The Don't Bother Travel Guide: 101 Places Not To Go The Seattle Gum Wall, the Montana Testicle Festival, and the entire state of Nevada are just a few of the non-destinations Catherine Price lists in her anti-travel guide, 101 Places Not To See Before You Die. Price takes it upon herself to go to terrible tourist destinations ... so you don't have to.
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The Don't Bother Travel Guide: 101 Places Not To Go

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The Don't Bother Travel Guide: 101 Places Not To Go

The Don't Bother Travel Guide: 101 Places Not To Go

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The pyramids of Egypt, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan, the Taj Mahal - all must-visit wonders found in travel guides like "A Thousand Places to See Before You Die."

Okay, so what about Garbage City outside of Cairo, or the annual Poison Oak Show in Columbia, California? These destinations are chronicled in a new guide, called "101 Places Not to See Before You Die."

Ms. CATHERINE PRICE (Author, "101 Places Not to See Before You Die"): I wanted to create a kind of get-off-the-hook list for people like me who see a list and feel like they have to do everything on it. So this is a book where you don't have to do everything. And some things on it, you couldn't do even if you wanted to try.

MONTAGNE: Catherine Price has written for the New York Times and Salon. Now, she's conjured up 101 places that should be scratched off everybody's bucket list.

It seems to be - these things not to do fall, to some degree, into categories. And one of those might be odd places to sleep.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: Tell us about what are the worst places to sleep?

Ms. PRICE: Well, I guess I had a couple on the list. But one that springs to mind is just the general concept of any hotel that used to be a prison. And there's one of those in Latvia. Karosta Cietums is the phonetic pronunciation. And it's basically this former Soviet-era prison in Latvia that now has been opened up as a hotel.

And it's not like they took the prison and then tried to like, spice it up and make it into a luxury resort. They basically market it on the idea that 150 people were shot there, and you can sleep on iron beds, and you can put your kids in a prison bunk bed for the night.

You can actually hire them to do an abduction at your workplace, and then have you delivered to the hotel. I think what appealed to me about that - and this is true for many of the entries in the book - is that they walk the fine line between places you genuinely wouldn't want to see -like, why would I want to really know what it was like to be a prisoner in this horrible place? - but also places that are kind of interesting.

You know, it's like part of me kind of wants to check that out just so I'd have the story afterwards.

MONTAGNE: Well, there's another place that could be a similar experience, and that is the Third Infiltration Tunnel at the DMZ - that would be the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

Why don't you tell us about this site?

Ms. PRICE: Sure. That was actually a really interesting experience. I was doing a project in Korea, and I had the opportunity to visit the DMZ. And I would have thought this was like a Berlin Wall-type thing, but it's actually more of a sidewalk curb dividing North and South Korea. And then there's soldiers on either side just staring at each other.

But what happens on the tour is that you put all your stuff into a cubby, and they give you this helmet, and then they put you on this little train. And if you're like me, you're kind of like lulled into complacency because it kind of seems like a Disneyland ride. And then all of a sudden, with no explanation, they take you down into this narrow, claustrophobic tunnel blasted into solid rock - that the North Koreans had blasted, presumably as a potential way to invade.

MONTAGNE: I like the detail, though, that you mention - where the North Koreans were trying to pretend that this was a coal-mining tunnel.

Ms. PRICE: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: So they like painted it - parts of it black.

Ms. PRICE: Yeah, they're like: No, no, no. It's not actually to invade. It's a coal mine. It's just its a really bizarre place to be.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: One of the destinations that I don't think anyone would have really high expectations for is in Beijing. And it's the Beijing Museum of Tap Water.

Ms. PRICE: Yes, it's a museum dedicated to the history of Beijing's tap water. And you can go in and see artifacts from the early days of Beijing's tap water system, which started in 1908. You can see coupons people used to have to bring to the water stations in order to get the water. You can see stethoscopes that were used to listen for leaks in the pipes.

But what I find the funniest thing about this is that Beijing's water is actually not safe to drink from the tap.

MONTAGNE: Another something that begins with the mundane. There's also the Seattle Gum Wall, which is apparently visited by quite a few people on a regular basis. But in fact, it's a place you would say don't go.

Ms. PRICE: I think I would genuinely say, don't bother with the Seattle Gum Wall before you die. I think that I don't even need to give any qualifications there. I mean, it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a wall where people have put gum.

I don't know. If I'm sitting in the movie and I feel under the seat, and I touch a piece chewed gum, my response is not wow, I really wish I could see a whole wall of more of that.

Yeah, I don't think it's really necessary to visit.

MONTAGNE: We're talking to Catherine Price about her book, "101 Places Not to See Before You Die."

Now, I gather you got in trouble - at least about one of these destinations - and that's the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

Ms. PRICE: Oh, yeah, I got into big trouble for that. I'm also in trouble with Nevada because I included the entire state. But...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PRICE: But for the Blarney Stone, when I hear about a destination whose main attraction is giving you the chance to kiss a piece of stone that's been kissed by hundreds of thousands of people, that is not something that I personally need to do.

But as you can imagine, the tourist board - and in particular, the marketing department of the Blarney Stone - was not really excited to hear that that was on the list.

I actually had a very sweet exchange with the woman in charge. And she would like me - and therefore, all of our listeners - to know that you can actually request a special cleaning of the stone before you kiss it, if you would like.

MONTAGNE: So you're actually traveling right now in Europe. Tell us if you found some new places to add to your list.

Ms. PRICE: Yes. So I'm actually on a really exciting trip with my husband right now. And one place I wouldn't recommend - 'cause I just went to the Turin Museum of Anatomy. I don't know if you've heard of this.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MONTAGNE: No, but anatomy is giving me a funny feeling already, for some reason.

Ms. PRICE: Right, so this basically like, a big room with all these glass cases with dried-out body parts in them. There are like, fingers preserved in formaldehyde; there are desiccated lungs, intestines. And most bizarrely, there's this skeleton sitting there of the guy who founded the museum, because he left them a note in his will, saying: I don't want to be buried; I don't want to be cremated. I want to be preserved using the techniques that I myself developed, and be put on display in the museum.

So there's this skeleton with his brain, preserved by his own methods, sitting at his feet.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. PRICE: Very weird. I enjoy talking about it but I don't think, on a hot Turin afternoon, it was really something I needed to do.

MONTAGNE: Catherine Price, whose new book offers a guide to "101 Places Not to See Before You Die." And at, we posted photos of some of those very destinations. So you can take a look at the Seattle Gum Wall.

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