Back in Victorian times, it was considered uncouth to be anything but pale. A tan implied you labored in the fields, like a common peasant. Ladies and gentlemen remained indoors ensconced within artificially-lit chambers, and if they needed to venture outside it was only with a parasol or top-hat.
Times sure do change, and now it’s only goths who avoid the sun. For the rest of us, a tan is a status symbol, displaying to the world that we’re able to afford leisure time. A winter tan is even more desirable, as it shows we’re able to afford leisure time out of town. Sure, everyone’s been to Mexico, Australia, and the Caribbean, but here are some places you can visit to get a tan while also sounding mysterious having actually visited them. Escape the winter cold, get a tan, and have a great time at these unusual vacation destinations:
West Africa is not the first place most people think of when they think of going on vacation. And this is perhaps a shame, since you can get delicious food for just a few pennies in much of the region. Ghana is one of the more interesting places to visit, and Accra offers a wide variety of cheap delicious cuisine with hot pepper on everything. Don’t worry about not finding the rice balls interesting enough; Ghanaian hot sauce makes everything taste plenty interesting.
Ghana also has whatever type of vacation you want. If you want to tour parks and gardens, you can do that. If you’d rather catch native festivals and drum circles, you can do that instead. If you’d rather be on animal tours, you can visit the hippo sanctuary and monkey sanctuary. Or if you want to be an oppressive colonialist, you can visit the gold mines and the famed Salaga slave market (no longer in operation).
Regardless of what else you see, you’ll definitely want to check out the castles.
This is the only place where you can go on vacation and say “I’m surrounded by Cretans!” without getting beaten up. The island of Crete is the largest island in Greece, boasting a thousand kilometers of coastline with sandy beaches you’ll want to lie on all day. And you may as well, because Greek culture is very laid back.
How laid back? Well, don’t expect fast food. Sure, you can get delicious street souvlaki for a few hundred drachmas (a buck), but when you sit down for a meal, expect to be there for a while. After spending your day on the beach, you can relax in a Taverna and chat with your friends for hours. That’s not an option, that’s a choice; dinners consist of a slow stream of tapas that come to your table eventually, as you sit around smoking, listening to music, and drinking ouzo.
Did we mention ouzo? It’s a licorice-flavored liquor that’s so potent, you have to water it down to drink it. Well, you don’t legally have to, but if you fail to do so, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The first thing most people think of with regard to Thailand is sex-tourism. This is unfortunate because Thailand has much to offer besides lithe, nubile young women who’ll soap themselves up then sandwich you between their hot, writhing bodies. Uh… Sorry, miles away there.
Anyway, Thailand has much to offer in terms of fun, sun, and fun in the sun. It has gorgeous white sand beaches, lush jungles and picturesque rice fields. One popular tourist activity in Thailand that you don’t find everywhere is elephant back riding. http://www.wayfarersthailand.com/elephanttours.htm This is a great and memorable way to see the countryside!
Urban areas, of which Bangkok is by far the busiest, offer great cuisine and much inexpensive entertainment. Peak tourist season is between November and February, with the weather being fairly moderate then. While in Thailand, visiting Phuket Island is a must, as besides having breathtaking beaches and indescribably azure water, it provides you a lifelong excuse to say something very rude.
This large island just off the eastern coast of South Africa is home to some surprising wildlife and people. The island is home to lemurs, very photogenic creatures that would provide any number of image macros. The people are mostly descended from Indonesians, hence Madagascar’s culture and traditions are very different from the African norm. That’s not to say Western of course – they have an annual ceremony where the bones of dead ancestors are paraded through the streets.
Any holiday to Madagascar will be quite an adventure. Roads are generally poor and very few people speak English. You can get by if you know French, otherwise expect to make a lot of large hand gestures. The fishing on offer is great, and the local cuisine, while simple, is delicious as the island is rightly famed for its spices and unusual fruits.
Namibia is a largely desert country bordering South Africa. It has the advantage of being less plagued by crime and AIDS than South Africa while offering a wealth of tourist destinations. The Skeleton Coast is famed for its striking ship-wrecks, and the famous red dunes of the more southerly region have formed the backdrop to many a movie. True outdoorsmen can enjoy some very rugged hiking, riding, or 4x4ing in the country, and quad biking along the dunes is a great experience.
Be sure to visit the beautiful little town of Swakopmund while in Namibia. It boasts great restaurants, bars and accommodation, and retains much of the architecture and ambience of its former status as a German colony. The rest of the country is very clean and orderly for Southern Africa, and there are many prehistoric sites for those with anthropological interests. Prices are low, people are friendly if somewhat conservative (homosexuality is actually illegal in Namibia, so leave any metro pink shirts at home) and sunlight is plentiful.
#6. Island of Yap
The Island of Yap is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, south of Japan and east of the Phillipines. Yap is called Wa’ab by the locals, so if you want to blend in (fat chance), be sure to refer to it appropriately. Yap changed hands over time from the Spanish to the Germans to the Japanese, but today is part of Micronesia. But it’s still more fun to call it Yap.
Yap features some of the best scuba diving in the world, especially since the surrounding area has a large population of giant manta rays. If you go, you can pay in American currency. Which is just as well, because the traditional Yap currency is giant stone disks. We’re talking at least a foot high, and sometimes reaching twice the size of a man. Sadly, this currency is mostly used these days only for traditional ceremony payments like weddings. Still, be careful if you ask someone to flip a coin.
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