Airport as barometer of the city

madrid airport
Photo by S Migol
A cities airport is an expression of what that city is and wants to be:

The aerial view may be a traveler’s first glimpse at what the immediate future holds. But it’s probably the airport experience on the ground that cements a traveler’s first substantial impression of a city and its merits, whether premature or otherwise. That experience — the flow, sense of efficiency, and all the small details enabled by the airport’s architecture — can be viewed as an expression of what the city stands for, or what it aspires to be.
For those investigating emerging cities and the development of ecosystems to support the cities’ entrepreneurial ambitions, the experience at the airport is almost an initial barometer for things to come.

Most of my negative opinions of many destinations start at the airport.
For me it’s not about brilliant architecture, shopping and dining experiences as much as the systems to get me to my destination. Your first experience when arriving in Taipei is a gaggle of sale people trying to sell you duty free – then you are swiftly through immigration to the taxi curb. In Vancouver upon arrival you are greeted by jack booted security who take aside those who fit a profile. As described in the article Hong Kong is by far my favorite.
The Airport as an Expression of a City’s Aspirations


Heavy Bag Refrain

Heavy bags in Istanbul
Photo by ildiva
When traveling there is nothing worse than being hampered or glued to your choice of luggage. For some this isn’t a problem. To them travel is about taking a taxi to the hotel and seeing the city from the windows of a tour bus. I like to immediately get out on foot to explore the alleys and eat at the restaurants where the locals eat. I want to light, free and unburdened by unnecessary extras in a hard sided suitcase or an overpacked backpack.
This passage from the Art of Travel states well how I feel:

When your pack is light and efficient you feel happy and free. If on your way to a hostel or a train station you spy a pleasant café you would like to enjoy for awhile–you can. Or perhaps you would venture into a shop, watch old men play chess in a park, take a scenic route. Whatever you want to do, you can do. That’s good traveling.
When your pack is heavy and cumbersome you are never a happy traveler. All-consumed with the singular demand of transporting your burden to its destination, you will mostly see and experience the ground in front of you.
Indeed as sweat pours over your brow and as your shoulders ache from the cutting weight you will more resemble a godforsaken soul in a chain gang than a happy-go-lucky traveler.
But even that isn’t the worst scenario. Many travelers pack and accumulate so much their range is limited to a hundred yards–and this only with bursts of superhuman effort. They wait for time to pass and help to arrive.
Perhaps someday as you skip through a faraway train station you’ll come across one of these forlorn and weary travelers, and hear his or her version of the Heavy Packer’s Refrain, which goes something like this: “I’ve got so much junk I’m always sitting around guarding it while everyone else is off having fun!”

The article continues with some useful advice on what type of bag you should choose for your trip (backpacks specifically).
More: Walking and Backpacks


Travel is freedom and lightness

Travel is freedom and lightness
Flying by albertopveiga
Christina Wodtke writes about reveling in the lightness of travel:

But the real secret of travel is the one George Clooney knows, and most folks who see the movie won’t believe. It’s to stop fighting the impermanence of travel, and to revel in it. I love sliding through security like a hot knife through butter because I know the tricks. I love being the only fuzzy white coat in a sea of blue suits in the A section of Southwest, and love striding past the limo drivers and kissing lovers to the taxi stand without double checking any signs. But better, I love my small duffel I can carry because I learned to pack only two panties, bras and shirts, only pack the book I am actually reading and never ever unpack deoderant, toothbrush or ibuprofen. I love to travel light.
Lightness is always literal and metaphoric with travel. Lightness is the only important lesson of travel. It’s the difference between catching your boat or missing it because you can’t run to the dock fast enough. Travel favors the prepared, but it also favors the minimalist. George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air takes this to its logical extreme. He refuses both physical and emotional baggage, gliding thorugh life like Fred Astaire with rolling luggage. I was amazed the movie didn’t judge him for his choice to be frictionless and unburdened, as most Hollywood movies would . In fact, one could argue the only time the story “punished” him was when he tried to add weight to his life. The movie asked us to take a steely eye to our lives and ask how much of the romance, family, and stuff we haul around is really worth it? When you get home from a long trip, how many clean clothes do you have in your luggage, how many unopened medicines, how many unused gadgets? How many of those relatives you can’t stand are worth standing? What do you need?

Leave the clutter comforts of home, at home, and enjoy the freedom that traveling light provides.
The Unbearable Lightness of Travel


Travelling makes you more creative

216 Thamel at dawn
216 Thamel at dawn

Travel, at least the travel I engage in, forces me to think in whole new ways, and tackle problems that never happen in my day to day life. I find routine, though comforting, becomes mind numbing over time. I’m not forced to think as I act largely on instinct. When I travel I’m forced to navigate strange streets in a language not my own, while I wonder about contingencies if the ATM won’t work or the credit card is somehow unusable. I see things and experience points of view entirely different from my day to day existence.

I never travel to rest or have a vacation. I don’t understand the concept of traveling thousands of miles to simply sit by a hotel pool or hide away inside a spa. When I travel to a place I want to see, experience, and do as much as I possibly can in the time I have.
Where at home I am largely an introvert, abroad I approach strangers and ask them questions. I sit and watch people, observing their behaviour, style, and tastes. I document all that I see and experience.

It is during these times, and they have been far too few, that with a sketch book in hand I have had the clarity of thought to ponder whatever problem I am trying to solve. New ideas and new approaches emerge. If you are having trouble thinking through a new direction in your business, new product concepts or simply looking for a new perspective, going abroad, stepping outside the familiar helps immensely.

Though often exhausted, when I return from a trip I feel energised and full of crazy ideas.

The same applies to travelling abroad for extended periods to work, the freelancers dream of running a small business from the beach, working for long periods can help you reinvigorate yourself towards your work in all kinds of unexpected ways. Living and working in a foreign culture forces you to face different challenges daily over a long period of time, ways of thinking and ways of getting things done. It can only have a positive effect.

Jonah Lehrer wrote how travel is a basic human desire that makes you smarter, more open-minded and creative: “Why do we travel? It’s not the flying I mind – I will always be awed by the physics that gets a fat metal bird into the upper troposphere. The rest of the journey, however, can feel like a tedious lesson in the ills of modernity, from the pre-dawn X-ray screening to the sad airport malls peddling crappy souvenirs. It’s globalisation in a nutshell, and it sucks”. Because, “travel, in other words, is a basic human desire. We’re a migratory species, even if our migrations are powered by jet fuel and Chicken McNuggets. But here’s my question: is this collective urge to travel – to put some distance between ourselves and everything we know – still a worthwhile compulsion?”> Yes, “when we escape from the place we spend most of our time, the mind is suddenly made aware of all those errant ideas we’d suppressed. We start thinking about obscure possibilities … that never would have occurred to us if we’d stayed back on the farm. Furthermore, this more relaxed sort of cognition comes with practical advantages, especially when we’re trying to solve difficult problems”, and

cultural contrasts mean that seasoned travellers are alive to ambiguity, more willing to realise that there are different (and equally valid) ways of interpreting the world. This in turn allows them to expand the circumference of their “cognitive inputs”, as they refuse to settle for their first answers and initial guesses.

So my advice is don’t just go to your local coffee shop for a change of environment, go far afield, travel to someplace new. But forget club med, cruises and packages to Cuba; destinations that try to recreate the comforts of home. Instead, travel far and drop yourself in the middle of somewhere different and see if “distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity”.


Travel Packing Tips from the Pros

Travel Packing Tips from the Pros
The New York Times gleans tips from professional flight crews on how to pare down your luggage and pack as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately they miss pointing out the benefits of soft-sided luggage. Part of the point of traveling with one bag is the ease of movement it provides; the benefits of those wheels on your bag soon disappear when you hit the city streets. There are some good tips, including the rolling of clothes, a habit I have had for years much to the chagrin of my wife who carefully folds everything.

“I try to pack everything I’ll need to survive”

“Fast-dry apparel isn’t always the most stylish, but it’s lightweight, washable in a hotel room sink and takes up little room. Think REI or Travelsmith.”

“Think hard about what you are doing,” he said. “Pare down what you are going to bring. Then, when you’re done, pare it down again.”

This article has been on the NYT most emailed list for at least a few days showing perhaps more mainstream interest in what many of us have been practicing for years. Perhaps people will come to realise that traveling with one bag is not a form of roughing it but luxury in the freedom and practicality it provides.
Packing Tips From Travel Pros

For more information on traveling light or bags in general see:


6 Essential iPhone Apps for Asian Travel

As the number of apps. in the iTunes store has continued to grow, the iPhone has become an essential travel tool. While Eliss, Stanza and Articles keep me entertained and informed, the following are the iPhone applications that I consider essential tools in my travels around Asia.

D-Clock

D-Clock
Inspired by the wrist watch designs of Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs, D-Clock is an analogue watch with alarm and calendar, which maintains in software, the simplicity and function of the original designers work. It has all the usual alarm setting and sounds but I love how you set the clock and alarm by moving the hands. Very intuitive. I have a thing for clocks on the iPhone and this is thus far my favorite.

Read more


Air Travel Set To Suck More

Serious aircraft face
As if it wasn’t bad enough already, be prepared for some additional security precautions and likely inconveniences if you are traveling to the US from an International airport.
Travelers to U.S. Now Face Patdowns and Other Scrutiny
Airline passengers traveling to the United States on Sunday were subjected to more scrutiny, including physical patdowns, in the wake of new restrictions that lengthened lines at airports and limited the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane. The Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Sunday that all passengers headed to the United States from foreign destinations are supposed to be subject to a physical patdown at thegate area, in addition to more frequent carry-on bag checks. The requirement is imposed on foreign airports.
TSA continues to allow laptop computers, cell phones and other electronic items.
TSA says its still allowing laptops & cellphones onboard but some ppl experiencing different flying from other countries
New rules keep passengers in seats
New government security regulations prohibit passengers from leaving their plane seats beginning an hour before landing.
Bad time to be a Nigerian with irritable bowel syndrome.
A Nigerian man who became ill on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit — the same flight involved in Friday’s terrorism attempt — triggered a security alert at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after the pilots requested emergency assistance upon landing … Earlier in the afternoon, Delta Airlines, which acquired Northwest last year, said in a statement that the crew had requested police assistance on the ground because a passenger was “verbally disruptive.” … The T.S.A. said that the flight landed safely at Detroit International Airport at approximately 12:35 p.m. Eastern “without incident.”
It’s amazing to me just how much people will put up with when they are flying.
Update since this was posted:
Some security has been relaxed since the underwear bomb incident but it’s worth noting that the increased security only applies to flights who destination or departure is the United States. Asian travel is unaffected.
President Obama, It’s Time To Fire the TSA
Today, DHS’s Napolitano’s response to the crotchbomber: “We’re looking to make sure that this sort of incident cannot recur.” But the TSA’s response to Abdulmutalib’s attempt makes one thing clear: We must stop pretending the TSA is making us safer.
Security expert Bruce Schneier nails the core incompetency: “For years I’ve been saying ‘Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.'”
The Unofficial Guide to Flying After the Underwear Bomb
The TSA hasn’t explained jack. But we found this audio of a pilot explaining the new in-flight security arrangements. Based on that, and what else we know, here’s an unofficial guide to travel in the age of the underwear bomb.


The cognitive benefits of travel

Lady selling flowers in Bangkok

Why do we travel? It’s not the flying I mind–I will always be awed by the physics that get a fat metal bird into the upper tropo- sphere. The rest of the journey, however, can feel like a tedious lesson in the ills of modernity, from the predawn x-ray screening to the sad airport malls peddling crappy souvenirs. It’s globalization in a nutshell, and it sucks.
And yet here we are, herded in ever greater numbers onto planes that stay the same size. Sometimes, of course, we travel because we have to. Because in this digital age there is still something important about the analog handshake. Or eating Mom’s turkey on Thanksgiving. Or seeing the girlfriend during her semester break.
Travel, in other words, is a basic human desire. We’re a migratory species, even if our migrations are powered by jet fuel and Chicken McNuggets. But here’s my question: is this collective urge to travel – to put some distance between ourselves and everything we know–still a worthwhile compulsion? Or is it like the taste for saturated fat, one of those instincts we should have left behind in the Pleistocene epoch? Because if travel is just about fun then I think the TSA killed it.
The good news, at least for those of youreading this while stuck on a tarmac eating stale pretzels, is that pleasure is not the only consolation of travel. In fact, several new science papers suggest that getting away–and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going–is an essential habit of effective thinking. It’s not about vacation, or relaxation, or sipping daiquiris on an unspoiled tropical beach: it’s about the tedious act itself, putting somemiles between home and wherever you happen to spend the night.

I so want to simply cut ‘n’ paste the whole article here because it’s not until much later that Jonah Lehrer gets to the point I observe within myself time and time again when I travel. Even when I only travel somewhere new 30 minutes away.

… our thoughts are shackled by the familiar. The brain is a neural tangle of near infinite possibility, which means that it spends alot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. As a result, creativity is traded away for efficiency; we think in literal prose, not symbolist poetry. A bit of distance, however, helps loosen the chains of cognition, making it easier to see something new in the old …

Travel, at least the travel I engage in, forces me to think in whole new ways; tackle problems that never happen in my day to day life. I find routine, though comforting, becomes mind numbing over time. I’m not forced to think as I act largely on instinct. When I travel I’m forced to navigate strange streets in a language not my own while I wonder about contingencies if the atm won’t work or the credit card is somehow unusable. I see things and experience points of view entirely different from my day to day existence.
When I travel I can’t sit still. I could never imagine lounging about in a hotel, a hotel which provides the same experience as every other hotel in the world. Which is the point for many – familiarity and the comfort of being home. I get out and walk, and walk, and walk. I try to experience as much as I can in the time I have. Where at home I am an introvert, abroad I approach strangers and ask them questions. I sit and watch people, observing their behaviour, style, and tastes. I document all that I see and experience.
How can this not have positive cognitive benefits.
Why We Travel by Jonah Lehrer


An Itinerary For A Short Stay In Bangkok

bangkok bike

I’ve travelled to Bangkok so many times that many of the traditional tourist attractions, though amazing, have lost much of their appeal to me. Bangkok is a big city with a tremendous variety of activities that cater to just about every interest. Activities for families, museums, the best movie theatres in Asia, art and design exhibits, towering restaurants on top of the city, shopping and yet more shopping, are all wrapped with a unique rich culture, and some of the friendliest people in the world. With frequent short visits I try to see something different, exploring different neighbourhoods, while hitting the usual haunts that make Bangkok special to me.

As soon as I arrive and before I get started, I always hit the grocery store where I stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, water, and other essentials. I do this no matter which city I land in, but I’ve learned the hard way in Bangkok that not eating right can have some uncomfortable consequences. For groceries, Tops Market Place and Foodland are good choices, but even your local 7-11 will have a surprising selection of fresh food. My one risk is coffee to go from a street vender. It’s not a French café but there is something about starting my day with fresh Thai. coffee replete with condensed milk that marks the start of any day there.

It’s almost impossible to plan a timed itinerary into a short space of time here so I tend to write a laundry list of places I want to visit, and hope that I can manage to check them all off during my stay. Excluding all the usual meandering about with camera and the inevitable stops for banana shakes, the following is alternate itinerary for a short stay in Bangkok

bangkok street art

Thai. Art & Design

Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC). The TCDC offers world-class design and creativity resources for all visitors, both Thai and foreign. An essential visit for the design enthusiast the TCDC holds regular programs, permanent and temporary exhibitions and the Shop@TCDC offers for purchase a wide range of incredible design objects from around the world. The TCDC Resource Center has a wealth of design knowledge and resources, which includes: books, journals, magazines, and comprehensive design databases. For more well-rounded design knowledge, TCDC also offers Material ConneXion® Bangkok for members looking to explore design materials and learn how to adapt them effectively. Non-members can get a day pass.

Take the BTS sky train and get off at Phrom Phong Station (E5). Enter the Emporium Shopping Complex and go up to 6th floor.

National Gallery. Housed in a former Royal Mint built during the reign of King Rama V, the National Gallery displays work by Thai artists from the 17th Century onwards. Inherited by the Department of Fine Arts in 1974, it includes permanent exhibitions of works by King Rama VI and H.M. King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, traditional murals from early periods in the capital’s history, and pioneering Thai modern art. Particularly evident is the influence of Western schools of art, like impressionism and cubism, on recent Thai artists. There is also an area featuring temporary exhibitions of art from home and abroad, everything from painting and sculptures to prints and installations. Open from 09:00 – 16:00 (Wednesday – Sunday).

4 Chao-Fa Road, opposite the National Theatre, Rattanakosin
C+66 (0)2 282 2639100

Tonson Art Gallery. Named after its street address, 100 Tonson Gallery is a striking space set in a private residence covering a total space of 100 square metres. At the forefront of private art spaces in Bangkok, 100 Tonson Gallery aims to promote the contemporary art scene and exhibits artworks by Thai and international artists including paintings, sculptures and photographs, as well as installations, new media and conceptual art.

Open from 11:00 – 19:00 (Thursday – Sunday).
100 Soi Tonson, Ploenchit Road
+66 (0)2 684 1527
Very close to Chidlom station; parking available.

La Lanta Fine Art. La Lanta represents talented Thai and Asian artists; it also features inspiring paintings and sculptures in its regular art exhibitions. La Lanta houses an extensive selection of international art prints for home decoration. Adult art classes at beginner and advanced levels are also provided, conducted in small groups by experienced artists. Art-related products such as notebooks and art frames are available for purchase.

Open from 10:00 – 21:00 (Tuesday – Sunday).
657 Baan Silom (corner of Silom 19), Silom Road
Surasak station
+66 (0)2 266 9180-1

bangkok-shopping.jpg

Shopping

You could probably contain all your shopping to Chatuchak Weekend Market and not be disappointed. In addition to Chatuchak, here are some other destinations.

Bangkoker. Started by a Thai architect with a passion for graphic design, this tiny shop has tees that are unique and visually compelling.

Samsen Road, in the Pranakorn area between soi 1 and 3, about a 15 minute walk from Khao San Road
+66 (0)2 628 9722

Fotoguffy: For cameras of yore. It’s a bit out of the way but might be worth the effort if interested in Lomo and vintage camera gear. The shop’s owner, Khun Boy, used up his savings to buy these hard-to-find gadgets off eBay, so you don’t have to. Most of the cameras here are secondhand, especially the Polaroids, but there are the new models of modern Lomography cameras.

Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Chulalongkorn Soi 50, Sam Yan
+66 (0)8 1647 7371

Suan Lum Night Bazaar, the “VIP outdoor market of Bangkok”, has a good selection of Thai crafts, souvenirs, clothes, and local food, all at very reasonable prices. Take the MRT subway to Lumpini station; the market is near Lumpini Park, a short walk from the station.

No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market. There are hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling everything from jeans to pets. Inside this hot massive space are more people than can comfortably fit, which is part of the fun.

Take the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station and exit down the right-hand stairs, follow the crowd for a five-minute walk, and you’re there.

Pratunam Wholesale Market. Located at the intersection of Ratchaprop and Petchburi roads, Pratunam Wholesale Market is one of Bangkok’s major markets, selling clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories at wholesale prices. You can bargain if you like but with prices as cheap as they are here you likely won’t have to.

Zen at Central World. If funky, edgy designer goods are what you are interested in, and price is less of a concern, places like ZEN, Playground, Manga, Flow Now and Q Concept have all the latest design trends in the world covered. This is where all well financed cool and hip in Bangkok go to shop — so they say.

Ratchaprasong intersection, Pathumwan Central World Plaza
BTS Chidlom

bangkok outdoor restaurant

Food

I’m not a foodie and bad experiences aside find that the best food eaten in Bangkok is often found on the street or street side eateries. But sometimes the smell of exhaust fumes and the comfort of cheap plastic chairs gets tiring so I look for more refined digs.

Eatme. A trendy restaurant with a regular exhibition schedule of international and local artists organised by H Gallery. The food is good but go there for the art.

“This coolly elegant restaurant, with seats in both the sleek dining room and the inviting outdoor garden features rotating exhibits of local artists, often in conjunction with the
well-regarded H Gallery”. – New York Times 36 Hours in Bangkok.

Located on Soi Phi Phat 2, Convent Rd near BTS Sala Daeng.

Café Ubuntu. A compact two-story café that somehow finds space to place art on it’s walls.

Shop 9, Silom Grand Terrace Bldg. 1/252 Soi Sala Daeng 2

Greyhound Café. This Thai-fusion café run by fashion house Greyhound has a number of locations around Bangkok, but the Emporium location is your best bet.

Emporium Shopping Mall, 2nd floor, tel +66 (0)2 664 8663

For better insight on food in Bangkok you should check out Modern Food in Bangkok. A great write up by Geoffrey Smith. You won’t go wrong by picking a couple restaurants from his list.

I no longer partake much in the way of nightlife, avoid crap like Patpong, so when in Bangkok I love spending my evenings going to the movies. Most new cinemas in Bangkok offer some type of Gold Class seating. For the price of a ticket in the West, you get a plush recliner, a pillow and blanket, and even a welcome drink. They bring the menu and you order what you want to eat and drink. The Paragon shopping mall’s Major Cineplex venue is newer, but the EGV Grand in Siam Discovery Center has nicer seats.

I hope you find something in this list that makes your stay in Bangkok an enjoyable one.


Bangkok experiences an all-time low in hotel occupancies

Bangkok BTS line
International arrivals declined by 21% in the first six months of 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008.
During this time, it was reported that Bangkok’s five-star hotels recorded occupancy of approximately 47% while four-star hotels recorded approximately 51% during the same period.
Bangkok hotels have not witnessed such levels of occupancy since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
It was forecast that occupancy is likely to remain in the 50% to 60% region as approximately 7,150 rooms are expected to enter the market in the next three years.
This fall may prove to be an excellent time to visit.
Source: www.hvs.com


Japan Cultural Guide

japanguide.jpg
Whether you are visiting on business or plan for a short or long term stay, hopefully this short list of resources will make your trip to Japan more interesting. While much of this pertains to Tokyo but there should be enough information here to guide you to experience the rest of Japan.

Guide

Art Space Tokyo
Art Space Tokyo acts as your 272 page personal guide and interpreter, connecting you with the neighborhoods and figures behind some of the most inspiring art spaces in this colossal city.

Tokyo superguide
Downloadable PDF city superguide for global shopping experts 30 pages total

Read more


How to avoid confusion on your travels in Europe


From website Fasten Seat Belts To The World which tries to help travellers break cultural and linguistic barriers, raise their curiosity towards new languages, and help you kill time intelligently.
Today, travelling has become necessary and accessible to more and more people. This increased mobility exposes millions of travellers every day to new cultures, customs and languages. Without education, dialogue can be difficult and misunderstandings can arise. You can get yourself in all sorts of trouble in other countries by not having an understanding of their cultural language. Much of our behaviour can mean other things in other countries, some of it amusing, some of it extremely offensive.
Fasten Seat Belts To The World. Via Swissmiss.


How to pack for travel

packing.jpg
Some bag-packing travel advice for men from The Art of Manliness. The article includes folding tips for avoiding wrinkles and comes replete with a helpful printable version. A couple tips from the article which I have similarly done for some time:

Finally, pack an empty garbage bag in your suitcase. That way you can keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones while on your trip.
If you plan on bringing a ton of stuff home, pack a collapsible bag inside of your bigger bag, and you can fill it with your booty.

If you are having trouble deciding what to bring or need help getting organized, I created a simple travel todo and packing list to help get you started. Print it off before your next trip.
How to Pack a Bag for Travel. Via Hivelogic.


Me No Speak – Language Companion

meno_speak.jpg
Traditional phrase books are nice but when dealing with a difficult tonal language a picture can help you communicate faster and more effectively. When my vocabulary (and mime) fails me I resort to on-the-spot sketching in a small moleskin notebook. This would be fine if I could actually illustrate effectively. Me No Speak to the rescue.
Me No Speak are passport-sized books designed with illustrations and phrases about food, money, transportation and bathrooms, printed in English and the local language, thereby helping you to communicate in the simplest way-by pointing at what you want to say. They are faster and certainly more beautiful means to communicate an urgent need than my homespun effort.
When traveling without knowing the language, in one of the countries represented, this simple book could prove to be an incredible asset for everyday situations.
me no speak


Google City Tours helps build itineraries

vancouver.jpg
Beyond ensuring that I have all I need in my bag, I’m not a big believer in exhaustive trip planning. I prefer spontaneity as a means of framing my experience of a new place. When visiting a city I do pick waypoints, specific points of interest, which I might try to hit while I go about my urban explorations. I’ve long since eschewed the guidebook for background research, preferring google search or local blogs as my pre departure tools, and locals for on arrival advice.
Though fairly limited in scope, I couldn’t find anything for major centers in Asia, Googles newly introduced City Tours has me excited as it removes my need for a large bulky map and further refines my pre-departure research. It’s also excellent for last minute arrivals.
City Tours helps the user “identify points of interest and plan multi-day trips to most major cities throughout the world.”
It features suggested sights, the ability to manually enter your own points of interest and to view refinements like distance & time. This is a very functional tool, especially when coupled with a device like an iPhone with it’s built in compass and aGPS. City Tours is a Google Labs project which generally means it’s still very much a work-in-progress.
Google Labs’ City Tours. Via Google launches City Tours.