New photo browsing option

December 3, 2009 by starlagurl

Click on any photo in any blog from today on, and you’ll find a more user-friendly way of browsing and commenting on photos.

New photo viewing option

New photo viewing option

Instead of being taken to the old “photo album” section, photos are now brought to the front of the screen in a snazzy new “interstitial”, in other words, a very non-invasive pop up.

All photo comments will be displayed on the right hand side of the screen, eliminating the need for excessive scrolling.

You’ll always be able to access the old photo album pages, just copy and paste the link at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and it will take you there.

Do you like it or hate it?

Head over to the TP forums and let us know

Top 10 places to see the Northern Lights

December 2, 2009 by starlagurl

Who doesn’t have seeing the northern lights on their “kick the bucket” list?

If you’re wondering where on earth is the best place to see the aurora borealis, check out this list of TP bloggers who have successfully experienced the natural light show in the sky.

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

Dc314 went on a Northern Lights bus tour in Reykjavik

Dc314 went on a Northern Lights bus tour in Reykjavik

“As we are heading back, and midnight approaches, the right side of the bus could see the northern lights. The bus pulls over in the middle of nowhere and everyone gets out in the street. We saw the dancing white light in the air, and it was actually pretty cool. We got to see it for about 30 mins. Then we drove a little more and hopped out of the bus again. I was able to take a few pics, but unfortunately I am not able to hold a camera still for 10 seconds without a tripod, so they are a tad blurry (you can get the idea). Interestingly enough, the lights are green in the pictures, instead of white. At about 1 a.m. we head back to the city. We finally went to bed and called it a night, very tired but very happy to have witnessed this natural phenomenon.” – Dc314

2. Svolvaer, Norway

Everardt snapped this picture while searching for Moelje in Norway

Everardt snapped this picture while searching for Moelje in Norway

“When I came outside I happened to look up in the sky and there were 2 pale green bands of light in the sky. All of a sudden there was some electrical activity and I just managed to get my camera out in time to photograph the northern lights.” – Everardt

3. Iqaluit, Canada

Yours truly in the northern tundra

Yours truly in the northern tundra

“On our way home, I look up in the sky and it is FILLED with green and grey colours. The northern lights! On my last night in Iqaluit, the sky is clear enough to see it! It’s not more colourful than in Yellowknife, but it’s a LOT more monstrous. It just fills up the entire sky with dancing light. It lasts for about 30 or 45 minutes and just abruptly as it began it stops.” – starlagurl

4. Tromso, Norway

Jimborussell in Norway

Jimborussell in Norway

One of the workers rushed into our tent and excitedly pronounced that the Northern Lights could be seen outside. I was outside in a flash and stood there gaping at the sky for about an hour. The lights were quite faint, but definately visable. They covered a third of the sky at their most intense, and fluctuated and moved slowly in large waves which seemed to point downward from the heavens in a way I find very difficult to explain. They didn’t last all that long, but were amazing. – Jimborussell

5. Fairbanks, USA

Margiewilson spent a week enjoying the wilderness in Fairbanks

Margiewilson spent a week enjoying the wilderness in Fairbanks

“The afternoon was great, but the evening was better than we could have ever have imagined. We were told that the night would be a good night for the Northern Lights, so we could hardly wait to see them. Around 9 p.m., the first line of Lights were showing but they came and went. We went outside and another band of light was showing around 10 p.m. A group of us were outside in awe of the lights and we were all trying to get pictures of the lights. The lights started dancing around in the sky and we were mesmerized by them. We watched for a while, then went to the room and watched from the balcony. The lights were very active that night, there were some other people watching from their balcony and when the lights went dancing again one man from Russia started screaming and jumping around on the grass saying it was a miracle. And I think it was. What a wonderful way to end the day. We will never forget the sight and we are so thankful that we were able to experience the colors in the lights.” – Margiewilson

6. Tok, USA

Neeterb and her dog in Alaska

Neeterb and her dog in Alaska

“As we prepared for bed, Warren came in and said he thought we were going to see northern lights. Back outside to stand with our necks craned to see the display that seemed just for us. To the naked eye, the lights appeared faint and white. I wasn’t able to get pictures with my camera, but Warren did. The lights, to the camera, were actually green. Absolutely astounding and another checkmark off my list of things to see in Alaska.” – Neeterb

7. Yellowknife, Canada

Lolly's fiancee proposed under the Northern Lights in Yellowknife

Lolly's fiancee proposed under the Northern Lights in Yellowknife

“We found a dock on Great Slave Lake and watched the northern lights until they disappeared and the sky started to lighten again around 1am. It was then that Senica proposed to me on bended knee – how romantic!! What a beautiful setting on such an auspicious day – the highlight of the trip, literally!!” -

8. Cantwell, USA

Docn saw a glimpse of the Northern Lights amidst a herd of caribou

Docn saw a glimpse of the Northern Lights amidst a herd of caribou

“After cooking myself dinner and resting for a bit I headed back to the dog sled jump off point to check out the norther lights…which were amazing. Even cooler though was the fact that as I was standing there checking out the lights I started to hear what I thought were footsteps…quadraped footsteps…then out of the corner of my eye I saw what was making the noise…Caribou…they were all around me…apparently they were crossing the road where I was parked…I couldn’t get any pictures because it was pitch black…but they were everywhere!!!” – Docn

9. Edmonton, Canada

Nancydeb visited the West Edmonton Mall and saw the Northern Lights in the same day!

Nancydeb visited the West Edmonton Mall and saw the Northern Lights in the same day!

“We did get to see the green haze of northern lights one night when we were in Edmonton. I was surprised they were visible even in town with all the street lights but there they were, so that was pretty cool.” – Nancydeb

10. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Hannahfoster with the standing stones in Callandish, Scotland

Hannahfoster with the standing stones in Callandish, Scotland

“The second night we were high up on the hills on the Ilse of Skye and that view was pretty awesome too. The night we stayed there we could see the Northern Lights. They weren’t that spectacular because we werent quite far north enough but still it was a pretty glow in the sky.” – Hannahfoster

10 funny signs from around the world

December 1, 2009 by starlagurl

Traveling around the world as an Anglophone can be pretty funny. Most people try to speak English, but they don’t all quite get it.

This worldwide phenomenon has spawned such websites as Engrish.com among many others. Here at TravelPod, we’ve got our own assortment of funny signs. Some of them more coherent than others…

1. “Don’t throw coins in crocodiles mouths”, Bangkok, Thailand

"It might cause them death"

"Please don't throw coins in crocodile's mouths. It might cause them death"

“I have a hodge-podge of various new pictures to upload, from Lauren and Halloweeen, to a festival, and most notably from when we went to the zoo! The pictures will pretty much explain themselves, and there are a lot of pictures of animals so I thought that I would give everyone a Thai language lesson with it too.” – Schipper

2. “This place danger” in Gyangze, China

"This place danger. Take devious route."

"This place danger. Take devious route."

Our final activity was a hike up the Gyantse Dzong – an old fort in the middle of town. We had the fort to ourselves not a tourist or Tibetan was there. We took it slow going up (man can we feel the altitude here – or we’re really out of shape!) but the view was worth it – we could see the entire town, the monastery, and the Himalayas in the distance. Not a bad way to see the sunset! – Carlaandmike

3. “Guests are requested…” in Broome, Australia

"Guests are requested not to leave meals unattended unless they wish to share them with the seagulls"

Rachandstu found this sign at a bar on the beach in Broome, Australia

“To celebrate being in a town, we went out for dinner at a bar on the beach where we sat with our pizza and drinks – (a glass of cold wine for Rachel – what a novelty!) and watched the sunset.” – Rachandstu

4. “Passengers Attention” – Beijing, China

Lucy_and_adele found this warning sign in Beijing, China

Lucy_and_adele found this warning sign in Beijing, China

We climbed enough steps to do us a lifetime. The older section of the wall was really cool. All rubble and broken steps. when our legs couldn’t handle much more, we went to get the cable car back to the car park. They were out of order, of course! – Lucy_and_adele

5. “Be cautionary to fall into water” – Shangri-La, China

Fredtrip found another example of Engrish in Shangri La, China

Fredtrip found another example of Engrish in Shangri-La, China

I was positively surprised by Shangri La. Few tourists here, colder weather (we are at 3200m), a lot of Tibetans and a pleasant living old city.
The city was originally called Zhongdian but some locals decided to change its name to make it more attractive to tourists. New name comes from James Hilton’s 1933 bestseller: Lost Horizon.. – Fredtrip

6. “The top of an… wha?” – Jeju City, South Korea

Jknoff22 thought this sign was amusing

Jknoff22 thought this sign was amusing in Jeju City

“If you can’t read it, it says, “The top of an election is a clean election.” Now say it as a Korean would, changing the “l’s” to “r’s” and you have an enigmatic yet very funny sign.” – Jknoff22

7. “Smoke is billowing” – Hachioji, Japan

Tothemoon found this strange sign in Japan

Tothemoon found this strange sign in Japan

I’m glad the trip ended up much better than it started, but I kinda don’t ever wanna go on vacation again. – Tothemoon

8. “Premarital sex” – Telluride, USA

78ers found this sign humorous in Telluride, USA

78ers found this sign humorous in Telluride, USA

“On our way back out to the main road, we drove on a little half gravel/half paved road through a really beautiful area.  The road passes the town of Dunton- apparently it’s actually a privately owned ghost town, so I don’t think you can walk around it or anything.  But the whole stretch of road was really nice, Silas and I were sort of hating the people who live there!” – 78ers

9. “The grass is smiling at you” – Beijing, China

Bizarreirishsta found this sign in Beijing's Olympic Village

Bizarreirishsta found this sign in Beijing's Olympic Village

“After our day at the Summer Palace, we made our way to the Olympic Village.  We had enough time to get to it and have a snack before it started raining.  It didn’t rain much, but just in spurts.  The Bird’s Next is quite the architectural design, but definitely more impressive from a distance.” – Bizarreirishsta

10. “Fartshumper” – Olderfjord, Norway

Marksadventures loves Norwegian signs

Marksadventures loves Norwegian signs

“This is the only photo worthy of being shown today….another funny Norwegian sign!” – Marksadventures

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh

November 30, 2009 by starlagurl

Having just come back from a trip to Pittsburgh, I thought I’d give a round up of the best sights to see in case anyone else is planning a similar trip. I made it to most of these points of interest and can vouch for them wholeheartedly. Hope you have a fun time in Pennsylvania too.

1. PNC Park

Dcashman's kids at a Pirates game

Dcashman's kids at a Pirates game

“We drove back over to PNC Park, over a bridge. The main bridge is blocked off before game time for pedestrian traffic.  We got in and went right down behind centerfield. Right next to the Yankee bullpen.  The team was warming up and was interacting with the fans.  We saw most of the pitchers including Mariano Rivera, Daryl Rasner, Edwar Ramierz and Andy Pettite.  Daryl Rasner signed Hannah’s ticket.  They were really nice. Mike Mussina warmed up right next to us. The game started and the yanks got off to a 4-0 lead. After 2 1/2 innings it started pouring as thunderstorms approached.  Everyone retreated into the concourse where we intermidetly waited and went back out to seats 2 or 3 times as the rain stopped and started for the next 2 hours.  After all that waiting the game was called.  It was sad but at least we got to see a little of the game and the beautiful ball park.” – Dcashman

2. The Duquesne Incline

Jeremystravels spent a romantic evening with his girlfriend at the Duquesne Outlook

Jeremystravels spent a romantic evening with his girlfriend at the Duquesne Outlook

“One of the other things we did was went up to the Duquenese Lookout at night to view the city of Pittsburgh from the surrounding hills.  According to some lists this is one of the most romantic spots in the country [top 10].  I couldn’t complain.” – Jeremystravels

3. The Cathedral of Learning

Lagalag1 outside the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh

Lagalag1 outside the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh

“We drove to the university area of Pittsburgh, Oakland. We went to see the Cathedral of Learning,especially the Nationality Classrooms. The cathedral of learning is a 42 story Gothic building. There are 24 nationality rooms. Each room is designed ethnologically as the country (ex–Russian, Norwegian, Hungarian, Syrian etc).” – Lagalag1

4. Carson Street and the South Side

Crashhopper's friend's son, Andrew in Pittsburgh's South Side

Crashhopper's friend's son, Andrew in Pittsburgh's South Side

“Then we grabbed a bite to eat in this cute area I think is called the south side where all the bars are in the city by Duquesne. It was an artsy area.” – Crashhopper

5. Kayaking on the Allegheny

Jenn_and_dave went for a three mile kayak in Pittsburgh

Jenn_and_dave went for a three mile kayak in Pittsburgh

“After a short introduction to kayaking and how to paddle correctly we were in the water (the Allegheny River). We paddled three miles to a boat ramp next to Pittsburgh’s new baseball stadium. We then jumped back into our kayaks for the 3 mile paddle back. Along the way, Dave and Ben saw a rope swing and decided to dock their kayaks. Yahoooo yells Dave and Ben as they swing through the air like escaped chimpanzees and falling into the river below.” – Jenn_and_dave

6. The Andy Warhol Museum

I loved the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

I loved the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

“The Andy Warhol Museum was just as I expected it would be. A big giant loft space, full of pop art. It was like heaven on earth. My favourite art, all in one place. All from Mr. Warhol, but to top it off, the temporary exhibit was Shepard Fairey, the guy who made that famous Obama stencil, and also the guy who did the Obey Andre the Giant stencil and designed some White Stripes album covers and Smashing Pumpkin’s Zeitgeist. Awwwwesome. I could’ve easily spent a few hours just there.” – Starlagurl

7. The Frick Art & Historical Centre

The Frick Historical & Art Centre in Pittsburgh was quite interesting

The Frick Art & Historical Centre in Pittsburgh was beautifully preserved

The house was marvelous. Built in the late 19th century, it had a children’s playhouse just as big many regular houses are today. There was a stable (which now houses a museum of automobiles), a greenhouse and lots of fancy stuff inside the house. Most of it was kept as it originally appeared when Henry Clay Frick lived in it back in the day So he had all the latest trends in convenient living. Electricity, one of the first “paging” systems for his staff, flushing toilets, aluminum on the ceilings, you know.. all that awesome stuff. Our tour guide was pretty amazing. It wasn’t that she was in “period” character, she just really talked like somebody from the early 19th century. You could tell she just lived and breathed this house. I WISH I had a video, just of her. I should have asked her to talk to me outside…. After a tour of the rest of the grounds on our own, and a visit to the art gallery, (which had a really great photography exhibit on an old children’s hospital) we were off to the strip district for a kind of walking lunch tour. – Starlagurl

8. Primanti’s in the Strip District

Must eat: a sandiwich at the original Primanti Bros.

Must eat: a sandiwich at the original Primanti Bros.

“We stopped in at Labad’s for some hummus, then onto Primanti Bros. to try their famous sandwich with the french fries in it. This time, it was moderately delicious, the coleslaw was a lot more vinagery. I wonder if going to the actual original restaurant made the difference?” – starlagurl

9. Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Dinosaur bones at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Dinosaur bones at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

“We had a couple of hours to go through the Carnegie Museum, which I was pretty excited for. We saw some dinosaurs and Steph and I made a new 5 year old friend while hanging out inside a giant plastic Blue Whale heart. We asked him where his parents were, he simply said, “I don’t have any parents.” Oh boy… So I sort of kept an eye on him until the people who actually were his parents showed up. So the whale exhibit was good, even if it was a bit smelling of fish.” – starlagurl

10. Carnegie Museum of Art

Really nice modern art at the Carnegie Museum of Art

Really nice modern art at the Carnegie Museum of Art

“After that, we went to the art part of the museum, which was also good. I especially liked this piece where children’s books were made to look like a flock of birds taking off into the sky.” – starlagurl

Spammers Beware!

November 27, 2009 by starlagurl

We’re always on the lookout for spammers creating fake blogs, comments and forum posts.

There are plenty of evil-doers posing as bloggers and putting up fake content and pasting their advertisements on our site.

We’ve just launched a new system that will allow us to target individual spammers, and block them from posting anything on our site.

Once a spammer has violated our terms of service, they are easily pinpointed and blacklisted, never to be seen again.

It’s just another way we are keeping this site as informative and helpful as possible for you and the rest of the community.

We catch most spam, but we can’t catch it all on our own.

Help us make TravelPod a friendly place to blog.

Let us know if you see any spam on your blog, or anywhere else on the site.

 

Anonymous commenting on all TravelPod blogs

November 26, 2009 by starlagurl

We’ve heard you loud and clear.

Just writing a comment on your friend’s blog doesn’t mean that you’re a blogger.

You shouldn’t have to sign up for a blog account to do keep in touch with your friends on the road.

From now on, it won’t be mandatory to sign up for a new TravelPod account to comment on a blog.


Any reader can click “Add Comment” at the bottom of any blog entry and write back to the author, even if they don’t have a blog on TravelPod.

They simply enter their name, comment and decide whether they want updates.

It’s as simple as that.

We’ve gotten a lot of suggestions on this feature in the past, and we’re happy to change this to accommodate everyone.

We really love getting your feedback on TravelPod features, so please keep them coming.

Let us know what you think

Lonely Planet’s top 10 places to party

November 25, 2009 by starlagurl

Another great list from Lonely Planet, the world’s top 10 places to party. I put the list to the test and found out whether TravelPod bloggers partied it up, or died of boredom…

1. Belgrade = Party Town

Some "barge-clubs" found in Belgrade, Serbia

Some "barge-clubs" found in Belgrade, Serbia

“This is a town that knows how to go out. There are bars everywhere, the river is chock-a-block with barge-clubs and apparently most of the ‘coolest’ venues are still hidden away in unmarked basements. With no budget airlines serving Nikola Tesla airport it is also pleasantly lacking in British stag dos.” – Jiewu

2. Montreal = Fun, but expensive

Goldenfrog88 at Sky Pub in Montreal, Canada

Goldenfrog88 at Sky Pub in Montreal, Canada

We went to the gay district again to a bar that was recommended. We started off on their third floor terrace and ordered Canada’s infamously weak and expensive drinks. April and I ordered cosmos and got vodka crans in a plastic cup with one once of vodka for $7 each. After an hour we went to the first floor where a drag-show was happening. The performances were excellent with impersenations of the slum dog dance, Tina turner, and Madonna. I was surprised there was no way to tip them! Lastly, we went to the second floor to dance. Griselda and Isabella left earlier than April and myself. I tried getting over the whole “I don’t belong in gay bars” and just started dancng by myself to see what happens. I ended up dancing with some guy who had had way too much with different intentions of my own but at least he was cute. – Goldenfrog88

3. Buenos Aires = so-so

Curtisejtaylor meeting Brazilians at a pool hall in Buenos Aires

Curtisejtaylor meeting Brazilians at a pool hall in Buenos Aires

I don’t know what it’s like to party in big cities, but Buenos Aires, I found, is nothing worth boasting about. Nothing out of this world, if you’re wondering. It was good. – Curtisejtaylor

4. Dubai = “a very fun time”

Tnowakow at a private New Year's Eve party in Dubai, UAE

Tnowakow at a private New Year's Eve party in Dubai, UAE

“The party was at a friend’s of Mona’s out in Jumeriah and we drove to a super market where he had cabs come and take us to the actual house (he didn’t want a bunch of cars at his place). It was a sweet looking villa with a pool outside and he had masks for everyone to wear before the New Year. He also had it catered with any kind of drinks that you would want. All in all it was a very fun time actually” – Tnowakow

5. Thessaloniki = “such a fun night”

Jhdavis' friend Allie, with her drink on the party boat in Thessaloniki

Jhdavis' friend Allie, with her drink on a party boat in Thessaloniki

“We sailed around the bay for 30 minutes and the boat took us down the other side of Thessaloniki and across the downtown area by Aristotle Square and the waterfront bars and cafes. The music was great and all the people abroad where so friendly. At the end, we made our way back down to the dock and left the boat. It was such a fun night.” – Jhdavis

6. La Paz = a little boring

Wadeoliver at the "green party" in La Paz

Wadeoliver at the "green party" in La Paz

“Boys with the booze arrived 8 with 1 10L bottle (looked more like a gas can) of rum and 20L of vodka plus mixers. Once everybody had a drink in their hand then the party really started. The arrival of 4 giant pizzas for dinner was fun (one slice = 3 normal) but because I wasn’t into the whole dance thing, I had had enough by 11:00. I had to unlock my door and leave it open while I went downstairs to give the key to Mike as the door can’t be left unlocked. Felt a little sick (ok, threw up a little), showered, bed 11:30. Mike woke me at 01:45 knocking on the door because he was too drunk to remember I’d given him the key! Then Jo is knocking on the door 5 minutes later and he’s having a conversation with her in his jocks out in the hall so not to disturb me more (he’s a nice guy) but as one of the guys chasing Jo passed by it must have been embarrassing!” – Wadeoliver

7. Cape Town = 24 hour parties!

Nat_yeo and her friends dressed up for a party in Cape Town

Nat_yeo and her friends dressed up for a party in Cape Town

“We gathered at Proc’s house for champagne and dress ups before heading off to the big party at Ratanga Junction Theme Park, where the party was kicking into full swing. It is quite a thing to arrive at the party. Each group crosses over a catwalk and is announced as they arrive with cameras clicking and video cameras recording – you really want to ensure you have put enough effort into your costumes! The atmosphere was fantastic, the crowd very friendly and the music was rocking! We had a great night partying hard until the early hours before sunrise when we made a brief visit back to Cinds and Sebs for a quick shower and change, then off to another party!

The other party was an outdoor trance party held in a secret location around Hout Bay. Soon enough, we were kicking up a dust storm at breakfast time. We had a load of fun – I made some new friends and met some old and even had a call from UK friends cracking on back home whilst I walked through the surrounding forest. We called it quits around lunch time for some much needed sleep – a fantastic way to end 2 weeks in Cape Town.” – Nat_yeo

8. Baku = giant wedding parties

Lok loved the dancing at a wedding in Baku, Azerbaijan

Lok loved the dancing at a wedding in Baku, Azerbaijan

“We then all drove to the village’s wedding hall (yes, weddings are the only events held here), honking all the way. Men and women were seated, at 20 long banquest tables, separately in the hall. It was packed with some 350 people. There were food, wine, vodka, live band and singers and a lot of speeches and dancing. They have a lot of arm movements when they dance – both guys and girls. I could not tell who are husbands and wives since they did not interact at all throughout the event.

After 4 hours, the party at the wedding hall came to an end at 12:30 a.m. It was only adjourned to the bride’s home for more drinks and snacks.” – Lok

9. Auckland = high class style

Andanddan ringing in the new year in Auckland

Andanddan ringing in the new year in Auckland

“An hour or so later we wandered back into the foyer area, which was by this time buzzing with people, and we made our way back to the original bar. Another band, comprising a male and female singer, were now in full flow and had the crowd rocking and the dance floor heaving. At this stage we decided not to move on to the Loaded Hog as originally planned – this was turning out to be a good night and the price was right too!” – Andanddan

10. Tel Aviv = Shabbat culture

Egsolove partied every night when he was in Israel

Egsolove partied every night when he was in Israel

“I still have another night in Israel, and its going to be a good one. It’s shabbat, the party night. Israelis stay up very late, starting to party at 12:30 and not stopping until 5 or 6 sometimes. I’ve done this pretty much every night I’ve been in Israel. It gets exhausting for an American boy. But the culture here is amazing.” – Egsolove

TravelPod’s new Trip Timeline Feature

November 24, 2009 by starlagurl

Travel blogs, in general, can sometimes be hard to navigate.

We’ve always tried to think up new ways to make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for when browsing  blogs on TravelPod. For example, we’ve created interactive maps with pins and tried different “table of contents” layouts ( just to name a few features ).

Still, there was room for improvement and with our recent redesign we took the opportunity to try something new: The Travel Blog Timeline.

TravelPod's new Trip Timeline tool

Each blog entry on TravelPod now has a timeline built-in that your guests can use to read all of your entries.

Each green dot symbolizes an entry in a travel blog and when clicked, let’s you scan each blog entry in conjunction with the map.

The pins are arranged along the timeline by date and sliding your mouse across the length of the timeline makes it easy for visitors to choose a specific entry. A brief summary of each entry hovers over your mouse as the pointer slides across the screen.

** Power tip: If you mouse over the “Trip Start” or “Trip End” labels, a button is revealed that lets you quickly jump to the next or previous entries.

New trip timeline shown on an entry page

Timeline navigation is something new that we think is pretty innovative and are currently in the process of applying for a patent on the idea. We know it’s not perfect yet and we’ll be tweaking and adjusting it to make it as useful as possible based on your feedback.

Good or bad, we want to hear what you think… please try to be as specific with your feedback as possible so that we can make tweaks to  perfect this new feature.

Thanks!

Let us know by leaving a comment below, or speaking up in the TravelPod forums.


Photo of the Week: “Alone with a boat!”, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

November 23, 2009 by starlagurl

The angle of this photo is absolutely perfect and the crispness with which the boat is displayed in the picture is highlighted. You feel as if you can almost reach out and touch it with your own hands.

asia.1238068740.9_a

I watched some fishermen cast their nets then I walked to a part of town that got hammered by the Tsunami and found a temple that broke apart from the wave. After this I had a coffee a resort that had a tsunami photo album. I thought the pictures were really not that impressive until I got to the end and found photos of dead bodies covered by sheets. Damn!Hildreth75

Transparency International’s 10 most corrupt countries in the world

November 21, 2009 by starlagurl

Every year, Transparency International makes a list of the most corrupt countries in the world. I searched through the blogs to find out more about each one, from a travelers’ perspective.

1. Somalia

Hardiek at the border of Somalia

Hardiek at the border of Somalia

“For those of you who don’t know (almost everybody, including me up until a few weeks ago) the once unified country of Somalia is now effectively divided into three, the rump Somalia surrounding dangerous Mogadishu, the country of Puntland from which all the ship piracy of recent fame takes place, and Somaliland, relatively peaceful and open for business, connected by land to the also relatively peaceful states of Djibouti and Ethiopia.” – Hardiek

2. Afghanistan

Samcato telling home base about an explosion in Afghanistan

Samcato telling home base about an explosion in Afghanistan

“From ‘grease my palm’ to ‘oil-fill my bellybutton': corruption has penetrated the political, economic, judicial and social systems so thoroughly that it has ceased to be a deviation from the norm and become the norm itself. Corruption had existed ever since the Taliban regime was toppled, but it has reached a historically record breaking level. Ordinary Afghans are well aware of this, the majority of the country is sorry, not because it existed but they are not in a position to benefit from bribery. Corruption has become so endemic that it is perceived as normal. Nothing is possible at the same time, everything is possible. When a job comes to a standstill it doesn’t mean there is a problem with the job, it is time to grease up some bellybuttons. If one is prepared to pay as much as needed then anything could be done. Shortcuts are introduced if one is willing to compromise. I could have thought of any word as synonyms for bribery but not compromise, Farsi and Pashto languages are rich with euphemisms for bribe. My favorite and all time fresh is ‘Shirini’, the sweetener. It is generally used when you got something done. In other words shirini is post bribery bribe. Don’t be surprised. At least I had something done, these days ordinary citizens pay bribes as much to be left alone as to get something done. They call it ‘Kharcha’, ‘paeesi chai’, ‘jawani’ and many more which are basically *bribe of survival*. Exactly this has changed everything; everyone attempts to be in a position to take a bribe as oppose to a sucker. Bribe takers are at the highest rank of the society where everybody inspires to be.” – Samcato

3. Myanmar

Markl's tour guide "Stella" spoke about the corruption in her country

Markl's tour guide "Stella" spoke about the corruption in her country

“Stella was forthcoming about the current regime and it’s appalling corruption. They have moved the capital inland and have created an insane, artificial compound where the military and civil servants live in pampered luxury. They are building a zoo, of all things there, and transporting the animals from Yangon zoo to fill it. So the people in the capital get a few old camels and the rest get shipped 300 miles inland. Civil service pensions are no better, her mother receives 100 Kyat or $0,10 a day. Stella’s bitterness was mainly reserved for the treatment of the poor who seem to have been mainly abandoned by the political rulers. The stories of aid for rural people post Cyclone Nargis in 2009 were terrifying.” – Markl

4. Sudan

Bonthorn on the road in Sudan

Bonthorn on the road in Sudan

“You have two choices when you come to a roadblock. You can play Mr./Mrs. Nice Guy/Gal and greet the officer as if you’ve known him your whole life, shake hands amicably and ask about his health, his family, their health, etc. Calling him ‘my friend’ and patting him on the back is also a good tactic (although never try this if you are female). After all the formalities are completed, he might just let you off the hook and wish you a “Good Journey”. The second option is to play dumb and pretend you have no idea what the officer is saying, although it’s blatantly obvious. Keep jabbering in English in a tone that is neither offensive nor accusing, and sooner or later, he will hopefully tire of you and your feigned stupidity and wave you on. So far, these are the two choices we’ve attempted, both at pretty successful rates. But the key is to pick one and stick to it BEFORE your car is stopped and you’re face to face with him and his gun.” – Bonthorn

5. Iraq

Rebecca.mcneal went through several checkpoints in Iraq

Rebecca.mcneal went through several checkpoints in Iraq

“After passing through numerous checkpoints, Iraqi, Pesmerga and Awakening Council fighter types we neared Mosul. Mosul was the only place that was worrisome. We passed by a truck bomb site that had killed 250 people in the recent past. We were not allowed to photograph checkpoints which were all manned with machine guns.” – Rebecca.mcneal

6. Chad

Kevandsian picked up some unexpected hitchhikers in Chad

Kevandsian picked up some unexpected hitchhikers in Chad

“Crossing into Chad was surprisingly hassle free, the police in this country have a bad reputation for being corrupt and subtracting bribes and ‘tolls’ at every opportunity. We took a hitch hiker at the request of the police and also transported a soldier to the next village. We then gave another 5 police and military personnel lifts to neighboring towns 55 kms away,becoming the essential local transport as the first truck to pass through in 6-7 days. We decided this might help avoid searches and bribes at police stops and ease our journey. They did help at one small town where the police demanded a 16 dollar fee per person for registering and stamping our passports which was eventually avoided successfully.” – Kevandsian

7. Uzbekistan

Crowdywendy's tour guide in Uzbekistan, Behruz

Crowdywendy's tour guide in Uzbekistan, Behruz

Our first morning in Bukhara introduced us to the entrenched police and official corruption in Uzbekistan. It was our first introduction to “bakeesh” or bribes to officials. At the first Bukhara bank we were told that we were not allowed in. “Why not?” we asked. It was a very large bank and there were numerous tellers open everywhere. Well, we just couldn’t. The police were stationed at the entrance of the bank and would not let people in. Well, of course with a little bribe they would… But we resisted and moved on to yet another bank, and another. Later that evening while talking with other hotel guests, we were told that it is not uncommon for locals to have to try ten or so different banks before they would be allowed entry. The young local people were openly disgusted with the practice.

Similarly, bakeesh is a common practice with the police. There are frequent road blocks throughout Uzbekistan. While we had no problems thanks to Naim calling out “tourists!” at every point we were told over and over again by locals about the road police. Apparently being a police officer on the roads is a much sought after profession. Although they are dreadfully underpaid they certainly make up for it in bribes or bakeesh.” – Crowdywendy

8. Turkmenistan

Ricka leaving the "ferry from hell" in Turkmenistan

Ricka leaving the "ferry from hell" in Turkmenistan

We loaded on-board after a trainload of freight was stowed and we were squeezed in between the carriages and the crew started to hassle us for “Security Fees”. We all had the sense to tell them to get lost! We were on at last! Another trip back into the customs hall to get our final clearance and it was back on board, passports handed over to a dodgy looking guy along with $90 and then a stagger up to the deck with our luggage. We wondered why there were loads of crewmembers smiling and laughing at us, little did we know!
The dodgy guy we gave our passports and cash to started to try to explain that if we wanted a cabin they were $100. We said no thanks, at that price we could manage the 12 hour crossing on the deck. I had a suspicion that things may not go to plan so I followed a crew down into the ship to have a look at a cabin. He showed me two of the filthyest, run-down excuses for cabins I had ever seen, with the “bathrooms” being even worse. I haggled with the guy anyway as I knew this was a “take it or leave it” situation and I settled on twenty bucks per cabin – I thought we would be needing them!” – Ricka

9. Iran

Jimsim at Persepolis in Shiraz, Iran

Jimsim at Persepolis in Shiraz, Iran

“While Sim took a few snaps of the mosque I chatted to a local soldier who was visiting the mosque. He was very young, and was very upbeat about Iran’s prospects for the future. While not stating a preference for either the hardline or more moderate of Iran’s leaders he seemed to believe that by keeping the right (positive) attitude the people of Iran would pull the country in the right direction. It was hard not to be caught up in his enthusiasm. He was also extremely helpful while we were there, happily answering the barrage of questions I had about Shiraz and it’s major attractions.” – Jimsim

10. Haiti

Mim301 on her first day volunteering in Haiti

Mim301 on her first day volunteering in Haiti

“It is so hard to believe that so many people in Haiti live in poverty because of such a corrupt government, but that the beaches and mountains are so beautiful. I guess that this is just another one of life’s great mysteries.” – Mim301

Cairo protests: travel bloggers in the midst of violence

November 20, 2009 by starlagurl

Protests have erupted near the Algerian embassy in Cairo after a World Cup play-off game was lost to that country’s soccer team. Eleven police officers and 24 protesters were injured yesterday and Rich Frohl, our blogger on the ground is right in the middle of it.

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

“‘Stop taking pictures you cunning white one or I will throw a stone at you,’ are the words one angry protester hurled at me as I tried to document the anarchy that has taken over the streets of my neighborhood here in Cairo.

On Wednesday, Egypt lost to Algeria in the game that decided which of the two would go to the world cup.  I was told by my Egyptian friends that this would happen if Egypt lost, but immediately after the match, the eerie silence in the streets of usually-bustling Cairo calmed me, making me thing that Cairo might stay quiet after all.  I was wrong.  The anger just needed a gestation period.

We stood on a street corner as ambulance sirens and protester shouts echoed around us, trying to figure out what to do.  As nervous and out of control as we felt, it was also kind of exciting.

This morning, I set out to get some pictures, assuming I would simply get to photograph the aftermath.  Though definitely not as serious as last night, some were still going strong on the 26th of July Street.

As I walked out onto the street, people were turning themselves into human barricades, blocking the street (turning main street into a parking lot).  People shouted pro-Egypt and anti-Algerian cheers and jumped on cars.

As we navigated the road blocks, trying to explore more of the unrest, I realized that English was going to get me a lot farther than Arabic (a first here in Egypt).

I can only imagine what is going to happen tonight.  Don’t worry, I’ll be staying safe behind 10 lines of riot police in my room in a sealed-off safe zone.  Not like I have much of a choice anyways…police aren’t letting folks go anywhere with any level of ease.” – Richfrohl

Pittsburgh TravelPod meetups

November 19, 2009 by starlagurl

On my latest foray into the good ol’ U.S. of A., I met up with a bunch of awesome TP bloggers in Pittsburgh! VisitPittsburgh was kind enough to provide me with airfare and a hotel room during my stay there.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t all get together on the same night, so I met up with everyone in the area individually.

Here’s a run down of the awesome bloggers I met in Pennsylvania:

Jeremy, aka Jeremystravels, was only in town for Halloween weekend. He’s a frequent forum poster and just came back from a whirlwind tour of Egypt.

We met up for my first taste of the famous Primanti’s sandwiches and then joined his girlfriend Angie at Clearstory Studio for an amazing hipster-tastic costume party.

Jeremy and I at Primanti's on Halloween

Jeremy and I at Primanti's on Halloween

Jeremy and his girlfriend Angie all ready for the Halloween party at Clearstory Studio

Jeremy and his girlfriend Angie all ready for the Halloween party at Clearstory Studio

On Monday, Erwin aka mrshyguy and Allison aka jessnallie came out to enjoy the nighttime view of the Pittsburgh skyline at the Grand View Saloon. Erwin is a new member of TravelPod, just checking out the scene. Allison is quite the frequent blogger herself, writing about the trip she took with her daughter to New Zealand earlier this year.

Allison, Erwin and I at the Grandview Saloon

Allison, Erwin and I at the Grandview Saloon

Allison and I at the Duquesne Incline outlook at the top of Mt. Washington

Allison and I at the Duquesne Incline outlook at the top of Mt. Washington

And then there is Ray, Mr. Roundtheworld.

Later on in the week, I met up with Ray who happened to be in the area on his big giant American road trip to Florida. He has been a TP blogger for the better part of the last three years, writing and posting about all his adventures in Asia and Australia.

He picked up a shiny new TP water bottle and we shared some beers with my Couchsurfing host, Arunan at BBT (Bloomfield Bridge Tavern)

Ray at Fat Head's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ray at Fat Head's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ray with my Couchsurfing host at BBT

Ray with my host at BBT

TripAtlas’ 10 Safest Countries in the World

November 18, 2009 by starlagurl

TripAtlas.com recently listed the 10 safest countries in the world.

“The Global Peace Index (GPI) moves beyond simple crime statistics alone, and looks at the actions of a government, the country’s relationships with the world at large, and the attitudes and demographics of its population.”

Let’s see what TravelPod bloggers had to say about that.

1. New Zealand

Kikiblogtrot in New Zealand

Kikiblogtrot in New Zealand

“I get to chat to local Kiwis who tell me about Christchurch and the life here, and not all of it is rosy and happy… far from it. They tell me about what they think of the racism and crime here. Something which I have to say I was surprised to hear about in New Zealand – it feels so much safer than some of the places I have been to before…” – Kikiblogtrot

2. Denmark

Pwong found the town of Christiana to be relatively safe

Twittg's friend Elisa on a trampoline in Norway

 

“Personally, I’d never live here, but the people seem to be happy and though crime has been on the rise in recent years, generally there is no trouble here.” – Pwong

3. Norway

Twittg's friend Elisa on a trampoline in Norway[/caption]“While traveling around Scandinavia, I heard people from most every country commenting on how crime has gotten worse with the influx of new immigrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.” – Twittg

4. Iceland

Cariverga in front of a waterfall in Iceland

Cariverga in front of a waterfall in Iceland

“I was lodged not directly in the hostel (no places…or whatever the reason) but in a nearby home of an old man (possibly, they got an agreement with him to accommodate surplus guests).

- Man, would you give me a key?
– Why? The door is open. We never close it.

OK. So, this is Iceland. No-crime-country. Previous year there were 2 car hijackings. Period.” – Cariverga

5. Austria

Danschedler was told that Vienna is safer than Budapest

Danschedler was told that Vienna is safer than Budapest

“I had already decided by now not to go to Budapest, which had been my next tentative stop, due to the riots that had broken out there. It probably would have been fine, but Pippi told me Budapest was, “…just like Vienna, but with crime,” so I decided to skip it.” – Danschedler

6. Sweden

Monk-san at an underground restaurant in Stockholm

Monk-san at an underground restaurant in Stockholm

“Stockholm is a clean place. There’s not much grafitti and crime seems low. In fact, I noticed that the rows of bikes stood outside the central station were mostly not even chained to themselves (to stop the wheels moving) let along chained to an immoveable object.” – Monk-san

7. Japan

Sean of Seanandkat in Ueno-mura, Japan

Sean of Seanandkat in Ueno-mura, Japan

“The area is nice and there isn’t hardly any crime and so I really had nothing to fear.” – Seanandkat

8. Canada

Weilnau found Whistler, BC to be a dangerous place

Weilnau found Whistler, BC to be a dangerous place

“Left with few options, Jason went to park at the municipal lot, which was free. Free indeed, but loaded with crime. Broken glass from car windows being smashed in, littered the lot and made us feel completely uncomfortable leaving our car, with all of our belongings, in such a place.” – Weilnau

9. Finland

Whitefox2008 petting a hairy cow in Yllas, Finland

Whitefox2008 petting a hairy cow in Yllas, Finland

“Would we visit Lapland again? Most definitely, yes. The appeal of Lapland is based on nature and landscapes. The most significant experience for me is plenty of snow, the tranquility, tidiness, abundance of winter activities, uniqueness and safety. Crime rate is low… I would recommend a visit to the Lapland.”  – Whitefox2008

10. Slovenia

Slipperycoconut eating horse in Slovenia

Slipperycoconut eating horse in Slovenia

“We were told that there is no crime in the country and we felt safe walking back through town late at night. I later read that there was not a single murder in Slovenia in all of 2008. That makes we want to move there. The people all seemed pretty happy.” – Slipperycoconut

Photo of the Week: “Aqua Azul”, Palenque, Mexico

November 16, 2009 by starlagurl

I went to Mexico when I was 16, and have always wanted to go back. This photo goes against all my previously formed stereotypes about the country. It is lush and tropical. The water in this photograph is so inviting. Incredible. I must return.

3.1219483200.3_aqua-azul

These waterfalls weren’t as blue as seen on postcards, but despite that they were still incredible. There are about 7 cascades falling over a relatively short stretch of the river. We spent about 50 minutes taking loads of photos and looking around before heading off to Misol-Ha.Vermaakjeanne

Chris Guillebeau’s 9 overrated tourist destinations vs. 9 alternatives

November 13, 2009 by starlagurl

Chris Guillebeau came up with the 9 most overrated destinations and then offered alternatives to each of them.

I wanted to put them to the test, so I checked out what TravelPod bloggers thought about all 18 places.

1. Niagara Falls (Thumbs up)

Donhad thought Niagara Falls was "worth the trip"

Donhad thought Niagara Falls was "worth the trip"

“We had a whole day to do all the main tourist stops …..including a trip behind the falls, the Niagara experience (a movie in the round that rains and snows on you as you watch it). Up the space needle like tower for photos, a walk along the rapids, and of course the Maid of the Mist boat ride (WOW ….and in the front of the boat).” – Donhad

Alternative: Victoria Falls (Thumbs up)

Flolafol taking in the scenery of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

Flolafol taking in the scenery of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

“Swimming in Devil’s pool, a natural pool right by the edge of the Victoria Falls, white-water rafting the Zambezi, relaxing in a great chilled backpacker, spending time with wire Zimbabwean artists teaching me how to make my own wire baobab… the program in Zambia was hard !!!” – Flolafol

2. Grand Canyon (Thumbs up)

Jimandlaura thought the Grand Canyon was impressive

Jimandlaura thought the Grand Canyon was impressive

We entered the national park around 4pm, paying $25.00 for the privilege, and stopped off at ‘Grand View’ overlook for our first sight of the Canyon. Wow…it was as awesome as it looks on the telly! It certainly dwarfs the likes of Zion Canyon. – Jimandlaura

Alternative: Sedona (Thumbs down)

Bobnkaren thought the intense tourism in Sedona was "painful"

Bobnkaren thought the intense tourism in Sedona was "painful"

“It causes almost physical pain to see stupid retail shops built so near these breathtaking cliffs. It’s criminal. It just shouldn’t be. Arizona caved on this one–this should be a national park, not the purview of the wealthy.” – Bobnkaren

3. Bahamas (Thumbs up)

Hecqs really enjoyed Bahamas' Exuma islands

Hecqs really enjoyed Bahamas' Exuma islands

About 40 miles south of Paradise Island and an hour boat ride via IslandWorld Adventures….. We reached Saddleback Cay, a part of Exuma Islands. This is another out island adventure ….. I will say the best so far I had from Nassau. Lemon shark feeding shoreside in a clear aquamarine water… we were also greeted by the local stingray….. and a little historical tour of the island….. and a moment on a sandbar…. – Hecqs

Alternative: St. Kitts & Nevis (Thumbs up)

Ri-anne.cruz loved the seaside views at Frigate Bay in St. Kitts

Ri-anne.cruz loved the seaside views at Frigate Bay in St. Kitts

“First he showed us the town of Basseterre– a gracefully revived town and capital of St. Kitts. After decades of sleepy existence, this elegant and graceful West Indies town was restored from its shabbiness. Now with careful and sensitive restoration it revealed all the original charm and preserved its Caribbean architecture.” – Ri-anne.cruz

4. Paris in the summer (Thumbs up)

Gilmoregirls was impressed by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Gilmoregirls was impressed by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

“Arc de Triumph more impressive than I expected. Decided as this was our last nigh in Paris that we would have dinner on the Champs Elysse and this was a good decision. Waiter was the typical French stereotype, suggesting what Madam would enjoy and being very attentive. Happily food and atmosphere lived up to expectations.” – Gilmoregirls

Alternative: Paris in the winter (Thumbs up)

Clandybar found great discounts and shorter lines in Paris in February

Clandybar found great discounts and shorter lines in Paris in February

“We only stood in line for about 10 minutes at the tower, then we were up the elevator and on our way. It was just as exciting as I imagined it would be. Great views! We had sun for the first part of the afternoon but the sky got grey by about 2:30 p.m. We made it up to the very top of the tower – a bit chilly in February but totally worth it. We were lucky that we didn’t wait until Saturday as the top level was closed due to bad visibility.” – Clandybar

5. Las Vegas (Thumbs down)

Alvrez got lost amongst the Las Vegas lights

Alvrez got lost amongst the Las Vegas lights

“Afterwards we decided to show the kids the neon of the Las Vegas Strrip again, but instead got hopelessly lost (yes, even with the GPS working properly!!) and eventually gave up and went back to the hotel to bed.” – Alvrez

Alternative: Any American Indian casino (Thumbs up)

Modernoddyseus squinting at the bright lights of the American Indian casino

Modernoddyseus squinting at the bright lights of the American Indian casino

“Casinos are only fun if you make them fun. Or, if you win. Then they´re really fun. Otherwise, casinos are just a bunch of dull people who mistakenly think they´re not just throwing their money into a hole in the ground.” – Modernoddyseus

6. Dublin, Ireland (Thumbs up)

Magicwoman82 in Dublin with a Bulmer's

Magicwoman82 in Dublin with a Bulmer's

“I am just back from 6 days in Dublin and I had a wonderful time. Many of you might now that I am madly in love with Ireland (and yes with you too Fernando ;) ) and that I have lived there for 6 months back in 2007.” – Magicwoman82

Alternative: Smaller towns in Ireland

Neason's friend, Elaine hanging around in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland

Neason's friend, Elaine hanging around in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland

“This weekend a guy in my class invited all the 3rd years up to his parents house in Northern Ireland for his birthday… The house was amazing, it used to be lord someone’s summer residence and was a very impressive Georgian manor. There were 11 bedrooms (used to be 16 but they merged some ’cause it just wasn’t necessary to have 16 bedrooms in a 5 person household), at least 3 kitchens, an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, 2 lakes, stables, gate house and a big fountain in the courtyard. And it was all furnished in antique/period furniture. – Neason

7. The Pyramids (Thumbs up)

Brianporter felt more than a sense of accomplishment in Egypt

Brianporter felt more than a sense of accomplishment in Egypt

“Few countries can match Egypt’s wealth of ancient monuments and temples; the relics of Pharaonic culture have been drawing visitors for centuries. On arrival in Port Said, we felt a sense of accomplishment, that we were about to set foot in a country that most dream of visiting. There is universal fascination with the ancient Egyptians who established a magnificent and enduring civilization that flourished from around 3000 BC to 30 BC, ruled by approximately 30 dynasties. Pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, King Tut and Cleopatra. How can you top that?” – Brianporter

Alternative: Jordan (Thumbs up)

Rose of Boydandrose floating in the Dead Sea

Rose of Boydandrose floating in the Dead Sea

“We arrive at the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea whose shores are at 420 m below sea level. It is now 3 PM and the sun is already starting to drop into the horizon. We change into our bathing suits for a quick dip in the Sea. It has a dark sandy beach leading up to the water, then a fairly rocky bottom for the first 2.5 m and then it is sandy again. We walk about 10 m into the Sea and then sit down in the water. Instantly, it feels like you are on a tire tube (except there is no tire tube). It is one of the most interesting phenomenons we have experienced. There is no way you can sink.” – Boydandrose

8. Singapore (Thumbs down)

Stevewade eating Indian in Singapore

Stevewade eating Indian in Singapore

“We are exhausted but the second we arrive we decide we need to explore. A bite to eat (tasty as fuck duck red curry!) and a beer (well a jug of tiger) later i’m down 80 quid. We decide to go to a bar full of hookers even though we’ve no money and no desire to shag hookers which was retarded. Cream’s bank card doesn’t work in any ATMs so I’m funding his trip it seems, the hookers wouldnt believe him when he said he had no money, but it was genuine. I didn’t realise Singapore was like that, the bars are full of them and they are mostly ugly and demand drinks (nae chance!). It was all a bit weird actually, I felt akward and just wanted to enjoy my pure blonde.” – Stevewade

Alternative: Malaysia (Thumbs up)

Stevewade enjoying a party in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur

Stevewade enjoying a party in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur

“This place was way off the beaten track not another tourist in sight and certainly no white people. On the way we came across this bizzare ‘shop’ which had a long rectangular pool, around this pool were families with fishing rods fishing for shrimp, what they catch they take home to eat. Was so surreal. We also saw lots of local eateries and what we’re told is a Malay pastime, lots of people gathered in a restaurant eating and watching a film. When we reached the house we found inside a multicultural group of people from all over the world who either lived there permanently or were stopping off on their travels including a couple who have been cycling round the globe for the past 4 years. We got everyone on the rum and cokes, got tanked, talked about shit, played a great card game that involved matching patterns and grabbing a stick which was rowdy fun and we found out what everyone’s favourite dinosaur was thanks to probably the strangest opening question from a newly arrived couchsurfer. An unforgettable night and then the couchsurfer stayed with us and this morning we had a traditional breakfast in china town, me eating fried duck and rice, G chinese rice porridge wqith chicken and spices then toured round KL seeing the sights, twin towers, KL towers etc, both mightly impressive.” -Stevewade

9. Dubai (Thumbs up)

Jring stretching to reach the top of the famous Burj tower

Jring stretching to reach the top of the famous Burj tower

“On the face of it Dubai is very materialistic with a strong divide between rich and poor but beyond that there is plenty of culture to be had away from the luxury resorts.” – Jring

Alternative: Oman (Thumbs up)

Tobyh on the edge of Wadi Ghul in Oman

Tobyh on the edge of Wadi Ghul in Oman

“Well, it turned out to be about three hours round-trip, but was one of the best hikes I had done for a long time. The trail almost immediately passed over the rim of the canyon, and then hugged the edge of the canyon as it slowly descended, with spectacular views of the other side of the canyon, and the peak of Jebel Shams itself above. Not for the faint of heart, the trail was barely more than a goat path about 30cm wide, with a sheer drop off to our right – looking down, the bottom of the canyon was about 1000m below! I kept my eyes on my feet. Eventually the trail ended at an abandoned village of primitive stone huts, where some adventurous people had, incredibly, created steep agricultural terraces on the canyon side. A bit ghostly in the absolute silence of the canyon, we then re-traced our steps back to the start, stopping frequently to admire the awe-inspiring views.” – Tobyh


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