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Tag: travel

The sea around us

Monday, 18 September, 2017 0 Comments

“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.” — Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

The sea around us

Morning Sea

Let me stop here. Let me, too, look at nature awhile.
The brilliant blue of the morning sea, of the cloudless sky,
the yellow shore; all lovely,
all bathed in light.

Let me stand here. And let me pretend I see all this
(I really did see it for a minute when I first stopped)
and not my usual day-dreams here too,
my memories, those images of sensual pleasure.

Constantine P. Cavafy


Waugh on travel and terror

Friday, 24 March, 2017 1 Comment

“I See Nothing But Boredom… Everywhere” was the ominous title of a piece by Evelyn Waugh that appeared in the Daily Mail on 28 December 1959. The future of travel was the great man’s theme. Like all newspaper prophesy, it was ignored as soon as it was read, and because Waugh was extremely contrary, his predictions were dismissed as the bitter reproaches of an ageing man (he died in 1966). A rereading, however, shows that he had imagined our future with incredible prescience and was rightly appalled by the vista.

He said: “One went abroad to observe other ways of living, to eat unfamiliar foods and see strange buildings,” but in the future, he foretold, the world would be divided, on the one hand, into “zones of insecurity” dominated by terrorism and, on the other, vulgar tourist traps consisting of “chain hotels, hygienic, costly, and second rate,” to which people would be transported by the uniform jet. Well, we’ve got the terror now, we’ve all stayed in ghastly, modern hotels and air travel began its journey towards industrial conformity and security nightmare some while ago.

Today’s increasingly uncomfortable, stressful, fearful flying experience stands in remarkable contrast to what was once charming and civilized. On a flight in the 1930s, the great traveller and writer Paul Bowles observed: “I had my own cabin with a bed in it, and under sheet and blankets I slept during most of the flight.”

What to do about our dystopia? Stop travelling altogether is one option. Preferable, though, is to document and publish the horrors in the hope that the travel business can be brought to its senses and the good fight against terror will be won.


Who will buy the New York Times?

Friday, 6 May, 2016 0 Comments

“We have tried everything we could but sadly we just haven’t reached the sales figures we needed to make it work financially,” New Day editor, Alison Phillips, on Facebook yesterday. Birthed on 22 February, the newspaper was buried on 5 May.

How can the world’s remaining newspapers avoid the grim fate of New Day? Well, the New York Times is getting into the food delivery business, Bloomberg reports: “This summer, the New York Times will begin selling ingredients for recipes from its NYT Cooking website as the newspaper publisher seeks new revenue sources to offset declines in print. The Times is partnering with meal-delivery startup Chef’d, which will send the ingredients to readers within 48 hours.”

The NYT is also placing a bet on travel. “Times Journeys” charges readers thousands for tours of theocracies and autocracies like Iran and Cuba. “Chernobyl: Nuclear Tourism” is packaged as “A journey focused on science & nature,” while “An Exploration of Southeast Asia” is undertaken “Aboard the 264-passenger L’Austral, designed to serve both the chic and the casual.” The vessel is “sleek and intimate” and “you’ll feel as if you were on your own private yacht.” With the “Owner’s Suite” priced from $18,390, one would hope so.

Earlier this year, the Financial Times, in a “Big Read” piece by Henry Mance titled “UK newspapers: Rewriting the story,” pronounced the newspaper business dead on delivery. There is no viable economic model for a written news product, Mance concluded. There is, of course, the FT’s solution to the problem. It sold itself to Japan’s Nikkei last summer for $1.3 billion. So, who will buy the New York Times?


Move!

Wednesday, 30 March, 2016 0 Comments

“3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage…. ” Rick Mereki, an independent filmmaker from Melbourne, packs a lot of travel into 60 seconds. For those who feel that it’s all been done before, this is inspirational. All one needs is the ability to view the world with less jaded eyes, two camera, three guys and the will to move.


Balinese chapters

Saturday, 29 August, 2015 0 Comments

“This is their world through my eyes,” says self-described “global nomad” Brandon Li of his six “chapters” about the people of Bali. The Tooth Filing Ceremony is followed by the Rice Fields and Beyond, then we have Outlanders Libertad, Passing Storm, Quiet Night, Cremation and Exorcism.


Acapella Ireland

Saturday, 12 July, 2014 0 Comments

Portland, Oregon songwriter Courtney Jones is the voice behind the layered acapella harmonies of “Weightless”, which is taken from her album Awake and Dreaming. The music matches the mood of this clip of Ireland as seen by Jonathan Haring.


Cacti with Alps

Sunday, 23 March, 2014 0 Comments

“It was a fairy-tale world, child-like and funny. Boughs of trees adorned with thick pillows, so fluffy someone must have plumped them up; the ground a series of humps and mounds, beneath which slinking underbrush or outcrops of rock lay hidden; a landscape of crouching, cowering gnomes in droll disguises — it was comic to […]

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You can leave that winter coat in Frankfurt

Friday, 20 December, 2013 0 Comments

Cold weather is setting in across the Northern Hemisphere and that summer feeling of sunshine on bare skin is already a distant memory. So, there’s only one thing to do: Fly to somewhere with beautiful beaches and smiling people and mysterious aromas and tastes. Given that 2014 will be World Cup year, the state of Bahia on Brazil’s Atlantic seaboard seems like a perfect destination as it has lots of deserted beaches and rainforests filled with wildlife. Those who know say that the small town of Itácaré is perfect for surfing, sailing, and barefooty walking, while Trancoso is rumoured to be best for beach-partying.

The only issue is what to do with the hypothermia-preventing winter coat that’s needed to get one to the airport alive. It’s bound to look out of place when watching turtles nesting on Ningaloo Reef or when strolling through the old town of Galle. Well, Frankfurt Airport has solved the problem. For €0.50 a day, travellers can check-in their cumbersome coats and pick them up when they return tanned and fit. This also deals with the challenge of increasingly full overhead luggage compartments. By the way, it looks like Frankfurt borrowed this excellent idea from Korean Air, which, on 25 November 2010, announced, “Korean Air will provide a free coat storage service for passengers leaving Korea travelling to warmer countries such as East Asia, Hawaii, Australia and etc.”

Winter coat


“What hath night to do with sleep?”

Tuesday, 25 June, 2013 0 Comments

That’s what John Milton asked in Paradise Lost. Ichiro Tanaka, 45, who commutes daily to Tokyo from Kumagaya City in Saitama Prefecture, may never achieve Milton’s level of immortality but his Zukai: Densha Tsukin no Sakuho (An illustrated guide to accomplishing rail commuting) has the potential for posterity. Do not close the book you are reading, look out the window at the platform or make a phone call is his advice to seated passengers on how to avoid giving a false sense of hope to the standing masses that they’ll be getting your seat at the next station.

Tokyo Dreams, “a journey behind closed eyelids”, in which the British filmmaker Nicholas Barker “contemplates the stillness and vulnerability of his fellow passengers and wonders whether they will wake in time for their stop”, is an absorbing clip about sleeping commuters in Tokyo, but it does raise some disquieting questions about privacy. Are all our public appearances now fodder for the filmmaker? What right to solitude does the unconscious person have? And, importantly, what aspectbs of personal dignity remain within the control of the individual today?


Bob’s never-ending tour

Saturday, 8 June, 2013 0 Comments

Applying some tasty licks of data-driven journalism, The Atlantic Cities pays tribute to our greatest living troubadour in “808 Cities, 2,503 Shows, and 1,007,416 Miles: The Staggering Geography of Bob Dylan’s ‘Never Ending Tour’“. Yesterday marked the 25th year of this musical odyssey and Eric Jaffe, rightly, celebrated the milestone. He added some lovely touches while doing so:

“He’s played Aberdeen in Scotland and Maryland, and Hamburg in New York and Germany, and Victoria in Canada and Hong Kong. He’s gone from Louisville to Nashville to Knoxville to Asheville to Huntsville in eight days. He’s toured Cork and Bordeaux, College Park and State College, Jean and Jaen, Dijon and Gijon, Nampa and Tampa. He played London, Canada, the same night a Dylan cover band played London, England. He once went straight from Assago to Zurich.”

And all along the road, Bob’s told the unvarnished truth:

You might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody


Vietnamese traffic is all about fast moves, tenacity and surrenders

Tuesday, 8 May, 2012

“Nobody gives way to anybody. Everyone just angles, points, dives directly toward his destination, pretending it is an all-or-nothing gamble. People glare at one another and fight for maneuvering space. All parties are equally determined to get the right-of-way — insist on it. They swerve away at the last possible moment, giving scant inches to spare. The victor goes forwards, no time for a victory grin, already engaging in another contest of will. Saigon traffic is Vietnamese life, a continuous charade of posturing, bluffing, fast moves, tenacity and surrenders.”

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham