Subtle improvements to the Timeline

Since we first launched the new Timeline feature then we’ve been looking for subtle ways to improve its usability while still maintaining its minimal style and cool interaction with the map.

With today’s changes, when you hover over the green dots we now emphasize the relevant city and we added a country flag that will help you scan through a trip.

You’ll also notice that the map automatically centers itself as you hover over each pin. Clicking on the pin in the Timeline now takes you directly to that entry.

These are small changes that we think improve the Timeline tremendously.

We hope you like the changes as well. Let us know in the comments.

Uncategorized

Lifehacker loves TravelPod

Australia’s version of Lifehacker.com has featured TravelPod in their travel section.

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Lifehacker shows users how to simplify their lives using TravelPod

Just another reason to blog with us. TravelPod organizes your travel memories into one convenient package, making it an appropriate “life hack” for anybody doing a trip, no matter what size.

Thanks to Lifehacker and Gail on Tech for showcasing our site!

TravelPod Buzz TravelPod in the news

Tasmania Local Expert: Will Alderton

Ever since I invited Will to become TravelPod’s Local Expert for Tasmania, he’s jumped right into the discussions in the TravelPod forums participating not only in his own forum, the Tasmania forum, but he’s also been helping people out with general travel advice and various tips from all points all over the globe. Let’s find out what makes this guy tick, shall we?

Will is one of TravelPod's most recent addition to the Local Expert team

Will is one of TravelPod's most recent addition to the Local Expert team

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I first started a blog with Travelpod back in December 2004, and since then have blogged trips through Central America, South East Asia and Europe. The site gave me everything I needed to keep a record of my travels, and once I found myself with a little extra time on my hands, I decided to give something back. And if there’s one place I know better than any other, it’s Tasmania. I was born there, spent my first 19 years there and have been living there on and off for the last 10 years. A lot of travelers to Australia leave the island off their itineraries, so I thought I’d promote it a little and try and encourage a few more people to think about visiting.

What are the best and worst things about living in Tasmania?

The best thing about living in Tasmania, or ‘Tassie’ as we call it, is without a doubt being surrounded by such amazing and pristine wilderness. Not only that, but my home city, Hobart, is one of the most picturesque cities in the world, with beaches and a mountain all within a short drive. Within two hours you can find yourself on top of a peak, in virgin rainforest, or on a secluded beach, far from anyone. There’s no better place to clear the mind. However, if there is something that’s not good about Tasmania, it’s the thing that made me get on a plane in the first place. The lack of opportunity. Furthermore, people are very set in their ways, and if you’re not settling down, raising a family, paying off a mortgage and supporting a local football or cricket team, you can feel a little alienated. Being separated from the mainland has left Tasmania with a strong ‘island culture’.

What are the top five things for travelers to do in Tasmania from your personal experiences?
Travelers could spend a month in Tasmania and still not see and do everything. So when I give a recommendation, I try to encompass all aspects of the state. For culture, a few days in the capital, Hobart, is essential. Salamanca market is Australia’s largest outdoor market and sells everything from fruit and veg through to arts and crafts and other assorted oddities. A trip up Mt Wellington is another must do for a great birds eye view of the city. For history, I recommend Port Arthur, the penal settlement ruins which serve as a harsh reminder of the dark days of Tasmania’s past. For virgin rainforest, I recommend a trip to Mt Field national park to see the largest trees in the southern hemisphere, some beautiful waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. For mountains, it’s hard to go past the world renowned Cradle Mountain, in the central highlands. And for beaches, you can’t beat Wineglass Bay in the stunning Freycinet National Park, or Lonely Planet’s top travel destination of 2008, The Bay of Fires, which is a little further to the north.

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?
I’ve travelled to 37 countries, and the best experiences I had were spending a year in Cambodia, where I first taught English and gained a love of ancient civilisations by frequenting the amazing Angkor Wat. Other countries and regions which I have fond memories of are Cuba, Burma, and the Balkans. They all opened my eyes up to cultures and ways of life which I could never have experienced from books or TV.

Without a doubt, the worst travel experience is getting sick. I’ve had plenty of bugs, but getting typhoid in India in 2006 and being forced to cut short my trip and return home to recover was something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
This is a tough one. Probably, I’d say having the guts to give up the day job I hated, which involved spending 8 hours a day at a desk, to change career and embark on a new journey. I’ve met a lot of people who are unhappy with what they do, and I never wanted to be that person.

What do you do with most of your time?
I moved to Suwon in South Korea in late August, so most of my time is spent either teaching English to adults at a private language school, reading up about Korea or getting out and visiting the country. Unfortunately, I do feel I spend a little too much time on the internet, but I justify it given I am always reading about something new or hatching some new travel plans. Whether I’m working, relaxing and reading or travelling, I’m not wasting time.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Whilst I do have a Monday to Friday job, my working hours are from 2pm until 9pm, which leaves me with my mornings free. So, there’s breakfast, followed by a short run and some exercises before a couple of hours spent on my notebook catching up on the latest news, updating my blog, or preparing lessons for my classes. Teaching English is a great job, as you spent the majority of your working hours meeting interesting people and doing very little except encouraging them to speak. Here in Korea students have studied grammar to death, so as a native speaker it’s my job simply to encourage conversation to improve vocab and fluency. Although I’ve had a six month break, I’ll be continuing my Master of Applied Linguistics in 2010, which will ensure my days remain chocka block full.

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?
Probably the general dicussion, travelpod community and Travelpod support forums. It’s a great place to throw ideas for improvement around, and unlike Facebook, these ideas are heard and very often implemented, meaning the site is continuously improving. The country specific sites are also a great place to get a little extra information from people who may have done the same thing before you.

Ask Will anything in the TravelPod forums

TravelPod Local Expert profiles

Print your blog professionally with Trip Book

You can’t always impress people with a travel blog.

Sometimes having an actual book to display on the coffee table is what you really need.

Today we’re announcing a long awaited feature. Professional blog printing. For cheap.

Inside of your Trip Book

Inside of your Trip Book

Your blog can now be printed in soft or hard cover starting at $13.95 USD.

To get started, just click on “Turn blog into a book” in the side bar of any blog entry.

Alternatively, there is a banner ad that appears under all trips in your Dashboard and a link in the “Tools” drop down menu in your Dashboard.

Your Trip Book cover

Your Trip Book cover

You can customize the cover of your book with any photo, but it looks best with a horizontally oriented picture like this one.  There will also be space for an author bio, blog comments, a table of contents and an introduction.

Check it out and then let us know what you think.

TravelPod Buzz TravelPod Features

New photo browsing option

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

TravelPod Features TravelPod Updates
10.1397741335.sky-lit-up

Top 10 places to see the Northern Lights

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

Featured blogs Hot places

10 funny signs from around the world

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

Cool stuff Featured blogs

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh

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

Hot places

Spammers Beware!

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.

 

TravelPod Team TravelPod Updates

Anonymous commenting on all TravelPod blogs

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

TravelPod Features

Lonely Planet’s top 10 places to party

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

Featured blogs

TravelPod’s new Trip Timeline Feature

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.


TravelPod Features

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

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.

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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

Photo of the Week

Transparency International’s 10 most corrupt countries in the world

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

Uncategorized

Cairo protests: travel bloggers in the midst of violence

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

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