Although we hoped it wouldn't happen, we knew that being pick-pocketed on our Trip Around the World was a very real possibility. We tried to always be careful, especially in crowded places, but we just weren't careful enough in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you've ever visited Vietnam or even seen videos on YouTube, you know the streets are filled with an endless flow of motorbike traffic. There are plenty of cars on the road, too, but, as it was explained to us, Vietnam has an import tax of 200% on automobiles while motorbikes are bought and sold from flyers on the walls of cafes and restaurants for $200. And that means there are a lot more motorbikes than cars traversing the streets of Vietnam.
We'd been in Vietnam for more than a week, so we'd gotten used to the intensity of Vietnamese street traffic. We even got really good at crossing the street with (almost) no fear. Despite this familiarity, we were still a little surprised when we left The Secret Garden (a well-regarded, somewhat hidden rooftop restaurant located up four flights of stairs in an alley off Pasteur Street) to walk to Fanny's, an ice cream parlor where we had a reservation to enjoy a fancy 14-scoop ice cream fondue platter.
It was New Year's Eve, and a massive number of people and motorbikes were clogging the city's streets like nothing we'd seen before. HCMC has a population of almost eight million people, and it felt like every one of them was either driving through the heart of District 1 on a motorbike or walking toward Công viên 23 Tháng 9 (Park September 23) to get a good view of the upcoming New Year's concert and fireworks show. Read the rest
When I need to weigh luggage, I use a health scale. First I stand on the scale holding the piece of luggage, then I stand on the scale without holding the luggage. By employing an ancient sorcerer's spell, I can use these two numbers to magically calculate the weight of the luggage. With this handy little luggage scale, though, I no longer have to resort to witchcraft. Except I did use the incantation "47KSC7YA" to melt $3 of the price of the scale on Amazon, and got it for just $7. That's the last time I'll use magick, I promise. Read the rest
I try to keep business travel as light, and fast as I can. The Henty Wingman is a bag that matches my style perfectly.
The Henty Wingman fits two or three sport coats, or two suits, in its garment pocket. There are also pockets for shoes, clothes and a waterproof section for your toiletries. I have no trouble packing for 3-4 days in this bag, and using it as my sole carry on. Once the bag is fully packed, it rolls up to something not much larger than a yoga mat.
Jackets, if carefully packed, come out pretty much as nice and crease free as they did from the dry cleaner. I suggest folding your shirts into a compressing packing envelope, and not hanging them with the jackets. Packing shirts in the garment bag does leave them with some light creases. Nothing hanging out in the bathroom while you shower won't fix, however.
The outside storage pocket fits my Kindle, iPad or even Macbook Air. I keep my chargers in there too, and I do not need to carry any other bags with me on short trips!
I've managed as much as a two week trip, living out of this bag, but it involved a lot of laundry at hotels. It is certainly light, easy to pack and the first bag I look for when I've got to run out of town. Like right now!
Traveling Spoon is the creation of Aashi Vel and Steph Lawrence (shown in the photo above), who met in 2011 at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The platform they're building allows you to find awesome home-cooked cuisine around the world. The idea isn't to replace takeout or delivery services, but to help travelers experience amazing local food--foraged or farmed or hunted or farmers-marketed and prepared by skilled locals.
From the "About" page on their site:
Traveling Spoon is like having a friend’s mom cook you a home cooked meal in every country you visit. Traveling Spoon connects travelers with local, vetted hosts to share the joy of a homemade meal in their home and learn about their cultural and culinary traditions passed down through generations.
Are you kidding? I do this already, but it's a lot harder to coordinate by myself. I for one would use the shit out of this service.
They’ve raised $870,000 from investors including the former CEO of Expedia Erik Blachford, George Butterfield, First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund, the Chennai Angels and Emily and Anjan Mitra, who own the DOSA restaurants in San Francisco. Bay Area food icon Alice Waters is also an advisor.
I have a hard time sleeping on a plane. As soon as I nod off, my head drops and I startle myself awake. I've tried those horseshoe pillows but they don't work very well for me. The JetComfy is a travel pillow that looks like it might allow me to sleep comfortably on a plane. It's cushion on a pole that clamps to the arm rest. You rest your head on it and fall into a deep slumber. I hope that's what happens, at least. It also contains a USB battery to charge your devices and a compartment that holds a combination pen/stylus/light. Pre-sale cost is $65 on Kickstarter.
For around $300/night, you can sleep in a transparent bedroom hanging off the side of a mountain above Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas. Read the rest
It's a strange morning when stocks and planes are both shut down due to two separate computer glitches. First it was United Airlines at 8am ET, who was forced to ground all of its departing planes in the U.S. for nearly two hours, affecting 4,900 flights worldwide. Of course this caused huge delays for passengers, which could last for days. Just a couple of hours later, The New York Stock Exchange had to shut down for the day after a technical glitch "froze computers on the market's fabled trading floor." According to The Washington Times:
One of the world’s biggest stock exchanges had seen shares trending down throughout the morning because of economic crises in Greece and China, but all trading halted at 11:32 a.m. as data on trades and prices apparently stopped coming into the traders’ computer screens. Nearly an hour later, the market was still down...
As the shutdown pass the hour mark, the NYSE issued a new statement saying the shutdown was attributable to an “internal” computer malfunction and was not the result of an outside cyberattack.
I know it's most likely just a coincidence, but it's an interesting one.
In earlier posts, I've mentioned that I don't like airplane food. When I fly I either fast or pack along macadamia nuts, applewood smoked bacon jerky, and dark chocolate. My favorite chocolate is Lindt's Excellence Supreme Dark Chocolate 90% Cocoa ($29 for ten 3.5-ounce bars on Amazon).
It's surprisingly smooth for a high-cocoa chocolate, and a 40g serving has just 3g of sugar (by comparison, a 40g serving of a Special Dark Hershey bar has 20g of sugar).
My wife and kids prefer Lindt's 70% cocoa bar, and I'm glad because that means they don't nibble on my stash of 90s unless they are desperate for chocolate.
I've yet to try Lindt's 99% Cocoa Excellence Bar (1g of sugar per 40g serving!), mainly because gram-for-gram, it costs four times as much as the 90% bars. Read the rest
UK artist Hedley Wiggan carved lipsticks into iconic tourist attractions for the International Lipstick Colours of the Year exhibit at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. Wiggan usually makes his micro-sculptures out of pencil lead, like the examples below of The Beatles and a witch.
See more of Hedley Wiggan's artwork here.