I recently had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Schultz, the woman who found a home on the New York Times Bestseller List for two-and-a-half years after penning a superb travel book with a brilliant, seductive title: "1,000 Places to See Before You Die."

The industry owes a debt to Schultz. Though many of her readers will no doubt remain glued to their armchairs, the book's descriptions of great attractions and destinations must have activated lapsed wanderlust in many others.

I asked Schultz if she would compile a different, shorter list for Travel Weekly's readers. The title I proposed was "Ten Places I Would Rather Die Than See Again."

Schultz, obviously a game girl when it comes to exploring the far reaches of the globe, demurred, noting that "for the life of me, I can't think of a single trip that was so horrible it would make me regret ever having been."

If only we were all so blessed. At the risk of offending large swaths of the world and revealing all my ethnocentricities in one go, I will take up the burden of creating a year-end Top 10 List with not a single thumbs-up. It will be absent all hyperbole, with the possible exceptions of "as appetizing as wet yard-scrapings," "cultured in the sense that bacteria are cultured" and "there's greater likelihood Sacha Baron Cohen will become goodwill ambassador of Kazakhstan than I will ever cross that border again."

And so:

10: Death being operative in both the title of Schultz' list and mine, let's begin with the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. My guide hadn't warned me we'd be rowing past bloated human bodies serving both as a means of conveyance and breakfast for crows.

9: The tunnels of Cu Chi, Vietnam, were booby-trapped escape routes for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They now offer tourists an opportunity to slither along on their bellies for 100 yards or so. It wasn't so much the claustrophobia, discomfort or total darkness that got to me; it was the centipedes I saw when I finally decided to turn on my flashlight.

8: Camping in Europe, I learned, is less about communing with nature than trying to replicate urban density in a park setting. Being the first to arrive at a campground in Spain, I sought a secluded corner, then went out for groceries. When I returned, two other tents had gone up, one on either side of mine, our guy-wires intertwined.

7: In the cities of Morocco, every child in the street wants to be your guide. No matter where you walk with them, they have a cousin nearby who owns a carpet shop. Avoid the cities of Morocco.

6: I once booked passage on a mail boat making an overnight run between New Providence and Eleuthera in the Bahamas. At around 10 p.m., I noticed the pilot house was empty. As the boat was moving rather briskly, I mentioned this to a crew member. He reassured me that, yes, the captain was asleep, but surely would wake up before we landed. He may have slept well, but I no longer could.

5: The U.S.-Chiang Kai-shek War Crimes Museum in Chongqing, China, held, I felt, loads of promise. I was hoping for strident communist rhetoric on display labels and "Grandma went to the U.S.-Chiang Kai-shek War Crimes Museum, and all I got was a lousy T-shirt" in the gift shop. Both museum and shop were profoundly boring.

4: If dictionaries need a photo to accompany the definition of "tourist trap," a shot of Gatlinburg, Tenn., would get my vote.

3: At the conclusion of touring a tea plantation in Darjeeling, India, I walked through a warehouse where piles of leaves were drying. And, I observed, were occasionally remoistened by dogs roaming freely in the building. I used to enjoy drinking tea.

2: On assignment for Parade magazine, I once interviewed a nun who lived in, and ministered to, a prison in Tijuana, Mexico. The prison interior seemed a welcome break from that city.

1: Every other destination on this list has positive attributes which were outweighed by a bad incident or two, but in all my travels, one place stands alone as an exclusively negative experience. Tamanrasset, Algeria, a southern oasis on the route transiting the Sahara in western Africa, is a singularly unattractive outpost that's populated by the most gratuitously hostile people on earth.

To put my list in perspective, I'll mention that before booking a 100-day camping expedition through 10 countries in Africa for me, my travel agent -- who had made a similar trip -- said, "I wouldn't do it again for a million dollars, tax free. But I wouldn't give up my memories of that trip for a million dollars, either."

Which is, of course, how I feel about the places on this list.

Except Tamanrasset. You keep the memories. I'll take the million.


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