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Obama-Around-The-World / Presidential Travel / Barack Obama / Political Travel / Hotels / Landmarks / Japan Travel / South Korea Travel / Indonesia Travel / → All Tags
President Barack Obama has just had quite the whirlwind travel weekend, hopping and skipping from Japan to Singapore to China to South Korea in a matter of only a few days and yet he managed to fit in a few cultural stops in amongst all the flying and diplomatic handshakes. Most of the time, the sightseeing came with a required speech or a luncheon with a world leader, but still we're pretty jealous of all the places he got to go. We've listed the touristy places he visited below, just in case you'd like to take your own Obama Tour of Asia:
Big Ash Problems / Volcanoes / Weather / Indonesia Travel / Travel News / Cathay Pacific / JAL / → All Tags
There have been many trends in travel for 2010, such as the rise of location-based social media (ah hem, Foursquare) and the outcry against full-body scanners, but one of the most unexpected trends is that of flight disruption due to volcano eruption. In just this year we've have the explosions of Iceland's illustrious Eyjafjallajokull, Reunion Island's Piton de la Fournaise, Indonesia's Mount Sinabung, Russia's Shiveluch and now, another from Indonesia: Mt. Merapi.
All of them have caused flight delays at the very least, and Mount Merapi impacted flights on Cathay Pacific and JAL to Jakarta last week and over this last weekend. It was even thought the ash could have been responsible for the "uncontained engine failure" of the Singapore-Sydney Qantas A380 on Thursday. Now we know that is not the case.
Dormant volcano Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra, Indonesia, erupted on Sunday and again today, spurting ash 1.5 miles up into the air. It was worse than the eruption a day earlier, but it hasn't caused any major problems at Polonia International Airport in nearby Medan.
However, officials are worried that if the volcano continues to erupt, the thick ash will cause flight disruptions. Officials also worry that the eruption could cause problems for the estimated millions of people who plan to travel from Jakarta to native villages to mark the September 9 end of Ramadan.
Indonesia sits on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines around the Pacific Basin so this volcanic eruption isn't exactly a fluke. However, before Sunday, the volcano had been inactive for the past 400 years. The recent eruptions have caused two deaths and the forced evacuation of more than 21,000 people living in the North Sumatra village.
If you plan on flying anywhere near the area today, play it safe and check with the airport ahead of time.
· Indonesian volcano erupts again, many evacuated [Reuters]
· 2 die after Indonesian volcano erupts [CNN]
· Volcano warning in Sumatra as Mount Sinabung erupts [AsiaNews.it]
Obama-Around-The-World / Presidential Travel / Barack Obama / Indonesia Travel / Guam Travel / Australia Travel / → All Tags
Hey, President Obamawhen you've just finished watching the House vote on the controversial Health Care bill, where are you going to go? It's not the Super Bowl, so you're not going to DisneyWorld, but we hear that you would have been taking off on Sunday before the vote for a lovely little tour around Indonesia, Australia and Guam, but that it's now postponed until June.
We like to imagine that that's how it'd be if we were President. Every time we overcome a hurdle, whether or not it comes out in our favor, we'd head somewhere tropical (maybe or maybe not Guam), and lift morale while getting our international diplomacy action on.
Obama postponed his Asia trip twice already to see the health care vote through, and just this morning he postponed it again until June, ruling against dashing off this weekend in Air Force One as he in favor of taking his time with both the health care bill and his trip. It's too bad he has to wait to go; we understand the cabin fever of winter, and the Washington Post talked to Mike McCurry, a Clinton-period spokesman to remind us of an important fact, however:
If you've ever smelled the supremely unpleasant odor of a durian fruit, you'll understand why we've never been brave enough to try one. This spiky, malodorous fruit comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, and while many people have assured us the flesh tastes heavenly, we've just never got past the smell.
But durians are ready for the eating in Malaysia right now, and there's even a new durian trend this season: the red flesh durian. Found growing wild in the jungles in the state of Sabah, they say that the flesh is drier than a regular durian, and the taste is a little sourer, but it's gaining popularity with tourists because of its bright red flesh.
The bonus is that at the moment, the red durian is still a lot cheaper than a regular durian. Only problem for us is that it wasn't the price or the color that was putting us off before. The bad smell, apparently, remains.
Chilling in an Aman Resort in some exotic location is already pretty enticing, but we've just heard that this hotel group has got a luxury cruiser happening too, based out of their Amanwana resort on Moyo Island, Indonesia. And we want to get on it.
The 105-foot cruiser, called Amanikan, looks a bit like a romantic old trading vessel, but is full of all the necessary luxury inside in its three cabins. They are running a trip called the Komodo Expedition which includes five nights of cruising (with days full of diving) and two final nights at the island resort. While you're on the boat you get to visit Komodo dragons and stop by the Komodo and Rinca Islands to see wild horses, deer and monkeys as well, not to mention all the sea life you'll discover while diving and snorkeling.
Exotic luxury doesn't come cheap, of course. It'll cost you upwards of $22,000 for you and a mate for the week, including everything except alcoholic drinks. But getting up close and personal with a dragon and then retreating to exotic luxury might just be worth it.
· All the Pretty Seahorses [Jaunted]
· Where to Find Komodo Dragons in Their Natural Habitat [Jaunted]
· Indonesia Travel Guide [Jaunted]
[Photo: Amre Ghiba]
Airlines coming out of Indonesia don't exactly hold the best safety reputationseven the large national airline Garuda gets its bumps and scrapes in the headlines far too often, and you might remember that the European Union, which is a bit fussy about unsafe airlines, banned every single Indonesian airline in the middle of 2007.
Things are looking a little bit better than they have in the past. The EU has just lifted the bans on four of the airlines (including Garuda) and that's inspired the Indonesian government to throw a bit more money and attention at airline safety.
The Indonesian transport minister says his goal is to get all Indonesian airlines off the blacklist by the end of the year, and he's had this smart idea about recruiting more aircraft inspectors and aviation safety managers. Hopefully this means it won't be long until we can get more cheap flights to island paradise Bali and even expect to get there and back safely.
· Indonesia Aviation to Improve Safety Image [Business Traveller]
· Bali Boosts Its Airport But Skips New Shops [Jaunted]
· EU Blacklists Siem Reap Airways And Others [Jaunted]