How to survive travel


Some bloody good advice: get there really early, opt out of the pornoscanner, bring a white flu mask, headphones and a set of noise-cancellers.

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The horrible seating configuration Airbus wants to patent

airbus-bike-seats-leg-room

Here's the patent application. The "good" news: It's just conceptual. Regulators wouldn't let Ryanair sell standing room tickets, so maybe this would be banned as well?

Superefficient campstove that charges your phone while it boils water, using only twigs


The superefficient Biolite woodstove will boil water in minutes from twigs and charge your phone while it does it.

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An American in Yemen: unlikely and wonderful tourism


Polish-American software developer Maciej Cegłowski decided to take a holiday in Yemen's capital city of Sana'a, home to breathtaking, 600-year-old skyscrapers that look like gingerbread houses.

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Supercomputing center in a beautiful, deconsecrated church


Allison writes, "The Barcelona Supercomputing Center is not only gorgeous with its soaring ceilings, it also was an instrumental site for developing modern microchip technology."

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China sends high-profile dissidents on forced luxury holidays


China spends even more on internal "stability maintenance" and security than it does on its army. Some of that incredible budget goes to forced holidays for dissidents that get them out of the way during events like the 25th anniversary of Tienanmen Square. It's called "being traveled."

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Folding, 90 micron-thick blankets that fit in your pocket


Matador pocket-blankets are 90-micron-thick nylon blankets with weighted corners to keep them from blowing away and stitched fold-lines for easy refolding.

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What it's like to take a 36-hour sleeper train from LA to Seattle

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, which it bills as “A Grand West Coast Train Adventure,” is its last remaining full-service sleeper train. The Coast Starlight is home to what would have previously been standard: a dining car, an observation car with floor-to ceiling windows, a movie theater, and a full slate of entertainment options, including the two complimentary wine tastings. Nicole Dieker takes the trip.

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Japanese arcade recreates gritty walled city of Kowloon


Kawasaki's Warehouse arcade, near Yokohama, is a fantastically detailed, gritty recreation of the old walled city of Kowloon, near Hong Kong. The Tokyo Times photos depict a place that's like a fevered Gibson dream, and note that there's an accompanying, spooky soundscape. This is going on my must-see list for our next Japan trip.

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Exaggeration postcards: sight-gags-by-mail

Retronaut rounds up a series of "exaggeration postcards" from 1907-1967, representing a golden era of visual-comedy-by-mail. Hard to characterize the Texas Jackalope card as an "exaggeration," though -- it's more of an out-and-out lie (albeit a beautiful one).

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How to request your US Border file (and what you're likely to get)


Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for his own travel records, including the notoriously comprehensive "Passenger Name Record" -- what he got was '72 pages of shit,' a redacted jumble of arbitrarily collected and retained nonsense. He didn't get his PNR. If you want to give it a try, he's signposted the procedure.

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Singapore's Changi airport is pretty awesome


Bren, a self-confessed "noodle fanatic," has written a guide to the delights of Singapore's Changi airport, which he calls "Disneyland for backpackers." It is certainly a nice airport, the best airport ever built on the site of a notorious death-camp, but Bren misses its best feature: the outdoor rooftop pool. I always try make Singapore my stopover when I fly to Australia, and do an hour's worth of nighttime lengths in the pool before re-boarding. I like his play on William Gibson's classic moniker for S'pore, too: Disneyland With the Death Penalty."

Changi really does rock: butterfly gardens, cheap amazing food, great electronics, cheap massage, free Playstations, and free movie-theaters!

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How to find a cheap hotel room

Which online service offers the best deals for hotel rooms: Expedia, Hotels.com, TravelPony Booking, Hotwire, or Priceline? Nomadic Matt has the answer!

Orikaso: folding, cheap, amazing polypropylene flat-pack dinnerware



Orikaso is a line of super-cheap, incredibly durable, brilliantly conceived flat-pack plates, cups and bowls, created by Jay Cousins (here's his blog). They're made out of super-durable, long-lived, environmentally sound polypropylene. Folding them takes bare seconds, and once folded, they stay folded and are perfectly water-tight. They unfold in seconds, and are (theoretically -- I haven't tested this) top-shelf dishwasher safe. My favorite piece is the cup, which has lots of grace-notes, like metric volume measurements on both side and imperial on the other, and a handle that's so clever I actually giggled the first time I used it. The whole thing is basically a magic-trick.

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Vietnamese swimmers ferry passengers across flooded rivers in plastic bags

When remote areas of Vietnam are flooded out, entrepreneurial swimmers set up informal ferries in which passengers climb into sturdy plastic bags and are then swum across the river against the current. The Vietnamese explanation accompanying the video is beyond Google Translate, but I'd love it if anyone out there could help flesh this out, because it's pretty amazing. (via Kottke)