Least Friendly Countries In the World

Least Friendly Countries In The World

“I’m a stranger in a strange land.” Carson McCullers 

As any world traveler knows, not every country offers tourists a warm welcome. Everyone does not “like to practice their English” for you English-speaking tourists. Everyone does not like foreigners. Friendliness is rated by attitudes toward foreigners. Here are the least friendly countries in order.

10. Mongolia is not a nation of smiling quaint little Asian people. They come from warrior lineage and showing emotion to strangers is a sign of weakness. It is a cultural difference and that is the way it is. They often seem rude and unfriendly, especially in cities. Once you go out of the city, this is not the case. The challenging nature of nomadic life has shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all travelers and pilgrims. Mongolians believe that the welcome offered a stranger today will be repaid in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.

9. Bulgaria is about as East as Eastern Europe gets and Eastern Europeans are not friendly. They don’t smile and I don’t speak Bulgarian. I don’t know much about this country. It is not famous for gymnasts or shooting dictators.There is a lot of stuff on the internet about people being rude and ripping off tourists when possible. Least friendly does not mean unsafe. I guess I will go and see for myself and bring a book.

8. Slovaks are not friendly to people they do not know. I am not sure if this reserve is a Slavic trait or a product of the Socialist regime that they lived under for so long. Smiling customer service will not be part of your shopping or dining experience in Slovakia. They want tourism but they can’t figure out how to market themselves. If you need help in English “ask young,” The older people working in train stations and bus terminals do not speak English. There have been several racist incidents in this homogeneous white society that make people not want to return.

7. Latvia is a good place to not ask directions because no one is going to help you. I have been there. The locals are not friendly and if anyone is friendly to you they want something – so be careful. It is my least favorite of all the Eastern European countries that I have been to so far.

6. Pakistan is a country rife with crime and terrorists. Home to the Taliban and other extremist organizations, Pakistan is unsafe and unfriendly.

5. Iran is a tough one. I think it is on this list because it is ruled by savage mullahs who sponsor terrorism. But from everything I have heard, Iranians are welcoming to visitors and happy to see travelers in their country. The President leads chants that say Death To America. There are posters that say Death to Israel and We Have No Homosexuals. This definitely makes it unwelcoming, yet by all accounts, the people are kind and friendly.

4. Kuwait is incredibly hot which probably makes people irritable. Do not expect a warm welcome here. It is a conservative Muslim country and from being around conservative Muslims in my travels, I notice that they avoid eye contact with anyone in Western clothes. There is not a lot to do other than eating vast amounts of food, smoke shisha (hookah) and walk around luxurious shopping malls. Apparently, the locals don’t seem to want foreigners to do that.

3. I was in Russia a while ago. No one spoke English and at that time every sign was written in Cyrillic. It was hard to get around and I tried to learn temporary Cyrillic as fast I could. The no smiling, no small talk is standard Russian behavior. It was still early in the post-Communist era and people were adjusting. The life of a Russian person in Russia had always been hard and a constant struggle. When I was there, they had many issues between this new “free” life and the feeling that life under Communism was easier. It was what they knew. I found the people cold, rude and unfriendly but I never found that with the many Russian immigrants I have met in the States. I understand why it is listed as the third most unfriendly country in the world because that was my experience as well coming from a completely different culture. 

2. Venezuela is a country in crisis.  It is socially, economically, and politically in ruins. Venezuela is full of violent crime, inflation, and corruption. The local people spend half their lives waiting in line at empty supermarkets, bus, train and gas stations. Hospitals are empty because there is no medicine in this oil-rich country.  The black market is so much cheaper than inflated prices so everyone carries cash. Tourists are robbed by both criminals and police. Traffic accidents are common because cars don’t stop at street lights for fear of being robbed. Protests are daily and often turn violent. Venezuela is a dangerous country and not on most people’s list to travel to right now. Everyone is way too worried about their own safety and precarious future to be friendly to strangers. 

1. Bolivia took the dubious honor of being the most unfriendly country in the world. I know you probably thought it would be the French. I’m not sure I get this one. The only Bolivians I have met were in Northern Argentina selling hand-made souvenirs and coca leaves for altitude sickness in the Altiplano. It is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet -4000 meters high. Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea is very helpful for avoiding altitude sickness. The legality of coca leaves in Buenos Aires is questionable but it is medicinal in the Altiplano and they bring it in from Bolivia. Some Bolivians were friendlier than others but no one was rude. I’ve always found South Americans to be kind and helpful and I can’t find any information on why it is number one. It is an odd choice for a poor, beautiful country that needs tourism. I’m definitely going anyway.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” —Robert Frost

I‘ve lived in Southern California for a long time. I do not do cold very well. Neither does my body. I have a weird autoimmune thing where my fingers and toes turn blue very quickly from cold resulting in circulation problems.  I don’t usually consider very cold trips, but there are some places i will have to go. The places on this list are cold. They have some beautiful white scenery. They are amazing countries. The only thing is – it is very, very cold.

Antarctica is the coldest country in the world. It is the Northernmost place on planet earth and gets little to no sun all year round. There are no native human Antarcticans. Nobody conquered anybody and it really was discovered. People who travel to Antarctica are tourists or they work on scientific research stations. No one actually lives in Antarctica the way they do in the rest of the world. If you want to go to Antartica on your own without a tour, you need permission from your government and you have to show how you will have no environmental impact. It is an environmentally sensitive place. The last  flight out of the South Pole is in February and there is not another one till November so plan your trip accordingly.

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Greenland is the  world’s largest island located  between the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans.  When you hear the word Arctic you know it is cold. Eighty percent of the island is covered in ice. the other twenty per cent is inhabitable. Greenland has an Arctic Tundra that is being affected by climate change. so you might want to see it soon.  Tundras are among the earth’s harshest landscapes. If you’ve missed the Northern Lights, you can see them here three hundred days a year. Icebergs are visible everywhere.  They do have a short  summer season. People live in Greenland. There are flights from Iceland, Denmark and Canada which are other cold countries.

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Iceland. Take a look at the name. The country is cold. Iceland is a road trip and best done in summer. If you are thinking of road tripping in the winter in the snow, I hope you are in a four-wheel drive. Seat warmers are a good thing. Iceland is one big photo-op so be prepared to take a lot of pictures. Also Icelanders love ice cream.

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Russia. Parts of Russia are very cold-like Siberia.The world’s coldest city is Yakutsk, located in Yakutia a republic in Siberia. I can not go there because if you wear glasses outside the metal will freeze to your cheek making them difficult to remove without taking out part of your face. Five to ten minutes a day outside in winter can cause pain. Clothing for maximum warmth is fur. It is expensive but it’s a good investment in your future of not freezing to death. If you drive to work, you will need to run your engine all day.  Winter lasts about seven months. This doesn’t sound like a trip for everyone.

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Kazakhstan. The best time to travel to Kazakhstan  is not in the cold biting winter. It would not be my personal choice. The danger in winter is frostbite and stupidity. Things fall on your head – ice slides off a roof, large icicles drop from branches trees fall.  Stay away from narrow slippery streets. You will never dress right – no matter how much clothing you wear. You will be too hot inside or too cold outside.You cannot predict it.

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Canada. Parts of Canada are effing freezing. (I’m running out of cold adjectives.) Winnipeg, Manitoba has the coldest winter weather of any major Canadian city. It ranks first for the lowest average temperatures. Snag Yukon is the coldest city in North America. Canada is frigid dark and cold in the winter. You will have no trouble getting into restaurants, museums and events  because most people are home. It is beautiful in the summer.

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USA. Alaska is one of our states. Weather in Alaska in the winter is cold and dark. Days are short to very short, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t skiing, dog sledding,  ice skating and viewing the Northern lights. They are big on winter festivals and hotels and tours are fifty per cent off. Do you know why? because it is cold, cold, cold. It’s not deadly cold like some other places. But cold enough to wear a heated jacket and carry a supply of handwarmers.

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Finland is close to the Arctic Ocean and the Northern winds bring the cold. It is one of the  northernmost places in the world with a population.The cold does not disrupt their life. They have well heated houses, cars, saunas and food. Lapland doesn’t get any light from December to mid January. Lapland is the official home of Santa Claus so of course it is cold. Santa never looks cold. 

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Estonia is the most northern of the Baltic countries and has very cold winters. It’s always below  freezing and snowing with plenty of cold air coming in from Russia. The best time to visit Estonia is not winter.

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The capital of Mongolia which is Ulaanbaatar, is described as the coldest capital city in the world. It is cold from October through April. No other capital city demands as much tolerance, fortitude, and strength from its citizens than Ulaanbaatar does. I guess the next time you are cold, it could be worse, you could be living in Ulaanbaatar.

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-8-17-19-pmNone of these beautiful winter photos were taken by me.

Fly safe,

JAZ