Thursday
Jun032010

san francisco: 10 things you didn't know about the golden gate bridge

The Statue of Liberty aside, few American landmarks exert such a hold on the imagination. Like a rainbow, the Golden Gate Bridge rises above functionality.

Designed by dreamy engineer and poet Joseph Strauss, the bridge embodies the questing spirit of San Francisco, California – even the nation. You could forget that the revered and rugged engineering marvel serves a purpose: joining happening San Francisco with laid-back Marin County across the water.

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Thursday
May272010

insider tips: how to upgrade to business class for free!

You know what’s really annoying about airplane seating arrangements? It’s the caste system that cruelly segregates you from upper society. When you get on the plane, you pass through First Class, where a few people are sprawled out on immense cushioned chairs, sipping champagne and eating Godiva chocolates. This is follow by Business Class, where each passenger has his/her own private area plus more than adequate space for them to extend their legs.

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Tuesday
May252010

chicago: top five skyscrapers

Devastating as it was, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 cleared the way for innovative new construction. What it didn’t do was destroy the city’s main industrial bloc, leaving the city’s business moguls with the capital needed to launch over-the-top building campaigns in a quest for PR and legacy.

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Friday
May212010

sydney: taronga zoo

taronga zoo, sydney

The story of Australia's most famous zoo begins with a scene straight from Noah's Ark. Many of Taronga Zoo's original animals – including elephants – were shipped across Sydney Harbour. The animals arrived aboard a flat-top barge, herded from Billy Goat Swamp: the zoo's makeshift birthplace set amid the grounds of that sun-bleached eastern Sydney paradise, Moore Park. 

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Wednesday
May192010

vancouver: friday frivolity

vancouver at night

Vancouver is a strange city.  It's a great city, but a strange one nevertheless.  It’s blessed with possibly the nicest landscape in the world, sandwiched between mountains and the oceans, but it has the reputation of a no-fun city and it's supposedly difficult to meet people there.  This reputation is likely given by bitter Torontonians jealous of Vancouver’s beauty, but at any rate Vancouver does occasionally get tagged as bland.  The recent Olympics did a spot to rectify that, showcasing party after party and hosting possibly the most fun, if not the most magical Winter Olympic Games ever. 

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Friday
May142010

philippines: beautiful bohol 

chocolate hills, bohol

There are some islands that are meant to be photographed and made into postcards. Bohol, in the southern Philippines, is one such place. With its lush foiliage, curious wildlife, breathtaking beaches, and amazing sunsets, Bohol is a true gem.

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Wednesday
May122010

chiang mai: volunteering in the northern capital

elephant rides in chiang mai

The 2000s will go down in the annals of marketing as the century tourism without a prefix went out of fashion. I’m told my ancestors justified their holidays with hard work and an ‘I’ve-earned-it’ attitude, but these days you feel obligated to buy carbon offsets just for a visa run to Mae Sai.

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Tuesday
May112010

sydney: 5 great cruises

the manly ferry

Since the 2000 Olympics, Sydney city has climbed in cost and faded from fashion. Still, the Australian city retains some formidable attractions – not least the world’ most attractive harbour network.Any ride on a chunky green ferry integrated into the public transport system beats the bus by a mile.

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Monday
May102010

cambodia: inside siem reap

temple of angkor

My wife and I just got back from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to see the famed temples of Angkor.  It was a birthday trip for the wife, who chose to bring a friend.  What?  He was a nice addition; someone who had never heard our stories or our jokes.  Plus, he’s a good guy to drink with. 

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Monday
May032010

hawaii: coffee in the backcountry

hawaii's coffee tours

A coffee plantation tour is one of the best ways to enjoy Hawaiian backcountry. There are hundreds of small-scale plantations sprinkled across the archipelago, many sporting the kind of quirky names you’d expect from an English pub, and most are happy to give tours. Try a few samples and pick up gifts that your friends back home will actually appreciate. Trust me, they could do without that ready-to-ship pineapple you were eying in Oahu.

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