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The Lowdown on Getting Around Burma by Taxi

Where: Myanmar
November 21, 2014 at 1:39 PM | by | Comments (0)

It seems like everyone and their moms are going to Burma. Or is it Myanmar? (For the answer, see here.) Thanks to political and humanitarian reforms of the last several years, this Southeast Asian country is more open than ever to tourism. Over the next week or so, Jaunted's Julia Buckley will be sharing her tips and experiences as a traveler in Burma without a tour group and without memorizing a guidebook, but with common sense and open eyes on a Burma Field Trip.

This week in Burma we’ve been concentrating on how to get around, and while it’s the most expensive (and bourgeois) option, hiring a taxi or a private driver is certainly the easiest. It’s also more affordable than you might imagine.

Private cars are good for longer journeys, obviously, but they’re also the best way to spend a day sightseeing. You may (as we were) be expecting Burma to be a land of tuktuks; it isn’t. And Burmese cities are big, with the main sights spread all over the place. If you’re looking for a day of sightseeing, your best option is to hire a driver (motorcycles could be another option—we were offered one in Mandalay—but it’s pretty hot, so you’ll almost certainly want a car).

We found rates varied by city, and also by driver (we were told $50-80 was the going rate in Yangon, for example our driver quoted $50). Also, you’ll be pleased to know, the vast majority of people aren’t out to fleece you; we only had one driver, in a pickup truck in Bagan, who tried to overcharge us. Everyone else was entirely reasonable.

Here’s a list of rough rates we found, as well as drivers we recommend. This doesn’t mean they’re the only reliable drivers, of course – but we met all these, they had good cars, and they themselves were great.

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The Main Attraction on Sao Miguel in the Azores is a Hole in the Ground

Where: Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal
November 21, 2014 at 12:38 PM | by | Comments (0)

Now that you know what to eat when you visit the island of Sao Miguel, let's talk about where to go to burn it off. The island is filled with natural beauty, including a rocky coastline and rolling, hilly highlands. But the main attraction, without question, is the volcanic crater of Sete Cidades.

It's not hard to see why. Sete Cidades is the name of a town that sits at the bottom of a three-mile long volcanic crater that features two back-to-back lakes, the "Blue Lake" and the "Green Lake," each named for the color of its water. The color difference of the lakes is extremely obvious on a sunny day, which, combined with the lush green hillsides that line the crater, makes for a dramatic, picturesque atmosphere that demands to be explored.

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Kickstarter's 'Fugu Luggage' May Finally Solve the 2-Wheel or 4-Wheel Debate

November 21, 2014 at 11:24 AM | by | Comments (0)

Luggage sucks.

Don't think so? Take a flight without it some time, perhaps on a quick overnight with just a messenger bag, and you'll quickly find that luggage is its own particular brand of torture. Travelers with it are less agile, earlier exhausted, responsible for extra fees, potential crime targets, and forced to spend more time at the airport dealing with it. Then there's the whole separate nightmare of if it's delayed or gone missing.

2014 marks the 100th Anniversary of commercial flight, and it's shocking to think how little the baggage situation has changed in that century. Adding wheels and decreasing weight have seemingly been the most pervasive advances in the luggage industry through the decades, and the most passionate arguments occur over "carry-on only or checked?" and "two-wheel or four-wheel?" rather than contemplating why we're still dragging our belongings behind us like wayward hobos.

Deep breath.

There is some hope, however; a company called Fugu Luggage has taken to Kickstarter to seek help producing what may be a breath of fresh air in the stodgy old luggage industry. It literally utilizes air to expand from a compact wheeled carry-on into a durable checked bag, complete with interior organization and "omniwheels."

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Tour 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' Filming Locations in Atlanta

November 21, 2014 at 9:54 AM | by | Comments (0)

To celebrate the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, one of the movie's main filming locations is expanding its hours and tours this weekend.

The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center was featured in Catching Fire during a party scene and will be once again be used for scenes with President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, in Mockingjay.

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Travel Contest Roundup: Hit the Slopes with 6 Chances to Win a Ski Vacation

November 21, 2014 at 8:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

We realize travel budgets may be limited, but it’s free to dream. This is where contests come into the picture, and there's always the chance that you could be the big winner—just don't forget to tell us if you are!

Here are six vacation contests to enter right now that will help you truly enjoy the winter weather:

Roam With Rice Sweepstakes – Wyoming Tourism

The big prize here is a trip to Wyoming, and that includes plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes. The winner gets a chance to take on the mountains with Travis Rive, and that’s in addition to a four-night trip for two to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. They’ll include airfare, accommodations, lift tickets, and a pair of snowboards too. Get your details in order, as you have until January 5 to enter this contest—good luck.

Steamboat Boat Load Sweepstakes

No need to hit the local mountain this year, as we have a feeling that you might be the big winner on this ski season contest. Just submit your information before April 12, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. The grand prize is a VIP trip for four people to the Steamboat Ski Resort—over in Colorado—and that includes airfare, lift tickets, lodging, ski rentals, and a couple other goodies. Even if you miss the big prize, there are other prizes too like skis, boots, snowboards, and GoPro cameras.

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Scenes from Cruising Burma's Irrawaddy River

Where: Myanmar
November 20, 2014 at 5:45 PM | by | Comments (0)

Passing the Irrawaddy Princess

It seems like everyone and their moms are going to Burma. Or is it Myanmar? (For the answer, see here.) Thanks to political and humanitarian reforms of the last several years, this Southeast Asian country is more open than ever to tourism. Over the next week or so, Jaunted's Julia Buckley will be sharing her tips and experiences as a traveler in Burma without a tour group and without memorizing a guidebook, but with common sense and open eyes on a Burma Field Trip.

Transport is a tricky issue in Myanmar. We’ve talked in general about how to get around, and yesterday we agreed (hopefully) that it is not a good idea to take the train.

As we said on Tuesday, the most pleasant option for getting around Burma is by boat. The Irawaddy is a legendary river, and, if you have time to spare, there are cruises galore in traditional-looking paddle steamers, taking anything from three days (a typical Mandalay-Bagan cruise) to 20 nights (Chindwin and the Upper Irrawaddy with Pandaw). There are also plenty of options – Belmond is the most famous, and has two ships, the large Road to Mandalay and petite Orcaella. Prices are – sit down – from $2520 per person on the Road to Mandalay, or $5500 on the Orcaella (though a current deal has 20% off and a free night at the Governor's Residence before March 25).

Still luxury but not as pricey is Pandaw, AKA the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. They have 12 teak boats, styled traditionally – we saw a couple on the river and they looked beautiful. Prices start at $750 for a two-night Bagan-Mandalay run.

No problem if you don’t have time or money to spare though – you can still get a taste of river life with a day cruise between Bagan and Mandalay. This is what we did, setting off from Mandalay at 7am, arriving at Bagan at 4pm.

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TSA Asks Holiday Travelers to Please Leave the Chainsaws at Home

November 20, 2014 at 5:02 PM | by | Comments (0)

The TSA is making its annual "please don't make holiday travel more miserable than it already is" push, in which the agency begs travelers not to bring obviously prohibited items into checkpoints for at least the next few months. TSA officials try something like this every year, and it usually more or less completely fails. The problem isn't with the airport security organization, for once. The kind of person who tries to bring chemical-soaked sparklers on board an airplane - real example - just isn't the sort of person who reads TSA-related press releases. Or any press releases, really.

And yet here we are. This year the agency tried to get attention by throwing together a press event at just a single airport, gathering reporters for a show-and-tell at JFK. That's not a terrible idea as far as PR goes, because local reporters always need stories and this way things are easy for them. You give them a press kit, you issue a statement, and everyone is done in time for happy hour. We're not sure it'll actually make a difference, in the sense that we're pretty sure it won't make a difference. But it was a mildly entertaining show, and so you might as well know it happened.

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Where to Celebrate the Holidays 'Dallas'-Style

November 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM | by | Comments (0)

Even though the latest incarnation of Dallas was canceled, life goes on at The Ewings' homestead.

The iconic Southfork Ranch in Parker TX which served as the backdrop for the original series and the recent TNT reboot, is still welcoming visitors daily for tours and events.

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Throwback Thursday: The First Airline Lounge Opened 75 Years Ago

November 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM | by | Comments (0)

Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.

This week we got a little restless and hopped down to Dallas for the day, with the express purpose of wandering around AA's C.R. Smith Museum, about a 10-minute drive from DFW Airport. We'll have more on it later since it is a very worthwhile diversion, but allow us to highlight their small exhibit on the history of airline lounges.

You see, American Airlines originated the ideas of airport lounges way, way back when commercial aviation was still in its infancy. 2014 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Admirals Club, the first of which debuted in December 1939 as the "Flagship Club" at what is now New York's LaGuardia Airport.

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Remember the All-You-Can-Jet Pass? Now It's Southeast Asia's Turn for Unlimited Flying.

November 20, 2014 at 11:02 AM | by | Comments (0)


Above: AirAsia's route map out of KUL

How does a month of flying around Southeast Asia for under $200 sound?

It'll soon be possible, so hopefully your answer was positive. You see, the AP reports that Malaysia-based low-cost airline AirAsia is getting ready to release an unlimited flying pass to 10 Southeast Asia destinations for only $148 (excluding airport taxes). The airline, whose slogan is "now everyone can fly," will allow travelers to use the pass—dubbed the "AirAsia ASEAN Pass"—for one month of flights at some point in early 2015.

This comes just as ASEAN countries are making strides to "liberate the airways" in 2015, which we reported from the annual ASEAN conference earlier this year.

For travelers who've never flown AirAsia and may be skeptical: yes, this pass is suspiciously cheap, as are AirAsia's regular flight prices, but it is a reputable airline and we have flown with them several times. Who would doubt an airline that serves in-flight bubble tea and offers 19 different buy-onboard meals?

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Food Worth Flying For: The Best Burger in All of Wine Country

November 20, 2014 at 9:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

That croissant in Paris. The char kway teow in Singapore. That cup of hot chocolate in Perugia. This is Food Worth Flying For. In this new series, Jaunted's contributors share the foods they'd gladly fly around the world for (and probably already have).

For years and year it was known as Taylor's Refresher, but now it’s called Gott’s Roadside. The name may have changed but the roadside restaurant and its “tray gourmet” has remained the same. Sure Napa Valley is known for its wine, the English muffins over at The Model Bakery, and that perfect pork chop at Mustards Grill; however, to us the burger and fries are the reason we continue to visit year after year.

We realize that there are best of lists from here to eternity when it comes to burgers, but we have to say our pick is the Western Bacon Blue Ring at Gott’s Roadside. The thing is topped with barbeque sauce, an onion ring, local blue cheese, pickles, red onion, and bacon—and all of those ingredients are doing their thing between a toasted egg bun.

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Don't Panic. JetBlue's Upcoming Baggage Fees and Reduced Legroom Aren't the End of the World

November 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM | by | Comments (0)

What a week for Southwest Airlines! Yesterday, the only other airline than Southwest who doesn't charge a fee for your first checked bag—JetBlue—announced that they would indeed begin charging fees on checked bags.

Bummer for JetBlue, as the change will be introduced at some point in 2015 along with new airfare tiers of service, but a boon for Southwest, who now claims the title of "the only airline where bags fly free."

Still, JetBlue flyers have no need to panic just yet. The baggage fees haven't yet been detailed with pricing (although industry standard is $25 for the first bag), the new fare tiers haven't been announced, and none of these changes will happen until some point in 2015.

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