William Law - Oct 14, 2008

World is full of travel guides that recommend visiting places like Rome, Taj Mahal or Egypt. They describe the wonderful world-wide known sights and places as must-see experience. There is, however, an author who has a different attitude. Author and TV producer Richard Wilson has written a book “Can"t Be Arsed: 101 Things Not To Do Before You Die”. The title resembles the travel guide, “100 Things To Do Before You Die”.


In his book Richard Wilson warns against visiting the known places. Seeing Taj Mahal, in his opinion, is not such a great thing to do as behind it is one of the most polluted rivers in the world - Yamuna. Pyramids on the other hand are a big disappointment because of the neighboring ugly urban sprawl of Cairo. He also points out that it is not worth traveling many hours to see crowded Machu Picchu. Skydiving as well as white-water rafting are also, according to the author, among things you do not need to do before you die. He also warns against having sex in an airplane. Going to Thailand seems to be utterly unwise as there are so many ways to die there. You may be killed by malaria, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever, bird flu or by the tsunami. The TV producer also claims it is waste of time to learn foreign languages, as in few years even the French will have learned English.


Mr. Wilson is definitely a master of irony. Not everyone is, nevertheless, keen on it. People are asking whether he is right or whether he is just a grumpy old man. Some agree he is right in that visiting crowded Machu Picchu is not pleasant. On the other hand seeing the ancient Lost City of the Incas is worth it, at least for somebody.


It is obvious that tourism preferences do differ now and will differ in future. Some people need to see the famous places while others prefer to go off the beaten track.


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