Guide is Rough and so is holiday

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The Independent Online
ADMITTEDLY THE guidebook Joel Emond read was called The Rough Guide to China. But little did the teenage backpacker think that a walk around a lake would end with him being held prisoner for a month by one of the toughest security forces in the world.

"I have to say I am pretty angry. The guide said there was no problem walking around the lake but I ended up being held prisoner for 32 days," Mr Emond, 18, said yesterday from his Bristol home.

The traveller's tale began at the end of September when Mr Emond went backpacking after finishing his A-levels, travelling alone in the remote north-east of China near the border ofNorth Korea. Arriving at the town of Chang Bai he planned a walk around the lake in the centre of Tian Chi, a flooded volcano. At first all went well.

"I was walking around the lake when I saw a cable car station that I thought might get me back down. I walked over to it and the people seemed very friendly," he said. But within moments North Korean soldiers carrying AK47 semi-automatic weapons frogmarched him off to a military base. There his month-long ordeal began.

"I had a radio with me andcould listen to the World Service. But it was quite emotionally damaging," he said.

Eventually the Korean authorities satisfied themselves that Mr Emond was nothing more than a backpacker and contacted the British authorities. On 29 October the British vice-consul from Peking met Mr Emond and flew him back to the Chinese capital.

A warning in the front of all the Rough Guides acts as a disclaimer for "loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any traveller as a result of information contained in this guide".

But in a letter of apology to Mr Emond, the China guide's editor, Jo Mead, wrote: "We have a researcher heading to the region and he is fully aware that the situation needs to be explained in our next edition."

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