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Travelography - Experiencing The World

A place where I occasionally blog about my tourism, my travels and travel experiences. - Alan A. Lew

Updated: 2017-11-06T00:55:38.615-07:00


Adjectival, Specialty, Niche & Conceptual Tourisms


What are Adjectival Tourisms?Adjectival Tourisms are all those forms of tourism that have an adjective in front of them. I can currently think of two broad forms of adjective tourisms. The first is niche tourism markets -- those that focus on the special interests of particular clients. This is also known as Specialty Tourism.The second approach consists of ways that academics describing the phenomenon of tourism and broad forms of tourism, including the tourism and travel experience and tourism landscapes and economies. I refer to these as Conceptual Tourisms.These approaches are both listed below, in separate sections, along with an Unusual Tourisms section for concepts that have been thrown out there, but have not, in my opinion, gained any use. To get more information on any of the terms in this list, you can simply search for them in your favorite search engine. Suggestions for additions, as well as appropriate links, are welcome in the comments section.====================================================Specialty Niche Tourism MarketsFor many of these, the word "Travel" is interchangeable with "Tourism"- Aboriginal Tourism (also Tribal Tourism and Native American Tourism)- Active Tourism (participating in sport activities)- Adventure Tourism (usually outdoors; also Extreme Adventure)- Adventurous Leisure- Aerial Tourism (also Flightseeing)- Agritourism (or Farm Tourism)- Alternative Tourism (involving risk)- Alternative Sport (involving risk or counter culture)- Ancestral Tourism (see also Roots Tourism)- Armchair Tourism (also Vicarious Travel -- experiencing travel without traveling)- Atomic Tourism (also Nuclear Tourism)- Atrocity Tourism (also War, Disaster, etc., below)- Audio Tours / Tourism- Backpack Tourism (or Youth Backpack Tourism)- Battlefield Tourism- Beach Tourism (see also SSS, below)- Birth Tourism- Border Tourism (or Cross-Border Tourism)- Business Travel- Celebrity Tourism (including Celebrity Cruises)- Commodity Tourism (based on fishing, agriculture, etc.; includes Plantation Tourism)- Community Based Tourism (or Community Supported Tourism)- Corruption Tourism- Cruise Tourism- Culinary Tourism- Diaspora Tourism (related to Roots Tourism)- Disaster Tourism- Dark Tourism- Death Tourism (Dark Tourism to sites of disaster and death)- Dental Tourism (a form of Medical Tourism)- Desert Tourism- Dive Tourism (SCUBA)- Drug Tourism (to buy legal or illegal drugs)- Ecotourism (or Eco-tourism in some countries)- Educational Tourism (or Edutourism)- Emersive Tourism (educational, volunteer, adventure and working travel)- Enclave Tourism- Engagementcations- Equestrian Tourism- Ethnic Tourism- Event Tourism (or Special Event Tourism, including Festivals)- Extreme Tourism- Fare Travel (application of "fare trade" to travel and tourism)- FIT - Fully Independent Travel (or Free and Independent Travel)- Good Tourism (also Gastronomy Tourism)- Free and Easy Travel (transportation and accommodations only package)- Gambling of Gaming Tourism- Garden Tourism- Gay Tourism (also LGBT Tourism - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender)- Gay Marriage Tourism- Geography Tourism (also Extreme Geography Tourism)- Geoparks Tourism (geology-based parks)- Geotourism (related to GeoParks, and to Sustainable Tourism)- Girlfriend Getaway (all female trip)- GIT - Group Inclusive Travel (also All Inclusive Holiday, related to Package Tour)- Golf Tourism- Green Tourism (related to Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism)- Greif Tourism (related to Thanatourism)- Halal Tourism (sensitive to Islamic practices)- Health Tourism (overlapping with Wellness Tourism, Medical Tourism and New Age Tourism)- Heat Tourism- Heritage Tourism- Hobby Tourism- Homeless Tourism / Tours- Homestay Tourism (also Village Stay Tourism and Kampung Stay Tourism)- Hot-Spot Tourism (places of current [...]

My Best World Atlas


My Best World Atlas

This list of map and map-related sources had gotten old, so I deleted it.

For a current list of map things that I use for teaching, please visit:

The World's Top Tourist Attractions


The World's Top Tourist AttractionsUpdated on 1 November 2017PurposeI use this to keep track of websites that provide lists to the most important tourist attractions around the world -- which I use for my work. I maintains this more like a webpage and will update it as I find resources to add. Suggestions are welcome.Lists of theTop Tourist Attractions in the World1 - Planetware - Attractions listed by country - based on Baedeker Guides, this may be the most complete list of top attractions (4 and 5 star-rated), listed by country, that is available anywhere. From this link, click on a country, then click on Top Attractions. For a more complete list (and alternative attractions) click on the Attractions link.2 - World Tourist Attraction Guide - A fairly comprehensive list of major world tourist attractions by region. Also includes country information, contact addresses for additional tourist information, videos and photos of some destinations, and maps. Some areas may still be under construction.3 - Hillman Wonders - World's Top 100 Wonders of the World - Also liste by country. Individual descriptions are provided for most sites.4 - Sightsmap - A Google Map of the most photographed places on the internet. Zoom in at any scale to see the ten most photographed sites, which are frequently also the ten most popular or visited attractions. Zoom in even more to see actual photos.5 - National Geographic's Destinations website - with travel guides organized by region and country.Top Specialty and Niche Attractions1. UNESCO World Heritage List - Even better is The Tentative List (on the sidebar menu of this site), which includes sites that countries plan to propose to the Heritage List in the future, and many of which are "undiscovered" by the mass tourism industry.Also on the sidebar menu is their World Heritage in Danger List.2. Atlas Obscura - A listing of some of the more obscure (odd, unusual and often dark) attractions around the world.3. Protected Planet - A Google Map showing protected natural areas of the world, with links to additional information.Related Attraction Resources1 - World Tourism Directory - Comprehensive list of tourism offices, tourism schools, country and attraction information, and more. Also try the UNWTO Membership Directory.2 - Travel Photo - Annotated photos for a huge number of places around the US and the World. - Also see:, which seems to have become more popular in recent years.[...]

A Passport Encounter Makes My Day


My flight from Münich landed in Philadelphia about noon yesterday, en route to Phoenix.  I had started my journey home early in the morning (waking at 5:45am, Germany Time) and I had been awake most of the flight, though I did take a couple of short naps. After sitting for many hours on a plane, I typically enjoy taking an invigorating brisk (i.e., fast) walk from the plane to wherever I need to go, often skipping the automated walkways completely because they are too slow.

First stop yesterday, after the restroom, was the passport immigration check. There was a pretty long line which was filtered into many shorter lines of eight or so people each. When I was about in the middle of the  shorter line, I noticed the person who was with the immigration agent in front of me. He was there with his wife, who was holding a baby, and the look on his face and his body language was one of total disgust at having to be put through the passport check process. His wife also had a frown on her face, though she did not have the totally negative body language that the guy had.

When they left the agent shook his head and raised his hand as if to give the guy the finger, though he did not actually do that. For some reason, I thought to myself that I should try and get him to smile when I got up there. It is unfortunate that people who are just trying to do their job have to put up with the bad moods of others. The next two people in front of me, however, did not smile at all, though they were not grumpy like that one guy was. That then made me think that, well, maybe I wont be able to make him smile after all, and I mostly forgot about trying to do that.

It was now my turn. The agent asked me where I had been, how long I was gone and what I had been doing.  I told him I was in Germany for about 10 days to attend a conference and visit some relatives.  He then asked me what I did, and I told him I was a professor at Northern Arizona University, after which he asked me what I taught. I told him geography -- that is when things changed. He said he has come to like geography since he started his current job. I said that our students are typically a bit older than some other majors, because they usually discover geography later. He laughed and said that he was too old to go back to school. I wasn't trying to recruit him, but I laughed as well.

And after I left him I thought to myself, wow, that was pretty amazing.  I hope the rest of his day went well, because that encounter sure made my day.  It really is those small and unexpected encounters that are the most memorable when we travel.

Travel Tip: AirAsia's Row 4


Warning: This is not for the superstitious!  During my semester in Malaysia, I have flown on AirAsia maybe a dozen times now. AirAsia is the most successful discount airline in the world, and is a great money saver.  And, I have found an *almost* guaranteed way to get a full row of seats to yourself on an AriAsia flight. First, you have to pay a little extra for a "Hot Seat".  These are the first five rows and the two exit rows of most AirAisia planes.  They have a little more leg room (I think) and you get to board and unboard before everyone else.  Next, select Row 4.

The word "four" is considered unlucky by Chinese, for whom it is a homonym of the word for "death".  Thus, most buildings in East and Southeast Asia do not have a 4th floor. They either call it 3A or just skip it altogether.  I saw one hotel recently in Hong Kong that skipped both the 4th and 13th floors.

I accidentally stumbled on AirAsia's 4th row on a flight about a couple of months ago.  I was on a packed AirAsia plane on which almost all of the Hot Seats were taken (which is extremely rare -- perhaps caused by a canceled flight?) and I was in the 4th row, which I had selected not remembering the Chinese superstition at the time.  I had the whole row to myself, allowing me to lean against the window and put my legs up on the seats next to me.

No, I am not superstitious when it comes to numbers.  My lucky number has always been 13, and I have never had an unlucky number.  While I generally avoid 4 and favored 8, due to my Chinese background, it is not something that I have strong feelings about.  In fact, I think bad luck numbers are really silly.

I suspect that this 4th row tip may apply to most all airlines in East and Southeast Asia (and especially in China). So, if you are comfortable with the number 4, like me, take advantage of this more comfortable upgrade before everyone else figures it out!

Oh Cambodia!


It was election time in Cambodia when we were there. These are two of the opposition parties, which hold only a small number of seats in Cambodia's parlaiment.Phnom PenhWe just returned from a short trip to Cambodia that included a one day symposium in Phnom Penh on community based tourism and visits to the Killing Fields and a Cham village in the Phnom Penh area, a visit to the Khmer Village Homestay (a "community involvement" social enterprise) between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and visits to Angkor Wat and the Tonle Sap out of Siem Reap.  We (the 25 people in our group) had brought donations (school supplies and used clothing) for the Cham village and a Khmer village next to the Khmer Homestay.Except for my wife and me, all of our group were Malaysians and most were Muslim Malays. So the trip tended to include places of interest to Muslim Malays, including the Cham village (the Cham adopted Islam through Malaysia and many speak Malay, as well, because of visits there for religious education), another Cham community in Siem Reap where we had lunch one day, and restaurants in Phnom Penh that served Halal food to Malaysian (and other Muslim) tourists, though the food also tended to be Malaysian dishes and not Cambodian.We also had Cambodian food, cooked halal when we were with the group and probably not when we were on our own.  One of the best meals was in a small restaurant a few blocks from the Tonle Sap River, which is where most of the international tourists are located.  The food was fresh, with lots of vegetables -- among the healthier restaurant meals that we have had eating out in Asia.  We also had some durian one evening, which was tasty and not nearly as smelly as Malaysian durian.We stayed at the Ohana Hotel near Wat Ounalom and next to an interesting local street market.  Having been in Cambodia before, though not to Phnom Penh, I already knew that US currency was used everywhere, though I still felt uneasy about the colonial nature of that.  What struck me even more was the large number of western faces in this part of town -- they were everywhere, of all ages and from many different parts of the world. I heard Australian and US versions of English, French and German.  I also saw quite a few men, either by themselves or with one other man, which might reflect the large number of young women sitting in front of the many bars along the side streets in this area.The Malaysian aspect of the trip was actually quite interesting.  The Cham, for instance, are the largest minority group in Cambodia (about 5 to 6% of the country's population) and are among the most impoverished (though the Khmer villages looked about the same).  Apparently there are two types of Muslim Cham, one that is close to Malaysia in their practices, and one that still practices traditional animist beliefs and are less tied to the outside world.  I am sure we only saw the former.A Killing FieldThe day visiting the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a former Khmer Rouge prison) was quite haunting.  Because of all the photographs, the museum seemed to have a deeper impact than the Killing Fields, which is actually just one of some 340 around the country! However, it is the nearest to Phnom Penh and has been best developed to memorialize that sad period in Cambodian history.  Adding to the impact was our guide who was about 15 years old at the time (1975-79) and remembers it well!Photos of victims of the Tuol Slep Prison (click photo for larger view).The Tuol Slep Prison was originally a school. Holes were broken in the walls to create viewing doors between classrooms (so guards can keep an eye on each other), and prisoners created their own cells from bricks (for men, here) and wood for women.One of two living survivors of Tuol Slep Prison (out of the seven who survived).The child killing tree at the Choeung Ek Killing Field near Phnom [...]

Dive 54, Where Are You?


There was a sitcom from youth called "Car 54, Where Are You?" about the antics of some wayward NYPD policemen who drove car number 54. This came to mind as I wrote some notes in my dive journal about my 54th dive, which I did yesterday on Pulau Sapi, just off the coast here in Kota Kinbalu.I recently decided to try and do at least one dive a month while I am here in Malaysia, excluding January, when we arrived, which is generally not a good dive month due to the monsoons.  In early February, I went diving at Mamutik Island, which is close to P. Sapi and also part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.  I did three dives yesterday, the last day of March, at Pulau Sapi.  And I hope to get two dives in April, if possible -- other travels may get in the way.  In May, I will be diving at Mabul and Sipidan islands, the latter being one of the top dive destinations in the world.  In June we head to Peninsular Malaysia, where I will have a couple of opportunities to dive before we leave Malaysia at the end of the month.Pulau Sapi is the smallest of the five major islands that make up Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park (the islands) and Marine Park (the underwater areas), which is named after the founding father and first prime minister of Malaysia.  The islands have become a huge tourist attraction for Kota Kinabalu, mostly drawing tourists from East Asia who are looking for a sun, sand and sea destination.  The islands are developed by Sabah Parks as recreational parks, with grassy picnic areas, a small restaurant, roped off areas for swimming and snorkeling, and banana boats and other recreational activities to partake in.  Hiking trails are also found that go into the interior jungles of the smaller islands.  Pulau Gaya is much larger and has several high end resorts scattered on its edges, as well as large illegal immigrant (Filipino) settlements on parts that are outside of the national park.Many people have told me that Pulau Sapi is their favorite island in the national park.  I actually never stepped foot on it, as I was either on the boat or at a restaurant on P. Gaya, a short distance away from P. Sapi.  My wife (not a diver) signed up for snorkeling and had a great time, seeing a lot of coral and fish while snorkeling with a guide and hanging out on the beach on P. Sapi.  She was the only snorkeler with Diverse Borneo that day, and so she had a personal guide to show her the highlights in the coral reef.  We met for lunch and she did her third guided snorkel off the boat in the same area that I did my dive #54.Dive #52 and #53 were both really good. Looking back at my photos, the best ones were from the first dive (#52) at Clement Reef. The sunlight must have been just right for that dive to bring out the color, which can be a challenge underwater.  I actually thought the second dive (#53) at Agil Reef was better than the first while I was doing it, both in terms of coral and fish.  I saw a very large porcupine puffer fish, though mostly the fish I saw throughout the Sapi area were on the small side.  My wife said that she saw large fish snorkeling.  The two reefs for #52 and #53 were on the back side (the South China Sea-side) of the island, away from the beach and town side. After the second dive we picked up my wife and had lunch at the restaurant on P. Gaya.  The food was great!  We had curry chicken with rice and fried kway teow (flat rice noodles) with seafood. The noodles, in particular were delicious.  On the other hand, I think most any food tastes really good when you are diving. We sat with my dive buddy from the second dive.  He was from the Tubingen area of Germany, where I had taught a semester many years ago, though he now lives and works in Shanghai.Dive #54 was at the Coral Garden reef, which was just beyond the Sapi Beach swimming and sno[...]

Hanoi: How to Make a Place Memorable


“A guest never forgets the host who had treated him kindly.” - Homer, The Odyssey, 9th Century BCEI was reminded of this statement from the over 3000 years ago  following my recent visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.  I was there for a conference that brought together 60 Fulbright Scholars (professors and PhD students) from throughout Southeast Asia.  It was the most Americans I think I had ever seen in one place in Southeast Asia, which is generally not on the travel map of people back in the US!  I opted to stay two additional days as I had never really spent much time in Vietnam and I had heard that Hanoi was an especially interesting place.  I was not disappointed.Our first stop for the Food on Foot tour was for dumplings.  The temperature was maybe in the low to mid 70s  -- enough for down coats in Hanoi. (click on photo for a larger view)Prior to our visit, my wife had read about a "Food on Foot" tour on  Being an amateur "foodie", this sounded like the kind of tour that we would be particularly suited to so we gave Vietnam Awesome Travel a call when we got to Hanoi (their website,, had been hijacked and was not accessible).  Mr. Anh came to our hotel and we arranged to do the three hour Food on Foot tour for dinner that night (US$20/pp).  It was a great introduction to the city's Old Quarter, and especially to its food.Pho Bo (beef pho noodles). A bit blurry, but in the background, upper right corner, hangs the semi-dried beef  for the pho.Based on our interests, which border on the more exotic, we at a variety of dishes, each at a different restaurant.  In fact, each of the restaurants specialized in particular dishes, and several only sold that one dish.  The restaurants were mostly on the sidewalks, where we sat on small step stools and ate on slightly taller step stools.  We had dumplings, deep fried fermented pork, fresh jicama and green guava as vegetables, eel soup, pho bo (beef pho noodles), and a fresh fruit cocktail with thick cream as a dessert.  We ate so much!  It was great!Hao Qua (what I called "fruit cocktail" in the blog) is fresh fruit, jelly (the white thing) and and avocado slice on top, with thick cream.  Ice is an optional topping.  This was sold on a side street with about four shops all selling this one dessert.We stayed near the southern end of Hoan Kiem Lake, which put us just outside of the core of the Old Quarter, but within a very easy walk.  During our Food on Foot tour, Mr. Anh introduced us to some of the major sites and interesting back alleys of the area, where some of the restaurants were located. Hanoi's Old Quarter is such a great walking area -- compact, lots to see on every street, Some of the most narrow buildings you'll ever see, easy to get lost and then re-found, and very easy on the wallet (be sure to bargain).  There are also lots of small hotels and tourists everywhere.Hoan Kiem Lake, with its turtle island.  The core of the Old Quarter is in the background.Downsides? Well, there are a lot of motorcycles, which the government encourages by charging a fairly low licensing fee compared to cars.  Some of the streets near the Dong Xuan Market were among the most crowded I had ever seen --- with motor scooters.  It is actually a very intense experience, almost overwhelming at times, but also quite memorable.In Hanoi's Old Quarter. There are some pedestrian-only streets, as well.  (click on photo for a larger view) A dense street near the Dong Xuan Market.The other downside that we experienced was our day trip to the famous Halong Bay limestone islands.  After a 3.5 hour bus ride with off and on rain, we got to Halong Bay to find that none of the boat tours had been allowed to depart.  All of the tours wer[...]

Living the Good Life in Kota Kinabalu


So many adventures, and so little free time to write about them....As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, we arrived in Kota Kinabalu for the first time on this Fulbright trip on January 11, 2012.  It was my second time here, the first time being in January 2007 as an External Examiner for the Universiti Teknologi MARA (aka UiTM) to visit their Sabah branch campus, review exams and write a report.  I was here for three or four nights and fell in love with the place.  In addition the the great diversity of physical landscapes, from Mt. Kinabalu and its surrounding highlands to its beaches and many islands, I think it was the way people here get along and relate to each other that made it the focus of my return.Kota Kinablau from AirAsia (click on photo for larger view)Double rainbow over the Central Wet Market area on the KK waterfront at sunset.This was supported by comments made while I was in KL last month by two friends (one Chinese and one Malay) who separately told me about how special they felt Sabah was.  In essence, they said that people in Sabah are Sabahan first, above their ethnicity, and that the ethnic strains of West Malaysia (aka Peninsular Malaysia) we far less evident in Sabah because of this. An Orang Sungai man who I met this past weekend in Kinabatangan (who was also part Filipino and part Sulawesi) told me the same thing in a discussion about language and the Sabahan accent that they all share.Anyway, we were here for one week in January to find a place to live and to find a car to rent.  The problem we had was that apartment rentals are mostly either for the day (vacation rentals that are costly in the long term) or they want a one year lease.  We only needed three months (which I have since extended to four months).After being a bit frustrated in the process of home hunting, we thought to ask the nice lady at the front desk of our hotel, Eden54. She said she had a friend who was a part-time real estate agent and she would ask her. Later that day, we were sitting in the hotel lobby looking at the local paper for rentals, when Susan introduced herself.  She said she had a client who had a place that might work for us, but she needed to confirm with her about the less than one year term.Later that same day we finally looked at an apartment at the 1Borneo Hypermall -- billed as the largest shopping mall on Borneo.  1Borneo is a large, sprawling complex of structures all jumbled into one, including hotels and a couple of apartment towers. It also has the highest concentration of fully furnished apartments that can be rented on a daily to monthly basis.1Borneo Hypermall (click on photo for larger view)The one we looked at there was OK.  It came with everything, including a rice cooker, though the furnishing were quite bare and it was a little worn.  1Borneo is somewhat far from KK's great downtown area, but it is closer to the UiTM campus and would have worked.We then got a call from Susan and so our hosts from the university took us to look at the place she had.  It was a brand new apartment, no one had ever lived in it!  It had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, though overall was only about 1200 972 sq ft.  Our new home (click on photo for larger view)The location was just outside of the downtown, but only a 10 minute walk to the very popular Foh Sang and Damai eating districts!  It also has a small gym to work off all that great food.  The price was RM2000 a month (USD$667), plus utilities, and after a few minutes of thought we grabbed it. (Fulbright gives us RM1500 a month for housing, and KK tends to be more expensive than most other parts of Malaysia, except KL.)While it was not fully furnished when we looked at it, Susan and the owner managed to get us everything by the time we moved in on Feb. 1[...]

A Rungus Road Trip to the Northern Tip of Borneo


Last Sunday we drove from our new apartment in Kota Kinabalu to the Northern Tip of Borneo.  Google maps and online websites said it should take 3 to 3.5 hours.  However, with major road damage and construction underway following this past winter's heavy monsoons, it took us over four hours.  Highlights of that road trip were:1. The Kota Belud Tamu (market). The market was one of the more colorful that I have seen (supporting all that I had read about it) and reminded me of the morning market that we visited in 1995 2005 in the city of Keng Tiong in the Shan State of Myanmar. Then, as now, it seemed that we were the only tourists at the market. We only bought a couple of food items. I got a small doughnut thing with chicken floss and sambal (chili sauce) inside for 60 sen (US 20 cents).  I gave the guy 1 Ringgit and he gave me 50 sen back, along with a smile.  We also bought a small bag of banana chips that we tasted and loved (not sweet at all) on Mt Kinabalu a couple of days before.  The guy told me they were 2 Ringgit, but when I gave him a 5 Ringgit bill he gave me 4 Ringgit back. (More on this below...)Mable got this great photo of a lady selling small silver fish at the tamu (above). She is probably a Rungus, which is the dominant ethnic group in the Kudat district of Sabah (which includes Kota Belud and the Northern Tip). They are a branch of the Kadazan-Dusun, which is the largest ethnic group in Sabah at about 18% of the legal population (excluding perhaps a million Filipinos. The Rungus are also the only group in Sabah that traditionally lived in longhouses -- which are very common in neighboring Sarawak. We also visited the lesser known Rungus village of Kampung Tinangol, which specializes in bead work. More interesting, though, were all of the longhouses that people live in still today (photo below), though these had been enhances with satellite dishes. We also visited a longhouse lodge, which gets a lot more writeup on the tourism websites for Sabah than does Kampung Tinangol.2. At the Northern Tip of Borneo. The second highlight was our geographic destination of the Northern Tip of Borneo. Getting there was more than an adventure as, in addition to the road issues mentioned above, my Garmin GPS took on a road that turned to dirt and then became impassable due to mud. The approach to the tip was lined by a beautiful beach and the tip itself was a well developed park. The northern tip is marked be the rocks (photo below) that point to the island of Palawan in the Philippines. The South China Sea is on the left and the Sulu Sea is on the right. Palawan is so close to this point, yet when I visit there later this month I will need to fly through Hong Kong and spend one night in Manila (bummer)!We had lunch at a restaurant here on a cliff overlooking the Sulu Sea. I had read that the islands we say in the far distance were part of the Sulu Islands of the Philippines, but looking at a map, I think they were actually still part of Malaysia. The photo below shows the chalets that extend beyond the restaurant area.3. Buying Roasted Corn. The third highlight of the trip was a short stop we made on the way back. Someone had told me to eat the roasted corn that is sold along the side of the road, so we decided to stop and try some from one of the roadside shops that had clouds of smoke rising from the fire on which the corn was being roasted. I asked the girl how much and she said 5 Ringgit (US$1.70) -- which seemed a like a lot. Walked further down and I asked the next girl who said the same thing. I said 4 Ringgit and she laughed and said OK. She heated up 4 corn husks and gave them to us. Mable gave her 16 Ringgit and she laughed again saying it was only 5 Ringgit -- giving her 11 Ringgit back. Click on photo for larger view.What made this [...]

Malaysia Whirlwind


For some reason the word “whirlwind” comes to mind when I think about this past month here in Malaysia.  It has been one of the more sustained periods of travel that I have done in quite a long time.  Because of the constant moving, I have barely blogged about this trip at all.  Now that I am more settled here in Kota Kinabalu (KK), it is probably time to start.We arrive in Malaysia on January 4, 2012 after about 36+ hours of driving, flying and sitting in airports.  Our first week was in the Kuala Lumpur (KL) area.  Our first and last nights were in the Quality Hotel in Shah Alam, so I would have easy access to the university that I am affiliated with for my Fulbright stay (UiTM – Universiti Teknologi MARA).  The rest of the week was at a friend’s apartment in KL, which happened to be a penthouse with an amazing view of the KL skyline.  Although I have been coming to Malaysia quite often (about every 1.5 years) since 2005, I did not always make it to KL.  This time, I was pretty much blown away at the level of development that the city has achieved.  It now has one of the most modern skylines of any city on the planet. And maybe it was because my wife was with me, but I also found that KL had become a more fun city to visit.  We went up to the top of the Petronas Towers (world’s highest twin towers), visited the new capital in Putrajaya (outside of KL), and went to Chinatown, in addition to getting a bank account and meeting with the Malaysian Fulbright office.  I also gave symposium lecture at the University of Malaya, and was asked if I would serve as an external examiner for their brand new urban planning program. (My stint as the external examiner for UiTM’s tourism program is what has been bringing me Malaysia recently and had just ended last year.) View from the 86th floor observation deck of one of the two 88 story Petronas Towers.The highlight of KL for us (in addition to the great food) was a visit to Batu Caves (, which is large cave complex that has become a Hindu Temple and is the site of the colorful Thaipusam Festival (which just took place yesterday, Feb 7, 2012;  In addition to the Hindu caves, which are reached via a 272 step staircase, there is the “Dark Cave”, which is a conservation site for bats and other cave creatures.  It is immediately adjacent to Batu Cave, but has never been developed, and you need to pay for a guided ecotour.  Together, this was a great experience!After KL we flew to Kota Kinabalu with the goals of getting settled with the university there (UiTM Kampus Sabah), find a place to live, and find a car to rent.  This was my second visit to KK, and I have been wanting to return ever since I was first here in January 2007.  We stayed in the Hotel Eden54 – which is on the north edge of the city core and close to a lot of great food and sites to see (like the Philippine Market and Sunday Gaya Street Market).  More importantly, it was through the hotel’s front desk staff that we found our apartment and our car rental – after having mixed success looking on our own online and in the newspaper.  During our week in KK, a friend from the university took us to the Sabah Tea Plantation, on the slopes of Mt. Kinabalu (, and we spent half a day on the island of Manukan, where I snorkeled and tried out my new underwater camera case. What stood out the most to me about that first week in KK was the food.  As good as it was in KL, we had some really great food in KK – especially seafood.  Sabah is famous for its seafood, and I really think it was some of the freshest and tastiest t[...]

The NEW Travelography


This Travelography Blog used to be a place where I posted links related to my old Travelography Podcast.  I have not done that podcast in a couple of years now, and I have no plans to restart it.

So instead, I am going to blog here about my travels, of which I do a lot at this point in my career.


BTW - I Do Not Recommend Go-Sim, shown in my older links.  I have used it and found that it only works in about 50% of the places that have gone to -- which is quite frustrating.

Travelography #167: Cleaning Up After Tourists


  Use the players on this page, or click the title above to listen to this podcastMy top story is an article about cleaning up New Orleans after Mardi Gras, which relates to many other tourism venues, as well.  Also: The World's Most Dangerous Countries, The World's Most Delayed Airports, and When Travel and Facebook Do Not Mix.*****This podcast is available at:,  and and the  And also followTravelography  News on Click Here for links to ALL of the News Stories discussed in this podcast.*****GET YOUR INTERNATIONAL GSM PHONE SIM CARD FROM GO-SIM*****[...]

Travelography #166: Travel and Tourism Forecast for 2010


  Use the players on this page, or click the title above to listen to this podcastEveryone else is doing it, so here is my forecast for 2010 (which I came up with after reading a bunch of other predictions!)*****This podcast is available at:,  and and the  And also followTravelography  News on Click Here for links to ALL of the News Stories discussed in this podcast.*****GET YOUR INTERNATIONAL GSM PHONE SIM CARD FROM GO-SIM*****[...]

#165: Looking Back at Travel and Tourism


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It is the end of the year and time to reflect on where we have been and where are we are going in the world of travel and tourism. Today's podcast looks at the past, starting about 10 years ago.  We will look at the future in the next podcast.

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Travelography #164: Goodbye Carbon Offsets, Hello Chinese Tourists


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The top story this past week was's quitting carbon offset programs for travelers.  Everyone seems to be competing for China's tourists these days, even the country of China. Plus the Nine Nations of China, a surge in Rhino poaching, and Go-Sim.

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Travelography #163: Looming Challenges for Airlines and Travellers


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The US government is, for the third time in 16 years, going to try to fix our dysfunctional airline industry. But the challenges are huge. The UK started its Green Tax on air travel on Nov. 1st, and people are complaining but this more such taxes seem to be coming.  And is it the end of the World in Dubai?

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Travelography #162: The Right to Free Hotel Wifi


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The first story today is about how unions are calling on more regulations to stabilize the very unstable airline industry. The second is eight reasons why all hotels should provide free wifi, with mention of Google's and Bing's free offerings this holiday season. And then I talk a little about Taiwan's Modern Toilet Hotel.

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Travelography #161: H1N1 on a Plane


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H1N1 Swine Flu and its impacts on travel in the US was the top story for this past week. Most of us who have the flu will be flying on a plane because airlines make it hard to do otherwise. Also, how to buy travel insurance; don't trust tourism numbers, like those from Lebanon; and Yosemite bears know which cars have kids.

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Travelography #160: Tourism and the Internet: A Match Made in Heaven


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Travelers primarily use tourism-related social networks to get up-to-date information, as do a lot of business travelers. Southwest Airlines is flying its new green plane. Bali is raising baby coral.  Thailand find a home for retired elephants. And Cyprus is a major wedding tourism destinations for certain couples from Israel and Lebanon.

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Travelography #159: Tourism and the Economy: Uneasy Bedfellows


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Business travel is in the dumps, and a new study is commissioned to try and turn that around. The Australian dollar is stronger than ever -- which is really bad for Australia's tourism. Finally, I can take my precious water on the plane -- in Europe. And are floating hotels the future is a global warming world?

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Travelography #158: Global Economy Hurting Tourism, Helping Sharks


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Summary of the some of the more interesting tourism news stories from this past week, most of which are related to the continuing global economic crisis in the tourism industry. There are, though, a few brights spots -- Natonal Parks, Cuba, Haiti, and Paulau's sharks.

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A couple of the top stories are:

International Visitor Spending in the United States Down Sharply in July - July 2009 marks the ninth straight month in which U.S. travel and tourism-related exports were lower when compared to the same period of the previous year, having declined in November 2008 (-4%), December 2008 (-2%), January 2009 (-6%), February 2009 (-10%), March 2009 (-18%), April 2009 (-14%), May 2009 (-23%), June 2009 (-22%), and July (-24%).

To protect tourism Palau creates shark sanctuary - In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Johnson Toribiong declared his country’s entire Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of 629 thousand square kilometers, or roughly the size of France as a "shark sanctuary," which will ban all commercial shark fishing. [I hope they can enforce it! - Alan]

Travelography #157: Fighting the Image War for Tourism


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The Two Highlighted Stories for today are:
  • Political Instability, Violence Threat to Asia's Tourism Industry

    Political violence has done considerable damage to tourism in Asia and the Pacific over the past few years. But industry experts say the damage is not necessarily permanent. Governments and industry leaders say much can be done to rebuild tattered tourism reputations.
  • Wish you were here? Asian war zones battle for tourists

    Across a swath of south and south-east Asia previously wracked by war or strife, officials are carrying out a rebranding exercise to lure back tourists who have long been scared of visiting. In places such as Nepal, it is more like fine-tuning. In others, such as Kashmir, it means a complete overhaul.

Travelography #156: What do Brazil, Russia, Argentina have in Common?


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International Visitation To US Down 11% In June 2009

June 2009 marks the eighth consecutive month of decreases in international visitors spending. In the first six months 2009, visitors spent $60 billion, down 15 percent from the same period in 2008.

Travelography 155: Our Changing World: Geishas and Satellites


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Geisha turn barmaids to keep Japan’s ‘Floating World’ afloat

A traditional two-hour dinner with a geisha, who will entertain with music, dance performances and conversation, can cost as much as 67,000 yen ($715), more than half of which goes to the teahouse and an arranger, ... "It's a luxury industry, and like the high-end hotels, it has dropped," ... [However,] bookings have declined 50 percent since last October, the month after the collapse of [financial services firm] Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, ...

Economists Measure GDP Growth From Outer Space

Using U.S. Air Force weather satellite picture composites, they look at changes in a region’s light density over a 10-year period. “Consumption of nearly all goods in the evening requires lights,” ... “As income rises, so does light usage per person, in both consumption activities and many investment activities.” ... For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lights suggest a 2.4-percent annual growth rate in GDP, while official estimates suggest a negative 2.6-percent growth over the same time period. The Congo appears to be growing faster than official estimates suggest. At the other end, Myanmar has an official growth rate of 8.6 percent a year, but the lights data imply only a 3.4-percent annual growth rate.