You’ve given a good analysis of the differences among these three types of countries. I had never thought of them in those terms, but end-of-the-road, clockwork, and fun are apt labels that fit perfectly. Thanks for putting easy terminology to them.
Your use of a taxi driver story was especially fitting, as their behavior is frequently representative of their countrymen.
I’d have enjoyed some mention of specific countries in your piece. It would have made it more real if you had given your experiences locations.
At 68, with travel to more than 120 countries (many of them fun) I confess that I have downshifted to clockwork nations as a default. Though I have not ruled out visits to more fun places, I’ve become weary of walking down the street and hearing mzungu, farang, toubab, and the other names associated with being a foreigner who is chiefly viewed as an ATM with legs. Most days I can smile and deal with it, yet some days it gets under my skin and I long to be invisible in the same way that I am in a (let’s admit it) white and Eurocentric clockwork locale.
It’s now totally fun for me to be in a place where I can blend in, stroll leisurely, observe architecture and art, and be a bit more comfortable because of my invisibility. I have observed that even in clockwork places with a large number of similarities (England, Iceland, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, etc.), things are NOT the same as they are at home. There is still plenty to learn.