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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Travel Picks: Top 10 hells on earth

Fri 16 May 2008, 13:07 GMT

SYDNEY, May 16 (Reuters Life!) - Had a bad vacation? It probably could have been a lot worse, with men's portal AskMen.com coming up with a list of the top 10 hells on earth to prove how dire it could have been.

This list was compiled by AskMen (http://www.askmen.com) and is not endorsed by Reuters:

1. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Type of hell: Disease

With over 115 new HIV and AIDS cases diagnosed every month, the capital of Papua New Guinea is in trouble. With the population expanding at an uncontrollable rate, unemployment levels have rocketed, income levels plummeted and gang members, known as raskols, have been known to carry out bank robberies with M16 machine guns and hijack cars wielding machetes.

2. Linfen, China

Type of hell: Darkness

Linfen, China, is sooty and dark. It is located in a 12-mile industrial belt and affected by the 50 million tons of coal mined each year in the nearby hills of Shanxi. There's no escaping the smog.

3. Bujumbura, Republic of Burundi

Type of hell: Corruption

With the lowest GDP per capita in the world, Burundi is the poorest country on the planet and is scarred by a history of genocide, mass killing and assassinated political leaders. Not only that, but a pool of 178 countries found that Burundi's people had the poorest satisfaction of life in the world.

4. Pyongyang, North Korea

Type of hell: Oppression

While its modern-day facade may look like any other Western city, underneath it's entirely autocratic. Radios and TVs have only one channel which broadcasts special programs controlled by the government, bicycles are banned as part of a political regime to restrict movement and interaction.

5. Oklahoma City, United States

Type of hell: Natural disasters

Located in the direct path of "Tornado Alley," the worst time to visit would be from March to August. The severe weather season makes Dorothy's Kansas look positively calm, with Oklahoma City being the city worst affected by tornadoes in the United States.

6. Chernobyl, Ukraine

Type of hell: Radiation

Famed for a nuclear explosion that tore through the city in 1986 and contaminated most of its living organisms, Chernobyl is certainly not the kind of place you'd like to vacation in. Everything is still largely abandoned and remains as it was 20 years ago, with hundreds of miles of uninhabitable space, deserted buildings and poisoned lakes and rivers.

7. Mogadishu, Somalia

Type of hell: Lawlessness

With the collapse of central government in 1991, Mogadishu is largely lawless, with no structure of real peacekeeping present, despite a failed effort in 1992 by the U.S. Marines. Indeed, Mogadishu certainly won't be found in any glossy vacation brochure anytime soon.

8. Yakutsk, Russia

Type of hell: Environmental extreme

Officially the coldest place on earth, temperatures here often drop to a hypothermia-inducing -58F (-50C), and if it drops below this (which it often does), children get the day off school. Another hellish aspect of Yakutsk is its isolation -- a whole six time zones away from Moscow.

9. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Type of hell: Pollution

Despite enduring political instability, military suppression and devastation from war and natural disaster, the capital of Bangladesh faces a new crisis over critically high pollution levels. Rapid industrial development has filled the city with so much smog it is causing environmental damage, with 9.7 million tons of waste dumped in the river by the city each year.

10. Baghdad, Iraq

Type of hell: Conflict

The city has been irreversibly damaged by the Gulf War and years of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, bringing the once vibrant city to its knees. Lootings, robberies, kidnappings, and sexual assaults have been rife, but it is the daily slaughter of troops, journalists and civilians that terrify the most.

(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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