Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Once a year, Ben and Jerry’s gives away ice cream at its scoop shops free.

fcdheader2TODAY’S THE DAY!

In the U.S. and Canada, find your nearest scoop shop here.

Overseas, give one of these two links a try:  1, 2.  (You’ve got a chance if you’re in Aruba, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, or the UK.)

Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

Greetings fellow travelers and welcome to this week’s Carnival of Cities. I’m happy to be your host as we jet around the world following tales of tapioca, tumbling and taxidermy. Intrigued? Read on . . .

New York City, NY, USA: Sascha Zuger from Travel Savvy Mom scoops a great hotel package, describes her run-in with Sesame Street’s Gordon and highlights the Kids’ Night on Broadway offer in her post Broadway, Baby!

Rome, Italy: speaking of perfect hotels, Mara at Mother of All Trips has identified a real winner for young families near the Coliseum in her post Mondays Are for Dreaming: Hotel Lancelot.

Naples, Italy: Karen Landes is blogging at WhyGo Italy on the shades of life on display when slicing Naples in two in the post Spaccanapoli: Naples’ Historic Main Street.

Washington, DC, USA: Jon at The DC Traveler gives us a peek at the folks folding themselves in half and risking their lives nightly for our enjoyment when he goes Backstage at Cirque du Soleil KOOZA.

San Francisco, CA, USA: DFernandez takes us along on a twisty insider tour of his favorite tourist spots in The (Crooked) Road Not Taken at You’re So City.

London, UK: Caitlin at Roaming Tales is serving up top tips for London’s East End — not the least of which is where you may spot folk-dancing squirrels selling high-end clothes . . . Check out her post A Stroll through London’s Quirky East End for directions, or simply let your badger on a leash lead the way!

Prescott, AZ, USA: Granny J takes in an impressive number of public scupltures in Prescott’s Heroic Bronzes at Walking Prescott.

Dublin, Ireland: A detail on the airport wall caught the eye of Fin Keegan in the post Bitter in the End.

Dresden, Germany: You’d have to be blind to miss the detail on the tiled wall called the Procession of Princes in my post Saturday Photo Friday #4 here at Less Than a Shoestring.

Bangkok, Thailand: The news about hundreds of air passengers stranded as rebels seize the airport putting your Thai travel plans on hold? Conan Stevens serves up a perspective on the impact of the foreign spender in Is Thailand Safe to Travel in Now?

Shanghai, China: Our benevolent leader Sheila Scarborough gives us the scoop on a bubble tea chain discovered in China which has a branch in — no joke — Albuquerque in the post Stop into China’s rbt for Tea and Juice Drinks at the Family Travellogue.

Mexico City, Mexico: Gilocafe has a video to share from their visit to Teotihuacan Pyramids: Mexico City, Mexico.

Kanyakumari, India: Maneesh of Admirable India shares his photos from two museum visits in the post Trip to Kanyakumari: Chapter 2: Wandering Monk Exhibition, Kanyakumari and Government Museum, Kanyakumari: Part 1.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Jason Sarracini of Trip Quips gives a quick resort tip for a stay on the island.

That concludes this week’s Carnival — the next Carnival of Cities will be hosted by the friendly folks at UpTake. Submit your (one, non-spammy) blog post about any aspect of ONE city to the next edition before next Tuesday using the carnival submission form. If you like these posts, try browsing the extensive Carnival of Cities archives.

Read Full Post »

Just because I live overseas doesn’t mean the world is at my fingertips.  While you’re sitting in your office living vicariously through my adventures, fantasizing about that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, to Istanbul, to Kenya or to Sydney, I too have my own list of “if only I had the money” destinations.  For me, most of these lie on/in the Pacific — and near the top is Indonesia.

Fourth-largest country in the world, largest Muslim country in the world, childhood home to one Barack Obama — nevertheless a place most of us know so little about that we would have difficulty placing it on the map.

I don’t claim to be a whole lot more knowledgable about the country than that, as my experience has come secondhand, through the rhythms of Java and, more recently, Bali.

Slentem

One of the benefits of a liberal arts education is the opportunity to try on a number of hats and see if they fit — to dabble in painting, in religious studies, in economics or biology — before deciding on any particular fashion statement for life.  And though you may leave this or that behind (and you will most likely drop the hat you selected at some point), you wear that which you’ve chosen better for modeling all the others.

bonang kenong saronIt may be surprising that I picked up Javanese music (Gamelan) while studying in the middle of Iowa.  To me, it’s more surprising that I am still playing in a Gamelan, now in Berlin, Germany.  Music transcends.  Even specialized knowledge is sometimes rewarded.

Here I have the opportunity to play with both foreigners and natives and to play both Balinese and Javanese instruments (and lovely sets they are too!).  The Embassy offers free Bahasa Indonesia courses.  Every time we practice, someone makes a delicious native dish.  Over time, I learn more about the people and the culture of a country I can only imagine in the vaguest of terms.  If their scholarship program were more generous (I know 1,000,000 rupiah sounds like a lot, but it is the equivalent of $90), I would gladly take Indonesia up on the offer . . .  In the meanwhile, I will continue fantasizing about my future Gamelan set — you know, the one I’m having made when I actually make it to Java someday (I know a couple readers/former ensemble members hear me on this)!

If there is a lesson to be taken from this, it is that an Embassy can be a wealth of resources and opportunities to learn about people and places you’re interested in, giving you numerous opportunities to develop a deeper relationship with a country before or after your visit.  If you live in a world city which is home to a variety of Embassies, it pays to get on their mailing lists to find out what is being offered.  Many of these opportunities will be colorful, family-oriented and free.

For those of you who have no idea what a Gamelan even sounds like, I am so happy to have found two clips of performances I was in online, for your listening pleasure — I’m sure if you listen closely you can pick me out. 🙂

Follow others on the Photo Friday trail, starting here.

Read Full Post »

Carnival of Cities logoWelcome travelers!  I’m happy to be hosting the Carnival of Cities this week.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you should appreciate the variety of locations included in this weekly carnival; if you’re a follower of the carnival, welcome to my blog on no-budget travel and feel free to poke around!

Now, without further ado . . .

If planning a weekend trip to Canada, you’ll want to stop by Go Green Travel Green‘s post Vancouver in 2 (Eco-Friendly) Days at Go Green Travel Green.

Heading south to California with Fido? Nancy Brown presents Upscale and Affordable Dog-Friendly Lodging in Mendocino County posted at What a Trip, saying, “Welcome to my new website! Less Than a Shoestring readers will appreciate the budget minded and dog friendly Fort Bragg recommendations, as well as the insider tip on a FREE off leash dog beach in Mendocino County.”

Another California destination — Half Moon Bay, to be exact — is presented by the baglady in Expensive cars are unnecessary for a good time – The Baglady’s 1st Anniversary Trip posted at xynny.

Looking for a cheap hotel in Chicago?  You can’t believe everything you read on the internet says Neil in B.Y.O.F. posted at Your Mileage May Vary, saying, “Some shoestrings are stringier than others…”

Hopping the Atlantic to Europe, I’ve got a post on what to see on a quick layover in Berlin in my post Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part II here at Less Than a Shoestring.

A train ride eastward brings us to Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ Photo Friday: Jewish Krakow posted at Roaming Tales, saying, “The Jewish quarter in Krakow still persists but it’s a shadow of its pre-World War II self. The Jewish Cemetery is a poignant reminder of what’s lost.”

Down on the Mediterranean, Jason Green presents The other side of Croatia – Pula « Europe a la Carte Blog posted at Europe A La Carte Blog, saying, “The Croatian city of Pula has beautiful beaches, a Roman arena and excellent seafood.”

Flying on to the subcontinent, AdmirableIndia.com presents Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore: Part 1: Ancient Watch Tower and Organic Cultivation posted at AdmirableIndia.com.

Closing ceremonies this week in Beijing make Wendy’s post on City Icons: Beijing China at Escape From New York the fitting end to this carnival edition! 

Thanks for visiting and submitting!  You can easily get in on the next edition of Carnival of Cities by using the handy-dandy carnival submission form.  See you next week at the newly rebranded Family Travel Logue!

Read Full Post »

Today’s post comes courtesy of long time reader, first time guest blogger Dana, currently of North Carolina. Dana blogs regularly at From My Wandering Mind and is head chef at Geek Buffet. You’ll find more descriptions of her recent trip to Japan and China starting here.

Last month, I took a 3-week trip to Asia, promising to look out for money-saving travel ideas to post here. Unfortunately, since it was a business trip, I couldn’t do a full-out frugal version of traveling, but I still tried to take notes along the way. The first and best thing I came across was the Japan Rail Pass.

Despite the fact that I used to live in Japan, this trip was the first time I had ever gotten to use a Rail Pass, and it was awesome. My parents had used them when they came to visit me during my time there, but since I didn’t have one of my own to use then, I didn’t realize the awesomeness I was missing out on. Let me explain, all Q&A style.

What is a Japan Rail Pass?

  • The Japan Rail Pass allows the person holding it to essentially jump on and off any JR train line in all of Japan, as well as some long-distance buses, and maybe some ferries, too. Once you have the pass, you don’t pay for tickets for any of these rides, just flash your pass to the gate people. Japan is not, on the whole, a great place for spur-of-the-moment travel, so in many ways the Japan Rail Pass = freedom. No counting your coins to see if you have enough to get all the short ride train tickets you will need for your sightseeing for the day, no having to search for shinkansen travel weekend deals long in advance. Just go!

Why didn’t you use one when you lived there, if it’s so awesome?

  • This is the tricky and sad part. Rail Passes are only for tourists. Specifically, only for people who enter Japan with a “Temporary Visitor” visa stamp in their passports. Anyone living in Japan long-term is ineligible. Many of my regular Japanese friends hadn’t even heard of it unless they’d had a lot of foreign visitors before.

How can I get one of these golden tickets?

  • Because this pass is only available to tourists, it is, somewhat bizarrely, only sold outside of Japan! Their website has a page with information on where the exchange orders are sold all around the world. Just select your appropriate geographic area.

Wait, what’s an “exchange order”? I thought I wanted a rail pass.

  • This is the other weird thing about the process. You can’t buy a Rail Pass inside Japan, but you do have to be in Japan to pick it up. Basically, what happens is you call up whatever tourist agency you have elected to buy the pass from and order one. They send you a package of information with your exchange order in it, valid for one Japan Rail Pass. When you get to Japan, you find the Rail Pass exchange office in the airport (or a major railway station, if you get picked up at the airport by a friend or something), give them your exchange order and your passport to prove you are a Temporary Visitor, and they give you the Rail Pass, with the dates of validity stamped inside it really big for easy reading by railway gatekeepers. The website explains all this stuff in detail as well.

How much does it cost?

  • For adults, the regular pass costs Y28300 (US $263 at time of writing) for 7 days, Y45100 (US $419) for 14 days, and Y57700 (US $536) for 21 days.

Hey now! This is Less Than a Shoestring here! That’s expensive.

  • Yes, yes, I know! Please don’t go away yet. As awesome as the Rail Pass is, it isn’t for everyone. Here are some ways to figure out if it’s going to be worth it for you to get one. Think about all the places you’re planning to go.

+ How many shinkansen rides will you be taking? If the answer is none, or even just one, then the Rail Pass probably isn’t worth it for you.

> Particularly if you are going to be solely in Kyoto, you shouldn’t bother to invest in one, because all the transportation within that city is primarily by bus, and your pass won’t work on their system.

> If you are going to be only in Tokyo, the Rail Pass will let you jump on and off all the JR trains and subways in the city, but perhaps not enough to really justify spending $250-$500 just for that.

> This page offers a rundown near the bottom of other economy day passes and their prices that you could consider instead.

+ If the answer is two round-trip shinkansen rides (ex: Tokyo-Kyoto and back, and then Tokyo-Sendai and back) the 7-day Rail Pass will pay for itself right away, because the cost of two shinkansen tickets is already about the same cost as one Rail Pass, plus the Rail Pass is taking care of all of your in-city train riding, too, as well as non-shinkansen local trains, etc.

> After that, it becomes a comparison game. As I said, the easiest way to figure out if it’s worth it is to figure out how many shinkansen rides you’ll need to take, look up those prices on the Japan Railways site and compare with the Rail Pass price for the length of time you’ll be in Japan.

+ From the front page of that site, it also looks like Japan Railways now offers some other passes for shorter periods of time and/or limited only to certain regions. Therefore, if you know that all of your travel is going to be only on the east coast, or only in Hokkaido, etc., those might be better deals than the whole-hog Japan Rail Pass, which covers the entire country. But again, those passes appear to only be available to non-Japanese-passport holders, so check out their restrictions to make sure you qualify.

As much as I would like to go back to Japan to live someday, now I’m also completely convinced that I want to go back sometime soon as a tourist, so I can take advantage of the Rail Pass system again. It really makes the experience completely different. Not only is the rail system in Japan super efficient, but now I can go anywhere at any time! The best of all possible worlds! It has always struck me as a rather unfair system to restrict the passes to out-of-country tourists, but take advantage of it if you can.

Read Full Post »

Welcome to the sixth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photographic inspiration this week from Nancie McKinnon, another fabulous image courtesy of Intelligent Travel’s Global Eye. You can read more about Nancie’s stay in a South Korean Buddhist temple here.

Intelligent Travel‘s got quite a few recent posts worth a gander:

If you are heading to the Olympics (or just flying into Beijing anytime soon), David Feng of CNReviews has written a great post to familiarize you with your transportation options called Beijing Capital International Airport Express(way) Guide (PEK). His extensive guide to getting around the city by underground avec color map can be found at Beijing Subway Guide: Map, Stations and Colors.

Beijing is the latest city to join the bicycle-rental trend — if you’re not afraid of traffic and thousands of other bicyclists, try Donald Morrison‘s Beijing on Two Wheels, posted at IHT Globespotters Blog.

Also at IHT, Joyce Hor-Chung Lau has just the thing for a sunny Hong Kong day in her post It’s Hong Kong beach season!

If it’s rather Australia you’re headed for, Vera Lang advises saving money and enjoying nature in her post Bushwalking in South Australia posted at Travel Trip Vacation. “South Australia offers amazing diversity and breathtaking beauty in every direction … and it does not come cheaper than walking.”

Onward to India, Anand Giridharadas of the IHT Globespotters Blog presents his advice on How to Behave Like a Local in Mumbai. My favorite tip, especially for business travelers, is his #9:

To save time and whiz through a meeting, specify in advance that coffee-tea service not be done. To extend the meeting for hours, on the other hand, keep asking for tea and coffee at regular intervals. If you really want to create an awkward situation, wait until everyone is about to leave the meeting and then call for tea and coffee and some “snacks,” which usually will mean something fried and time-consuming.

Maneesh at AdmirableIndia.com presents Bangalore to Mysore on Bike: Day 1: Part 2: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Brindavan gardens and Krishnarajasagara or KRS dam.

You’ll find other advice on traveling in Karnataka in J‘s posts on Chikmagalur, Srirangapatna and his Trip to Dharmasthala, Kukke Subrahmanya and Mangalore.

Wrapping up this week, nomad4ever Chris drags his broken motorscooter across an “unspoiled” Indonesian island near Bali in Around Lombok in 4 days – if you are insane enough.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Asia, Oz using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Antartica. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Wednesday.

Read Full Post »

Welcome to the fifth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photographic inspiration comes to us this week from Alan D. Newton. You can read all of the details about his visit to Hachioji City, Japan, at Global Eye: Takaosan Buddhas posted at Intelligent Travel.

Laura Morelli describes when and where to get your batik on authentically in The Genuine Article: Malaysian Batik at National Geographic Traveler.

Donald Morrison changes his mind about public transportation in the Chinese capital in The New Beijing Subway: Suddenly, a Pretty Good Ride posted at IHT Globespotters.

Steve Madsen presents free, historical highlights of Canberra in his series Australia’s Capital Treasures posted at Exit Row Seat.

Angelinaaahh has three currency exchange tips for those on their way to Phnom Penh in Riel-ing and Dealing in Cambodia posted at Wanderus. If you’re headed on to Thailand, you might also want to read her recommendations in Trekking Through Chiang Mai.

But first, don’t forget to check out Andrej‘s collection of things you might find useful to know Before you go to Thailand posted at ThailandTime: Bangkok & Thailand!

Never go hungry in Singapore or Malaysia after Austin Hill‘s rundown of local food courts in How To: Eat At A Hawker Center posted at Travellious, saying, “One of the best ways to eat cheaply in relatively expensive Singapore is to hit up stands at hawker centers. I give you the low down on how to do it right.”

Jeet has all the info you’ll need for a trip to Mysore, India, posted at Traveling Beats.

Tired of getting socked by currency conversion fees (or don’t know whether or not your credit card is profiting wildly on your overseas purchases)? Raymond to the rescue with his List Of Credit Card Foreign Currency Transaction Fees posted at Money Blue Book.

Finally, a great resource to start planning your trip the internet way is Niharika‘s post on the 50 Best Web 2.0 Travel Tools at Travelhacker.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Submit your blog article (or encourage your favorite travel bloggers to submit) to the next edition of Travel on a Shoestring: Asia, Oz using the carnival submission form. Next week this time we travel to South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Antartica. You can still submit your posts to that carnival till Wednesday.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »