Some Travel Notes

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Tag: some travel notes

Phnom Penh: The Indian Transportation Takeover

It was a late arrival at the small Phnom Penh airport on the outskirts of the atmospheric city, ever bustling with street-food, motorbikes and people busy under the dim street-lighting and the warm, humid, night sky. We got into our 1980s Jaguar, began discussing with the driver about Sinn Sissamouth, Ros Serey Sothea and the other great singers and musicians of pre-war Cambodia. It felt good to be back in a country I’ve been to many times since my first visit in 2004.

Jaguar in Cambodia

Vintage Jag outside the Pavilion, Phnom Penh

But this time there was something different about the streets. And it was only a year since our previous visit. My first thought was that we’d boarded the wrong flight and ended up in Delhi. Apart from the Khmer language and the drivers on the right-side of the road, of course.

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Plastic, Plastic: Plastic and Travel

There is little reason to write too much about the massive burden that plastic in all its forms is placing on our planet; everyone knows this, it’s that we have become so reliant on this damaging material, that knowing how to stop using so much of it is one of the greatest challenges presented to the modern world.

At home in a familiar environment we have a certain amount of control over how and when we use plastic, and how we dispose of it, but when travelling, reducing plastic usage or finding ways to best recycle what we do use can be a difficult task.

And it all starts when you board your flight.

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Do you want to know the best way to travel like a local?

It might seem obvious, but to some maybe not so. You may not speak the language. The subway map may not be as thoughtfully laid out like the Tube map Harry Beck masterpiece of 1931. The bus system may not be as slick as the one in your home town. If you own a car, and you live in the sticks, you may not even be used to using it back home.

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Stop making nice places famous.

“Shit, busy would be an understatement. But the article said it was pristine and peaceful.” Every traveller has muttered words to that effect. Should it not occur to us that we went there, because of the guidebook, or that travel site we stumbled upon. AND so did all the others.

The LP effect. This often useful publication has been known for the influence it exerts on certain businesses and particular destinations. Recommend one cafe in Goa, and that cafe becomes the place to go for the average visitor. Suggest one beach over another, and that becomes the preferred beach for the masses, no matter if just over the headland there is an even more picturesque, and of course quieter stretch. Travel in India, and see that if a cafe has been recommended by the LP, you’ll see signs all over the business exterior shouting about it. You may also find that other enterprises have opened up with the same name, knowing full well that any recommendation in the LP would boost their takings hugely. Such is the influence travel writers can have.

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Dalian’s Oktoberfest inspired beer festival is coming, but why the popularity of German beer in China?

Dalian Beer Festival 2018 starts on 26th July 2018 and runs for approximately 12 days. If you are reading this from outside of China and have never visited, your experience of Chinese drinking culture may be restricted to the world famous Tsingtao beer. In fact Tsingtao or 青岛  – Qingdao – as is actually written in pinyin (the official system for Romanisation of Chinese characters), comes from the city of Qingdao on the east coast of China. It is no coincidence that Qingdao was occupied by Germany from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Presumably because the occupying Germans found the local 白酒 baijiu, rice whiskey, a little too potent, in 1903 they established  the Germania Brewery. This later became the Tsingtao Brewery.

If you are familiar, you’ll know that Tsingtao beer does not taste like a typical German beer. It is in its simplest form a light, refreshing lager, that is typical of mainstream beers throughout Asia. It’s around 4% abv. In China, alcohol content of beer is usually given as an exceeding or equals to rather than an exact figure. Sometimes, it can feel like a kind of beer lottery.

Dalian Beer Festival 2018

The tents of Dalian’s 2018 Beer Festival are up, but not yet filled with beer, July 2018

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Change in Beijing’s hutongs 胡同

Beijing. A fascinating city, one that is thoroughly enjoyable to live in. But pollution can get even the most hardy of resident down, and like any big city, it can be overwhelmingly busy and hectic at times. Unsurprising for a city in excess of 21 million residents. But what arguably gives Beijing an edge over other similar sized cities, is being able to escape to the relative tranquility of the hutong areas. For those who are unfamiliar,

Rickshaw hutong Beijing

A 三轮车 san lun che rickshaw driver in a typical hutong

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Some Travel Notes 2018 All rights reserved