10 man-made world wonders by Howard Hillman

Howard Hillman of the site Hillmanwonders.com puts together many lists of travel-inspiring destinations. I’m going to take a few and compare them to the experiences that TravelPod bloggers have had there. Shall we begin?

1. Pyramids of Egypt

Rucamuffin got majorly ripped off at the Great Pyramids of Egypt

Rucamuffin got majorly ripped off at the Great Pyramids of Egypt

A man with not a full set of teeth greets us and brings us into his courtyard front yard area. He proceeds to write the “prices” of riding a camel into the dirt. I’ll spare you all the sad painful details of the haggle. Basically after unloading all our US money and Egyptian Pounds, we settle on the official dirt posted price of 500 Egyptian Pounds each. Feeling a little uneasy with the deal, we mount up, ready to take on the pyramids!
Now here is the best part…….We come back to our “hotel” and told the nice guys that work here how it went. When they found out we paid 500 Egyptian Pounds EACH, they laugh and say we could have bought our own camel with just a little bit more money! Great……. – Rucamuffin

2. Great Wall of China

Akbar thought the Great Wall of China was incredible

Akbar thought the Great Wall of China was incredible

Great Wall (SPECTACULAR – must see before you die) – Akbar

3. Taj Mahal

Rachellecornel also recommends a visit to the Taj Mahal

Rachellecornel also recommends a visit to the Taj Mahal

We saw the Baby Taj, the red fort and the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was so amazing. Definitely something everyone should try and see! – Rachellecornel

4. Machu Picchu

Jwmoles at the top of the Huayna peak

Jwmoles at the top of the Huayna peak

People start lining up in the middle of the night at the gate. From the gate, it’s a two-hour hike to the Sun Gate (the first view of Machu Picchu). Many people hike fast (and even run) to the Sun Gate for a view of Machu Picchu at sunrise. We were toward the front of the line and managed to make it to the Sun Gate around sunrise for a beautiful view of Machu Picchu about a mile away and 1,000 feet down. Absolutely breathtaking.

It’s an amazing place. Ruins everywhere. Mountains everywhere. I set out for the hour hike to the top. It was very steep and required the use of fixed cables for support in some of the steeper sections. The view at the top was amazing. I spent thirty minutes on top and headed back down to the city, which by then was populated with all the lazy tourists who ride the buses into Machu Picchu. A city built for 500 was holding about 5,000. Tough. I’ve heard rumors that the government has tentative plans to place further limits on the number of peeps who can hike the trail and enter the city. – Jwmoles

5. Bali

Thebogantrekker in Bali

Thebogantrekker enjoying the facilities in Bali

We paddled down the Telaga Waja river for a good couple of hours, on what was, all in all, a pretty tame ride. For what it lacked in adrenaline it made up for twofold in scenery, the river snakes its way down between cliffs and ridges covered in jungle, with the occasional waterfall or farmers rice paddie cut into the side of the hill. We finished the course pretty much unscathed bar a killer sunburn on my legs. – Thebogantrekker

6. Angkor Wat

Harryvs traveled to Angkor Wat on his Gap Year trip

Harryvs traveled to Angkor Wat on his Gap Year trip

We ended the day climbing up to a top of a temple on a hill with thousands of other people which gave us a panoramic view of thick jungle, the sunset, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. There were so many people that we thought we’d head down before the sun actually set. – Harryvs

7. Forbidden City

Sywellfrasers inside the Forbidden City

Sywellfrasers inside the Forbidden City

We were not quite expecting what we saw at The Forbidden City as it is such a large place, the buildings are so amazing and very colourful – through one square into another and another and so on. The emperor had a building for every part of his day and life!!! There were 9,999 rooms (not surprisingly we did not visit them all!!) Hard to believe that for over 500 years the chinese people were not allowed anywhere near this city let alone enter it. – Sywellfrasers

8. Bagan Temples & Pagodas

Mannchild... in Bagan, Myanmar

Mannchild... in Bagan, Myanmar

The ancient capital of Myanmar, Bagan, is a great place to chill out. It is surrounded by green mountains, full of dusty roads, and oh yea, is the site of about 4,500 ancient temples, stupas and pagodas in a 45 square kilometer area. It is an absolutely breathtaking experience to see 11th, 12th and 13th century temples that dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. The pics do no justice to the experience of seeing this amazing place. It was one of the coolest places I’ve seen in my life. – Mannchild…

9. Karnak Temple

Sabenafrica in front of the Karnak Temple

Sabenafrica in front of the Karnak Temple

The Hypostyle Hall with its hundreds of columns was stunning and well worth seeing, but the rest was just many ruins overrun with thousands of inappropriately dressed (although some single men and women i know would disagree) tourists from Eastern Europe. – Sabenafrica

10. Teotihuacan

Meluebke on top of Teotihuacan's pyramid of the sun

Meluebke on top of Teotihuacan's pyramid of the sun

After an amazing lunch, we traveled to the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, a nearby district of Mexico City. The Pyramid of the Sun is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world. It is claimed to have been built by the Aztec Indians but, as our amazing tour guide, Armando, explained, this is false because the structure and details of this pyramid do not match with other Aztec structures. Thus many speculate that the Aztecs were trying to claim the pyramid as theirs when, in reality, no one is quite sure what tribe constructed it. – Meluebke

Featured blogs

Turkey Local Expert profile: David Chadwick

Manzara is TravelPod’s Local Expert for Turkey. He’s always got a funny street sign to share with us or an interesting travel news update. Besides that, of course he is well versed in all things Turkey. He took the time to answer some questions about living in Turkey for me.

David Chadwick is TravelPod's Local Expert in Turkey

David Chadwick is TravelPod's Local Expert in Turkey

Why did you become a Local Expert?

Travel is very important to us. We usually plan a four-week ‘long-haul’ holiday each year, in addition to exploring Turkey where we now live. We research our holidays in deadly detail and for a number of years have been offered excellent advice from forums such as TravelPod. Becoming a Local Expert, allows me to help ‘pay back’ the superb help we have received in the past and which has ensured our holidays have been enjoyed to the full.

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

There are so many good things about living here and we have had no regrets following our decision to abandon the UK Rat Race. We now enjoy a much simpler and more relaxed lifestyle; live in a safer environment; eat more healthily with so much fresh food on offer; and, of course, living in a small fishing village on the tip of the Çeşme Peninsula, we have a choice of so many spectacular beaches with crystal-clear waters for relaxation.

After living in Turkey for over twelve years, what we would have considered the ‘worst things’ in our first few years, are now considered simply ‘minor irritations’! Turkish bureaucracy, for example, can often try your patience. We used to miss some of our favourite foods but the choice of products here has grown tremendously in recent years.

What are the top five things for travelers to do outside of Turkey from your personal experiences?

(In no particular order)

1. Snorkel in the Red Sea
2. Visit Jordan and include Petra and floating in the Dead Sea on your itinerary
3. Spot a tiger, leopard and other exciting wildlife at Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan
4. Swim and snorkel off Elephant Beach, Havelock, Andaman Islands
5. Explore the paradise beaches of Zanzibar (such as Pongwe Beach) and find time to visit Jozani Forest to see the Kirk’s Red Colobos Monkey, Zanzibar being the only place in the world to see this rare, endangered (and very playful) species.

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

As we plan our holidays so carefully, we haven’t had any really bad experiences. The reason I spend so much time researching them is that although we don’t mind surprises on holiday, we don’t want any bad ones!

Probably our best experiences have been the superb snorkeling in the Andaman Islands (especially Havelock) and in the Red Sea, and the sensation of floating effortlessly in the Dead Sea during a visit to Jordan earlier this year was quite amazing!

I suppose the worst experience was in Sri Lanka when, on the penultimate day of our stay. We had arranged for a car and driver to take us from our hotel in Unawatuna to the capital Colombo for our flight home the following day. Looking at the map, it looked as though we would have plenty of time to visit (not enough research here, David!) Sinharaja Rain Forest – Deniyaya entrance. I think the problems began when our driver couldn’t find the Deniyaya entrance and consequently the experienced guide we were supposed to meet there. Anyway, our driver who wasn’t to be beaten ‘picked’ up a passing wood cutter and ‘employed’ him as our guide. To be honest, we didn’t see a great deal of exceptional flora and fauna apart from a few purple-faced Langur monkeys high up in the trees. But there were the leeches of course – always included in abundance in any respectable rain forest.

Tracker Elaine (always prepared for everything, clever so and so) placed plastic bags over her socks which stopped the leeches dropping down the sides of her shoes and attaching them to her feet. I didn’t and the result was typical. I had leeches all around my feet and legs. Then a long drive – five hours less would have been a bonus – to Colombo and our overnight stay. Not one of our better days out!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I hope I am allowed to substitute the word “accomplishment” with “experience” on this occasion. Call it writer’s license. I have to go back to the mid-1970’s. I was traveling through India with a colleague monitoring foreign aid projects on behalf of UK voluntary agencies. We were fortunate enough to arrange two meetings with Mother Teresa at the Missionaries of Charity convent at 54A Lower Circular Road, Calcutta.

We met in her modest office and although a tiny, almost frail looking woman, her spirituality, gentleness and quiet determination filled the room. I shall never forget spending time at the convent, meeting the other sisters, joining them in the chapel for early morning prayers with the whole group singing “in our honour” their hymn ‘Something Beautiful for God’. A truly amazing experience.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

Well, we always seem to adding to the ever-increasing list of places we plan to visit. Malaysia is certainly one and possibly one or two of the South Pacific islands if our budget will allow. However, some travel decisions are suddenly being made for us. With a son now living in America and a daughter moving to Western Australia in January 2010, another two destinations are now in the pipeline!

What do you do with most of your time?

Elaine would say I spend most of my time at the Laptop! It’s not strictly true, but I keep up with the TravelPod Forum (of course!), I am Destination Expert for Çeşme on Trip Advisor; SuperMod (think that’s a misspelling of SuperMAD!) on Turkey Central; and complete the occasional questionnaire on behalf of Lonely Planet’s Travellers’ Pulse. Oh, and there’s always the next holiday to research, of course! We also enjoy quiet socializing with friends at our house or theirs. Only very rarely does this involve a bar or restaurant. Our social spending is on our overseas trips and enjoying different food in hotels and restaurants on our travels – and ensuring our shared children and grandchildren enjoy their holidays with us here in Turkey.

What’s a typical day like for you?

The answer to this depends whether it’s summer or winter. In the holiday season, we welcome guests to our two self-contained apartments in the picturesque fishing village of Çiftlikköy, close to the resort centre of Çeşme in western Turkey. Elaine is busy preparing the apartments for arrivals and ensuring the change-over day cleaning is carried out to her (very high) standards. I sort out the administration and communications concerned with inquiries and bookings, carry out airport transfers personally and offer a varied selection of full day and half day trips to places of interest – the usual’ must see’s’ of this area such as Ephesus, for example, but also visits to places well away from the usual tourist spots. The summer is also a busy time for family visits, too.

The winter months are much quieter. A time to relax, do some exploring ourselves around the region and beyond. Visiting friends or welcoming them to our home for quiet socializing over tea, coffee and home made cake. Maybe a game of ‘Rummikub’ (English version of the popular Turkish game ‘Okay’) or Triominoes. We really know how to enjoy ourselves here, you know!

Winter or Summer, I pour myself the first glass of wine at around 6 p.m. – sometimes even a gin and tonic (living dangerously now you see!) – followed by a lovely meal together and just a couple of hours television or DVD. Hope the excitement of our lifestyle isn’t too much for you all!

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?

It’s the exciting and ever-surprising variety of topics, questions and information which invariably receives such friendly, helpful and often comprehensive responses (can’t say that for all forums, you know!). However difficult and sometime bizarre the question may first appear, there’s always someone out there with something to offer.

So, to get back to the question (off topic again!) my favourite part of the forum is appreciating the wealth of knowledge and travel experience of members, complemented by the added ingredient of regular humour. Although it seems rather clichéd to say so, TravelPod Forum does achieve the feeling (for me certainly) of being part of a huge international family.

Ask David about Turkey in the TravelPod forums

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10 Cheapest Cities in the World

The Telegraph.co.uk came up with a list of the 10 cheapest cities in the world. Here’s what TravelPod bloggers thought about the price of living in each of these cities

1. Johannesburg, South Africa

Nath_h loved to take his host family out because food was so cheap in Johannesburg

Nath_h loved to take his host family out because food was so cheap in Johannesburg

After church I bought lunch for Andrew’s family at a local steakhouse – it was so nice and so cheap. I love the price of food here. – Nath_h

2. Monterrey, Mexico

Serenebamboo went shopping in Monterrey

Serenebamboo went shopping in Monterrey

Then, I moved into my apartment. It’s PERFECT and is in one of the safest neighborhoods in all of urban Mexico. And the landlady, who speaks perfect English, is super nice. She has been essential to me adjusting to everything around here – she took me grocery shopping, let me borrow an extra cell phone of hers, and so forth… – Serenebamboo

3. Asuncion, Paraguay

Willsez enjoying the view in Paraguay

Willsez enjoying the view in Paraguay

Highlights of Asuncion nice and cheap hotel, really nice and cheap food. Dave is willing to forgive Asuncion for all of the above because he had his best meal on tour yet… in reality, only a good meal but it was really cheap. – Willsez

4. Karachi, Pakistan

Ramdux buying fruit from a local merchant

Ramdux buying fruit from a local merchant

It’s humbling to see how the people react to Westerners. Yes, there is always a degree of being ripped off because locals see Westerners as being rich which is not entirely false when you consider that £50 a month is a good wage in Pakistan. But Pakistani’s are extremely hospitable. They will help out wherever possible to help you, so long as you treat them with respect and give them a small financial token of appreciation. It’s a fair cop when you’re like me and don’t speak Urdu and don’t understand the way things work on the inside. – Ramdux

5. Wellington, New Zealand

Robnicb loved the exchange rate in New Zealand

Robnicb loved the exchange rate in New Zealand

This place has got everything, a beautiful harbour, lovely SUNSHINE, surrounded by hills, lovely botanical gardens, loads of cool cafes, bars and restaurants, oodles of atmosphers and, because of the brilliant exchange rate, everything is cheap! –

6. Auckland, New Zealand

Carlosb1978 at a cheap cafe in New Zealand

Carlosb1978 at a cheap cafe in New Zealand

There is a huge Asian population in NZ which is good for Asian food lovers! Cheap sushi bars everywhere like Oz (UK needs to get on to that); Korean; Chinese; Thai…3 pounds 20 for a great plate of pad thai in the downstairs food court on Queen St. 4pound bowl of teriyaki chicken rice at Renkon up an alley way off the main street. – Carlosb1978

7. Mexico City, Mexico

Solskjaer20 enjoying the cheap beer in Mexico City

Solskjaer20 enjoying the cheap beer in Mexico City

Things are also so ridiculously cheap. Like 2 pesos for the bus or train, 30 pesos for a meal, 10 pesos for a cerveza from a bar! $1AUD roughly equals 30 pesos! Genius times! – Solskjaer20

8. Quito, Ecuador

John2112's wife bartering for a scarf in Quito

John2112's wife bartering for a scarf in Quito

Although there was a sense of relief when we left Quito, that we had not been ripped off (we bought some things so cheap, we almost felt we were doing the ripping off), it was a city with a very different character than any we had experienced before and many attractive features. We are pleased to have got something of the feel of Latin America even if it left us a little ‘breathless’. – John2112

9. Chennai, India

Billster_ny enjoyed affordable food in India

Billster_ny enjoyed affordable food in India

I have had dinner at a couple of really nice and especially cheap restaurants in the area. Monday I was taken to Dakshin in the Park Sheraton hotel and tonight I ate at the Red Dragon. Both were in the upscale area of Chennai. – Billster_ny

10. Tunis, Tunisia

A busy souk in Tunis where you can find cheap stuff

A busy souk in Tunis where you can find cheap stuff

Food is certainly cheap enough, prices that almost make you cry, and it tastes good too, similar to that of Morocco. Espresso’s about 400 TND, about a $.25 George W (no, not THAT ‘W’). Those cheap hotels probably don’t have heat though, so that won’t work right now. – Hardiek


I have had dinner at a couple of really nice and especially cheap restaurants in the area. Monday I was taken to Dakshin in the Park Sheraton hotel and tonight I ate at the Red Dragon. Both were in the upscale area of Chennai.
Hot places

10 Breathtaking Drives Around the World

ABC News featured some of the most spectacular roads around the world. Here are the top 10 with experiences from TravelPod bloggers. What’s your favourite drive?

1. Karakoram Highway, China

Markwilliams84 ventured by bus on the Karakoram Highway

Markwilliams84 ventured by bus on the Karakoram Highway

The Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved border crossing in the world and the highest point on the Karakoram Highway. The roadway across the pass was completed in 1982, and has superseded the unpaved Mintaka Pass and Kilik Pass as the primary passage across the Karakorum Range. Due to the altitude of the Pass its closed for most of the year because of the snow, its only possible to cross between May 1 and 15th October and that’s if you are lucky and the weather is good. Very reassuringly the name Khunjerab Pass is derived from Wakhi for ‘Blood Valley’ because for centuries this crossing was used by caravans plodding down the Silk road where locals took advantage of the terrain, robbed the caravans and slaughtered their merchants. – Markwilliams84

2. Western Desert, Egypt: Cairo to Kharga

Wwatling took a tour of Egypt

Wwatling took a tour of Egypt

The major form of transportation appears to be horse carriage for us tourists- there are very few cars/taxis. Many vendors though all with great offers- but selling much the same stuff. – Wwatling

3. Grand Canyon, U.S.: Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

One quarter of Hally_ollie at the Grand Canyon

One quarter of Hally_ollie at the Grand Canyon

From this point you can see the whole of the canyon and also the desert as well. Along the drive there were signs to watch out for mountain lions but thankfully we didn’t see any. – Hally_ollie

4. Alsace Wine Route, France: Strasbourg to Mulhouse

Bruno.toutain cycled in the Alsace wine region

Bruno.toutain cycled in the Alsace wine region

Cycling the “Route des Vins” takes you through the scenic, hillside vineyards and flowery little villages that dot this picturesque landscape. All in all, combining the region, the wine, and the cycling, you’ll get one of the most amazing and sensory experiences you could dream of! – Bruno.toutain

5. Dalmatian Coast, Croatia: Zadar to Dubrovnik

Randyandchrissy took the long way around the Dalmatian Coast

Randyandchrissy took the long way around the Dalmatian Coast

This place is beautiful. The Coastal road is worth it. You’re riding on this road that’s not too high off the water with a mountain on your left side. Nice. – Randyandchrissy

6. Savannah Way, Australia: Cairns to Broome

Fishtails04 drove through many creeks on the Savannah Way

Fishtails04 drove through many creeks on the Savannah Way

Despite attempts to seal all the gaps with tape, the fine powder had found its way in and coated the car’s contents, including ourselves – luckily I get a kick out of being grubby while camping! – Fishtails04

7. Causeway Coastal, Ireland: Belfast to Lame

Mlbalmeo exploring the causeway coast

Mlbalmeo exploring the causeway coast

The fickle rain gave way to glorious sun, and we got to experience the beauty that the north coast of Ireland is known for. Today we left Belfast and moved to our northernmost destination, Portstewart, where we got to see the so-called eighth wonder of the world, The Giant’s Causeway. – Mlbalmeo

8. South Africa: Cape Town to Mpumalanga

Elopfamily enjoyed the South African scenery

Elopfamily enjoyed the South African scenery

For the next day and a half, we explored the nearby, and very scenic, Blyde River Canyon area. This included such gems as God’s Window, the weird Bourke’s Luck Potholes, the Pinnacle, and the Berlin and Lisbon Falls. The beautiful scenery was enhanced by the early morning mists that would drift through, often below our vantage point. – Elopfamily

9. Southern India: Cochin to Kovalam

Tomandanna-rose motorcycle along the mountains to Cochin

Tomandanna-rose motorcycle along the mountains to Cochin

We met the boys in Fort Cochin, after a mASSIVe but beautiful 12hr ride through stunning mountain scenery and lush tea plantations all the way from Madurai, (coincidentally meeting up with the Germans for lunch and noting the considerable wealth and abundance of tasteless pastel villas in Kerala). – Tomandanna-rose

10. Beach Highway, Mauritania: El Mamghar to Nouakchott

Hmax driving through the Mauritanian Desert

Hmax driving through the Mauritanian Desert

Our tarmac road disappeared and the truck bogged for the first time. This was promptly followed by another bog in which we all slowly learned the technique of “sand-matting” the truck across 150 metres of soft sand – which involved digging out the wheels, placing sand mats (steel 2m tracks) in front of the wheels, and moving the truck far enough along the track to allow placement of another sandmat….a slow and exhausting process in 39 degree heat. – Hmax

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Pushkar Camel Fair, blogs from India

The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the world’s largest camel markets. It’s held on the banks of Pushkar Lake every November. People flock here from all over the world to partake in the camel and textile sales and moustache and bridal competitions. It’s quite the adventure, as many TravelPod bloggers have found out:

Zolab and his sister on a camel cart in Pushkar

Zolab and his sister on a camel cart in Pushkar

The horses are especially beautiful – their ears curve at the top and they have lots of stamina to survive in the desert. If they are a thoroughbred, there ears can touch in the back of their heads. A few times guys on horses came charging down the dusty paths, almost knocking people over. These guys were checking out the horses before they bought them. Zolab

Inoursuitcase inspecting camels in Pushkar

Inoursuitcase inspecting camels in Pushkar

The camels are jazzied up and groomed using pom poms, mirrors, bells, flowers, paint and strands of coloured plastic beads to make them more popular for sale or for rides for the tourists. Some of them had extra long eyelashes drawn on or the fur was shaved into intricate designs. The camels were dinosaurs sized compared to the ones in Egypt or Morocco that we got to know. There was even camel jewellery for sale and we actually met a guy who is a Camel Decorator by trade, it was written on the business card he gave us, like we need the service often.Inoursuitcase

Heather of HeatherAndrew at the Pushkar camel fair

Heather of HeatherAndrew at the Pushkar camel fair

Behind the stadium was nothing. Well, besides desert and hundreds and thousands of camels. They were literally as far as you could see. Here there was no electricity or running water. Just haggard windblown Indian men huddled under blankets hung for shade watching over their camels.

Some camels were shaven and decorated to lure in buyers. We walked and walked and finally got to a sand dune where we could see just how far the camels went on for. It was pretty impressive. At the watering hole we trying talking to some of the camel sellers, but they didn’t speak English or Hindi so we never figured out how much a camel costs.

Nobody seemed to care that we were walking around, there weren’t any people selling ice cream or dancing camels. It was a completely different fair than what was happening 800 meters away. It was easy to infer that this part of the fair is very similar to the fair that was probably held on these sand dunes hundreds of year ago. That these men would have gathered at night for dances and festivals, and that part of the fair has evolved into the white painted stage back in the stadium. But this part of the fair was very startling bare and these men were obviously all business.Heatherandrew

Hot places

10 most populated cities in the world

If you love the hustle and bustle of the city, there are all kinds of places in the world for you to experience the traffic jams, high rises and general cacophony of extreme humanity. Check out some of TravelPod’s latest blogs from some of the busiest places in the world.

1. Mumbai, India, 13,922,125 people

Owain was overwhelmed by the driving experience in India

Owain was overwhelmed by the driving experience in India

The driving style here is incredible, and certainly takes some getting used to. There are no lanes, no gentlemen of the road and seemingly no rules. You go where you want, when you want. The use of the horn is a big part of driving here – it is in constant use, and unlike back home where it is reserved for matters of urgency, I am sitting in a cyber cafe listening to the constant toots and beeps outside.Owain

2. Shanghai, China, 13,831,900 people

Trizzyb found that Shanghai was very busy

Trizzyb found that Shanghai was very busy

Shanghai is not a walkers dream, which is how we are use to getting around, so we got acquainted with the Metro system, very easy and clean. We took the metro to People’s Square, well manicured and clean and headed to the Shanghai Museum – note to self do not go during the weekend. – Trizzyb

3. Karachi, Pakistan, 12,991,000 people

Redheadgrrl was troubled by children begging in the street in Karachi

Redheadgrrl was troubled by the children begging in the street in Karachi

As we drove home around 11:30 pm, we were stopped at a light when this tiny boy, with his baby brother riding piggy-back, started washing our windows with a rag and a squeegee. He couldn’t have been more than six, and the baby looked about two. We gave him money, of course. Washing windows for a few rupees in the middle of the night. My heart broke all over again. Adnan and his friends were blasé about it, having seen the same thing for their much of their lives. They said I’d get used to it when I stay here, but I fervently hope not. Redheadgrrl

4. Delhi, India, 12,259,230 people

Robgandee got really sick in Delhi

Robgandee got really sick in Delhi

Delhi – big, noisy, dirty (there is no government trash collection, except around the govt buildings)… Auto rickshaws all over the place, taxis look like they were made in the 50s, food is awesome if you like curries, but watch out for the dodgy water (some vendors refill water bottles from the tap and reseal the cap) – it is the cause of many an intestinal event (4 for me, in my 2 week stay)…Robgandee

5. Istanbul, Turkey, 11,372,613 people

Willinturkey spent a month in Turkey thanks to the Rotary Club

Willinturkey spent a month in Turkey thanks to the Rotary Club

Istanbul is an incredible, fascinating city, and they ways in which this developing nation is influence by its history and tradition, as well as by western civilization is very intriguing.Willinturkey

6. São Paulo, Brazil, 10,990,249 people

Redwoodm at the train station in Sao Paulo

Redwoodm at the train station in Sao Paulo

We arrived in SP in about 1 hour as the pollution could be seen in the distance and favelas in sight. Then the traffic jam began! We sat in traffic for about 2 hours just to get to the Rodoviaria! I saw people on the side of the highway and at the median with their carts selling things to the drivers! I guess if you are sitting in traffic you do get hungry.Redwoodm

7. Moscow, Russia, 10,452,000 people

Richardlodge getting acquainted with Moscow

Richardlodge getting acquainted with Moscow

Moscow is amazing but very difficult for the non-Russian speaking tourists as everybody only seems to speak Russian and if you’re lucky maybe a bit of German which leads to me and the other person doing hand signals at each other which is quite funny…I wanta beero pleasea doesnt work!Richardlodge

8. Seoul, South Korea, 10,421,782 people

Yyztrvlr found a gigantic fish market in Seoul

Yyztrvlr found a gigantic fish market in Seoul

The fish market was huge. I walked down the stairs from the top level of a parking garage and my jaw dropped at the expanse of this market. On the ground floor I was able to take in the breadth of this undertaking. I walked down lengthy aisle after lengthy aisle and began to wonder if there was anything left in the oceans. Everything was for sale and most of it was alive. There were shrimps, giant king crabs battling each other in buckets, octopus managing to make daring escapes from one bucket into another bucket, flounder, halibut, rays, tuna, grouper, snails, whelks, clams, oysters, sea cucumbers and an odd assortment of mollusks and fish that I had never seen before. Most were alive and people were all ready to chop, slice and dice the marine morsels into bite sized bits.Yyztrvlr

9. Beijing, China, 10,123,000 people

Ladengast is the odd one out in Beijing

Ladengast is the odd one out in Beijing

Culture: the noisier the better, flashing advertisement, crowded underground, parks, malls, number 1 hobby of the Chinese- shopping. Girls use an umbrella in the sunshine to stay pale. Ladengast

10. Mexico City, Mexico, 8,836,045 people

Tipperoonie loved the bustling markets in Mexico City

Tipperoonie loved the bustling markets in Mexico City

There’s always something special about being in any city on a weekend. It affords a tourist the chance to mingle with the locals in markets, fairs and going about their usual business. San Jacinto is a place where artists gather on the weekend to sell their works while all crowded around a romantic plaza and fountain. There were food sellers, painters, silversmiths, potters, figurine makers and all manner of arts and crafts to peruse. The garden of the Templo de San Jacinto and its overflowing Jacaranda trees proved to be a heavenly place to relax from the hubbub of merchandising outside.Tipperoonie

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100 things to do before you die, TravelPod style (Part 4)

If you’ve got a life-goal, chances are, someone on TravelPod has already done it! Here’s part four of things to do before you die, as compiled by TravelPod members.

31. Diving in Antarctica

Blairn99 went diving in the frigid Antarctic

Blairn99 went diving in the frigid Antarctic

The depth was only around 15m and the vis is much better. There were hundreds of star fish lots of Kelp weed again and an iceberg that had grounded right in the middle of where we were diving. – Blairn99

32. Learn another language

Wolfieboy69 went to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish

Wolfieboy69 went to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish

If the Spanish lessons had proved a thorn in my side then there was a silver lining, which was getting to know some of the students in the other classes and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. – Wolfieboy69

33. Travel by yourself

Jack of Laurenandjack continued on his own through India

Jack of Laurenandjack continued on his own through India

I am now traveling alone, as Lauren decided to go home. I wanted to keep going to experience solo travel and to see the sights of the south. I miss Lauren dearly, but I must say I am having a great time going solo. Being alone makes for many more opportunities to meet interesting people and change my mind on a whim. I have met more people out here than I can count, sometimes I’ll make a friend and we’ll travel together for a day or so or until our itineraries branch. I continue to be reunited with people I’ve met and last seen hundreds of kilometers away. – Laurenandjack

34. Experience Beatlemania in Liverpool

Kaylashoe at The Beatles Story exhibit in Liverpool

Kaylashoe at The Beatles Story exhibit in Liverpool

Ohh the Beatles pilgrimage- a highly necessary excursion on my British invasion tour. – Kaylashoe

35. Visit Stonehenge

Alanna.holloway was disappointed by Stonehenge

Alanna.holloway was disappointed by Stonehenge

In the afternoon I went out to Stonehenge which was on my to do list before i left the UK. This was actually pretty disappointing – it is an amazing monument but you can’t actually get anywhere neat it and you can’t walk through it. Also there are tourists everywhere. oh well – still was something I had to do. – Alanna.holloway

36. Shop at Portobello Road Market

Jennie's Portobello Road Market treasures

Jennie's Portobello Road Market treasures

First stop was Portobello Road Market! The holy grail of all flea markets/antique shops. The road went on for blocks and blocks and we didn’t see all of it, much less all of the shops along the road. – Jennie

37. Explore London’s sites, sounds and fun stuff

Ethansamjencol visits Tower Bridge

Ethansamjencol visits Tower Bridge

After lunch we caught the river boat town to tower bridge (much to Ethans delight) and then did a tour of London Bridge. We also saw it open right up and let a cruise ship through. – Ethansamjencol

38. Try the Amsterdam cafes and brownies

Ksunderhill tried the space cake and lived to tell the tale

Ksunderhill tried the space cake and lived to tell the tale

Two hours and 1 and a half space cakes later, chocolate was the winner in my book, we or at least I am completely in my happy place. Must say this is just what I remember from college, totally relaxed, feeling like I am floating. Trying to type right is posing a very challenging task. – Ksunderhill

39. Gamble in Las Vegas

Semi-backpacker's friend, Caro gambles in Vegas

Semi-backpacker's friend, Caro gambles in Vegas

Caro gambled a big $1.00 and I gambled a whopping $5.00. Hey, like I said, we were on a budget! – Semi-backpacker

40. See the Grand Canyon by helicopter

Brent-n-toby over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter

Brent-n-toby over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter

Our helicopter ride took us into the canyon below the rim level, the drop as you pass the edge of the canyon is spectacular, one minute you are skimming the trees then the ground just drops away as you swoop down the canyon. – Brent-n-toby

TravelPod Buzz

100 things to do before you die, TravelPod style (Part 3)

This is part three of a 10 part series that will feature some of our users’ inspiring travel goals.

A while ago, whereshegoes started a forum discussion about 100 things to do before you die. Here’s part of the list that was cobbled together with help from the rest of the TravelPod community. What would you add to it?

21. Watch the sun rise from the middle of the ocean

Q09elle's photo of a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

Q09elle's photo of a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean

There is something about water that calms people, or maybe it’s just me. Yes, I need water to survive, but there`s something more than that to me about ocean … This is a view from a town called Kozu. It is close to Odawara, if anyone is familiar with that area.Q09elle

22. See a wild tiger

It's fuzzy, but that's a real wild tiger that Indianature captured in this photograph

It's fuzzy, but that's a real wild tiger that Indianature captured in this photograph

Taking a last peek through our binoculars before we left, we heard Prema cry out that the tiger was under a tree. What sharp eyes she has. Sure enough, there it was, sprawled majestically under a tree barely a few metres away from the calf. Perhaps the tiger had been there all along while we were up. Perhaps not, or the crows would not have come near. Nor was there any tell tale animal smell. All excited, we stayed put, eyes glued to the binocs.Indianature

23. Smell the sweetest flower

Richardbarrow88 had a chance to smell sweet flowers in Bangkok

Richardbarrow88 had a chance to smell sweet flowers in Bangkok

Even if you cannot get here for the flower festival, the park is a refreshing break from the city and a chance for you to refresh your lungs and smell something beautiful for a change.Richardbarrow88

24. Help/volunteer at an elephant sancutary

Beka feeding elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand

Beka feeding elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand

Basically I had a great time and I loved working with the elephants. It may sound like an obvious things to say but they really are big! Majestic, intelligent and very funny to watch and I can understand why people go back year after year.Beka

25. Learn to surf

Romero on their honeymoon in Australia learning to surf

Romero on their honeymoon in Australia learning to surf

I got up on the board and I was actually riding the wave! It was so cool! I was the first one of the day to get up and actually ride the wave. I fell off close to shore and it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. The hardest part was getting back out to the deeper water where everyone was. I kept getting POUNDED by the waves as they would crash on me, and they would send me back underwater.Romero

26. Grow a tree

Eddakath planted trees on the barren hills of China

Eddakath planted trees on the barren hills of China

I seriously can not remember once in my entire life ever being asked to plant a tree on Arbor Day nor do I actually ever remember hearing about Arbor Day until I moved to China.Eddakath

27. Fly in a bi-plane

Jenandjeffmilum in the pilot's seat in New Zealand

Jenandjeffmilum in the pilot's seat in New Zealand

It’s amazing that in NZ you can get into a two seat open cockpit high-performance stunt plane and in a few minutes you are not just flying the plane, but are actually doing rolls and loops. The thrill of flying his own stunt maneuvers made this a highlight of the trip for Jeff. The flight was capped off by the stunt pilot taking back the controls and taking the plane through his repertoire of crazy stalls, rolls, upside down flying, and five-g loops. Too much fun.Jenandjeffmilum

28. Visit a nude beach

Chattermouth visited a nudist colony in Australia

Chattermouth visited a nudist colony in Australia

The next day we took a day trip to a local commune, complete with a nude beach, meditation centre and vegetarian café. I happily participated in all three, but I’ll spare you the details. About 200 people reside in this totally self-contained community-dreadlocks and unleashed hounds seemed to be a requisite for membership. But the food was excellent, I had homemade pumpkin and almond pie. Yum. Later on, we lazily floated down a river in inner tubes. Relaxation at its finest.Chattermouth

29. Go on a round the world adventure

Krissy before she embarks on her round the world trip

Krissy before she embarks on her round the world trip

Well the time I was anxiously waiting for had come, my backpack was packed (now that was a challenge!) and I was ready to go, at least that’s what I was telling myself! Krissy

30. Be in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day

Maw922 on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

Maw922 on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

St. Patrick’s Day activities were very interesting in Dublin. It is true that bigger celebrations are held overseas in America. The parade was not as big as I thought it would be and there were a lot of American bands that played in it and I did not see any Irish dancing or hear any Irish music. – Maw922

TravelPod Buzz

10 Breathtaking Pilgrimage Sites Around the World

Some of the most beautiful places in the world are also sacred religious sites. TravePod bloggers have visited some of that are simply incredible. Here are 10 of them.

1. Jagannatha
Puri, India

Jagannath was Rbair's favourite Hindu god

Jagannath was Rbair's favourite Hindu god

The cool part of Puri is that they worship Lord Jagannath, Lord of Chaos, Destruction, and Loose Change. Unlike all the other hindu gods, he doesn’t really have a shape or body. He is literally just a smiley face. So they draw smiley faces on things and are like “OMG! it is Lord Jagannath!” As we neared his main temple Jagannath Mandir, we saw the beginnings of their construction of the juggernaut chariot thingy. It is amazing. The size of this is beyond comprehension. For a little estimation stuff here, this cart is pulled by 4,000 people to make it move. Big.Rbair

2. Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion

Aksum, Ethiopia

Donna321 visited the Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral

Donna321 visited the Ethiopian Orthodox cathedral

Though we couldn’t access the old church (men only) which is located adjacent to the small building which is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant (only one monk has access to its specific location and is charged with the duty of guarding it until his death), we were lucky to witness a beautiful Lenten procession taking place around the new church. After a tour of the new one-room museum located at the church, which houses a number of crowns, robes and other Ethiopian royal paraphernalia, we were treated to a viewing of an ancient bible, which we were told we were extremely lucky to see since it will supposedly soon never be seen again by the public, as priests are currently in the process of creating a copy for viewing. – Donna321

3. Sri Harmandir Sahib

Amritsar, India

P.rajesh attended a 4 a.m. ritual at The Golden Temple

P.rajesh attended a 4 a.m. ritual at The Golden Temple

The famed transportation of the Palki (the palanquin) is indeed special. The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs is carried from the Akal Takht, its resting place for the night, to the Harmandir Sahib at 4 in the morning – the process gets reversed at day-end with similar fervour and fanfare. The surreal serenity of the Gurudwara’s premises, with the dull gold reflecting in the still waters of the lake, combined with the soothing chants of the Prabhat Pheri (morning prayers) – all this makes for an experience you would never want to miss, and something that will find a place in your heart, irrespective of your communal leanings, or even the lack of any.P.rajesh

4. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexico City, Mexico

Mebiner attended the feast for the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary

Mebiner attended the feast for the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary

One of the best parts of our visit to the shrine was watching the traditional dancers outside the church in the grand plaza. There was a sort of religious dance of men in cowboy hats holding crosses and wearing sequinned capes depicting the Virgin Mary. A few steps away was a traditional Aztec group dancing to thunderous drumming.Mebiner

5. Shatrunjaya Hill

Palitana, India

Killucan2 inside one of the many shrines

Killucan2 inside one of the many shrines

Reaching the top we were stunned by what we saw. the buildings were like wedding cakes and nothing seemed real, the carvings and craftsmanship was amazing. Apparantly the temples were built in the 11th century but were torn down by the muslims in the 14th and 15th centuries before being rebuilt in the 16th century.Killucan2

6. Sri Pada

Sri Lanka

Salcat watches pilgrims ring the bell at the top of the mountain

Salcat watches pilgrims ring the bell at the top of the mountain

Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) is Sri Lanka’s 5th highest peak in the at 2243m, but it is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage. Every religion seems to have their own reasons to worship this mountain: – Buddhist: – there is a depression at the top which is claimed to be the sacred footprint – of Buddha himself. Muslim: – they claim the footprint is that of Adam, who first set foot on earth and had to stand on one leg in pentinence until his sins were forgiven. Hindu: – they claim the footprint was created by Shiva. Christian: – the colonial Portuguese claimed that the footprint belonged to St Thomas, the founder of the religion in India.Salcat

7. Mecca

Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Pura_vida's makeshift outfit to wear at Mecca

Pura_vida's makeshift outfit to wear at Mecca

Amazing to be here! This is the first and original mosque to have ever been built. We believe it to have been ordered of Abraham to be built at this location by God. This is the culmination of a lot of anticipation in every Muslim´s life! Pura_vida

8. Western Wall

Jerusalem

Jimmyrh at the Western Wall

Jimmyrh at the Western Wall

Today, we walked through the tunnel under the Western Wall. A friend had given me a prayer on a small piece of paper and asked me to place it in the wall as we visited, and I did so. I watched the deep devotion of many faithful jewish men and women and learned the history of this holy hill, the Temple Mount.Jimmyrh

9. Mount Athos

Greece

Stellios knows everything about going to Mount Athos

Stellios knows everything about going to Mount Athos

Mount Athos, known in Greece as the Holy Mountain, is a peninsula in Halkidiki, north Greece containing 20 monasteries. Although the peninsula of Mount Athos is part of Greece, it enjoys certain autonomy. The region is governed by the “Holy community” under the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Only men are permitted to enter Mount Athos. The rule, known as the “ABATON”, forbids access to Mount Athos by any female and is enforced by law. In accordance with the procedures established by the Holy Community foreigners must obtain a written permit to visit Mount Athos from the “Mount Athos Office”. Stellios

10. Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya, India

Travelingamanda found Bodh Gaya to be like "Buddha Disneyland"

Travelingamanda found Bodh Gaya to be like "Buddha Disneyland"

My (possibly scamming) tour guy with the motorcycle took me to the Mahabodi Temple. This is THE temple of Buddhism as it commemorates the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in 663 BC. The temple was built in the 6th Century AD atop the site of a temple that was erected by Emperor Ashoka 800 years earlier (200 BC). However, amazingly, there are still railings that surround the site that date from 184-72 BC. Clearly, this is cool (and old) Buddha shit. – Travelingamanda

Uncategorized

Top 10 travel videos on TravelPod

There are lots of interesting travel videos on TravelPod.com. Here are the ones getting the most clicks this month:

1. Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Although the island has extraordinary geographical features (Magen’s Bay, views of the BVI, etc), we didn’t like the hectic traffic, the pushy vendors and the crowded beaches.Smachim

2. Mumbai, India

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

After saying no multiple times, Darren relented when the price tumbled and got a head massage for 25p. The masseur gave him a good pummeling. At the end, just when he thought it was all over, his head was tipped to one side and his neck yanked sharply. Darren shouted ow, Angie shouted oh, and his neck made a loud crunch. The masseur was unperturbed and proceeded to do the same on the other side. Darren felt a new man afterwards.- Angiedarren

3. New York, United States

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

For one night only in New York , we have collected enough money to send 34 girls to school for a year. A year is enough to learn to read and to do simple math. Imagine a life with and life without those skills. – Orizarska

4. Okayama, Japan

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Eyo is a 14-day New Year ritual during which monks of the Shingon sect pray for a year of bountiful harvest and good fortune. On the 14th day, amulets (an object that protects a person from trouble) said to guarantee a good year were presented to the elders representing the people. But an increasing amount of believers began to gather for these amulets. People fought until their clothes tore off!! Thus the paper amulets were replaced by wooden sticks which were tossed into the crowd. Good fortune is bestowed to those who catch these sticks. By the end of the 19th century, the event had evolved into the current style, being held naked (not completely but rather in a ‘thong’ that looks similar to that worn by sumo wrestlers). Recently, the festival has been attracting over 10,000 naked men who thrust themselves into the crowd upon the release of these wooden charms at midnight. Despite the chilling temperature, the intense fight produces steam that casts a mysterious spell on this winter event.Kateinjapan

5. Phuket, Thailand

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

The night life is very good! A huge number of bars & clubs to choose from. I met a couple of dutch girls, an Aussie called Sam & a couple of Americans & have been hanging out with them. Mainly drinking at Happy Night Bar where ladyboys dance on a podium all night! All good clean fun!!!Surfy_sarah

6. Koh Samui, Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Oh my goodness the snake guys are crazy, they pissed the snakes off so much and then got out of the way when they striked. quite scary.Lisaandpaul

7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Katie redeemed her birthday gift from me today, an afternoon at Wild Wadi Water Park! (wadi is the Arabic word for creek or stream) See the videos to laugh at our exploits with the surf rides.Globedecker

8. Doha, Qatar

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

This video is around the corner from where I’m staying. i was walking home from the grocery store at prayer time and I was the only one on the street. All of a sudden the muezzin’s call to prayer sounded from all the mosques in the area.andreadd

9. Oaxaca, Mexico

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Speaking of the Oaxcans – what a friendly bunch! I’ve been met with nothing but smiles and politeness. It’s such a simple place – the town’s people seem perfectly content going about the day’s business, which, from what I’ve seen, consists mostly of two things. 1} chillin around the Zocolo {center plaza}, chatting and generally kickin back, or 2} retailing food, drink and-or clothes. – Johnb22

10. Cairo, Egypt

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

We ran out of time before we were burnt out, and we headed back to the van to struggle through traffic back to our hotel. There are a couple very appropriate videos that give you a slight idea of the traffic ‘rules’ in Cairo. – Aszliross

TravelPod Buzz

20 best views in the world

Once again, another list recommended to us by mmbcross aka Martin Crossland, a Miami tour guide and regular in the TravelPod forums.

Here’s the list, with accompanying TravelPod member photos

1. The Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Kristenjohn at the Grand Canyon

Kristenjohn at the Grand Canyon

2. Hong Kong Island from Kowloon

"View of the city and our ship" by Aniseh

"View of the city and our ship" by Aniseh

3. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

"Into Phang Nga Bay" by tsveti

"Into Phang Nga Bay" by tsveti

4. Manhattan from the top of Rockefeller Plaza

"View from Top of the Rock" by Buckeyeclayfan

"View from Top of the Rock" by Buckeyeclayfan

5. Istanbul skyline from the Bosphorus strait, Turkey.

Sproutfamily cruising on the Bosphorus Strait

Sproutfamily cruising on the Bosphorus Strait

6. The Ngorongoro Crater from North Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania

Shumphlett at the Ngorongoro Crater

Shumphlett at the Ngorongoro Crater

7. St. Paul’s from Waterloo Bridge, London.

St. Paul's Cathedral from Waterloo Bridge by Nklenske

St. Paul's Cathedral from Waterloo Bridge by Nklenske

8. The Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands.

Ellenwillow at Marin Headland

Ellenwillow at Marin Headland

9. Machu Picchu, Peru.

Jev at Machu Picchu

Jev at Machu Picchu

10. The Yucatan Peninsula from the top of Chichen Itza, Mexico

Ahartry on top of Chichen Itza

Ahartry on top of Chichen Itza

11. Florence from the loggia of Villa San Michele, Italy.

Jillflorant enjoying the view of Florence

Jillflorant enjoying the view of Florence

12. Paris from the Pont des Arts, France

Pont des Arts in Paris by Worldtaste

Pont des Arts in Paris by Worldtaste

13. The medina of Fes from the Palais Jamai, Morocco

Chooklotto overlooking the Fes medina

Chooklotto overlooking the Fes medina

14. Annapurna from Sarankot, Nepal

View of Annapurna from Sarankot

View of Annapurna from Sarankot

15. Sydney Harbour from Taronga Zoo, Australia

Samcohen1987's view of Sydney from the zoo

Samcohen1987's view of Sydney from the zoo

16. The Potala Palace from across the Lhasa River, Tibet

Potala Palace from across the river by Scottshangguan

Potala Palace from across the river by Scottshangguan

17. The Parthenon from Mount Lycabettus, Athens, Greece.

Mount Lycabettus' view of the Parthenon at night by Joseph_hillier

Mount Lycabettus' view of the Parthenon at night by Joseph_hillier

18. The Lemaire Channel, Antarctica

The Lemaire Channel by Rogersusieq

The Lemaire Channel by Rogersusieq

19. The City Palace from the Lake Palace, Udaipur, India

City Palace by Jbscott36

City Palace by Jbscott36

20. The temples of Bagan, Myanmar

The temples of Bagan by Markl

The temples of Bagan by Markl

Hot places

TravelPod Local Expert for Greece: Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd aka paroshep works in the tourism industry in Greece and spends at least an hour on the beach every day. Talk about a tough job! He’s very knowledgeable on getting around on those notorious Greek ferries and helping people live slowly.

Michael Shepherd (right) in Greece

Michael Shepherd (right) in Greece

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I already spend a fair amount of time answering questions about travel to Greece. Most of the time I enjoying helping people get past the clutter of travel hype.

What are the best and worst things about living on Paros, Greece?

The climate and scenery is incredibly pleasant and beautiful. The worst is that the pool of potential friends is quite limited.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in your area?

Number one is to relax and adapt to a slower pace of life. Number two is to rest on the sand or in the sea. After that comes eating and drinking in incredible environments between experiencing the scenery and the culture. I frequently tell people there is no “must see” place on Paros; just experiencing the island is the attraction.

What are some of your best travel experiences?

I enjoy showing off our lifestyle to visitors. As far as off island my greatest enjoyment comes from that rare experience of sharing a strictly local–as opposed to touristy–event with the locals.

What is your worst travel experience?

I make an effort not to remember. I have been too cold, too hot, too over-charged, too often.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Having the courage or lack of good sense, whichever it was, to move abroad.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

This year I crossed the top two of my list, Istanbul and Prague, because they were close. My next top two are India and Thailand, but a return to Ireland is calling as well.

What do you do with most of your time?

Punch keys on my computer; some of which is answering travel questions, a lot of which is keeping our slogan in front of people: Share our piece of paradise on Paros.

What’s a typical day like for you?

This winter I have been bemoaning the fact that a large portion of my day is taken up with the routine of living. In the summer when I tell people how incredibly busy I am I have to admit that nearly every day includes a hour at the beach. I tend to be a home body and only ride my scooter into town when I have to meet someone at the ferry or other unavoidable errand. Other than that it is clicking away on the internet.
TravelPod Local Expert profiles

TravelPod Local Expert for Alaska: Neal Rosenthal

Nealinthailand

Alaska Local Expert: Nealinthailand

Neal is quite possibly, TravelPod’s most controversial member. He’s always stirring up lots of debate on Thai culture in the forums, talking about relationships, immigration and more. Right now, he rests his head in this lovely southeast Asian country, but he calls home Alaska. He knows a lot about the northern state, and he’s always dishing out great information about his hometown.

Why did you become a Local Expert?

I became a local expert because I love to help people who have never travelled somewhere that I am very familiar with. I’m the guy who if you come visit my home city, will take you on the 3 day extended tour just because it’s fun to show people things they would otherwise have missed. Also, at the time, no one had signed up for Alaska and thought that was a shame because Alaska is just one of the most amazing places on earth and if I could answer peoples questions and encourage them to come out to the wilderness then even better.

What’s the best thing about living in Thailand?

I think the best thing about living in Thailand is just the freedom to do whatever you want. The cost of living out here allows for a comfortable lifestyle and the cost of travel within Asia allows you to see a huge chunk of the world for very little money. a whole side of the planet opens up to you just because of your location and exchange rate. The beaches are beautiful and the people are pretty laid back usually (once you get off Khao San Road) and if i had to add one more thing it would be the food…..I love Thai food….and I don’t mean from the Thai restaurant down the street in New York City but actual Thai food.

What’s the worst thing about living in Thailand?

Living in Thailand is awesome but there are a few things that kind of wear on you after awhile. First the obvious…being removed from family and friends and all the things that you grew to love over the years. Eating a deep dish pizza, watching the football game Sunday morning with my Dad, the Christmas season in Chicago with all the lights. I suppose it’s just like being a little homesick but when you have been away for four years, it’s amplified a bit. As for the bad side of Thailand specifically….its hard to explain but Thai’s really do view the world and approach daily situations differently and this accounts for many miscommunications or false perceptions that begin to really annoy after awhile.

What’s the best thing about living in Alaska?

For those of you who dont know me, I actually live for 9 months a year in Thailand and 3 months a year in Alaska so I guess I get two entries 🙂 . The best part of Alaska is just the natural beauty that you see every day. It sounds lame and cliche I know, but the mountains and glaciers and rivers are just so abundant it’s hard not to have your breath taken away while looking out your bedroom window. The landscape is truly beautiful and if any of you are outdoors people then this is a MUST destination for you because it really is some of the last wilderness on the planet.

What’s the worst thing about living in Alaska?

Other then working 16 hours a day for 6-7 days a week I would have to say the worst thing about Alaska is the price. Everything is so expensive and overpriced it’s enough to drive you crazy sometimes. It’s a great vacation spot for the well-heeled but for the backpacker, I would say that working your way through the state or maybe just camping your way through will be more advisable. Trying to do the upscale thing here is idiotic since you are there for the outdoors so there is no need to get an expensive room. Go outside, go climb up on a glacier and look out for moose.

5 BEST THINGS TO DO IN THAILAND:

Of course these lists are personal and I’m sure to leave out something that someone else thought was amazing but hey, its just an opinion so relax.

1. Going on a liveaboard and diving the Similan islands. A bit pricey but its 4 days of underwater bliss. Some of the best diving in the world while on your off time you are living on an airconditioned yaht where you are pampered.

2. Wandering Bangkok and seeing all that it has to offer. Yes, if you have been to Bangkok 40 or 50 times then it can be a very trying place and you grow tired of it in hours but if you are a new arrival there is so much to see and do that you should not be off put by all the backpackers telling you how bad Bangkok sucks. Go see the palace…go to the weekend market….check out the night flower market….reclining Buddha….there is a lot to see for a newcomer.

3. Getting away from the backpacker trail and wandering around up north. Yes i know this is sorta vague but to really appreciate Thailand you need to get away from all the god damn farang. I thought I had experienced most of thailand until i went up to my ex girlfriend’s village and that was a whole new experience. It’s not exciting perse but its different and rural and gives you a more accurate insight into Thai culture

4. Sitting in a hammock for a month on Ko Phagnan. Not literally a month but this is just to say that it is nice to find a nice little beach and a little bungalow and just live the good lazy life sometimes. To lounge and read a book is a much looked over past time.

5. I think the most beautiful area that I have been in as far as Thailand goes is Krabi. The limestone cliffs rising out of the crystal clear water is just beautiful. There are lots of things to do here, ocean kayaking or kayaking in a mangrove forest with the monkeys. Elephant riding. Rock climbing, beach bumming, snorkeling, scuba diving. It’s a great place and if you go to Thailand you should definitely make time for it.

5 BEST THINGS TO DO IN ALASKA:

Well Alaska is a pretty damn big place (8x the size of Germany) so I’m only going to cover a few things here so please dont take this as the end all be all tour advice.

1. Going for a hike in the wilderness. There are so many trails with such a varying degree of difficulty that you will be able to find something for everyone. Get out into nature and see the beauty and smell the unpolluted air. Of course bring mosquito spray because the little bastards are viscious and always beware of bears.

2. Bear viewing in Katmai national park. The park is only accessible by bush plane and is really remote. It DOES have the largest population of brown bears in the world and this will probably be your only chance to see them in the wild doing purely bear things….such as eating, playing, pooping, sleeping. It’s an amazing experience and should be enjoyed by everyone in the family.

3. Ocean kayaking out of Whittier. This kayaking trip will bring you up against some of the most beautiful glaciers while they are calving into the ocean. you can hear the creaking and cracking of the ice as it splinters off and forms icebergs in the water below. Groups of sea otters often keep you company, so once again there is always wildlife present.

4. Denali National park. One of the most spectacular national parks in the american park system with a huge abundance of wildlife including elk, moose, bears, wolves, dali sheep, eagles. Also home to Mt. McKinley which is the highest mountain peak in north america (20,000 feet). Most of the park is closed during winter but is very popular in the summer…..again, be careful of the mosquitos.

5. Go for a scenic drive. The drive from Anchorage to Homer is absolutely beautiful and has many pull offs and trails right off the road. Adventure and beauty are never far away in Alaska and very often are found right there on the road. If driving at dusk, be careful of moose in the road. A sure way to trash your car but also not a bad way to get some fresh meat for the freezer.

BEST TRAVEL EXPERIENCES:

I think one of my best experiences was while I was in Nepal and went on an eight day trek completely by myself. The trail was fairly well used and I saw people everyday but I did not have a guide or a porter but instead was alone up in the Himalayan mountains. The scenery was absolutely amazing and the quiet and solititude let me relax and reflect upon where I was in my life. The villages and the people that I encountered were amazing and straight out of National Geographic. If you ever find yourself in Nepal, go and do the “Jomsom trek” and you will see what i mean.

Another amazing experience was when I was India I visited Varanaasi which is the holy city where people come to die and be creamated on the banks of the Ganges river. It sounds a bit morbid I suppose but an absolutely amazing experience among a totally different culture. The entire experince makes you sit and contemplate mortality and life and what happens after, which is an interesting way to spend your holiday. Varanasi is one of the oldest “living cities” and the twisting and winding corridors that make up their network of streets is just surreal to walk through. It feels as if you have traveled in time hundreds if not thousands of years.

WORST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE:

Traveling India by train in 4th class. Enough said

MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:

I would have to say my proudest accomplishment would be going back and finishing university after having been arrested and put in prison while studying. Three years in prison is enough to discourage anyone but I somehow got out and went back and obtained my degree in zoology.

FUTURE TRAVELS:

I am travelling to Indonesia in March for the first time and hope to hit up Java and the Gili islands along with Bali and Lombok. Also I am currently just starting the planning for my around the world trip in September where I hope to go to Europe for the first time and then down to South Africa for diving with the great whites and a safari. I would love to backpack through southern Africa a bit so I will try my best to work that in there and see as much of the wildlife as I can. After Africa it is back to India to go to the desert province and do a camel safari out into the desert and then off to Bangkok once again. I hope it all works out.

WHAT DO I DO WITH MOST OF MY TIME:

When I am not working as a divemaster I spend most of my time relaxing and going to the beach. I hike around a bit and see the sights but I have been in thailand for so long now that I have seen most of the sights, especially on the island that i live on. I occasionally work on the book that i am writing and then maybe a nap. All in all life is not too hard over here.

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World AIDS Day travel blogs from around the world

Today is World AIDS Day and bloggers around the world are collaborating to educate the world about the importance of safe sex to prevent the deadly disease.

Last year, Beccasmith was in Lusaka, Zambia attending and organizing an art exhibit.

World AIDS Day in Zambia

World AIDS Day in Zambia

HIV/AIDS is having such a devastating impact on Zambia, yet it is still hidden and usually not openly discussed, due to the stigma associated with being HIV positive. Everyone in Zambia is affected somehow by HIV/AIDS and it is having tragic consequences on the country. On the inside of the mural, we wrote personal stories from people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS and they are truly heartbreaking.

-from World AIDS Day, Lusaka, Zambia


Vivirconvalor took six months to travel in Africa. She stopped in Botswana to take part in the World AIDS Day march.

World AIDS Day march

World AIDS Day march

Although statistics are never perfectly accurate, it is estimated that roughly one-third of the adults in Botswana are infected with HIV. The country is in the dubious position of being among the countries with highest HIV prevalence rates. But there is hope. Today, the people of Botswana are more aware of the issues than ever before. In Letlhakane, they marched, they sang, they spoke.

-from “IMAGES: World AIDS Day 2005“, Letlhakane, Botswana

Anderwatts went to India to learn how to speak Hindi last year. He performs a play at his volunteer placement about AIDS awareness.

World AIDS Day in India

World AIDS Day in India

The main character is the guy in the red on the left, with the other two guys playing his shootup partners. The crowd is gathered close to watch. The lady in the background who is bending over to look is an actual lady of the neighbourhood who was trying to see if they were actually shooting up!! She yelled at them a bit before…

-from “Holidays soon“, Delhi, India

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