Planning and How To

Get all of your ducks in a row.

10 Adventurous Tourist Attractions in China

The last post I wrote was called 101 Travel Experiences in China. Excited to share all of the experiences I had in China, both good and bad, I poured weeks worth of work into that post. But nobody read it. It was just too long. Plus, I made the mistake of putting in tourist attractions in China that were not worth doing. People don’t care about those – they just want to know what to do… not what not to do. So being the industrious fellow that I am, I condensed my 10,000 word behemoth to only those experiences that were truly adventurous (this is, after all, an adventure travel blog). They are the Best of the Best; the Eric Roberts of travel experiences if you will. So please enjoy. 1) Walk the Plank Road in the Sky on Mount Hua Located a short day trip outside of Xian, Mount Hua is one of the five sacred mountains of China and has a long history of religious and historical significance. Reaching the northern summit takes approximately 5 hours and requires ascending a series of steep stone staircases (like most mountains in China). Mount Hua’s crags and spines make for a beautiful, all be it, precipitous trek. So much so, that its been labeled the world’s most dangerous hike. Probably the most infamous of all the attractions is the Plank Road in the sky, located on Mount Hua’s south Peak. Fifty meters of wood precariously nailed to the side of a cliff takes you on a stroll 1000 meters above a spiky mountain range below. I was scared shitless before doing it, but I found that once I got there, it wasn’t nearly as bad...

101 Travel Experiences in China

Author’s Note: Recently, I spent 40 days traveling through China. I traveled mostly by train and hiked as often as I could, mostly on China’s five sacred mountains. In this post, I share with you both my positive and negative travel experiences. I took most of the photos – the exception being in the Potpourri section and a few other sporadic experiences. Thanks for reading and I hope you find this post a valuable resource for planning your journey through China. p.s. That’s a picture of me gagging on the gelatinous skin of an unidentified, fried...

14 Things to do in Istanbul to Unlock her Charm

Last month, I visited the beautiful, but very crowded Istanbul. I loved it, but there were just so many tourists. To be honest, I hate vast swathes of tourists. They make me uncomfortable (I get the hypocrisy, considering I’m a tourist. I don’t fall for that “tourist vs. traveler” crap). You have to wait in line and push to get a better picture, not to mention dealing with all the touts that are inexorably linked to tourists like fleas on a dog. It just wears on me. So while I wanted to see the main tourist draws of the city – the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Palace and the Grand Bazar – I also wanted to leave the crowds in my wake. So go see the trip advisor top 10, they are definitely worth it. But if you have enough time, try some of the more relaxing, dare I say, charming, alternatives. 1) Hide from the tourist hoards at Belthur Guelhane Kandil Tesislerl Park After fighting through the sea of people around historic Old Town, stop at the green oasis that is Belthur Park. The tourist crowd thins here and local kids scamper about. Take a load off at the relaxed outdoor café and let a local kitty jump up on your lamp. It’s instant zen. 2) Decide whether you like Osmanli Mancunu or not On the way out of the park, you may notice a burly man stirring one of five colored vats with a shiv. Don’t worry, he’s won’t shank you, instead he will spin you a Osmanli Mancunu, a slightly waxy, sugary delight, that looks better...

How to eat Scorpion in Beijing

In the heart of Beijing, off the side of one of its busiest streets, lies a peculiar market. It’s where tourists go to test the saying that the Chinese will eat anything with four legs and isn’t a table. Actually, the saying shouldn’t be restricted to only four legs, really anything that lives and breathes is a potential food for the Chinese. Flying lizards, beetles, grasshoppers, snakes, scorpions, organs of cow, pig and chicken – the Chinese are not restricted to one Phylum let alone one Class of food. I have my eye on a row of black scorpions. The street vendor notices immediately and begins his pitch. “Scorpion good. Taste like Chicken. You try. Come.” I am still a bit nervous from a run in twenty minutes earlier I had with a snake. It had a slimy, gelatinous texture and even the four scoops of chill sauce dumped on top couldn’t suppress an overtly reptilian taste; something like fish that had gone rotten. Part of the problem was that I couldn’t seem to locate any actual meat, just the scaly, translucent skin. I ate two bites and chucked it in the trash-bin. “Come, come. You try.” He diverts my attention away from the huge black scorpions, to the smaller, brownish variety. The scorpions are skewered on small wooden dowels and displayed in rows. The wiggles of tails and clamping of claws prove their freshness to connoisseurs of scorpion in Beijing, before they are unceremoniously fried. I am no connoisseur, just a tourist with a peaked interest. On my first day in China, I posted on Facebook that I was starting with...

How to conquer the death road (and live to tell the tale)

Feed Pachamama what she needs! After two hours in the bus, we finally reached our destination, a parking lot at the summit of the Death Road. The 15 of us filed out of the van as our driver spryly scampered up to the top of it and started loosening the bungie cords from the bikes. After testing out our bikes around the parking lot, we assembled around our young, be-freckled guide. He gave us the first of a series of safety briefings and afterwards, ironically, pulled out a bottle of 100% alcohol for us to consume. We all took a shot and poured a little out for a homie. That homies name was Pachamama, the Inca God of Mother-Earth. Our guide explained that it was a tradition to pour out a little liquor so that Pachamama would be appeased and wouldn’t take out a blood offering instead. Maybe we should have poured out a little more – Pachamama would have her blood offering...

Santiago de Chiquitos – A little town with a big view

Santiago de Chiquitos is stuck fifty years ago in time. But it’s not a bad thing. Come to think of it, outside of the major cities (Sucre, La Paz, Santa Cruz) most of Bolivia is beautifully stuck. Cows and donkeys have as much right to the road as cars.  Laundry is often done in flowing streams and horses are a valid form of transportation.… (Click the title at the top of the email to read the rest of this...