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Travel Politics / Politics Travel / Japan Travel / China Travel / Israel Travel / Egypt Travel / Australia Travel / Japan / China / Israel / Egypt / Australia / ANA / Japan Airlines / El Al / Qantas / Emirates / → All Tags
It's an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel. It's an even more unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel so much that we have to write about it on a Friday afternoon instead of easing you into the weekend with baby animal pictures. And yet here we are, with flights being emptied or cancelled across three continents because of a variety of geopolitical flare-ups.
The most dramatic bit of travel politics comes out of Japan, where no less than 40,000 seat reservations to China have been canceled. China has been on a bit of a tear recently, claiming a bunch of islands that by and large aren't straightforwardly quite theirs. The campaign has put them on a collision course with various other countries in the region (obviously) and one of those countries is Japan. There have been anti-Japan protests in China and, apparently, lots of Japanese people are sufficiently pissed off to cancel vacations to China.
China Travel / Thailand Travel / Bangkok Travel / China / Thailand / Bangkok / Madame Tussauds / Tourist Traps / Wax Museums / Hard Rock / → All Tags
If you've been pining for some China travel or Thailand travel, but have been holding off because they're too unique or interesting or exciting, you might want to start looking at some of those exciting Asian LCCs that we've been writing so much about. News on the hotel and entertainment front has it that the countries are getting some of the West's most refined tourist traps, the better to enhance the region's cosmopolitan flavor. Charming.
China is getting a new Hard Rock Cafe, to be attached to Macau's existing Hard Rock Hotel and its casino. This will be the second Hard Rock in China, presumably part of our plan to bankrupt the Chinese by tricking them into buying overpriced plates of fries. That's assuming that the people who dine at the establishment will be local, and that they'll also be the ones purchasing merchandise from the shops and gambling in the casino. If it's American tourists doing that, it won't do much good for our currency imbalance at all. More the opposite.
Sex Travel / Sex / China / Amusement Parks / Museums / → All Tags
Yes, the picture above is what you think it is: a giant thong-wearing midsection and legs being torn down in China a la Saddam Hussein's Baghdad statue. Except this time, it's not the people tearing it down but the government officials, who have deemed the statue and it's related "Love Land" sex theme park to be too vulgar to open publicly.
Disappointed that we won't be able to walk up to one of these sinks (semi-NSFW) during our next visit to China, we're going in search of similarly stimulating tourist attractions in our own Jaunted archives.
So now let us present you with the Top Five Alternative Sex Destinations to "Love Land:"
Feed Casper now: The traditional Chinese celebration of the Hungry Ghosts is being honored in cities around southeast Asia through the end of August with public performances and bonfires.
Folk tradition holds that deceased ancestors return during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar (August), where they can hear prayers said by their living relatives, consume elaborate meals and get directions to heaven. The devout will even build papier-maché houses and burn them, along with "hell money" bills representing wealth, thereby "sending" them to the afterlife.
You can experience Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations all over China, but also in Hong Kong, Thailand (where it is known as Por Tor) and Penang, Malaysia. Don't be surprised if you don't see a lot of people out at night for the next week or two: Those hungry ghosts are considered a menace to the living when they aren't fed.
It's no secret that here at Jaunted we love pandas. From adorable babies, they become cute nibbling adults and charmingly creepy mascots. So we may or may not have coughed up for panda pencils, folders or stuffed animals in our happy traveling lives. China's Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base decided to offer a new kind of souvenir, that we don't think we'll pick up. In fact, we think it's worth "dropping."
That's right: The base, which currently holds over 40 of the endangered mammals, is planning to sell bookmarks, sculptures and other knicknacks made of panda poop. The excrement is allegedly treated so that it doesn't smell, as well as painted so it doesn't look like dung, but it still seems like a "waste" of a gimmick. What do you think?
Animals / China / Pandas / Petting Zoos / → All Tags
Along with cuddly creatures like koalas and possums, pandas are way up there on the spectrum of cuteness. Especially baby pandas. And now we've found out where we can go to join a playground full of baby pandas.
We almost don't want to tell you, but since it's not exactly around the corner from anywhere, we trust you won't all stampede in droves. Budget Travel just tipped us off that you can get access to panda bubs in China's Wolong Nature Reserve, five hours from Chengdu, which is about a $500 flight from major Chinese cities. For $130 per person, you can enter the panda day care center, currently home to 16 panda toddlers, and play with them. You only get five minutes, but we're talking cute and cuddly baby pandas. We'd pay at least double.
A sure way to bring a few extra customers (but maybe put off a few too), this 30-foot phallic named the Sky Pillar is a concrete pole wrapped in straw at the Longwan Shaman Amusement Park. Apparently it's all for historical reasons:
Legend says a Shaman hero named Ewenki vanquished a cruel female ruler and gave her a penis totem, telling her to respect males and not kill them at will.
Got it. We just can't wait to see if this penis is big enough for Google Earth to pick it up. That'd be worth boasting about, boys.
· Where Bull Penis Is Just the Beginning [Jaunted]
So maybe it's been a while since you've paid attention to anything that goes on on "Survivor." Sure, that one couple we like to follow met on the show, and the first winner eventually went to prison for (oops!) failing to declare his winnings. But we realized it was high time the stakes were raised when CBS announced they were packing the immunity idols and heading to China for the latest edition of the reality show -- the first time ever that an American television show will be shot in the country, according to Variety.
How did this happen? Apparently China realized it could do some PR in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and pocket a few sweet television dollars at the same time by opening its borders to what Defamer called "Survivor: Human Rights Violations." (Obviously, not exactly the image they want to broadcast!) Still, it's hard not to see this as a reality-TV model for the classic sitcom "We're jumping the shark, let's go to Hawaii!" episode. Show is lagging? Head for a foreign country! "Top Model" does it every season (most recently hitting Sydney, Australia for the final runway show which decides the winner) and "Ugly Betty" just did a family-trip-to-Mexico episode (even though it was shot Stateside). I'm not tuning in unless there are pandas involved. Please, Mark Burnett, let there be pandas.
[Photo: Reality TV Magazine]
Languages / Books / China / → All Tags
We already know and accept that English language skills in China aren't perfect. And most of us have a fairly poor knowledge of Mandarin, right? So how will we communicate with our hosts when we travel to China in hordes in conjunction with the 2008 Beijing Olympics?
Authors of the Me No Speak: China "phrasebook" think they have the answer, with a Mandarin version of those little books full of pictures that you can point at to get your, well, point across. For example, "I want" written in Chinese characters at the top, and a selection of foods to point at underneath. They claim to have developed it all from their own experiences in China and apparently it works great.
Critics think that totally avoiding learning the language of the country like this ain't really right. But as the authors point out, it is better than not finding a toilet in time.
· Me No Speak Chinese [Cheapest Destinations]
· Donkeys Essential for Surviving Fires [Jaunted]
· Old, Weak, Pregnant and Disability Lounge [Jaunted]
Airlines / China / Environment / → All Tags
Only those sleeping under rocks don't know that fuel costs are a big issue for airlines these days. Slapping extra charges onto tickets is the most common way to deal with this problem, but China Southern Airlines has come up with something better.
We like to call it the "pee before you fly" campaign. Really. China Southern has started encouraging passengers to use the bathroom before boarding their flight. Some wizard there has calculated that one flush uses the energy equivalent of a car driving some six miles. More importantly, they see dollar signs in the form of how much money they can save from the skyrocketing energy costs.
A couple of other pearls of wisdom from their statistics bank: 60 tonnes of fuel per day are consumed when the aircraft carries sufficient pillows and blankets per passenger; a similar amount is wasted by loading each seat with three magazines. Why don't they just leave out the safety instruction card-- it's bound to be wasting a few tonnes of fuel, and nobody reads it anyway.
[Photo: florida straights]
· Chinese Airline Urges Passengers to Hold On [The Australian]
Languages / Animals / Scotland / China / → All Tags
We already know that the Chinese have launched a campaign to fix up their somewhat comical English. It's a pity, really, that gems like the "No entry on peacetime" sign at Beijing Airport won't welcome travelers anymore. But it seems that on our own English-speaking shores, we can't get other languages right. We can, however, get them funny.
The Fire and Rescue department in Strathclyde, Scotland, recently translated a safety handout into multiple minority languages: jolly friendly of them, we say. But, as so often happens, something got lost in translation. The Urdu version, translated back into English, gives us this hint on escaping from a burning building:
Never jump out of a window straight. Put yourself on a donkey etc and come down.Seems the Urdu words for donkey and cushion are similar; this kind of mix-up could happen to anyone. But if you see any Urdu-speakers on your travels panicking and frantically seeking a donkey, be as community-spirited as the Strathclyde Fire department and help them out.
· House Fire? Grab a Donkey [Ananova]
· Old, Weak, Disability and Pregnant Lounge [Jaunted]
China / Languages / Signs / → All Tags
Talk about a lost cause. English is being corrupted the world over--did you know that millions of Germans think that a "handy" is the equivalent of a cell-phone, and that we use the phrase "you can reach me on my handy"?--and now the Chinese government has finally decided to fix up their English before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Chinglish, their often comical mix of English and high imagination, has to go, they say.
Do we want this? Maybe it's OK to read an emergency exit sign (at Beijing Airport, no less) saying "No entry on peacetime". Or a warning for a slippery sidewalk that reads "To Take Notice of Safe; The Slippery are Very Crafty". Isn't this part of the fun of traveling in China? We say, long live the Chinglish, and we just need a friendly publisher to issue the Chinglish/English dictionary and we can travel both safely and with entertainment.
· Beijing Bids to Stamp Out Chinglish [Independent Online]