Daily Archives: February 4, 2009

Using Twitter for Travel

Posted by on February 4, 2009

If you recall, I have written about why you don’t need a guidebook to travel. They are heavy, expensive and out of date. Since I’ve wrote that article, I’ve encountered even more examples of how guidebooks have failed travelers and they had to end up getting information locally anyhow.

But I’m not here to open up that can of worms again….

I want to talk about how great Twitter is for getting information while you are on the road. Twitter is called a “microblogging” platform. You can post messages upto 140 characters. If you think posting 140 character messages is stupid, you aren’t alone. Pretty much everyone things Twitter is stupid when they first hear about it. I thought it was stupid.

Once you start using it, however, it becomes addictive. Twitter is in some respects on a par with my website. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll be notified of my blog posts, but you can also have a conversation on top of that.

Tonight I posted two questions to the world via Twitter:

1) Serious question: how do I remove the smell from a pair of sandals? it is so bad I can’t stand to be near myself.

2) any suggestions for what to do/see in Bahrain?

Below are a sample of the answers I got from people over a period of about 30 minutes. Some people sent me private messages and some people replied via Facebook. (Its a long image, make sure to scroll down)

Within minutes I was able to pick the collective mind of the internet and get some really specific advice for the questions I had. Stinky sandals is pretty general but questions about Bahrain was pretty specific. In both cases, people came through with some pretty good advice.

This is sort of immediacy and specificity is something you will never get on the printed page and is another reason why guidebooks will go the way of the dodo in the 21st Century. Doubt me? @Benjilanyado is currently on a trip to Paris using nothing but Twitter to do research.

I’ll often answer questions from people if it deals with one of the places I’ve been, or if someone has questions about long term travel. Not only do you know who you are dealing with, you have the ability to ask follow up questions, which you can’t do with a guidebook.

If you aren’t on Twitter, give it a shot even if you think it is lame. It is something you really can’t “get” until you try it. If you are thinking of traveling anytime soon, you’ll find it indispensable.

Qatar Went Quickly

Posted by on February 4, 2009

..and so ends my time in Qatar.

I saw the sights, I ate the food, and I took some photos. There isn’t really much more to Qatar. It’s a small country.

Its a fine place. Nothing wrong with it. It isn’t really what you’d call exciting, however. . Sure, you can go ride a dune buggy in the desert, but you can do that anywhere with a desert.

The place I’m staying is cheap, but it is sort of far away from the action in Doha. Getting a taxi is a crap shoot and there is a ton of construction around here and major highways. It isn’t really conducive to walking. It makes it difficult to want to stay here longer when transportation is so difficult.

There is construction in Qatar, but it is nothing on the level of what you see in Dubai. They are doing there own artificial island project here too, but it doesn’t seem as large as any of the Palm projects in Dubai, either.

Doha would be a much more interesting place to visit I think if I hadn’t spent as much time as I did in Dubai. It is to Dubai what Des Monies is to Chicago.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Bahrain, which is sort of a joke of a flight. It is so short you have to begin landing as soon as you take off. The flight is so short, that it should be replaced in a few years by a bridge. Taking a bus to Bahrain is an option, and one that I considered, but getting a special transit visa for Saudi Arabia seemed like a hassle just to sit in a bus for 5 hours. Saudi Arabia does not make it easy to visit their country.

I’ve gotten the impression that Bahrain is sort of the Vegas of the Middle East. It is where Saudis go to drink. I’m sure “Vegas of the Middle East” has to be put in context and it is probably more like the “Branson, Missouri of the Middle East”, minus the Lawrence Welk Theater.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #52: Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns

Posted by on February 4, 2009

World Heritage Site #52: Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns

World Heritage Site #52: Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns

From the World Heritage inscription:

Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a number of fine monuments, illustrating the beginnings of Thai architecture. The great civilization which evolved in the Kingdom of Sukhothai absorbed numerous influences and ancient local traditions; the rapid assimilation of all these elements forged what is known as the ‘Sukhothai style’.

Sukhothai is what I wish Angkor would become. While not nearly as large as Angkor, the grounds of Sukhothai is still very large, I’d estimate about the size of Central Park in New York. It is also cared for like a park. The grass is trimmed, the roads are in good shape, there are paved walking paths, and everyone just looks nice. They also offer bikes for going to the various temples, which is a very popular option.

It is one of the least visited tourist attractions I’ve been to in Thailand. It is about midway between Chaing Mai and Bangkok. I’d highly recommend it as a stop if you are going from Bangkok to the north.