Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily’s roving correspondent Anthony C.
LoBaido has worked abroad for most of the past decade in South Africa,
Mexico, Southeast Asia, Australia, North and South Korea and many other
nations. In this report, excerpted from the August cover story of
WorldNet magazine, LoBaido shares some of the adventures, lessons and
dangers he has experienced while working as a journalist in far-off
lands. Readers can
subscribe to WorldNet at WND’s online store.
By Anthony C. LoBaido
© 2000, WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.
“A well traveled man with wide experience knows many things and talks sense. You can’t know much if you haven’t experienced much, but travel can make you more clever. In my own travels I have seen many things and learned more than I can put into words. I have been in danger of death many times, but I have always been able to escape by relying on past experience.”
— Ben Sirach 34: 9-12
Imagine that you are a roving international correspondent working overseas. You have no secretary, fax machine, or support staff. It’s just you.
You hike like a soldier through the jungles of Burma and Thailand, the river valleys of Laos, the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the deserts of Mexico and Namibia. You carry everything you own in the world in your backpack — food, clothes, maps, compass, cooking gear, propane, medicine, film, camera and personal items.
Yet despite the difficulties involved, fantasy and reality often manage to combine in a glorious if not miraculous way. There are brilliant African dawns and stunning Thai sunsets; misty mountains filled with super-oxygenated air in Laos; thrilling elephant rides through the Burmese jungle; Special Forces training with Afrikaner elite soldiers in Zululand; and sun-drenched boat rides across the South China Sea.
You might find yourself walking at 5 a.m. through the frigid hills of North Korea when the thermometer reads 10 below zero, looking up at the Big Dipper, Beta Carina and Alpha Centaurus. The stars look so close that you could almost reach up, pluck them out and stick them in a jar. And in the middle of that frozen, lonely and hungry trek, you realize in a moment that it’s all actually kind of nice.
On Monday you’re meeting the greatest soldiers in the world — men like Afrikaner Willem Ratte or Rhodesian Eeben Barlow. On Tuesday you meet the King of the Zulus or President Bush. Wednesday might bring you into contact with Bruce Hurst, Boomer Esiason or Frank Kush. On Thursday you encounter some of the best martial arts instructors in Asia — Special Forces men, Taekwando aces and brutal Thai kick boxing champions — both men and women. And although you once taught as a martial arts instructor in the University of Houston system, you understand just how little you know.
Just about every day you might meet someone who steals your heart — she might be Christina, the beautiful Austrian Airlines stewardess or NaMi, a five-year-old Korean girl crying because she just stepped on a “Pah-Me Kun” or “Giant Spider.”
Such has been my life for the past few years.
Each day brings hope and tragedy. Sometimes there have been scorpions in my shoes, rats on my walls, cockroaches on my head and snakes in the grass. Some of those “snakes” have even broken into my bungalow to steal my money and belongings.
I’ve learned that there is good and bad in every culture, race, tongue, nation and religion. And just when I’ve needed it most, there have always been people around to help — with food, a bed, a ride, first aid or simple directions. This is no coincidence of course, because the traveler must earn this good karma by helping others in duress. And make no mistake — I’ve learned that God is there and that he cares for every single one of our needs.
On the road, there is always give and take. I helped a heroin addict get a decent meal in Bangkok, and found a meal for a beaten prostitute on a train headed for India. I had to inject Thorazine into an elephant screaming in pain after stepping on a Burmese landmine and bandaged the burned paws of Matilda — a baby koala hurt in an Australian forest fire — and had to take her to the vet to get a little pink cast put on her arm.
Because I did these things, it came as no small surprise when I left my travel bag in a Phnom Penh taxi in the middle of the night — and the next morning the driver returned to bring back my money, passport, camera and belongings. And when it happened again, only just last week in Cyprus, I had to laugh at how fatigue can conquer even the very best of men, and make them forget things they normally wouldn’t.
And best of all I learned that there are taxis the world over driven by real men — including a certain Korean who almost killed us both when he turned around to show me his 8 by ten inch photo of Kenny G.
“Kenny G number one! Michael Bolton number 10!,” the Korean man shouted, neglecting the road in front of him. Such men would never steal even a penny and even drive across a busy city on their own time to return the valuables of a foreign passenger they barely met and would never see again.
I’ve come into contact (and not always cordially) with the Khmer Rouge, KGB, GRU, CIA, MI6, the North Koreans, Hizbollah, the African National Congress, Pathet Lao and the Burmese junta. I’ve sailed through raging storms on the high seas, and watched a hundred British tourists band together to help total strangers who are violently ill. And in that horrible sickening spectacle I saw what made the British Empire special. It was their pioneering spirit.
In Southeast Asia, I suffered from dysentery and projectile vomiting. I lost almost 45 pounds while working in South Korea. I watched the African National Congress dispatch army troops and helicopters to destroy a Boer patriot radio station after I gave an interview on that single lone voice of freedom.
Of course I’ve written it all down, because the stories are so incredible, so unbelievable that if I didn’t record them and photograph them I might look back and fear I am losing my mind. Did these things really happen? Yes, they did; I have pictures.
You have been reading the introduction to Anthony LoBaido’s cover story in the August edition of WorldNetDaily.com’s monthly magazine, WorldNet. In the balance of the article — complete with photos taken on location by LoBaido — WND’s roving international reporter describes the unorthodox means he uses to find the extraordinary stories he writes, and shares some of his more harrowing experiences in pursuit of journalistic excellence on behalf of WorldNetDaily and WorldNet magazine. Readers may
learn more about
WorldNet magazine at WND’s online store.