Monthly Archives: January 2010

First Night in Bangkok

Posted by on January 28, 2010

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand

Yesterday was an extremely long day for me. I woke up at 2am in Sydney to record This Week in Travel, stayed up to follow the Apple iPad announcement (I think the iPad looks to be a great travel gadget), then flew to Melbourne, was forced by the airline to buy a ticket out of Thailand before they’d let me board the flight, then sat in the air for 10 hours. In hindsight, I probably should have flown from Fiji to Hong Kong rather than Sydney, but there is no point complaining about that now.

In the taxi drive into Bangkok, I got the same feeling I did when I was here last year. There are certain cities which just have a buzz about them. New York has it, Chicago doesn’t. Hong Kong has it, Singapore doesn’t. Bangkok has it, Kuala Lumpur doesn’t. Thailand has become a magnet for so many westerners who are looking for a place overseas to work. There must be at least half a dozen different bloggers here right now.
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What the iPad Will Mean for Me and Travel

Posted by on January 27, 2010

In the few hours since the Apple iPad was announced, there has been a flurry of commentary about it, although few people have even used it yet. Here is what I think based on what I’ve seen so far, and how I see a device like this effecting me:

  • This will eliminate the need to carry books. Like many people who travel, I usually have books I carry with me. If you have ever had to carry a box of books while moving, you know they are heavy. Once you collect a few books, they become a big pain in the ass. The iPad not only eliminates the need to carry books (and probably guidebooks) but it also gives me instant, worldwide access to a giant English language bookstore, which is hard to find in many countries. Also, iBook (the new software) uses the open ePub standard, which Amazon doesn’t. In terms of competing with the Amazon Kindle, I’d say this kicks the Kindle’s ass. Most people who are pointing out the flaws are totally ignoring the use this device has an ebook reader. If you are a long term traveler, then this is a very big deal.
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    This Week in Travel – Episode 23

    Posted by on January 24, 2010

    This week’s guest is Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic Intelligent Travel Blog. This week I woke up at 4am in Fiji to attempt to join the Skype conversation but had the connection drop every 5 minutes. Overall, my performance on the show was rated FAIL.

    Subscribe to This Week In Travel on iTunes

    Thoughts on Fiji: 2010 Edition

    Posted by on January 23, 2010

    Fijian boy from the island of Waya

    Fijian boy from the island of Waya

    Here are a collection of random thoughts about my current trip to Fiji:

    – The tourism industry, especially the budget tourism industry, is expanding. This time around I noticed that Base Backpackers, the big hostel chain from New Zealand, is now in Fiji. The FeeJeeExperience, which is owned by the same company which does the KiwiExperience and the OzExperience. There are skydiving and other extreme sports options now available in Fiji as well. The percentage of 20-something Europeans I met in the Yasawas this time was much larger than my 2007 trip. They even have a Hard Rock Cafe at the harbor in Nadi. Everything seems much more mature from a business perspective.

    – There are very few Americans here. I’ve met tons of Europeans but hardly any Americans. Almost all the Europeans are on a similar path where they either were just at Australia/New Zealand or are going there next. In fact, almost all the 20-somethings seem to be taking the same general trip. Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and LA. I still recommend the Yasawas as a destination, especially if you’ve never been there before, but when I return to Fiji next time, I’m going to a different part of the country.
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    Travel Gear Review – Energizer 15 Minute AA and AAA Battery Charger

    Posted by on January 19, 2010

    Back in July, the attendees of TBEX got a bag full of free crap from companies, just like you’d get at any convention. Most of the stuff was junk you’d toss in the garbage, but we got one freebie which I thought was just awesome: a battery charger from Energizer. Not only was it a very practical piece of schwag, but it was a brilliant marketing move on the part of Energizer. Because I had the charger, I ended up buying their batteries and now I’m writing a blog post on their product. It was sort of like giving away the razor to sell the blades. Pure brilliance.

    Since then I’ve been buying more devices which require AA/AAA batteries so I’ve been putting the charger through its paces.

    Overview

    I currently carry four devices with me that require AA or AAA batteries: two flashes for my camera (Nikon SB-900 and SB-600), a wireless mouse and my Bose noise canceling headphones. Buying new batteries was fine when I just needed the two for my cordless mouse, but with the demands that strobes bring, I needed a rechargeable battery solution. The Energizer charger was given to all the attendees at TBEX 2009 for free, but all subsequent batteries I purchased myself. The charger retails for $33.96 on Amazon.com.
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    Back in the Saddle Again: Fiji Edition

    Posted by on January 15, 2010

    The life of a travel blogger isn't all fun and games...oh, wait, yes it is

    The life of a travel blogger isn't all fun and games...oh, wait, yes it is

    As I write this, I am laying on a hammock with my laptop on my chest about 10m (30ft) from the shore of the Pacific Ocean on the island of Naviti in Fiji. While I’m enjoying the weather here much more than the freezing temperatures I left behind in Wisconsin, the purpose of this post is not to rub it in to those back home (although I desperately do want to do that too).

    Prior to departing Los Angeles for Fiji last Sunday (and completely deleting January 11 from my life as I crossed the International Date line) I’d had been in the United States for the previous five month. While I had spent the majority of that time traveling, it wasn’t traveling in the same sense as I am traveling now or I had been traveling the previous 2.5 years. The only thing I had to deal with traveling in the US were gas prices and motel rooms. I didn’t have issues of language, culture or extreme distances to deal with. I was on the road, but it was fundamentally different.
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    I Am Outta Here!

    Posted by on January 7, 2010

    Conditions at the airport

    This is where I am.... Taken with my iPhone

    Some are calling this the worst winter in 25 years. The entire island of Great Britain is covered with snow. In Florida, the entire orange crop is threatened by freezing weather. Flights in Tampa, (TAMPA!) were delayed because of ice. This morning when I woke up there was another two inces of snow and as I sit here at the Green Bay airport writing this, I can’t see across the runway because of the blowing snow.

    I couldn’t have picked a better time to leave.

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    Why I Don’t Enter Photography Contests

    Posted by on January 5, 2010

    If you want to use my photos, at least give me more than a losing lottery ticket

    I often get sent links from readers about various photos contests they think I should enter. It is flattering that they think my works is good enough to win, but the fact is I never enter photo contests. Never.

    A recent contest sponsored by Frommers is a great example and seems pretty typical of most photo contests. Frommers is offering the winner of the contest $5,000 and a spot on the cover of one of their guidebooks. Indeed, if I was offered $5,000 for the cover of a guidebook, I’d take it. Even if Frommers got nothing out of the contest other than the right to use the winning photos, it would still be a good deal for them. It is probably less than what a full blown photo shoot might cost if they were to hire a professional photographer. (more…)