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Siem Reap Pt 8, Cambodia Pt 10 [May. 19th, 2014|05:47 pm]
Travel talk, tales and tips


Enough of fun.

So far in the previous entries, you can see that I have done quite a bit of sightseeing and interesting activities in Cambodia. However all these have been made possible because I actually had a motive to do something in Cambodia.
Something meaningful.Collapse )
A new chapter for the next trip awaits. Where? I haven't decided where to go next.
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Siem Reap Pt 6, Cambodia Pt 8 [May. 6th, 2014|10:13 pm]
Travel talk, tales and tips


I had to rush rush rush again.

I just remembered there is a place I needed to go, because there is this event happening that occurs only once a week and that was my only chance to attend during my stay in Siem Reap.

But first I had to head back to the guesthouse to have a proper shower and a change of clothes first. Not to tuxedo but a clean set of clothes without the odour from my sweat.
Remaining evening.Collapse )
More adventures up mainland in the next entry.
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Another puzzle piece of the world. [Mar. 3rd, 2014|03:07 am]
Travel talk, tales and tips

Here I am. There I go... again. How amazing a feeling it is, to know with absolution, that I can go anywhere in the world. I get to make the planet even smaller. A twelve day stretch to play, exist and shatter what my mind thinks it knows.

Above & Beyond - Tri-state (5vel Remix) is playing as I'm looking at a map of the world, shopping for my next cerebral, emotional and soul discovering upgrades.

A few places catch my fancy. Perhaps a few days in Sydney and the rest in Auckland. A trans European train ride stopping for the day from, as an example, London to Naples or Athens? Maybe even a trans Siberian excursion from Moscow to Vladivostok tritely reading Tolstoy along the way? Though the tension in western Russia may cause me to rethink that. Experience the opulence of the Emirates?

Perhaps back to see the ghost of my past wander lost, where now I trek knowing what's around the corner. Well dressed for another drink on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo? Another snorkeling trip off Ambergris Caye? One last Turkish delight walking though the Hippodrome of Istanbul as the snow falls? I've experienced so much, yet so little.

Suggestions? Twelve days to burn after the first of June. I'd like to experience the unknown. Climate, peak tourist times and taking two days off my twelve for flights from and back to Phoenix are things to take into consideration. Finances will be plentiful but I wish I could say the same for time.

Xiao Wand Shu - Wong Faye plays now as I still ponder what will happen, who I'll meet, what I'll leave behind... As there are an infinite amount of variables, the one constant always haunts me. My desire for it to last forever even after I die.
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Embracing the Cold [Feb. 17th, 2014|05:36 pm]
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Originally posted by koppenhaver at Embracing the Cold

In the winter of 1985, the wind chill in Garrett County, Maryland hit negative 120 degrees.  When it did, I was just over the county line, east of Garrett, in college at Frostburg State.  Though the wind chill on our campus wasn’t quite a cold as the higher elevated Garrett, I do remember the threat of a triple digit negative number.  It was the one and only time in my four Frostburg years that classes were canceled.

Garrett County is Maryland’s western-most and highest-elevated county.  It’s bordered to the north by the Mason-Dixon Line, to the south by the Potomac River, and to the west by West Virginia.  It’s the only Maryland county who’s snowmelt drains into the Mississippi instead of the Chesapeake; an attribute of its extreme elevation.  A drive to Garrett County from the east is a long, continuous, unremitting uphill climb.

The unique location of Garrett County positions it in a sweet spot for snow accumulations; averaging ten feet per year.  The current record though, from 2010, is twenty two feet.  It’s at the crossroads of multiple weather patterns.  Lake Effect Snows from Lake Erie and Nor’easters are regular contributors to the totals.  The main contributor, however, is Upslope Snows which happen when prevailing winds are forced skyward upon colliding with Garrett’s high plateau and ridges.  As the air ascends, it leaves moisture behind.  Or as my brother once referred to it, Garrett rakes the clouds.

Sounds ghastly.  So why would a non-skier and hater of winter like me actually choose to visit Garrett County in February?  One word: love.

My wife’s birthday is in February.  Traditionally, we like to get away.  Last year it was Florida.  The year before, Arizona.  But this year, she wanted to embrace to cold.  I love her adventurous spirit, and it sounded reasonable when we booked it last fall.  Sounded practical too.  Why fly to Saskatchewan or Siberia when Garrett County was a mere two hour, steep drive from my home?

Embracing the cold was precisely what we got.  A freshly fallen two feet of snow buried the cabin we rented in the hills above Deep Creek Lake.  I had to engage my vehicle’s 4WD to ascend the slick, vertical access road.  Then we had to trudge slowly through thigh-deep snow to reach the cabin door.  And from the time we arrived until we left two days later, the snow never stopped.

Frankly, one of the reasons embracing the cold enticed us was knowing a roaring fire would be the antidote.  It had been two years since I last sat by a fire.  The Arizona birthday included a fire pit warm up.  After a day on the rim trail, the Grand Canyon Lodge had a nice big fireplace waiting for us.  But the fire in Garrett was much nicer.  First of all, I created it.  And second, we burned it as hot and as long as we wanted.  With snow approaching three feet deep outside and no signs of letting up, that fire was more welcomed than any other I can recall.  I loved every smoky minute of it.

Though I was not as confident as my wife about embracing the cold, I’m definitely happy with how it turned out.  It was an outstanding adventure and made for one of the most memorable birthday getaways so far.  The ghastly conditions of Garrett County, and that awesome fireplace to counteract them, made for an exceptional trip.
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Costa Rica [Feb. 12th, 2014|10:14 am]
Travel talk, tales and tips

I just booked tickets to go to Costa Rica for a week in March. Should I get a rental car? Or do you think I'll be ok with shuttles, buses, etc? Which is more cost effective?
We're flying into Liberia, spending three nights at Samara Beach, three nights in Monte Verde and then flying out of Liberia.

Thank you!
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(no subject) [Jan. 25th, 2014|08:04 am]
Travel talk, tales and tips


I guess this question comes up every year, because the technology keeps changing. I'm getting read to travel for about four weeks in India and China. My telephone is a Samsung Galaxy S 3 through Verizon. My son says I should get a sim card rather than paying roaming, but I'm not clear about how that will work. Do I need different sim cards for each country? Will I be able to call the US and China if I have a sim card in India? Any help would be great!
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Where to go? [Jan. 16th, 2014|09:21 am]
Travel talk, tales and tips

Hi all. I guess this community isn't super active anymore but maybe someone can help me a tad?

I'm looking for ideas of somewhere to go. Of course, I have some requirements:

My family is my wife, me, and our 2.5 year old. So we want to go somewhere relatively queer-friendly. Doesn't have to be San Francisco (been there many times, love it) but somewhere we aren't likely to be treated like dirt just for daring to exist.

We like exploring cities, visiting galleries and museums, checking out record stores and vintage clothing shops. However, with the weather we've been having (we live in Toronto), the idea of being somewhere warm is very, very appealing. And somewhere relatively kid-friendly, though at 2.5 she's pretty happy just doing whatever we're doing and doesn't need to be catered to exclusively (i.e. we are so not going to Disney World anytime soon).

We're on a budget, of course, so probably need to stay on this continent. We're thinking somewhere in California or perhaps Florida (Florida because it's relatively cheap and warm, though I'm a bit apprehensive after reading all about Florida's gun laws). I'm dreaming about Barcelona but that's just not in the budget right now.

I've been to and loved: Reykjavik, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Cape Town, Mexico City and Beirut.

I'd like to go somewhere new though we're leaning towards just going back to LA again because, like I said, the beach is sounding really appealing. But I don't love the car culture of LA either so I'm not completely sold.

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.
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Space Needle Time [Oct. 9th, 2013|09:17 am]
Travel talk, tales and tips

Originally posted by koppenhaver at Space Needle Time

Here’s a first world problem:  Should I accept the invitation to an opulent winery from one of the biggest corporations in the world, or skip that party to selfishly explore the Space Needle?  That was my dilemma last Tuesday afternoon.

I’m a pretty dedicated employee which made the tug quite strong in favor of staying on script and going to the winery.  It was business, of course, that brought me to Seattle in the first place.  But by Tuesday afternoon, I had met all the expectations of my employer.  And frankly, I was socially whipped after three straight days of conferencing and was in need of some private time.  More importantly though, the call of two towers was just too strong.
A month ago, I was standing atop the CN Tower in Toronto.  What made that so special was knowing I’d have the opportunity to stand atop an equally iconic tower on the other side of the continent.  But as of Tuesday afternoon, I hadn’t yet addressed that possibility and a plane with my name on the manifest was leaving in the morning.  Tuesday evening was my only shot at the Space Needle.  I simply couldn’t resist.
It was actually from atop of the Space Needle that I texted my regrets.  “No worries” was the reply from my winery inviter, which helped alleviate the guilt.  Once guilt-free, the evening really took off.  The views from above Seattle, though not as high, were equally as impressive as Toronto.  The vibrancy of this emerald city was sharply evident.  A mixture of sun, clouds, shimmering waters, and distant mountains, made for a long visit atop the tower.  I lingered, burning the unique images deep into my memory.
At the base of the tower I found a bench in a bright, contemporary park and phoned home.  I told my wife I felt like I was on the set of The Jetsons.  The spacey tower was aglow in the setting sun.  Jets and float planes from nearby airports swirled around.  And the monorail was pulling in and out with regularity.  It was quite a colorful experience.
As was my dinner…
Moth-like, I was drawn to the neon of 5 Point Café, particularly the sign out front: “Cheating Tourists and Drunks Since 1982”.  Inside, this placed glowed as well.  The walls were covered haphazardly in colorful business cards, beer labels, and random scribbles.  My waiter, who looked like a plumber, spoke the bare minimum of words, which in my anti-social mood, was welcomed.  At the bar, a chubby dude was claiming to be the manager of Thin Lizzy, though he likely wasn’t born when the band formed.  As for the food?  Top notch.  My best meal in the Pacific Northwest.
On the way to catch the Monorail back to my hotel and wrap up this trip, I lingered at a crosswalk deliberately waiting for the next light cycle.  Still aglow from my meal and standing near the base of the Space Needle on a perfect weather night, I was in no mood to rush.  It has been a fantastic first trip to the Pacific Northwest.  My experiences far exceeded my expectations, especially on this last night in Seattle.
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(no subject) [Aug. 1st, 2013|03:10 pm]
Travel talk, tales and tips

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Hi all,
I will be moving to London in September and on the way there I was hoping to have a one or two day layover in NYC. However, I'd rather not lug my stuff around the city with me (and besides that I'll be staying with a friend who doesn't have a whole lot of room in his apartment). So does anyone know if JFK or LaGuardia offer luggage storage or if there are trustworthy places nearby that will store my stuff for me? I if I end up doing this layover, those are the only two airports I'd consider flying through--I just feel like EWR is too far away for such a quick little jaunt. For what it's worth,  I know storage won't be free, but I'm not too concerned about the price.
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[las vegas] grand canyon tour options [Jul. 28th, 2013|07:33 pm]
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I'm travelling from Australia to the USA in August and will be spending four days in Las Vegas. We're planning a day trip to the Grand Canyon but I'm driving myself crazy going through all the options on offer. I was hoping for some advice from Ljers who'd made the trip themselves.

Things to consider:
People | Two adults.
Departure Point | The Strip.
Time | We're definitely only looking at day trips, preferably half day trips. We will consider anything from 4 - 12 hours.
Cost | Um, maybe up to $350.00? Each. But would prefer less if there's a good/popular option available.

Additional Question. The Bellagio has an offer on their website for an "O" Night Out package that includes a B Reserve ticket to see "O", dinner at Sensei, VIP entry to Hyde, and a welcome drink on arrival. It's $215.00pp. Considering a B Reserve ticket to "O" on its own is ~$170.00, this seems like a good option, but I thought I'd quickly run it by you guys also. Any "O" related advice would be greatly appreciated.

Actually, any Las Vegas related advice in general would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.
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