Archive for September, 2007

meehni, wimlah, and gunnedoo

September 29, 2007

The Three Sisters are a famous rock formation of sandstone pillars in the Blue Mountains of Australia ( The Blue Mountains are named because on a hot clear day, eucalyptus oil evaporates into the atmosphere from the eucalyptus gum trees. A blue haze is then produced when the mountains are viewed from a distance. ). Their names are Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo.

These three pillars were formed by wind and water (from rain and rivers) cutting and wearing away soft parts of the rock in the mountains. Eventually, the Sisters will be eroded away completely. (Oh no!)

Legend says that three sisters fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by a witch doctor to protect them, but the witch doctor was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back.

three_sisters.jpg

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would you take travel safety tips from a detective?

September 26, 2007

I found this interesting site that had a looong list of tips for women who travel. I found some of the tips pretty obvious, some I don’t agree with, and some a little over the top, but you be the judge. Anyway, here’s a list of my favorites:

CHOOSING A HOTEL

  • Smaller is smarter: you want the staff to be familiar with guests and with you. The smaller the lobby, the more noticeable the loiterers.
  • Aim for a well-trafficked street (neighborhood restaurants and late-night stores mean traffic, corporate offices mean darkness).
  • If you’re still concerned about the area, ask a female employee–not one in reservations–whether she walks around at night. (Call the restaurant, for instance.)
  • A reception and concierge desk near the entrance, and/or the elevators, is more likely to deter non-guest undesirables.
  • There should be privacy for guests checking in: no one should be able to overhear a name, room number, or other personal information.
  • Room numbers should be written on the key envelope, not mentioned aloud or inscribed on the key–this way, anyone finding your key won’t have access to your room.

ROOM RULES

  • The please make up this room sign tells everyone you’re not there. Call housekeeping instead.
  • Conversely, the do not disturb sign can make the room seem occupied (especially handy if you leave expensive items inside).
  • Lock valuables in the front-desk safe.
  • Stand near the elevator buttons with your back to the wall; if threatened, push all the buttons at once with your back.

STREET SMARTS

  • Study a map before going out; once on the street, use a pocket-size guidebook to avoid looking like a tourist. Your hotel’s concierge or a female employee can mark any dangerous areas on your map.
  • Dress down.
  • Avoid jewelry–even a chain that’s fake gold can be ripped off your neck. Do consider wearing a wedding ring.
  • Be wary when getting off a bus or train, or riding stairs and escalators; that’s when pickpockets tend to strike.
  • Divide money for small and larger purchases so you don’t have to expose a wad of bills.
  • Should a car start to follow you, immediately turn and walk the opposite way.
  • If you must ask for directions, approach families or women with children. To be extra safe, say, “Where is the –? I’m meeting my husband there.”
  • On sidewalks, keep your handbag and other valuables away from the street side (and on escalators, away from the opposite ramp).
  • If attacked, run, fight, and yell as loud as possible.

TRANSPORTATION SAVVY

  • Use covered luggage tags. Instead of your home address, write that of your office.
  • On overnight flights, keep an eye on your valuables.
  • Don’t exit a taxi until you’re sure you’ve arrived at your destination. Pay while still in the car so that you can be sure you’ve gotten the proper change.
  • Stay close to your valuables when passing through airport security.
  • Don’t use an unmarked taxi; if necessary, take public transportation to a city center.
  • On the road, if someone tries to get your attention or your car is bumped, don’t stop until you arrive at a well-lit and busy area.
  • If suspicious about “phony” police, don’t open the window. Instead, hold your license against the glass.

GENERAL ADVICE

  • Don’t just check the weather at your destination; also make a note of when the sun rises and sets.

dalmatians are human too

September 26, 2007

dalmatian1.jpg

Um, not this dalmatian…

The dictionary defines “Dalmatians” as “a native or inhabitant of Dalmatia”.

So where is Dalmatia?

According to everyculture.com, Dalmatia is a region within the Republic of Croatia, formerly part of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. It is the southwesternmost region of Croatia. It stretches from the Bay of Kvarner to the Bay of Boka Kotorska in Montenegro, and includes an archipelago of about 600 islands along the coast. Dalmatia is known for its karst topography, composed mainly of limestone, which easily erodes and dissolves in rainwater. The landscape can be pictured as vast areas of glistening and eroded limestone punctuated by many patches of green oasis.

12 hour layover in DFW

September 24, 2007

I may have to spend a grueling 12 hour layover in Dallas Forth Worth Texas airport after the holidays. What can I do in Dallas in 12 hours?

Last year I had a 4 hour long layover in Hong Kong, and my boyfriend and I managed to sneak in a ferry/boat trip and a nice and tasty and cheap noodle soup meal before continuing on to our trip back home. What is there to do in Dallas??

Update 2/13/2008:

Well, I do know now. There are wineries in Grapevine, near Dallas Fort Worth airport, that are worth your while, if you happen to have a loong layover in Dallas. We started our wine tasting at Homestead and met a very charming host (bad teeth but utterly charming hehe). Then we had lunch at the outdoor patio of La Buena Vida, where we listened to some very talented guitar players while we nibbled on cheese, crackers, and salami, and most of all, enjoyed two great bottles of wine (an awesome malbec and a malbec blend) that we brought home from Buenos Aires. Now who says long layovers are no fun and there is nothing to do in Dallas? : -)

slow-cooked travel

September 21, 2007

Here are some “words of wisdom” from someone who shares my traveling philosophy:

Hello everyone!

Angelina here from Persephone’s Bees. Just came back from Russia where I spent 4 fantastic weeks. I’m refreshed, rested and un- programmed again. The thing about staying in one place and not traveling much is that no matter how much brains you’ve got and how much you disagree with things, you get sucked into a certain way of being and living, get influenced by your surroundings, family, friends, enemies etc. Most of the time it’s a good thing : ) Programming makes life a little easier. But then…the most beautiful thing happens, you get on a plane/train/zeppelin/parachute and get transformed somewhere far away into a different life and all of a sudden you’re free from all the bullshit (pardon my language) you’re stuck with. That’s why traveling is highly recommended.

Stop and smell the roses…

the cruel life of a dancing bear

September 19, 2007

Did you know that every year in India and Pakistan, bear cubs — sloth bears, Asiatic black bears, and Himalayan brown bears — are taken from the wild and sold to be trained as dancing bears?

According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals or WSPA:

Numerous bears in India and in Pakistan are living out their days dragged from town to town by a rope or a chain, dancing for entertainment. Many of them are cubs no more than a year old.

Young cubs are taken by poachers either while their mother is away from the den or by killing her when she returns. Many cubs die from neglect and dehydration before they can be sold to the trainers. Those that do survive spend their first months tethered to a post, straining at the rope, desperate to get back to their mothers.

In captivity, a bear cub’s teeth are often removed or broken
to prevent their owner from being injured.

Dancing bears will have a hole pierced through their lips, nose or palate and a chain or rope attached.

Pulling on the rope causes the bear intense pain and is used to control them. Constant tugging prevents these raw holes from healing properly and dancing bears find no relief from painful infections.

Many bears also suffer from cataracts and go blind.

WSPA aims to:

  • Stop bear cubs from being captured in the wild by
    working with local communities, e.g. equip forest guards to protect bears in the wild and microchip each bear to prevent new bears from entering the existing dancing bear population
  • Rescue bear cubs being trained for bear dancing and
    care for them in a rehabilitation centre – and release
    captured bears back into the wild if possible
  • Help local people dependent on bear dancing to
    find new ways to earn a living

where to next?

September 19, 2007

I haven’t posted anything in days! I have been daydreaming lately about my next destination for this year. Do you know where this place is?

where21.jpg

indonesia rattled by earthquakes

September 13, 2007

At 6:10 p.m. local time on Wednesday, September 12, 2007, an undersea 8.4 magnitude earthquake struck 80 miles southwest of Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia. The tremor triggered a small non-destructive tsunami off the coast.

The following day at 6:49 a.m. local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 125 miles northwest of Bengkulu and caused extensive damage in Padang. Many buildings collapsed afterwards.

Phone lines and electricity were cut, making it difficult to get information about damage and casualties. In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, hundreds of miles from the quake epicenters, office workers streamed down stairwells as tall office buildings swayed. High-rises also swayed as far as in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

For more information, click here.

do you know where this airport is?

September 13, 2007

where.jpg

british airways target of class-action lawsuit over lost luggage

September 11, 2007

Here’s good news if you are an American British Airways traveler whose luggage was lost or damaged between September 2005 and September 2007.  According to an article by Jennifer Miner, British Airways, the current record holder for most lost luggage, was slapped with a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of affected airline passengers, claiming recklessness. The class-action lawsuit will represent American British Airways travelers whose luggage was lost or damaged between September 2005 and September 2007. The law firm handling the case is Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

According to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro’s website, the lawsuit claims that British Airways violated provisions of the Montreal Convention, which governs how airlines handle passenger baggage. If the court approves the case as a class-action, it would represent tens of thousands of travelers who have experienced what the suit claims is reckless handling of passenger luggage, and would award them actual losses not limited to the $1,500 cap British Airways invokes. The suit claims that British Airways has lost more than one million items of baggage over the past two years.

Some horror stories from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro’s website:

Donald and Joan Smith flew British Airways to Italy for a two-week vacation in June but their luggage did not arrive on their flight through Heathrow Airport. The Smiths spent hours on the phone trying to locate the luggage but say British Airways’ customer service were uncooperative, with one agent telling Donald Smith that the staff was “overworked and underpaid”.

After two weeks of fruitless calls to the airlines, Joan Smith traveled to the Naples airport, and over the angry objections of airline staff, gained access to the lost-luggage storage area where she found the missing luggage.

The Smith’s story didn’t end there – when Joan opened the suitcase, she found the contents soaking wet, damaged beyond use.

Aydan Kayserili’s experience was similar. Traveling from Scotland to Madrid on business, the suit alleges that her luggage didn’t arrive. British Airlines told her they located her bag and it would arrive on the next flight. Over the next few days, the airline amended its predictions, saying it would arrive the next day, and later, the third day. All proved to be false.

Eventually British Air confessed they didn’t know where her luggage was, and told her she should replace her clothes and would be reimbursed.

After 21 days of fruitless effort, British Air told Kayserili to consider her luggage permanently lost. To this date, the complaint alleges, she has not received fair compensation for the value of her lost belongings, which far exceeded the $1,500 reimbursement British Air claims to provide for permanent losses.

The lawsuit seeks to recover actual losses incurred by travelers who had luggage lost, delayed or damaged. According to the lawsuit, the Montreal Convention waives the $1,500 loss limit when the carrier is reckless and has knowledge that damage would probably result.