees. I have often wondered how you are being received abroad. It is good to hear that people are not lashing out at you for the US involvement in this war.

As always, your posts keep me enthralled. Your pictures and insights are fantastic. I'm still envious of you and this wonderful trip of yours.

Keep up this great work of yours.

Are you planning to do anything with all of this material after you return home?

Posted by: Kevin P. Wojdak on April 7, 2003 09:19 PM

A friend of mine who is an acquaintance of yours told me about your website and I have been hooked since.

I will be traveling abroad for the first time on Friday (to London, and places yet unknown in Europe) and in July I will be travelling to Delhi to stay for about two months. I hope to travel to many different places, and seeing your pictures and reading your stories has gotten me very excited.

Reading your posts and speaking with other well travelled people about how people treat Americans in other countries have alleviated some of my own concerns. I have decided that Americans may be safer in most other countries than in our own.

I think you should go to Egypt. These opportunities are not always available to us, so I say make the most of them.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us!

Posted by: Drew on April 8, 2003 06:43 PM

I spend two weeks in Germany over Christmas 2002 and the topic of the then-impending war came up with some people. I must report that nobody was against me, just my leaders. Everyone was responsible.

Posted by: Caleb on April 8, 2003 09:31 PM

Have been here in Chennai, India for over a year & suggest meeting life head on. I ride India's biggest motorcycle (Royal Enfield Bullet) in homicidal traffic, but I'm seeing 2x as much as when I had a driver. As a PADI DiveMaster, I'm ordering you not to miss Red Sea diving ;^)

Posted by: YardBoy on April 9, 2003 06:05 PM

Don't skip Egypt on account of the war! My husband & I were in Egypt last week (3/30-4/6), & it was wonderful. We are American & came across exactly 1 person who said anything negative about Americans (& yes, we told this person we were Canadian for that reason). All other Egyptians welcomed us warmly, & I had many very enjoyable, enlightening discussions about politics with locals. Just like Indians, Egyptians make a distinction between a country's govt. & its people. They may hate Bush & Blair, but they liked us Americans. I felt as safe in Cairo & Luxor as I do in the US & Europe.

Enjoy your travels -- I enjoy reading about them!

Posted by: Batty on April 10, 2003 01:48 PM

Wow can't get a word in edge ways these days mike! All top stuff as usual. All i can say about egypt is that the rocks and history outshone the locals and definately the food; a dissapointment. You will be an anomoly in the streets, encapsulated in tourism and guarded by 'tourist' police, why is that... didn't 30 odd tourists cop it from extremist nutters not so long ago in '97? I personally know of someone with an Egyptian decent boyfriend who is recommending her not to go there at the moment if that's any help... then again i had 2 of the most amazing friendly travel months in Colombia and everyone will tell you not to go there. I think there will be risk involved but only you can take it.

As for the war looks like its overish now and the USA can start paying the price of it's gun tooting conscious by getting down to the harder task of building a new country for the iraq's, which I'm looking forward to seeing televised daily. When will we know that peace will never come by force in the middle east or anywhere else other than within your self. Know peace, be peace. That's what I've learned from this whole war experience.

Posted by: Andrew Di Donna on April 11, 2003 03:37 AM

it's unfortunate that some visitors of this site feel that it should be used as a forum to espouse half-baked ideas on the nature of war and peace. but since the precedent has been set... here we go...

war and peace are, as it seems to me, temporal states of change and repose. to simply say that you want peace is rather foolish. it is a noble concept but not very realistic. how can peace ever be maintained in a world divided by; nations, religions, economy, tribes, cultures, customs, language, etc., etc.

the fact is, the U.S. is on top of the heap. this brews contempt in some; pride in others. life, liberty & the persuit of happiness are the hallmarks of this (american) ideal called freedom. this is an alien concept in many parts of the world. parts of the world where women are buried to their waist and killed with stones.

the U.S. isn't perfect, but no one tries harder. freedom isn't free. it is paid for with the blood of patriots.

Posted by: carlo on April 11, 2003 10:03 AM

ıf you send a photo, ı will be very happy

Posted by: recep on April 12, 2003 06:04 AM

Hey cuz! Do what you feel necessary. You are doing great and by the looks of the site and the numerous have a lil fanbase going on!

Keep it up and be safe!

Your cuz,

Posted by: Justin on April 12, 2003 01:02 PM

I'm a portuguese citizen, and consequently a citizen of the world, so this "stupid" war affect me directly (if you now are i mean). Why Mr. Bush, why? Like the "Big" Michael Moore in the ceremony of the "Oscars" i want to say - "Shame on you Mr. Bush, shame on you Mr. Bush".
I'm right now, in a midle of a class, learning computer language. this is a reality that is so far away from me, but finally i found something to get me pass time. In your web page, reading your "vagabonding" and looking at your photos i found a shelter to escape the reality. it's fantasting what you are doing. you have inspired me to do the same, but in a small scale to start. I want to dream and be able to fly in this "stressing" world.
Thank you very much

obs. pardon me my poor english, like i said I´m a portuguese. you have to visit us, mainly OPorto would like.

Posted by: Jorge on April 14, 2003 05:42 AM

This site serves better as a bucolic retreat. Not a billboard for political views.

Espousing political views on this website is akin to watching the E channel for war coverage.

Posted by: craigers on April 15, 2003 08:01 AM

Pardon me if this has been said already as I haven't read all the comments, but I just wanted to add that a friend of mine was in Egypt at outbreak of the war and everything was fine for him (and his two loudly American companions) while there.

Actually, while going to the pyramids, the Egyptian police stopped him and his friends and asked if they were American. When they said yes, the police said, "We'll escort you to and from wherever you're going, just to be safe. We'd hate for anything to happen to you." But he was there over a week and said that everybody was very kind and open to them.

So I'd go. Especially now that things may have simmered down a bit.

Posted by: lee on April 19, 2003 06:19 PM

I would be thoughtful about where I pulled my camera out and started shooting in the Middle East. Rational thoughts and actions may not be the norm these days. You're a journalist of sorts, regardless of how you see yourself.

Posted by: jerry wynkoop on April 20, 2003 09:56 AM

hi mike -

just a note to say thanks so much for sharing your travel stories here. you've been a regular read for a while, and it's such a treat to see around the world thru your eyes. thanks, and looking forward to the next post!

Posted by: beth on April 25, 2003 02:30 PM


wow, What an amazing experiance you continue to have. I am please that you are presenting you self as a american and not taking the easy Canadian way out. I think it will be a positive thing for both you and the pople you come into contact with. I am sorry you are reconsidering egypt. It is also a life long dream of mine to explore the nile and climb the pyramids and i was looking forward to reading your experiances. You are the man on the ground so do what you think is best. I still regret not taking a dip in the ganges though.

more luck


Posted by: David Duprey on April 28, 2003 03:24 PM

I realize it's probably way under the bell to put my two cents in on this issue, but as an Egyptian-American (and an intinerant internationalist), I thought I might be able to shed some light on alot of your concerns.

First of all, go to Egypt. It betrays your instincts as a world traveller to allow external perceptions of a country's relative safety and stability to cloud your desire to experience it first hand. Egyptians are generous to a fault where foreign tourists are concerned, and I would dare suggest that you need not even disguise your nationality while there. This is not to say that Egyptians are pleased as shit about America right now, but you will not find a single Egyptian who has had an aweful personal encounter with an American because they are more than willing to make the differentiation between the country's people and its rulers (just like most people in most countries should be able to do).

Yes, the terrorist attack at Luxor was horrifying and what that resulted in was an unprecedented clamp-down on terrorist organizations (with a corresponding popular backlash against these organizations for striking the economic Achilles heal of Egyptian tourism) along with a more robust security detail among most tourists sites.

You may also want to go out and about to places further from the commonly-known realm of the tourist economy. Do excercise caution in this regard because alot of these places, particularly in Upper Egypt, are unsafe even for Egyptians.

Lastly, you should just be aware of the fact that you will get asked questions, but you won't be harrassed, you won't be arrested, and you won't be made to feel any more uncomfortable than you might have in India. But also understand that the war touches a very raw nerve in the Arab world and it will inevitably be portrayed in a manner that is not only different from what you've experienced but also on a deeper and more personal level than has been adequately realized in the West. I'm sure this is nothing new to you, but it's always worth keeping in your head as you, as an American, continue to reach out to other cultures and experiences around the globe in this time of global instability.

BTW, I think you've got the tightest blog on the web!

Posted by: hK on May 6, 2003 01:09 PM

Many thanks to the people who offered their encouragement and advice. I really appreciate hearing your unique perspectives.

Ironically, I'm now skipping to Tibet and heading straight to Egypt. (The Chinese border is closed due to the SARS epidemic.)

Yes, Egypt. I've put aside my reservations and decided to stick to the original plan. Life is too short and Egypt is too great to let this opportunity slip by.

Posted by: mike on May 7, 2003 05:07 AM

congratulations from Spain. I have just discovered the "blog-world" and my teacher recomended me your blog. And I feel so excited. Congratulations again. I am starting with mine but I need to improve my computer use...
Have a nice trip.

Posted by: yoana on June 5, 2003 12:29 PM


Good to see you are still going strong. The website looks great. Thanks for letting us get a glimpse of the rest of the world. Safe travels!!

Posted by: Eddie G. on July 2, 2003 11:07 PM

Thinking of going to EGYPT in October. Is it still safe and will it be too hot?

Posted by: Susan on August 29, 2003 04:20 AM

Hey Mike,
I'd love to hear about your conversations in Egypt..and you're right, the pyramids will wait. Kenya doesn't sound safe lately either...Go where your gut tells you to go.

And keep reporting on everything. Your view is as good as anybody's.

Posted by: Katie on September 2, 2003 10:58 AM

Again, we need to make a decision about going to Egypt in October soon. I will be taking 2 kids ages 12 and 8, so I want to make sure they will be safe. We will be staying at the Four Seasons in Cairo and Sharm. Any suggestions to go or not?

Posted by: Susan on September 5, 2003 03:56 PM

One of these posts asked if the anti-war sentiment would be the same if a country other than the USA went to war with Iraq? The answer is NO. If it were Iran or Indonesia etc. that went to war with Iraq, you wouldn't hear a peep from the Europeans or anybody else, nobody would care and that is the truth. People are opposed to it simply because it's the USA going war and the world loves it as it gives them a chance to show their anti-Americanism behind a phony guise of "peace" and "concern" for the Iraqi people. The naive, phony nauseatingly self-righeous Europeans didn't want war because THEY had oil deals with Hussien and they didn't care about the fact that he brutalized his own people, yet they accuse us(Americans)about only being after oil--hypocrits.

Posted by: kara on September 13, 2003 02:53 AM

Mishka rules !

Posted by: Mishka on September 23, 2003 11:05 AM

kara, where did you buy those Pollyanna glasses you're wearing?

Posted by: cave canem on September 23, 2003 12:34 PM

hey Cave,

I love how you chastise against name calling in one forum... then dole out the insults in another. Magnificent! I truly enjoy your posts... but man! you sure sound self righteous at times.

Posted by: cjordan on September 24, 2003 12:03 PM

Color me flabbergasted, cjordan. I just learnt different meanings for "insult" and "to dole out" from your post. It was kara who called me a "phony nauseatingly self-righteous, hypocrite" person just for being European. What's worse -- she called me "naïve", too, instead of "naïf". I have a strong virility with a reputation to get offended like that!

Perhaps it's just me, but I think my response could be regarded as a sour bit of respectful sarcasm, as opposed to all those spirited things kara wrote in her visceral harangue. I'm sure she really did not mean them (all), anyway. I just don't see how asking someone about his/her Pollyanna glasses can be described as "doling out insults" without hyperbolizing.

As for being self-righteous, I'd say that just being a character doesn't mean having a character. But anyway, my apologies if my post above was somehow offensive.

Posted by: cave canem on September 24, 2003 05:24 PM

mike, as another poster recommended, follow your gut and desires and go where you will when you feel the inclination. life lived from the perspective of fear is only partially lived - and propagates more of what we are afraid of.
now, enough philosophy ...i (american - female and blond) visited jordan and iraq immediately previous to the coalition attack. i am was there as an independant peace volunteer and witness. i wore a badge with 'peace volunteer', my name and coutry of origin on it in both english and arabic. of course, advertizing my view probly helped me, but still i encountered no prejudice or concerns for my safety. everyone i talked to understood the diference between government and the people (maybe living under a dictator makes this concept easier to adopt?) - but i was asked many times why we elected g bush....of course, i had to respond that we DIDNT.
i feel that we experience a reflection of ourselves in our interactions with others - abroad or in our own countries. if we are open, respectful, appreciative, interested in others and their perspectives then that is what we will experience.
of course it is wise to research the possible risks of any venture, and to use that education to make choices. yes, definately sites where large numbers of americans typically gather or buildings symbolic of the entities which are causing anger.
and, i personally (although tempted, i must admit!) would not try to pass as canadian unless i felt it was absolutely crucial to my safety. first of all, your passport will show you a liar, and secondly, it is vastly important in my opinion to show others whose experience of americans has been painful, that there ARE americans who dont support colonization and who appreciate our uniquenesses.

Posted by: Sasha on October 19, 2003 07:58 AM

Mike, please don't misconstrue, but I agree with you, I wouldn't venture into Egypt for a long while. Granted most Egyptians are probably no problem, but you're an American, my friend, you are a potential hostage. Take care. Love the Blog

Posted by: torga on October 28, 2003 04:00 PM

I just spent a wonderful 23 months travelling through 23 countries, ending with Egypt. Despite my concerns and apprehensions as I am American, single & female, I had no problems and warm memories.
When it's your's your time! None of us are leaving here alive, so live life to its fullest!

Posted by: Traci Bogan on November 18, 2003 05:15 PM

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