To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism by Chuck Thompson is a book about facing one’s fears and embracing extreme tourism.
The author, Chuck Thompson, sets out to explore four places he is most afraid to travel: the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Mexico City, and Walt Disney World.
Through his travels, he discovers that danger can make for an interesting story, but it is not necessary to have a good time.
The book follows Chuck Thompson as he visits each of these places and shares his experiences. He discovers that each place has its own unique culture and history, and that there is much more to them than their negative reputations. He also finds that despite the dangers, these places can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.
The main themes of the book are facing one’s fears, embracing extreme tourism, and discovering the beauty of different cultures. Chuck Thompson encourages readers to step outside their comfort zone and explore the world. He also emphasizes the importance of understanding different cultures and respecting their customs.
What I Liked
I liked the premise of the book – that the travel industry has specific incentives and some destinations do / do not fit into those incentives. So why not try to travel independently and learn about cultures outside of the mimetic travel destinations.
The destinations are all fascinating in their own way – especially the deeply ironic Walt Disney World. WDW is the peak “do travel” destination that can be it’s own special version of a hellhole in its own way.
What I Did Not Like
The writer is way to much into himself and his identity as a maverick travel writer. The book would be better if it focused on the travel and less on the author.