Menu lock

Tripulations

Mar 28, 2012

5 comments

Getting absinthe-minded in Prague

Our gang had been wandering round the same slippery streets, of the very same two blocks, for over half an hour -- and the bouncing rain wasn't easing up. The alleyways of the Old Town of Prague are honeycombed and complex, even managing to defeat a whole group of tour guides such as ourselves, who have been here numerous times.

Freelance journalist Carla Pratt writes: We were definitely lost, not that any one of us would admit it. Our gang had been wandering round the same slippery streets, of the very same two blocks, for over half an hour — and the bouncing rain wasn’t easing up. The alleyways of the Old Town of Prague are honeycombed and complex, even managing to defeat a whole group of tour guides such as ourselves, who have been here numerous times.

We passed by the Astronomical Clock Tower for the umpteenth time. It sprayed off a golden hue in the rain like something out of a film noir scene, a jumble of symbols, glittering hands, cogwheels and wide windows which overlook the timeworn square, leering with the weight of its great bell. Given the amount of windows in this city, there’s no wonder it’s the birthplace of “defenestration” — the act of throwing one out of a window.

Continue reading “Getting absinthe-minded in Prague”

Lilani Goonesena writes: The drive from Chile’s capital of Santiago to the wine country of Mendoza, Argentina, is truly spectacular. The narrow, two-lane road labours through the winding Andes mountain range, passing ski fields and culminating in 27 steep switchbacks snaking up to the border.

Across the border, the road gently slopes down, skirting the magnificent Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at just under 7,000m and crosses the desert of the Cuyo region. Canyons, glacial lakes and sparse vegetation sit against the backdrop of distant mountains and a skinny Rio Mendoza weaves alongside all the way into the city.

Hundreds of trucks travel this road every day — there’s no railway and flights aren’t cheap — making it an important commercial transport route. Though snowstorms can block the pass for days during the winter months, the border is officially open year round.

Continue reading “Across the Andes for a glass of wine”

Freelance journalist Ryan Jon writes: You’ve been working hard. You’ve been putting blood, sweat and tears into your job and now you’re physically and mentally exhausted. Sounds like you need a holiday.

On your holiday, would you like to put in blood, sweat and tears to the point of physical and mental exhaustion? How does that sound?

Well that’s exactly what a new brand of Australian tourists are doing in Thailand. The island of Phuket is small, but has no less than 20 Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting, Thai boxing, cross fit and weight loss camps where thousands of tourists from around the world reside for months at a time.

Some are interested in actually competing in MMA and Thai Boxing, whilst most arrive having never fought before and are looking for fitness, weight loss or simply a challenge that’s different and takes them out of their comfort zones.

Continue reading “Go on a holiday to work your arse off”

New York

Mar 16, 2012

5 comments

Freelance journalist Jim Forbes writes: “They got some new attractions, huh?”

We’re standing on Stillwell Avenue, Brooklyn, on the approach to the Coney Island boardwalk. My questioner’s a middle-aged black man with white lips cracked as badly as the sidewalk under our feet. I’m on holidays, he’s holding a cheap flagon of hooch in his left hand. Without waiting for a response he scratches his chest and sniffs.

“Yeah, well, she still crummier than breaded steak.”

Poor old Coney Island. As the Big Apple itself rotted in the 1970s and 80s, so too did Coney Island. Once the global synonym for fun, for decades it mouldered through slow decline, a byword for urban decay. Fairy floss and hoopla gave way to hoods, graffiti and gang-banging.

Continue reading “The kitsch charm (and crappiness) of Coney Island”

An Expat Opinion

Mar 5, 2012

5 comments

The Vietnamese spend so much time on their motorbikes I expect that eventually they will evolve into two-wheeled centaurs.

If you pitted a 40-kilogram, stiletto-wearing Vietnamese girl against a burly Aussie bikie in a test of motorcycling skill, I know who my money would be on. But I’m not going to say it, in case I get shot.

But say the test of motorcycling skill was being held out of town, and you had to take a long, bumpy bus ride with the contestants to get there, for the love of God, sit next to the bikie.

Continue reading “The Vietnamese transport motto: two wheels good, four wheels bad”