Popular Tourist Destinations Where Common Sense Sometimes Escapes
Some people choose a vacation spot that is a popular tourist destination. Others select it based on a specific tourist attraction. Some of the attractions entice or encourage you to act a little crazy and let your inner dare-devil out. That’s fine, but there is no reason to be stupid. Watch the videos below to see why your future vacation plans should not include doing this:
1. Getting Sand Blasted at Maho Beach in Sint Maarten
Sint Maarten/Saint Martin is a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. This tiny island is governed by two countries. One side of the dividing line, Sint Maarten, is under Dutch rule and the other, Saint Martin, French. Maho Beach, one of the beaches on the Dutch side is a must see, even for those who eschew tourist traps. Having visited on a cruise port of call I believe that this hugely popular tourist attraction is so worth it. When I went back and spent more time in Sint Maarten, I revisited Maho Beach because it’s just that amazing. (Caveat, I love to watch planes take off and land. If that’s not you, this may not be your cup of tea).
This is an accurate picture of what you will see at Maho BeachCredit: puroticorico: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10058483@N00/6544006269
Maho Beach is such an interesting place. It’s very crowded when the cruise ships come in. A few yards away sits the Princess Juliana International Airport. All that separates you from the airport is a fence. The planes are literally landing on top of you. There’s a great bar on the beach called the Sunset Bar that lists plane arrival times. Everyone looks forward to the arrivals in the afternoon when the jumbo jets arrive from France and the like.
When the planes take off, their engines face the beach so you see and hear the awesome power they emit. The force of the engines creates a sandstorm and it is very dangerous to be in its path. There are clear signs along the fence that warn tourists to stay clear of the corridor where the planes take off. But of course someone created a stupid and masochistic game of hanging onto the fence in front of the plane’s jet engines. Scores of people (all tourists I bet) line up every day to be sand blasted. This is what happened to one poor young woman. Don’t be her.
2. Voluntarily Setting Yourself Up for a Mauling at the Infamous Tiger Temple in Thailand
What does it mean when a tourist attraction calls itself “infamous?” Well the Tiger Temple (Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua in Thai), located in Kanchanaburin, Thailand does just that. The website states that it is the oldest surviving Buddhist school and forest temple in western Thailand and a sanctuary for about 90 tame tigers. This tourist destination draws about 300-600 international visitors daily who go to feed, pet, exercise, bathe, play, and pose for pictures with the tigers.
Exactly when did it become safe for untrained, non-specialists to pet and play with a bunch of tigers? Well, if reports and rumors are true, the sanctuary uses tactics such as neglect, abuse and drugs to make these naturally wild cats more docile. Said to be run by monks, many visitors refute this claim and say that this Thai tourist trap is overseen by international volunteers.
I have never visited this tourist attraction, but after watching the video clip below, I would not be surprised if the tigers are treated poorly or drugged. What else explains them not attacking the tourists who are teasing them? Tigers, no matter how welled trained, are not pets, after all. Crazy is petting ONE tiger when there are trained personnel leading it. Stupid is jumping into the water with the pack and teasing them. Tell me, are the tigers chasing the dragon? Do you think they are drugged or something to make them so tame?
3. Running with the Bulls During San Fermin in Spain
This tourist attraction is located in Pamplona Spain and began in 1591 as part of a deeply religious festival known as San Fermin. What was originally a two-day affair that consisted of speeches, bullfights, tournaments, musicians and theatre, expanded to a nine-day fiesta that includes fireworks, dances and of course the famous bull runs. The event became a huge tourist attraction for people around the world after the publication of the novel “The Sun Also Rises” written by Ernest Hemingway.
The Fiesta was controversial from the beginning as religious leaders were concerned about its tone. What was supposed to be a religious celebration included drunkenness and “dissolute behavior of young men and women.”
Today it remains a very popular tourist attraction, with tour companies specializing in bull running packages. I consider myself to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and I would happily stand on a balcony to watch this cultural phenomenon. However, running down streets to a stadium with hordes of people, many of them intoxicated and tripping over each other, while thousand pound bulls are antagonized to charge is not only crazy, but stupid. Watch what happens in the following video below when one person in the crowd stumbles and falls.
In response to this next 24 second clip of a woman participating in a bull run, all I could say is, “Ouch! Hope you’re okay, lady. Gotta watch where you’re goin’!”
4. Being a Test Crash Dummy on the AutoBahn in Germany
A highway as a tourist attraction? Absolutely, if that highway has no speed limit. Technically known as the German Autobahns, this network of federal highways has been the subject of many video games such as the Crash Time: Autobahn Pursuit, Gran Turismo 5, Need for Speed: ProStreet, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, Burnout 3: Takedown, and Burnout Dominator.
The autobahn has been a tourist destination for many speed demons looking for a real life thrill. Some may disappointed, however, because in many ways it is like a regular highway. For instance the autobahn does have speed regulations and recommendations. Only a small portion of the highway system which has almost 8000 miles of roads offers drivers the option of unlimited speed. A larger portion has permanent speed limit postings and the rest has temporary postings defined by conditions. Studies have shown that the average speed driven on the unlimited speed section of the autobahn is about 86 mph. There’s no need to go to Germany to do that. I see people doing that all of the time!
Speed limits are strictly enforced on the autobahn, with traffic fines due on the spot. Don’t have enough cash? That’s fine, you can pay with a credit card! The autobahn is also famous for numerous accidents. As my dad joked one time, “When you have a highway with no speed limit, after an accident, just bring a broom and sweep the car to the side of the road as there won’t be anything left.” One speed related accident caused a 259 car pile-up. Definitely no texting and driving here! If the autobahn is the tourist destination for you, don’t be a crash test dummy like the driver in this next video.
5. Flipping for Cheese During the Cheese Rolling Festival in England
This tourist attraction, which takes place on Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester in England is a sort of “sport.” I guess. It’s been described as a time when “twenty young men chase a cheese off of a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom where they are scraped up by paramedic and packed off to the hospital. Fun Stupid right? Like the running of the bulls, it’s a spectacle that I would go to observe, but definitely not participate in.
Cheese Rolling is an annual activity that has been around for hundreds of years. It is held over two days during the Spring Bank Holiday which is the last Monday in May. The main event is the cheese rolling races where a seven or eight pound cheese wheel is rolled down Cooper’s extremely steep hill. A second after the cheese is released, competitors scramble tumble down the hill chasing after the cheese. The first person to cross the finish line wins a prize, a 7-8 lb double Gloucester (cheese). There are men’s and women’s races.
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This tradition is not without controversy. Injuries such as sprains and broken bones are not uncommon. As the official Cheese Rolling website states, “Pictures, no matter how good, never show the reality of the steepness of the hill! When you stand at the foot of the hill, it towers menacingly above you, you look up and up to the top, you realise (sic) you are looking right up to the sky! So steep is it, that the rays of sun rarely fall on the slope itself! … It is terrifying to imagine running down such a slope.”
Due to increased popularity this burgeoning tourist destination that accommodates about 5000, swelled to 15,000 people in 2009. The event was cancelled in 2010 due to safety concerns. An effort to turn the contest into a paid tourist attraction for 2011 was met with ire and threats of bodily harm. The event was cancelled that year too. It did take place in 2012 and is set to happen in 2013, so if you’re interested here’s your chance (to be stupid). Watch the first video below to predict how many bones you will break by participating in it. The second clip shows a charming lass falling gracefully down the hill. I wonder if she cut the cheese when she finally stopped rolling. Participating in this or any of these tourist attractions is not for the faint of heart. I think I will stick to safer sports…like hang gliding.