Best Blogs of the Week
I read a lot of travel blogs every week. Every day, even. Since I’m constantly coming across good reads, I’ve decided to highlight some of the best and most interesting posts, photos, videos and general blogging gems from all over the web that I’ve discovered in the past week.
Though I try to read a diverse sampling of things, there’s no way that I can possibly get to it all. So, if you have an interesting post that you’d like me to check out and consider for next week, please let me know in the comments! Who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with it. At the very least, I’ll leave you my two cents in a comment.
What I'm Reading
Laurence and Vera recently tackled the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on New Zealand's north island. Laurence even summited Mount Ngauruhoe, which was a stand-in double for Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's “Lord of the Rings” films. This day-hike is lauded as being the best in New Zealand… and, judging from Laurence's photos, it's easy to see why! This is number one on my list of things to do next time in NZ.
I love a good “Why do we travel?” piece, and this one sits right up there with some of my recent favorites. Dan ponders whether we travel as a means to an end (for education, for love, for adventure, etc.), or as an end itself. Or, perhaps travel can be both a means and an end? It's a great question tackled in a great post.
Pamela took a stroll down to Green Park in Kunming, China, to witness a very curious weekend event: Mothers who have unmarried adult children gathering to advertise said sons and daughters to other mothers. That's right, it's like a yard sale for unmarried kids, complete with hand-made signs and little Chinese ladies looking for a good deal. Pamela writes about the scene in a humorous way that makes me wish I could see it, too!
I'm not a huge fan of winter much past New Year's. But I do enjoy Canada, and I do enjoy adventure sports. While not all the activities on this list get my juices flowing (like ice fishing or cross-country skiing), there are others that would be amazing during a Canadian winter (like dog sledding, canyoning, and watching the Aurora Borealis). Winter is just around the corner, and this list from Dave and Deb serves as some great inspiration.
Have you read any of Candice's stuff before? If so, you've probably laughed out loud at her crazy, hilarious stories and photo captions. If not, then shame on you; you need to read this post. Here, Candice describes how she faced her fear of Sharp Tooth (yes, that's a “Land Before Time” reference) in London.
Kate has been churning out awesome posts from her time so far in South East Asia, and this is yet another example. I didn't really know much about Chiang Mai before reading this post; I just knew that a lot of travelers go there and fall in love with it. Kate describes the laid-back, simplified way of life that characterizes Chiang Mai. And, I'll admit, it sounds like my kind of place!
What in the World?
The Queen is now on Facebook. That's right, Queen Elizabeth II now has a fanpage on Facebook where you can “Like” her and the royal family, and get updates on on her engagements. The monarch (along with other members of the royal family, like Princes Williamd and Harry) will be featured in videos, photos and news items on the page, which went live on Monday. This is just the latest social media venture for Britain's royal family, however. They already have Flickr and Twitter accounts, as well as a channel on YouTube.
Rumbling Mount Merapi in Indonesia is still spewing ash and volcanic gas on a daily basis, causing thousands to flee the area out of fears of a severe eruption. Over the weekend, heightened ash levels caused many international airlines to cancel flights in and out of the capital, Jakarta. The overall toll from the volcano since it began erupting on October 26 stands at 141, and it shows no signs of quieting down. Scientists worry that the recent eruptions haven't eased pressure inside the mountain, meaning that Merapi is unpredictable.
Myanmar held its first elections since 1990 on Sunday, but the whole thing has been widely classified as a sham to keep the military junta in power. On Monday, ethnic rebels clashed with government troops, and 15,000 fled into neighboring Thailand in light of the violence.
The New York City Marathon was run over the weekend, with an Ethiopian in his NYC race debut winning in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 14 seconds. The real success story of the race, however, was Edison Pena crossing the finish line. The Chilean was one of the miners who was rescued last month after spending months underground in a collapsed mine. He passed time in the mine running in underground tunnels, and, when invited to see the NYC Marathon in person, expressed his desire to actually run it. He finished the race in under 6 hours, walking the last half with bags of ice strapped on his swollen knees.
Officials in Haiti suspect that cholera has entered the Hatian capital, Port-au-Prince. On Monday, health officials were examining at least 120 suspected cases of cholera in the capital. The disease — which, until now, had been confined to outlying areas — has already killed at least 544 people in Haiti and sickened nearly 8,000 more. If the bacteria has indeed entered Port-au-Prince, up to 3 million inhabitants will be at risk, including more than a million who are still living in tents and under tarps after losing their homes in the January earthquake.
Qantas is going through a bit of a rough patch with its A380 double-decker planes. Qantas has six of the A380s — the world's newest and largest airplane — and has grounded them all after an engine failure last week forced an emergency landing. Tests have uncovered oil leaks in three Rolls-Royce engines on grounded A380s, though why the engines are leaky remains to be seen. The planes will stay grounded for at least the next couple of days, Qantas has said.
In good airline news for travelers, Google has teamed up with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer passengers free in-flight Wi-Fi access this holiday season. The free Wi-Fi will be available from November 20 to January 2, so long as you use Google's Chrome browser. All three airlines already have fleet-wide Wi-Fi that generally costs between $6 and $13 to use in-flight.
How to Get Out of Jury Duty
A man in Ohio was excused from jury service after mentioning that he was a childhood friend of cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. During the juror screening process, the man was asked if he knew anyone convicted of a crime. He responded: “I had a close friend in high school who killed 17 people.” … Well, damn.