(Cartagena, Colombia photo credit: szeke)
Since I’m a travel writer and my job is to travel, I often get askedwhat my favorite places are…what are the worsts and the bests. Well, like anything, travel is highly subjective. What may be a life-changing experience for one tourist can be a complete bore for another. Nonetheless, after backpacking through some many countries and to many of the world’s most amazing places, I decided to take a shot and make a list of my global picks and pans.
When I think back to some of the most disgusting things I’ve eaten over the course of my travel career, even I have to wonder what I was thinking. I’ve sampled scorpion, live termites, dog, guinea pig, snake blood, scorpion, lamb’s penis and live aphrodisiac worm, but I’ve never done embryo.
Balut sure is one for the books. I look back at the experience of trying Balut in the Philippines for the fist time: Crack. I peel open the shards of egg shell and take a cautious peek inside. Sitting in a bag of juicy embryonic fluid is a curled up fetal duck. It’s not fully formed but I can see the onset of dark feathers, a beak and a pair of bulging eye balls.
The desire to stay young – be it through sulphuric bubble baths, broccoli juice elixirs or good ol’ fashion botox – has been a cultural obsession and egotistical hobby throughout history. In 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León set sail to find a mythical land said to have a fountain of youth. Flash forward five hundred years and our communal quest for immortality continues. If you’re curious about unlocking the secrets of eternal youth, here are a few top destinations around the world that are rumored to make you live longer, feel healthier and act like a kid again.
In the early 1980s, Cindy Lauper sang the undeniable truth. “When the working day is done, oh girls, they wanna have fu-un. Oh girls, Just wanna have fun…” When planning a vacation with your favorite girlfriends, mothers and sisters, deciding on a destination that fits everyone’s interests can be a bit of a challenge. But fear not! There’s hope! Pushing beyond the traditional, here are a few out-of-the-box ideas for a wild, fun and fabulous ‘just us girls’ weekend.
An island nation of 4.4 million people (and a disproportionate amount of sheep), New Zealand is a hot spot located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean off the coast of big brother Australia. The Colorado-sized country consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island. While the North has cosmopolitan cities, active volcanoes and geothermal activity, the South delivers the Southern Alps mountain range, fertile green farmlands and Queenstown, “the adventure capital of the world.” With sweeping vistas, stunning landscape, Polynesian spa thermal hot springs and natural beauty so magical it serves as a cinematic backdrop for mythical lands, New Zealand is at the top of many travelers’ ‘go to’ lists. True, NZ has been on the tourist radar for quite some time now, but this year is an opportune time to explore this diverse and fascinating country. From wine tasting to bungy jumping, Maori traditional dance to whale watching, worm eating and Hobbit hopping, New Zealand has an activity for every type of traveler.
“Beijing Sideways” offers tours to the Great Wall from the sidecar of a 1930‘s vintage motorcycle! Cruise through the Chinese countryside for an off-the-beaten path look at this iconic monument (section of the Great Wall near Huang Hua Shang & Shengtengyu), the follow it up with a french picnic. This is a part of the wall that is far from the tourist trail. Really cool company offering a unique perspective. They also offer day long sightseeing tours of Beijing. Check out this video I did for MSNBC about the experience.