When to Bribe, How to Bribe, Do you Bribe?

If you travel long enough eventually you face the dilemma of how and when, or even if to bribe. But before we get into the nitty gritty of corruption I want to state right off the bat that corruption, the giving and taking of bribes, is an insidious practice that destroys the very fabric of the rule of law in countries and the trust between citizens and those elected to positions of authority. Now that I’ve sounded off on my public service announcement let’s have a discussion about the realities of travel in potentially unsafe areas, in countries where the rule of law is loosely followed, and situations where it is in your interest to hand over $20, not because it doesn’t do any harm (it does) but because that $20 could save your skin. Shake Down by Local Cops The year was 2008 and I was traveling through Indonesia Read full article…

The First Time I Almost Died-Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

By the end of this story a number of people will be dead. The compact dirty white van left the tourist choked streets of Hanoi, Vietnam’s French Quarter early in the morning. We were a group of 10 strangers bound together by our desire to see the turquoise beauty of Ha Long Bay, and its breathtaking limestone islands thrusting out of the waters. We were also cheap, backpackers looking to save money but desperate to spend 3 days living on a boat, cruising the pearl culturing backwaters of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage site, and exploring the natural caves dotting the area. Sixty eight dollars was a lot to us for two nights on the boat, three meals a day, and an English guide. Sixty eight dollars almost cost all of us our lives. What you get for 68 Dollars Seagulls screeched as the van jerked to a stop at the Read full article…

Just after WWII the Japanese economy was in shambles and there were few Japanese products floating around. The area outside of Ueno Station in Tokyo quickly became famous for its ameya, candy, that represented the American black market products that could be bought there. Today the street known as Ameya Yokocho, or Ameyokocho for short (not that much shorter actually), is still a crowded and bustling market area. Besides the normal clothing, bags and electronics shops dotting the area there are still traditional market stalls selling assorted Japanese foods from octopus to dried seaweed. The whole area of Ueno is considered part of the Shitamachi (lower section of Tokyo) and was populated and frequented by the working class. While that distinction has faded with time, the liveliness of the area hasn’t and especially during the New Years Ameyokocho is packed with bargain hunters getting shopping for ingredients for the traditional Read full article…

Petra Jordan Photo Essay: A Walk Through History

I threatened earlier a photo essay of Jordan was on the way, well now I’m following through. Please take the photos in the context of my article Petra Lives up to Expectations, and be prepared for an upcoming wild video of my donkey into the surrounding mountains. Petra is one place that I can whole heartily recommend to anyone. If it’s not currently in your bucket list, throw it in and make sure it’s on top. There is of course way more to see in Petra. These are but a few of my pictures from a full day spent exploring the city. However, to truly see the full ruins you need about 3 days. A journey at night with the Treasury lit by candles is another sight not to miss. I couldn’t show you everything or you might not be tempted enough to visit! If you enjoyed this photo essay Read full article…

Holy Mountain Pass: Travel Photo Contest Friday 31

Update: The winner is Jason…who guessed Thorung La Pass, Annapurna Circuit, Himalayas, Nepal. Well, OK, he didn’t say Nepal, but I think we can assume he meant it. Seriously, I’m not that inflexible! Thanks again to Connie and tranquil mountain photo.  Here is what makes this mountain pass so special to Connie: “Reaching the peak of Thorung La Pass at 5614 meters, after trekking through the amazingly beautiful Nepalese Himalayan mountain range for 12 days was an amazing accomplishment for me. I had never embarked on such a physically and mentally draining task and although it was certainly difficult on most days, not to mention absolutely freezing at the Pass, every single second was worth it! ” Jason gets the prize this week so please check him out at Alpaca Suitcase. Welcome to Travel Photo Contest Friday, wow that’s a mouthful! If you’re new or never bothered to actually read Read full article…

Petra, Jordan: When dreams live up to expectations

It is rare for our dreams and expectations to live up to reality. Often times we build a destination up in our minds only to be disappointed by cheesy touristic over development, or feeling cheated by travel writers and documentarists eager to oversell and hide the negative. As I drove along the barren coastal Dead Sea road my driver nonchalantly waved his hand, “This used to be Sodom and Gomorrah.” Twenty minutes earlier he had pointed to where Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Amazed by how everyday his comment was I pushed to know more. “What’s the site called?” “Baptism Place.” He never took his eyes off the road. I thought he just didn’t know the name in English until I saw a large blue highway sign announcing the exit. It read simply, “Baptism Place.” Understatement was becoming common as I drove with friends for 3 hours to Read full article…

How to make Japanese Gyoza (in Chinese Jyaozi/ in English Potstickers)

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife! “What is your fiancé’s favorite food?” This was one of my hen night questions. ‘Gyoza!’ (normally called potstickers in English). I got the answer right and at the same time I became determined that I had to cook this dish very well all the time! [Todd here, isn't Kay a lovely wife?! I am a lucky man.] Well, the truth is that I also love Gyoza, but the problem is that we can’t buy the Gyoza skin in Kosovo. If we want to eat something we have to find a way, so I started making Gyoza from the scratch! If you have a Chinese (or Japanese/Korean) store near by, you can simply buy the skin (it is much easier and takes less time). In Japan we usually fry Read full article…

When Japanese Toilets Fight Back

  I was excited, nervous and sweaty. It was 2000 and I was on a date in Japan. I chose the perfect spot, the 11th floor bar overlooking Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake and where I spent 5 years of my life after university (near the lake, not the bar). The bar was called Medusa. Small and smokey (like most Japanese bars at the time) the dark room was sandwiched by glass. One side was wall to wall panoramic views of the lake, distant mountains  glowing in the sun’s retreat for the day. A black light lit massive aquarium claimed the wall behind the bar. At first glance it looked empty. “Look again,” the bartender advised. He didn’t look up and kept at his task of shaping a large cube of ice into a sphere to accompany the scotch destined for a group of black tied salary men. We found two small Read full article…

10 Free Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

Many people dream of traveling to Japan and experiencing this unique island first hand. Culture, history, technology, fashion and food blend together in an unforgettable experience that not only rewards the intrepid traveler but has fueled pop culture around the world for decades. Japan has taken on a somewhat mythical persona as it highlights its cultural differences to the outside world and implanting the desire to visit the country in minds of countless travelers. However, one myth has served to repel would be visitors:  Japan is extremely expensive. While its true Japan can be expensive, a trip to Tokyo can still be done on a budget and can cost much less than a jaunt to Europe’s largest cities. A journey to Japan can be incredibly rewarding without cashing out your child’s education fund. I lived in Japan for over 5 years, and my wife is from Tokyo. Since we travel Read full article…

Rice Paddy Terraces: Travel Photo Contest Friday 28

Update: The winner is Caz…who guessed the Longshen Rice Terraces, also known as The Dragons Back Rice Terraces in China (OK she only said Longshen China). Thanks again to Andrea and her educational travel blog.  Here is what makes these rice terraces so special to Andrea: “It’s a special place because the terraces are stunning. They were mainly built during the Ming dynasty, so are about 500 years old. The lower terraces are at 380m, while the highest part is 880m, so there are 500 meters of stunning photographs at every turn. One of the best parts of Longshen are the female porters, who moonlight as manic pashmina sellers in the evenings. They have a wonderful humor that breaks through any language barriers. The family homes that are run as guesthouses also make it a special place to stay. Longshen is a wonderful break from the crowds and pollution of China. Although the hike can Read full article…

© 2006-2010 Todd's Wanderings Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha