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All this week we'll be answering the Who, What, Where, When, Whys and Hows of Hong Kong. Of course the answer to "WHO should go to Hong Kong" is YOU. Whether you've never been or you're a regular through Chek Lap Kok, this no-visa-required peninsula hanging off of China should absolutely your next stop.
WHAT 21 foods you absolutely have to try
WHERE to escape the skyscrapers for a breath of fresh air.
WHEN to visit
HOW to get out on the water
Hong Kong from a distance seems all skyscraper and modernity. In reality, there's a great mass of water slicing through those 'scrapers, and even this areaVictoria Harbourhas a personality all its own.
We like to think of sailing on the Harbour as traversing the water between Scylla and Charybdis. Pardon the Odyssean comparison, but for us, the skyscrapers and mountains of Hong Kong Island become the sea monster Scylla, and the markets and bustle of Kowloon is the whirlpool of Charybdis. It's out on the water between them that you find some silence, some calm, and the perfect position for reflecting on your time in this metropolis.
So here's three ways to get out on the water in Hong Kong:
Antarctica Travel / Ships / Boats / Cruise Travel / Intrepid Travel / Historical Travel / Epic Travel / Travel News / → All Tags
Shackleton's original voyage
Imagine taking nearly two months off to sail some of the most exotic seas on the earth. If you're picturing a cruise, with its midnight buffets and tinkling atrium piano and sunning on the Lido deck, then STOP. What we're talking about is a serious voyage, one that requires a bit more preparation than having the post office hold your mail and a bit more clothing than tank tops and flip flops.
We're talking about sailing the route of Sir Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica, on the T.S. Pelican tall ship that's nearly the twin of his original ship, the Endurance, while shadowing a team of 6 who'll complete the second portion of Shackleton's journey in a replica 22.5' whaler boat.
It's been four years of planning for the journeyfrom Punta Arenas, Chile to Elephant Island, then 800 nautical miles on to South Georgia Island and Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken, before ending in Rio de Janeiro. In alliance with Intrepid Travel, the Pelican has made 10 berths available for regular travelers to join the trip, provided you're willing and able to embark on a 56-day epic and shell out $30,000 for the opportunity.
Museum Travel / Historical Travel / War Travel / World War II Travel / Ohio Travel / Boats / → All Tags
531 PT Boats plied the waves for the Allied powers during World War II. These torpedo-toting motorboats of 70-80 feet were designed to zip up to large ships, attack, and zip away. The American military called them the "Mosquito Fleet," Japanese forces gave them the nickname "Devil Boats," but these days we just know them as museum pieces, since only 13 still exist, 3 or 4 of which are still operational.
What happened to the rest of 'em? Well, PT boats were made of wood, wood which was then burned or re-used at the end of the war. Countries celebrating their victory while simultaneously worrying about piecing together a broken Europe and getting their boys back into the workforce weren't thinking about putting PTs up on plinths. Heck, it would be nearly another twenty years before John F. Kennedy, former commander of PT-109, would become president and spark the public fascination with these boats.
Now, of those 3-4 left seaworthy, two are now to be found in Ohio of all places, the newest pieces of the collection of the also very new Liberty Aviation Museum.
If you've ever been to Amsterdam you've seen themthe groups of young tourists who think it'd be cool to rent a boat and explore the city's canals, but then just end up blithely pedaling their way up one or two before giving up and hitting a "coffee shop" the rest of the afternoon.
Michigan Field Trip / Island Travel / Michigan Travel / Photo Gallery / Great Lakes Travel / Boats / Airports / PLN / Delta / How to Get to / → All Tags
Inside the terminal at Pellston Regional Airport
Summertime, and the livin' is easy. So you're thinking of a late season trip so long as there's blue water involved, hm? Believe it or not, Michigan's got beaches, blue water and budget-friendly destinations. This week we'll be looking at the ways and places in which you can chill out while diving into the state's Upper Peninsula.
Google Map Mackinac Island. Do it right now. It's waaaay up there in Michigan, isn't it? And yet, it's a real island that's been insanely popular with vacationers for 125 years. There are no cars on the island nor is there a bridge to reach it, so how do the seasonnaires, the daytrippers and perhaps even you get on over there? Let's see...
· Commercial flight. The nearest major airport for scheduled flights is Pellston Regional (PLN). The airport is super quaint with only two gates and an interior chock-full of flannel, stone fireplaces and taxidermied animals. Even the carpeting is hunter's plaid. Delta is the only airline with year-round flights, and only from Detroit, so you'll need to connect at DTW.
Don't miss heading up the carved wood stairs off Delta ticketing to reach the second level of the airport, with its observation windows and couches, plus a full restaurant and bar. FREE WIFI throughout PLN!
You'll still have to drive/call a cab from PLN to the ferry to Mackinac Island, as Pellston Regional Airport is on the mainland, but only a 20-minute drive to the dock.
Lake Erie Wineries / Ohio Wine Trail / Wine Travel / Ohio Travel / Drinking Travel / Photo Gallery / Great Lakes Travel / Island Travel / Boats / → All Tags
Everybody knows the Wine Trails of Napa/Sonoma, Argentina, the Loire Valley and, more recently, NY's Hudson Valley, but this week it's all about Ohio. Yes, Ohio has winerieslots of 'em actuallyand we'll be sharing our favorites with you.
Today: Getting to the town of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, home to two excellent wineries
Now that we've covered two coastal Ohio wineries on the mainland, it's time to head out over open water to two more...on an island...in Lake Erie. Yes, you read that right. Not only does Ohio have excellent wineries, but it's also got excellent islands. We like to think of Put-in-Bay as the cheaper, more casual, Midwest version of Nantucket and, just like with Nantucket, there's few ways to reach it.
Social Media / Facebook / Cruise Travel / Boats / Ships / → All Tags
It's been a few months now since the Facebook switch to timeline layout, which introduced the need for a cover photo. For brands, cover photos are the one-second, first impression bang that hopefully turns a casual, social media fan into a future passenger.
We've already reviewed what the airlines are doing with their cover photos. Now it's time to play with some boats.
The trends for cruise line images are: smiling couples, snapshots and big ships (of course). Since it's a pain to search for each cruise line individually to see what we mean, we've rounded up some current cover photos, alphabetically:
Travel Snapshot / Boats / Hong Kong Travel / Island Travel / Hotels / Wish You Were Here / → All Tags
Just a moment. We don't mean we're on a boat in Aberdeen, Scotland. Nopethis boat and the quiet harbour and the 84-degree nighttime temperature are found in the Aberdeen Harbour of Hong Kong Island.
If you're familiar with Hong Kong at all, you'll know Aberdeen as the home of the floating "Jumbo" restaurant. If you're not familiar with Hong Kong, well...add it to the top of your to-do list.
So how did we end up on a boat in Aberdeen Harbour? Well, as the cost of living in the downtown parts of Hong Kong continues to shoot skyward, more enterprising folk are turning to the many harbours for residences, buying or renting vessels as homes. We've ditched hotel rooms to instead spend several nights on one such boat, and it's a pretty big boatnot the one pictured above.
Miami Travel / Boat Travel / Drinking Travel / Bars / Booze Travel / Events / Boats / Ships / Lists / → All Tags
Aside from the opportunity to gawk at power boats, mega-yachts and all the tanned, leathery rich people who own them, the five-day event is a great excuse to drink alongside sailors and said tanned rich people. After all, you never know when you may get an invitation to party on someone's yacht.
Here are our top picks for where to drink during Boat Show weekend:
1. Monty's: This outdoor raw bar with a pool is located at the Miami Beach Marina, making it an awesome year-round choice for tiki-bar drinks and stone crabs. This weekend, it will be a zoo, but in the merriest of ways. Considering the cost of some of the boats docked alongside it, Monty's is refreshingly laidback and often rowdy.
Isle of Man Field Trip / Isle of Man Travel / Island Travel / Britain Travel / Boats / Ships / Photo Gallery / How to Get to / → All Tags
The Isle of Man is a mysterious place, a nearly sovereign territory out in the middle of the choppy Irish Sea between England and Ireland. What sort of people live there? What's there to see and do? These are all questions we wanted to answer, so we went ourselves...because why not? All this week we'll be sharing our experiences in this curious island destination.
We'd been in London too long. It was time for a sidetrip, and with Liverpool only two hours away by train and the Isle of Man only another two hours by ferry from there, the mini-adventure was a no-brainer. If we were actually close enough with time enough to make it to the Isle of Man, then by all means we were going to go.
Some hotel price comparisons later, we decided on a holiday package from the ferry company Steam-Packet (the only ferry company between Liverpool and Isle of Man), for 109 GBP ($170) per person for two nights' hotel and roundtrip ferry tickets. Not bad! If you're thinking of going anytime soon, the price has dropped to 99 GBP and here's the link.
Anyways, all aboard!
Bangkok Field Trip / Thailand Travel / Bangkok Travel / Photo Gallery / Boats / Public Transportation / → All Tags
These days, when you think of Bangkok, does the "Hangover 2" phrase "Holla, city of squalor" pop into mind? It did ours, until we freaking went there and got tangled in its web of awesomeness. Bangkok is truly a world metropolis to be experienced over more than a few days, but we'll be detailing several places and things that simply can't be left undone. Join us, but watch where you step.
You MUST hop the river's bus boats to get where you're going.
If you think there's a ton of ways to get around a metropolis like New York City, then you need to spend some time in Bangkok, which may just take the cake for variety of public transportation options. There's taxis, tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, buses, songthaews, longboats, the subway, the Skytrain, commuter and hotel boats and the Chao Phraya Express Boat. The latter, if you can't yet tell from the topic of this story, is our favorite by far.
Bad news: it now sucks more than ever to live in North Korea. Why? Because the good ol' DPRK just launched their first cruise ship, the Mangyongbong (pictured above). About the only thing it has going for it is that it floats, plus okay also the fun-to-say name. Technically having the option of taking a cruise should mean life is tad bit better, right? Well, the ship is so sad that North Koreans are better off without it.
Want to "cruise" on the Mangyongbong? Be prepared to board from a dirt-covered dock from a town near the border with Russia, leave your cell phone behind, bed down on bare-bones mattresses in a communal space and soak up the sun from plastic lawn chairs that'll probably be blown overboard by the wind before you can get to them. What a cruise!
Luckily it's not a very long cruise; the ship only does a 1-night journey from North Korea to the the special tourist zone of Mount Kumgang on the South Korean border. It's a beautiful place, but it's also the focus of a constant ownership tug-of-war between North and South Korea, so what we're saying is this is a cruise where you should definitely opt for the extra travel insurance.
Check out more photos of the inaugural cruise here.