Sunday, December 6, 2009

risk management

Mentioning a trip to Pakistan raises so many eyebrows I'm considering writing to Lancet to have it classified as a legitimate Syndrome.

Travelling is a risky business. But so is stepping outside your front door.

But risk comes in many packages: ignorant and foolhardy risk, needless and unecessary risk, high risk, low risk, informed and identifiable risk and a strategic world domination using little plastic figures to represent cavalry, artillery and infantry type of Risk.

Riding my motorbike is full of risks too and so is dating.

A little frisson of danger can add wonders to a journey (usually from the safe perspective of hindsight) and I've never been one to shy away from some troublespots. For example, I travelled through far Eastern Turkey whilst Kurdish Seperatists (PKK) were actively blowing up buses. Buses were my main source of transportation.

But then I researched the troubles and discovered that attacks were few and far between - one occuring on a Monday morning in March on a road in North Eastern Turkey, the next on a Thursday afternoon in July in South-East Turkey and yet another on a Saturday lunchtime in the far East in September. To find oneself in one of those places on that particular day at that particular time would amount to being so incredibly unlucky that you would more likely be murdered by a member of your own family in your bed!

On a trip through Greece in 1990 I met a woman from Belfast. I said to her that it must be awful to live in a city beset by all the IRA violence. She replied that if she didn't see it on the news or read about it in the papers like everyone else she would have been totally unaware that there WERE any troubles.

The media has a way of making the viewer/reader feel that incidence of violence and/or terrorism have turned an entire country into turmoil.

We experienced something here a little similar not so long ago. A small 'turf war' broke out at one of Sydney's beaches. It resulted in a small riot. When it hit the International news, friends around Sydney were being called by relatives overseas to see if they were safe!

Places I DO stay away from are those where kidnappers, terrorists and other unpleasant types, are actively seeking out tourists. This is happening in Yemen right now; and Somali, Iraq and Afghanistan are also pretty low on my list of places to see at the moment.

Where I intend to head in North Eastern pakistan is the remotely populated 'disputed' region bordering India and China, and much of the troubles in Pakistan are around Peshawar and the Swat valley which are quite a distance away. It would be like wanting to travel from Sydney to Canberra but changing ones mind because there has been violence erupting in Melbourne.

And below are a few photos from the WWW to show why I am itching to get into some crampons.

baltoro towards the cathedrals

baltoro glacier

I absolutely MUST cross this bridge!

1 comment:

Mike said...

Picture of Baltoro towards the cathedrals is incredible.

Your account of media-heightened accounts of danger reminds me of the reports of rioting at the WTO in Seattle, 10 years ago this week. I was living there at the time, not more than 5 minutes' drive from the scene, but wouldn't have been aware of anything if it weren't for the news reportage.