Shanghai Skyline 上海

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Shanghai Skyline How about the Shanghai Skyline…?  You can see it below.  May be you can recognize some buildings that you know.  Or may be you will get excited and plan to visit the city. Related PostsShanghai Blue Sky – … Continue reading

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Gifts for the Traveller

Gifts for the Traveller

The holidays are coming fast.  Just two days from now is Black Friday and eventhough it has lost some cache as the one day for major deals, it still serves as a reminder – have you bought gifts for the traveller – the friend or relative in your life that is either a road warrior or travels just for fun.

With that objective in mind, I am putting together this posting – hopefully as a useful guide to help you find the gifts you need.  Have I tried all the items on this list ?  Well, no, some of them are too new, as well as, I have had enough experience with these and similar products in my travels to be able to assess their potential.

While today’s planes (especially those bound on international flights) offer power outlets with increasing frequency, some of the items on the list below are intended to help you arrive with charged mobile devices and ready to roll.

The list below is no particular order – it is truly reflective of my own experience of traveling 200K miles on planes this year (and in previous years)…Hence the recommendations:

  1. Noise canceling headphones.   I like the ones which are IN EAR – why?  The over the ear ones cause physical discomfort after pressing on my ears for 8 hours (or 16 hours on a flights like Dallas to Hong Kong)… As a result I like the Bose headphones shown here           
  2. Charging power banks:  I am sure you have arrived at your destination only to start searching immediately for power outlet to charge your phone so you can make that call to find your car, or colleagues.  The need is even greater when you arrive at a foreign airport and the person who was supposed to be waiting for you is not there….or your plane was late… The portable power bank becomes invaluable in those situations.   Which one to buy?  I have used multiple – Mophie, Sony, Anker… I usually look for the one with at least 15K mAh capacity so you can charge several devices at least once each.     if you prefer a very slim one with the power to charge one to two mobile devices once, then the Mophie is a good one.  I have used it for over one year and am happy with it.      
  3.  Portable Keyboard – it is a great tool for you while traveling.  If you are going on a leisure trip you most likely do not want to lug around big laptops (no matter how small they have become these days).   A mobile device (tablet or a smart phone) plus a keyboard like the one reviewed here is the way to go.  

I will pause here and let you think if any of these work for your plans.  The next installment will come out in a day or so.   In the mean time – please give me feedback…!

Japan

 

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Nanjing – From Bird’s Eye View

Nanjing Bird’s Eye View

Greetings!   I have always been amazed at the different views one gets when staying at high floors of either hotels of appartments we all live in.   This time around – let’s have a view of the city of Nanjing….

Here are a few photos – and more will come by the next weekend.  Enjoy

 

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More from India — The Taj Mahal in Photos

Taj Mahal

Agra - Taj Majal

  Agra Taj Mahal

This is probably one of the world’s most photographed sites.

The mausoleum and its surrounding buildings (like the guest house shown on the photo here) are all incredible demonstration of architecture and art.

But my words and descriptions are not much compared to the actual images – so you can just go ahead and browse them…

I have migrated my photo galleries to a new Blog.  The objective is to provide a much more focused and easy to use – I hope that is the case, but you be the judge – interface and overall setup. 

The new Photo Blog is located here and the Taj Mahal set of galleries on it can be accessed via the image link below.  Enjoy and do let me know with feedback.
Thanks!

India Taj Mahal

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Sleeping in China

Sleeping in China

ChinaSleeping in public in China – is a national sport.  Almost.  There are so many instances of it in any given city on any given day, that you will be hard pressed not to encounter it. Is it wrong ?  No!  Just amusing to some extent to the unaccustomed foreign visitor.   For those who have lived / stayed long enough in the country – it is a regular occurrence, and something not to be surprised about.

Having said all this – well it is still pretty entertaining – not so much to find people sleeping out and about, but to find all the different ways and places people find as comfortable whether for a small siesta or a serious sleep.

China Chengdu  China sleeping    China street  China sleeping

While to us (the foreigners) this may seem odd, sleeping in public shows some interesting (potentially) characteristics of the Chinese society – namely:

  • Expectations for public safety – it seems no one is really concerned that their well being may be threatened while asleep
  • Surprising expectation of no petty theft – which is strange because there is certainly enough of it in China….May be the petty thief stay away from sleeping folks – their sleep is special state and in an unspoken way, protected….
  • Everyone is really used to loud noise.  I know from experience – I was.  Living in a hussle and bustle of Shanghai, you get accustomed to the noises around you and you tune them out.

So all in all, not a bad set of traits and tricks to learn to leverage.   Those will help you!

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Sleeping On Planes – Best Tips and Tricks

Sleeping on Planes

Brussels-Hannover-plane Plane rides could be long and tiring.  On top of that, once you make it to your destination no matter whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, you want to be on top of your game, and not fall a victim of the dreaded jet lag.

As a result you must learn the tricks of the (frequent flyer) trade….Sleeping on planes….an art, a skill, and overall something which could pay great dividends, not matter if you travel frequently or not!

What are those tricks you may ask….?  Here is a list – probably a partial one, as many things that work for some, may not be as effective for others.  Nevertheless, let’s review at least some of them.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

If there is one big item and a VERY important item that you must always bring with you on a plane, that will be your favorite noise cancelling headphones.  There are tons of reasons why this is SO VERY important…..Do you need me to list those?   Oh, all right, let’s itemize some, and you will quickly remember all those other ones you have encountered and experienced by yourself:

  • Infant or small child traveling on a seat near you…
  • The drone of the jet turbines…After all, you are traveling at a very fast speed….Why would you think that will be noiseless?  The plane engines are pretty loud!
  • Intense talkers sitting near by and not understanding that NOT everyone is interested in the story of their aunt Betsy, or how their latest vacation included going to strange restaurants where they did not have (gasp…) even Coca Cola….
  • …and on and on….and on

Therefore, yes, please remember, pack those noise canceling headphones and before packing them – do check the batteries….or Else…!!!

Here are some good (in my opinion) headphones to have:

         

Ignore the Drinks

Do not partake in heavy drinking on the plane.   Those that tell you “get a couple of drinks to tie you over…” have no clue what they are talking about.   Tie you over to what??? Relax you how???

The reality is that while you are on the plane there is very little you or your friends could do or say to further improve your comfort.  You are best off to sleep on the plane…have some cool water, may be some juice and get ready for snoozing off.

The Aisle or the Window Seat

This all depends on what kind of sleeper are you ? If you are a light sleeper – you need to take extra precaution of our arrangement.   Take the aisle seat if you are easily bothered by people getting up and going to the rest room.  If you (like me) prefer the aisle seat and can handle interrupts from fellow passengers – then jump in and leverage the goodness of the seat….!

Want more tips and tricks – drop me a line via this Web site and we can figure it out together

So, all in all, if you want to get a few more pointers – please drop me a line.

Otherwise, please keep in mind – travelers need to be nimble and as such always be ready with your original itinerary….so you can show what drives hin,

     

Happy Travels!!!   And just close your eyes, put on your noise cancelling headphones, lower a shade over your eyes and just drift to your happy place…..

Here are also some interesting photos from places around the world…!  With more to come…

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Shanghai Friday Night

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Shanghai Friday Night A picture is worth a thousand words, right….?  Shanghai-Waitan-on-a-Friday-Night….! Related PostsSichuan Hot-Pot….in Pudong A view of Shanghai in the late 1980s…as promised And now lets go back in time to 1988-1989 Shanghai…. Trip Down Memory Lane….Some Old … Continue reading

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Entertainment in the Air on Planes

Entertainment in the Air

I have often been surprised how restrictive the US air travel is when it comes to many aspects of the creature comforts up in the air.   Let’s see – how do we compare flights in many countries of Asia and in the US?  Let’s list the services (besides getting from point A to point B) offered:

  • In-flight food:  On all US flights, food is unheard of – unless you are one of the few traveling in First / Business class of the plane.  At the same time, in China, and other Asia countries as well as in Europe, the crew serves warm food to everyone on the plane.  No matter wheter you are taking an in-country flight on Air China, or Shenzhen Airlines (to name a couple), you are going to get your boxed lunch consisting of a stir fry over rice.
  • Entertainment:  The intra-China flights or intra-India flights are usually operated with bare bones planes which do not have the right equipment to show much in the form of entertainment.  Having said that, it is likely to get entertainment if you happen to be on a newer plane…. Now lets compare that to te US – until recently, the usage of entertainment was fee only based –> now both American Airlines and Delta are starting to offer free entaiment following Delta’s first mover act.
  • Why is free entertainment important?  Here why:
    • Makes time go by faster
    • It creates a lot more relaxed crowd on the plane
    • It should help reduce the booz drinking on the flight
    • Finally, it will make for a much happier flyers and potentially return business for the airlines.
  • I would like to hear from the readers of this blog… Don’t hesitate – share your experiences and what you think makes sense on board an airship….
    • How would you like to pass your time?
    • Is getting food on-board the plane important to you?
    • What do you consider best in class services when traveling by plane?

Happy Travels

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Strange Advice from Conde Nast Traveler

Conde Nast Traveler: Strange and Inaccurate Advice

Airplane-Engine-SunsetI have over 3M miles flown on multiple global airlines across N.America, Asia and Europe.  When I saw the article below in the on-line magazine, my first reaction was, “I need to write a posting directly on their site.   I was surprised to see that there was no provision for leaving comments.  Well, that is one way to have your opinion stand unchallenged 🙂

The reality is that the advice from Conde Nast is NOT always close to being correct.   This time around – same story.  Read the story below – and judge for yourself.  How many times have you flown internationally with less than 3 hour connection time…?  For me – most of my 3M miles… I regularly fly with 1 hour connection between a domestic and International flight to Japan, China, UK….

Here is the link and the text of the advice given by the travel site to a couple with an issue:

Yes, even if you have plenty of time to make your connection.

Q: My husband and I booked flights from Dallas to Fiji, connecting in Los Angeles, through Orbitz. The itinerary left us 95 minutes in L.A., but at check-in, an American Airlines agent told us the “minimum connection time” for our international flight was two hours—and denied us boarding! We lost our vacation plus the $3,744.12 we spent on the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa. Doesn’t Orbitz owe us a refund? Jenny S., Carrollton, Tex.

A: Unfortunately for travelers, airlines don’t make it easy to verify the minimum connection times they demand. Fliers have to rely instead on online travel agencies like Orbitz to track those intricate rules, and the booking site says that the itinerary it sold was kosher. American stepped up, however, refunding the $3,175.60 cost of the airfare as a goodwill gesture, but the takeaway is simple: Always allow plenty of time when connecting—ideally three hours

 

At any rate, all you have to do is make sure you have called the airline ahead of time (if you are concerned — I do not do even that) in case you need some assistance – they will more than oblige.

In today’s market, the competition among airlines is so great that you will get a lot of services, but you need to ask.

At any rate, enjoy your travels and do not stress too much.   The other aspect is – travel as light as possible so you can be flexible and able to manage flight changes with greater ease.

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WLAN Costs on American Airlines -Surprises

WLAN Costs on American Airlines

I do not understand the pricing model for WLAN access American Airlines offers to its passengers… On a recent flight from Phoenix to Austin, American Eagle offered $23.95 WLAN access for….wait for it….yes, only less than 2 hour flight.   The service offered by GoGo

American-Airlines-WiFI

Two weeks ago I flew Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong also on American Airlines.  This flight is close to 15-16 hours. I had WLAN coverage for most of the flight, at the cost of…wait for it…$19!

So, now comes the million dollar question – how does this make sense?  I can see the 2-hour flight for a fee of $5….may be….BUT $23.95 makes no sense whatsoever!!!!

Comments?

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