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Monday, 8 October 2007
Monday, 20 August 2007
The essential ingredients for a good mountain bike ride are simple: fantastic views, great paths, interesting features to roll over, and a damned good cafe at the end of the ride. There are plenty of good sites springing up in the UK of course, but Lagos, Portugal has several additional selling points: it's warm, the food and drinks are ludicrously cheap, the trails are empty, and the downhill tracks are very, very long. Cashing in, The Mountain Bike Adventure set up two years ago when Jim Carroll - an ex pro-rider who helped build the Hopton Castle trails in Shropshire - arrived in Lagos on a surf trip.
He met Toby Gornall - one half of The Surf Experience (who have been taking UK customers to the best surf breaks around Lagos since the early 90's) - and a recent convert to mountain biking. After several rides together, a plan was formed. "I was sick of riding in the rain," says Jim, looking out over the impressive sea stacks at Ponta Piedade. "So I moved here and we started the company."
It's a good business. Turn up in Faro airport and either Jim or Toby will pick you up and whisk you to Clotilda's B&B in the centre of town. Next, you're given a serious-looking Specialized mountain bike, and then Jim will take you out on a gentle ride along near the cliffs just outside of Lagos.
Mountain biking seems to be split into several camps. There's park riding; with jumps, gaps and logs to ride over. There's cross-country riding through single or double tracks; which includes a fair bit of peddling and some downhill. There's tourist track riding; essentially cruising on rarely-used tarmac roads. And then there's downhill; where you're dropped off at the top of a hill, and rarely need to peddle.
I plumped for downhill, and the next day found myself on a full-suspension bike at the top of Monchique, a 3,000 feet extinct volcano half an hour outside of Lagos. At 16km, the run down was incredible: ridiculously fast in some sections, tricky in others, and all the while dusty, remote and beautiful. We passed enormous wind turbines, derelict farm houses, fields full of flowers and had to duck under fallen tree trunks. "When we do this ride in the height of the summer," says Jim, "we always end it at the dam so everyone can jump in the lake to cool off."
(Coasting all the way, # Chris Moran, # The Guardian, # Saturday August 18 2007)
Friday, 17 August 2007
Day 37, July 13:
Breckinridge to South Park, Colo. -- 40 miles
We hung out in town until lunch and then biked up Boreas Pass, elev. 11,482 (Breckinridge is at 9,800 feet). The climb was easy and beautiful. Huge mountains that reminded me of pictures I'd seen of Switzerland surrounded the town of Breckinridge.
I was climbing ahead of the group to film their ascent (it was my day to carry the video camera) and a local biker climbed the last five miles with me. He shared what he liked about living in Colorado and told me about some tours he'd done in the Appalachians (he'd started in Christiansburg and had been through Roanoke).
I really liked the people here. Yesterday, two locals had offered me their shower to use. One guy had told me the ratio of guys to girls in Breckinridge was 7:1. I could live here for sure! Everyone is active and outdoorsy and open to differences. I loved it.
We finished biking about 40 miles and set up camp in South Park Recreation Area. This playground was in the middle of NOWHERE. We played ultimate Frisbee at 10,000 feet in a wind storm and had the time of our lives. We all felt so strong.
How many people, we wondered, could bike 40 miles up an 11,500-foot pass with 50 pounds on their bikes and then play three-on-three ultimate Frisbee at 10,800 feet until sundown?
Life is great!
Thursday, 16 August 2007
There was a little excitement getting to Hilo last night due to Hurricane Flossie, which was predicted to hit the island as a category 4 hurricane sometime today. In fact most of the schools and businesses on the big island were closed today in anticipation of getting slammed by the storm. So there was a little concern over whether we'd even be allowed to fly here at all. But luckily, the hurricane changed course at the last minute and weakened. So our flight to Hilo went off without a hitch. Even if there were only 18 people total on the plane.
So Hilo is where I am now. I'm staying in a rented condo with Diana's family, which sits right on the beach, and we've been having a blast. Today we spent all day exploring the volcanoes and waterfalls on the island, and tomorrow we're going on a helicopter tour over Kiluhea. Friday we're going on a snorkeling expedition, and Saturday we're heading over to Kona, on the other side of the island.
I do have to say that, so far, the weather in Hawaii has been somewhat extreme. For starters, they had an earthquake on Monday, the day before we got here. And then of course we flew into Hilo in the middle of a class 4 hurricane warning. And then, just to drive the point home, I guess, due to the earthquake in Peru today, the entire island of Hawaii is now under a tsunami watch. We couldn't even drive all the way to Kiluhea today because the roads were closed in case of tsunami.
In other words, if you're planning on coming to Hawaii, prepare for a lot of natural disasters. I wouldn't be at all surprised if tomorrow, we were attacked by Godzilla.
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Neither the tourists nor the wider public should pretend that these operations can be rendered entirely safe. The south of New Zealand is an extreme tourism area and a dangerous place not because service standards in that respect are low, but because public expectations in that respect are so high.—"Safety and the scare," The Southland Times, November 4, 2000
Ah, vacation! Balmy breezes, ice-cold margaritas, compliant snipers. Snipers? Yep. The newest kick for jaded tourists who have hit all the world's hot spots is to hit the world's really hot spots. The idea behind what some are calling terror travel or extreme tourism is basically to take the U.S. State Department's travel advisory warning list and make an itinerary out of it.—Justin Doebele, "Club Dead," Forbes, December 15, 1997
Trip on canoe:
A river is defined as a natural formation in which freshwater runs across the land and into the sea. Up to this point I'm afraid that the Mississippi River has been something of a missnomer. I am happy to report though that after 1200 miles of paddling down a long skinny lake we have finally reached a river! Last Thursday we camped at the confluence of the Missouri river and since that point the water has been moving. This has the result of us being able to paddle 50 miles using the same effort that it would take to do 30, a fantastic breakthrough in morale.
Now for some of the headlines. There have been occasional moments along our trip that maps, signs, and locals have given us warnings, suggestions, and advisorys about what lie ahead and potential hazzards. These warnings range from be careful to death is imminent. These warnings are tricky because you have to weigh who they are coming from and who they are intended for. For example we've been told that it is impossible to canoe down the river, obviously a bogus warning. Other publications have warned about the extreme dangers of barges, locks, and wingdams, all things that have potential to do some harm, but I can also point to cases of adults drowning in 5 gallon buckets, so you have to question the seriousness of these things. Truth is some people learned better an' others. There is also the problem that many signs along the river are intended for 1200 ft barges and just don't apply to our little canoe. So the other day right after the confluence of the Missouri there was a large sign telling all boats to take the auxillary channel down to St Louis. Our map said the same thing. At the end of the channel there is a large lock and it is reportedly very busy, and there can be some long waits. This canal is to be taken because they have constructed a low water dam with no lock in the main channel. We decide that being in a canoe we would be able to portage around it and save much time or if it is anything like a wing dam just cruise right over it. We canoe a few miles down and notice two large castle turrets built in the middle of the river presumably where the dam is located. We notice that there is a bit of a drop and we can't see the river past this point, but we've been having problems with depth perception the entire trip so we plug onward. As we get closer it doesn't seem too bad, a little closer and Justin and I are frantically putting on our life jackets, a little closer still and we are paddling like crazy against the current to try to get to the side. We read the river a bit and decide that we can make it down at one spot along the side. The water looked like an enormous rapid and wouldn't have been a big deal in a raft, but you can imagine the amount of water going over this thing. The drop was probably only about 15 ft over a span of 100 yards. Really not a big deal, but we just couldn't see it until we were right on top of it. The prudent thing to do would be to have stopped and looked at it, but we've learned that prudence doesn't have a home in Missouri. So we take a line on the right side of the river and make it down the first portion of the rapid without much problem and quite a bit of fun when we notice a sharp drop that had gone unseen to that point. Justin was in the bow and for some reason preoccupied with checking the depth of the river with his paddle instead of propelling us forward and by the time I saw the way out of this mess we were being sucked straight off of a four foot drop that landed in a five foot wave. We got a little wet and it took a minute for my heart to stop racing, but it was very exciting. I also got the added bonus of knowing what Justin might say if he were to experience an abrupt demise, however due to its inappropriate nature I will not share it here.
Extreme Tourism: Lessons from the World's Cold Water Islands (Advances in Tourism Research) by Godfrey BaldacchinoBook Description
This book is a pioneering investigation of the tourism practices in the world's other, cold water, islands. Located in extreme latitudes and subject to extreme weather conditions, these islands have been developing their tourism appeal in manners that appear sustainable. They present themselves in images that speak to the pristine, unique and superlative aspects of their natural environment, history and culture. Limited seasonality, difficulty of access, restricted infrastructure, harsh climates and water too cold to swim in, are integral features of the tourism industry, often welcomed as appropriate filters to the slide to the mass market.
The collection contains 13 island case studies. A set of seven hail from Northern latitudes: Baffin (Nunavut, Canada), Banks (Northwest Territories, Canada), Greenland/ Kaalaalit Nunaat, Iceland, Luleå (Sweden), Nunivak (Alaska), Solovetsky (Russia) and Svalbard (Norway). A second set of four cover the Southerly islands of Chatham (New Zealand), Falklands, Macquarie (Australia) and Stewart (New Zealand). Two other chapters discuss islands from the particular vantage points of cruise ship tourism, one for the Arctic region and one for the Antarctic. Additionally, five conceptual chapters provide insights into key tourism management issues, as they apply to cold water island experiences:(a) human resources; (b) environment; (c) promotion; (d) seasonality; and (e) access.
Some words from book...
How does the tourism industry promote "island-ness" when it seems to be so unilaterally associated with the paradise myth of the tropical, exotic and erotic? What are the opposing attributes of a cold-water island as a "place" that compromises a unique medley of pull factor apeals for potential visitors, and how is this verbal and pictorial amalgam formulated in "language of tourism"?Buy and Enjoy! (May accept at Amazon)
What, in turn, are the corresponding push factor motivations and activities of the tourists who are drawn to such peripheral regions and how are their attitudes and behaviour articulated by publicity? Finally, as and where they have an actual presence, how are the inhabitants of these extreme locations described in such a way that touristic interaction with Other is viewed as an attration in itself?
Monday, 13 August 2007
Soaring U.S. medical costs are causing many Americans to take to the skies on "medical tourism" junkets, looking for high-quality yet low-priced health care at foreign clinics.
In many cases, patients get exactly what they are looking for, but experts also warn that the booming industry does have some risks.
"My own advice would be to look carefully at the accreditation of the hospital and consider the nature of the procedure. Are you sure it is the procedure you need? And is it done well at the place you are going?" said Dr. Ann Marie Kimball, a professor of epidemiology and health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health, in Seattle.
I'm intresting that is Medical Tourism extreme?
Turistas (2006)Brazil. Beautiful women, pristine beaches, a friendly, open culture. Alex is accompanying his sister Bea and her best friend Amy for their first time abroad--young Americans who have come to exotic Brazil for fun, adventure and the promise of foreign pleasures. On a rickety bus rocketing up a twisting mountain road, they meet the beautiful Pru, who speaks the native language Portuguese, and Finn and Liam, in Brazil for the sole purpose of experiencing the beautiful Brazilian women they've heard so much about first hand. After enduring a harrowing bus crash which strands them in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, Alex, Bea, and their band of traveling companions attempt to salvage their day by seeking out a cabana bar on a nearby beach rather than wait an endless amount of time for the next bus to come by. The discovery of the beautiful and secluded beach gives way to a day in the sun and surf, an afternoon at the bar, and a night of exotic liquors and hot dancing with the locals. It's everything their vacation is supposed to be, until they wake up face down in the sand the following morning, drugged and robbed, their possessions gone, and the trace of very real danger in the air. The farther the group travels into this mysterious and isolated Brazilian community, the further they are from the possibility of escape--and the closer they come to the dark secret that waits for them in the lush jungle and underground caverns of the Brazilian jungle, and they must fight a primal battle for their lives in the most terrifying of all human traps.
(via Y!movie, more details see IMDB, or buy at Amazon)