Starling Travel

June 16, 2006

Bicycling Through Thailand

Filed under: Bicycling,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Ben Hopkins pushing his bike up a hill.Ben Hopkins was warned by another American that bicycling through the mountains of Thailand wasn’t safe:

“Jesus, man, ya don’t know? They’re still growing the poppies and shooting anyone who goes near. Nothing’s changed since ‘79. Everyone knows it but no one dares speak out. The government, generals and drug lords are in business with the Burmese military. You’d better just stick to the road.”

Luckily, he didn’t and what he found instead was surprisingly different.

The Golden Tourist TrapInstead of opium fields guarded by angry farmers, he found a Golden Tourist Trap.

“Tourism has replaced opium as the local source of gold. There’s The Golden Triangle Souvenir shop, The Golden Triangle Restaurant and with hotels and shopping centres sprouting up at the rate of poppies in post-Taliban Afghanistan it could soon be time to rename to the place, “The Golden Triangle Tourist Trap”. But it’s worth sticking around to check out the superb, recently opened Opium Exhibition Hall. “

Whenever you tell someone that you’re planning on traveling to a place, they always have advice for you. It’s important to listen to the advice, but it’s also just as important to follow your instincts and see where they take you. You just might find a golden opportunity.

June 15, 2006


Filed under: Airline Travel,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I found this video on YouTube. It’s an excellent short video that shows clips of traveling on planes, trains and beyond.

I finished watching this video wishing for more. I wish they had done a video for the full song because twenty seconds of it wasn’t enough for me.

June 14, 2006

Roughing It in a $1.4 Million RV

Filed under: Camping,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

ABC News has this video of this $1.4 Million RV and an interview with the owner. The RV has four flat screen televisions and it costs $600 in gasoline to fill it up. What is it like? See here:

ABC News - Luxe RVs Hit the Road in Style

My favorite quotes from this interview:

“Our idea of roughing it is when the wine isn’t properly chilled. That’s about as rough as it gets. We have every amenity you can think of. It’s like living in a luxury condo and your backyard is the entire North American continent.”

“My favorite part of my home on wheels are my friends that I’ve acquired through traveling. It has been a great experience.”

A $1.4 Million RV is an extravagance, but it’s possible to live in a motorhome full time and travel the United States without roughing it AND without spending that much money. A good motorcoach can be had for as little as $60K, which is less than a lot of people pay for their homes.

Living in an RV isn’t really camping, but it’s a form of travel that is unique in its own right.

June 13, 2006

World Citizens Guide

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’m scared of traveling to Europe because I don’t want to seem like just another Ugly American. You know the type. They show up dressed incorrectly and assume that everyone speaks English. The problem is, I’ve never been taught the etiquette for different countries and I don’t speak many languages. How am I supposed to act? The World Citizen’s Guide is here to help me.

Their 25 point brochure helps tourists act more like a world citizen than a American citizen. You can download it for free here:

Some of the advice is right on:

  • Be a traveler, not a tourist. Before you touch down in another country, learn as much as you can about it.

  • Be quiet. Less is more. In conversation match your voice level to the environment and other speakers. A loud voice is often perceived as a bragging voice.

  • Dress for respect. Americans are fundamentally a casual people. Jeans, T-shirts and sneakers work for many of us much of the time, but there are people in other countries that believe such casualness is a sign of disrespect to them and their beliefs.

  • Keep your word. If you say that you will e-mail, find that book or baseball cap and send it, then make sure that you keep your promises.

This advice is good no matter where you are traveling. I find that people visiting from other states tend to make these same mistakes when they visit Salt Lake City. This brochure is good advice all around.

June 12, 2006

Airline Etiquette

Filed under: Site News — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

There is that point at the beginning of a flight when you find out whether you’re going to have a nice flight or a bad flight. It’s when you find out whether your seat partner is going to talk your ear off or leave you alone. John Nance, from ABC News talks about this and gives us some hints:

“After some 78 years of commercial airline flying, you’d think that someone would have published by now a guide to the fine etiquette of airborne verbal exchanges, highlighting the good, the bad and the crashing bore. But, in fact, few have ever really given it much thought, and what we learned in kindergarten about basic courtesy was probably enough for most of us.”

Here are his tips:

  • Arm yourself with headphones and books.

  • Feign sleep.

  • Try to ignore other distractions.

This is more an article explaining to the clueless people out there what is and isn’t appropriate behavior than a tips and tricks on how to avoid bores.

Honestly, I’m more likely to talk your ear off than leave you alone, so I read this article realizing that I had probably stepped on a few etiquette points. Next time, I’ll know better by keeping my voice down and feigning sleep.

June 10, 2006

San Francisco, CA: Rainbow Mural

Filed under: California,Places To Visit,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We were walking through the Haight. We stopped at the corner of Cole and Haight for a cup of coffee. While we waited for the barista, I sat on the chairs watching the artist paint a mural. My friend, Kathleen Bennett explained the back story to me on video.

Click here to see the video

Yana Zegri painted a mural there long ago. When the building needed repairs, the mural needed to be sacrificed to save the building. Now that the building is rehabilitated, they hired the original artist to re-paint the mural, and it’s gorgeous. It’s called Evolutionary Rainbow and depicts the evolution of the planet from the primordial soup to the age of humans. From my vantage point at the coffee shop, it looked like a watery rainbow, but when you get up close, each color depicts a stage in our evolution. Here are some photos:

Where: On Cole Street near Haight, San Francisco, California Google Map

For More Photos: Flicker Photo Group: Evolutionary Rainbow

June 9, 2006

Plan Ahead For Cheap Travel

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Herald Sun talked to Jessa Boanas-Dewes from Lonely Planet and gleaned this advice from her.

Everything boiled down to planning, but Jessa was able to say WHAT you needed to plan:

  • Find out how much it will cost to fly, get your passport, pay for accomodations and food. “Depending on where you are going, picking up on accommodation specials in advance can save a bundle,” she said.

  • Try to stay with friends to save as much money as possible. “Cutting down even a few days of accommodation costs – especially in expensive countries – can save a significant amount of money,” she said.

  • Set up a daily budget. “Then add at least 20 per cent. Allow for the occasional luxury, and have a little ’emergency fund’ somewhere in case of emergency.”

  • Locate the banks and find out how much they will charge for fees. “These days ATMs are mushrooming and the most cost-effective way to access your money we’ve heard of is putting your credit card in credit and withdrawing funds as you need,” Ms Boanas-Dewes said.

  • Tell your credit card company that you’re traveling. “Otherwise they might block your card if they see charges suddenly coming in from overseas to combat potential fraud.”

  • Take only small amounts of cash with you. “If they do take cash, we suggest only to take a relatively small amount in the local currency where they will be landing so they can cover off any initial purchases, whether it’s a cab from the airport or whether they just want a coffee when they land.”

  • Schedule your trip with lots of extra time just in case things run late. “If you schedule too tightly, when things don’t go to plan you usually end up spending money to fix the problem – for example, taking taxis, or having to settle for more expensive accommodation because you missed check-in,” she said.

Mike and I tend to follow all these rules. Just because you are ruthless with a budget with your money doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on a trip. Knowing that you have enough money for the entire trip makes it so much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Via: Traveling Forever

June 8, 2006

New Orleans Trip

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

A trip takes a turn into a strange land that Kristine hadn’t expected taking her students. The faculty advisor for a trip with her 21-year-old traveling writing students takes a step into a bar where the students became the teachers. Read more here:

She found herself in an area that was far different from her normal beaten path in Kansas.

“New Orleans would have been disorienting at any time. It is as different from central Kansas, where I live and teach, as one can possibly imagine.”

Traveling to new cities gives us the opportunity to go to places that we would never visit at home just because we’re not familiar with “the bad part of town” in a new place. If you didn’t know your hometown, what places might you visit that you are scared to go to today. Maybe you should take a mini-vacation in your own town and visit a site that you would have never considered visiting. You might find something new and exotic in your own hometown.

June 7, 2006

Take a One-Minute Vacation with the Quiet American

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

If you are stuck at work, take an audio vacation with the Quiet American. These recordings were made in Vietnam and include such names as Bleeding, Karaoke, and Water Buffalo.

My favorite is called Washing. Here is the description:

Women wade in the river and wash bamboo trays that will freshly caught fish to be sold in the nearby Hoi An market. I was laughed at for sitting near them to record this, as the same stretch of river is the market’s public toilet.

Listen to Washing here:

Eavesdrop on a different world from the comfort of your desk and enjoy!

Via: One-minute audio vacations – Lifehacker

June 6, 2006

Snowbird, Utah: Heli-Skiing from

Filed under: Places To Visit,Utah,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

This is an entirely different view of Snowbird, Utah than I’m used to seeing. Mike and I usually only frequent Snowbird during the summer, walking its trails and trying to feed Cheese Nips to ground squirrels. This winter wonderland looks like a fantasy to me.

Click here to see video

It’s funny how one part of the world can mean different things to different people. I loved watching this video from It showed me a snippet of my stomping grounds in a whole new light.

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