Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't Go There - The Book

Dontgothere I’m a fan of Vagablogging, because I’m a fan of "Vagabonding" and Rolf Potts.

Sadly, on December 23rd Vagablogging has reached a new low. It posted a book “review” in which the contributing blogger freely admitted to not reading the book she was talking about. So, she trashed the book based on what? Her ESP perhaps and another review she had read elsewhere.

Is that even allowed? Not to mention, honest and ethical?

The book in question is “Don’t Go There” by Peter Greenberg. A wholly excellent book, which tells you about places you should put on your “must-miss” list. As a person who has her own must-miss lists (as opposed to “must-see” lists) I appreciate the idea. My must-miss list includes the Taj Mahal and Beijing on cloudy days (unless you really want to find out if your medical insurance covers hospitalization abroad due to sudden asthma attacks), Iowa on any day, the islands of Sal, Tenerife, and big chunks of Costa del Sol, among others. And Naples. I love Italy, but Naples is just dreadful in more ways that you can imagine. My list of must-never-stay-there-again hotels is by now about three pages long.

So, I understand Mr. Greenberg’s sentiment. But the person “reviewing” the book for Vagablogging, Abha Malpani, apparently did not.

Abha, honey, if you think there are no must-miss places, then you still have a long ways to go as a traveler. Get out and SEE the world, really see it, the filth, stench, bedbugs and all. Abha, the “reviewer” says, “You’ve got to be really travel frustrated to come up with a stink list of places not to visit, no?”

No hon, coming up with a stink list of places not to visit simply means that you’ve been around the block a few times and seen some REAL stink. Which only proves once again how pitifully arrogant and incompetent you are in your “review” and travel experience.

Oh, and not allowing any more comments on that post is a really good move. You’d get trashed.

Eeegadz, now you see just how low Vagablogging has fallen as of late. I didn’t even know they allowed total cretins to write for them these days.

PS. Since they’re also looking for contributing writers, I sent them an email, but needless to say, I don’t expect an answer. Oh well…

PS2. Mr. Greenberg also has a very cool website where you can send in your tales about places from hell.

And finally, PS3.

Because I am getting emails about it from people who obviously have serious reading and comprehension problems, let me spell it out here, in simple words of 3 syllables or less, OK?

I have nothing against Abha expressing her negative opinion about the book. But to do so WITHOUT reading the book first, and to do so under the highly-respected name of Vagablogging is not cool. If she had read it and THEN trashed it, fine, that's what people reviewing books occasionally have to do. 

And I apologize  that "occasionally" has five syllables.

Now, don't you people have some traveling to do, or something?


  1. Easy there -- just as you call Abha out on her supposed naivete, you have put on a thick pair of world-weary blinders. There are places that deserve second chances. Eight years ago I would have agreed with you that Naples should be on everyone's "on no circumstances, ever!" list. But, thank God, I had a chance to revisit the city, under different circumstances, and it stole my heart -- yes, in all its dirt and grime and gritty realness. I love Naples because it has soul and personality. It has wonderfully passionate people, and it will never be the Disneyland that many other Italian cities have become. But the main point is that we all experience the world through our own eyes, within our own unique set of circumstances. And while we may not want to return to this place or that ever again, no one has the right to quarantine a destination to a "never go there" list. Cautioning travelers of the unpleasant realities of a destination is part of good, responsible travel journalism (which Greenberg does). Telling someone never to go there is not.

  2. Darling,
    I've spent 6 long months in Naples, and yes, while the natives are sweet and passionate, and the town has soul and buckets of personality, this is still a no-go for me, even though I have a job waiting there for me.
    Spend there more than a couple of weeks, deal with it day in and day out, LIVE with it day in and day out, and then we can talk about it, ok?
    Oh, and if you can't see that telling someone not to go somewhere is an obvious marketing gimmick in this case, then back to school with you!
    Greenberg warns and cautions and SELLS his book based on the title alone. If the likes of Abha had actually managed to get past the title and READ the contents, they would have seen that.
    PS> I tend to trash only those destinations (or put them on my no-go lists) where I've spent more than a month. I think that's fair. You get to see a lot more than passionate natives and personality in that time.


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