ActionJoJo goes east. Hiking to Stanley in Hong Kong.
Watch more Hong Kong videos at tripfilms.com
Japan is a beautiful and complex country filled with amazing contrasts. There is so much to see and do there, making it difficult for the first-time visitor to even know where to begin. As such, guided tours are a great way to absorb the atmosphere and culture and at the same time, introduce the visitor to its many timeless facets. However, no matter the means employed to see this wondrous land, there are some sights which no visitor should miss out on visiting.
Tokyo is on just about every visitor’s itinerary – and quite rightly too, given the capital city’s size, importance and the dazzling array of sights, sounds and experiences it has to offer. The city proper has a population of around 8 million people, but this shoots up to 13 million if the immediate surrounding area is included. When judged in terms of it’s metropolitan area, that is, areas which provide much of the day-to-day workforce for the city, the population jumps even higher, to a staggering 32 million. This makes Tokyo the largest metropolitan area in terms of population in the world, well ahead of Seoul, South Korea, in second place, which has some 12 million fewer people. To put it in context, London comes eighteenth in the list.
Recent studies have calculated the annual gross domestic output of the metropolitan area in the trillions of dollars. And something like 1 in 10 of the Fortune Global 500 corporations in the world have their headquarters in the city, twice as many as anywhere else. It is also regarded as one of the major financial centres of the world, housing the Tokyo Stock Exchange and major investment banks and insurance companies. But the downside to all the commercial activity and wealth creation is the cost of living. For many years, the city enjoyed the unenviable reputation of being the costliest place in the world to live.
The recovery and transformation of the city is nothing short of a miracle given the destruction wrought not only during the Second World War, but by the devastating earthquake of 1923. The earthquake struck on September 1 and lasted up to 10 minutes, killing more than 100,000 people. The most devastating bombing raid on Tokyo, carried out by the United States Army Air Forces, occurred on 9-10 March 1945 and killed an estimated 100,000 people. Some historians claim the death toll may have even been higher. Whatever the true figure, which will probably never be known, the raid is regarded as the deadliest in history, and is greater in terms of casualties than the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
And talking of the atomic bomb, no holiday to Japan should be considered complete without a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where the flame of peace continually burns. Within the park is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, well worth visiting just to see some of the artefacts which survived the dropping of the first atomic bomb in history.
After falling for something like 40 seconds or so, the bomb exploded 1,900 feet above Hiroshima at 8.15 on the morning of August 6, 1945. Within seconds, more than 70,000 people were dead. The Peace Memorial Museum collects and displays the belongings left by the victims, photos and other materials to help convey the horror of that fateful day.
Location: St Peter’s – Vatican City
Photo: Piazza San Pietro Obelisk
Piazza San Pietro Obelisk in the Vatican City.
Travel Photo Gallery: Vatican City Photo Gallery
The 55th annual British Film Institute (BFI) Film Festival is in full swing and that means all the glitz, glamour and razzmatazz of Hollywood has decamped in central London.
With so many affordable Kings Cross hotels, Kensington hotels and hotels in all the other neighbouring boroughs available, visitors to the English capital can still get in on the action and have the chance to get up close and personal with the likes of George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Seymour Hoffman, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen.
Some of the biggest names in the movie industry have already turned out in force for the highlight of the London cultural calendar, from Jude Law to the highly-rated Seth Rogen.
Indeed, it was Law who got the BFI Film Festival off and running with the premiere of his new film 360, a romantic drama featuring 10 interlinked love stories. Rogen then took centre stage with 50/50 co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The poignant 50/50 tells the story of one man’s battle to cope and stay alive after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
[Image courtesy of nechbi via flickr creative commons]
Special screenings still to come include the airing of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Ides of March. Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly star in We Need to Talk About Kevin, which sees Lionel Shriver’s award-winning novel about a fractious relationship between two parents and their son finally hit the big screen. The Ides of March, meanwhile, marks George Clooney’s latest directorial attempt and is a political thriller packed with lies, lies and more lies.
As well as a host of interesting screenings – and there’s a whole load of world cinema films to appeal to those who enjoy a broad range of movies – there are also a series of planned seminars bringing together actors, directors and film fans to discuss a range of topics.
Virtually all the events that form part of the BFI Film Festival take place right in the heart of London in locations like Leicester Square, the Southbank and the West End, making it perfect for tourists to take in a film or two during their upcoming stay in England.
Maybe you fancy doing the BFI Film Festival on the cheap? If so, hostels in boroughs like Camden are cheap and cheerful enough. Camden itself is also a fascinating area to spend a few days in and is just a short Tube or bus journey away from all the hustle and bustle of London’s West End, which is the city’s theatre district.
At the opposite end of the scale, places like Chelsea and Kensington are where the rich and famous live and hang out and there are luxury hotels and apartments aplenty. Alternatively, accommodation in and around Kings Cross is ideal if you plan to make use of the excellent transport system to travel to other parts of England on the train.
[Image courtesy of spiritquest via flickr creative commons]
More details on all the screenings and events at the BFI Film Festival can be found here.
Great Indochina Loop
Wander the road less travelled on a Classic Journey with Intrepid Travel. Intrepid know that their travellers have a dream list of classic journeys to complete by road, rail and sea; once in lifetime trips visiting some of the planets most exciting destinations and most dramatic landscapes.
Ride a longtail down Bangkok’s canals, Explore the ancient temples of Chiang Mai, Cruise down the Mekong River, Swim under a waterfall in Luang Prabang, Unwind in Vientiane, Enjoy Hanoi’s French charm, Be enchanted by beautiful Halong Bay, Discover imperial elegance in Hue, Channel the spirits of old traders in Hoi An, Tantalise tastebuds in Ho Chi Minh City, Ponder Phnom Penh’s volatile past, See the incredible temples of Angkor.
29 days (ex Bangkok)
Travel Deals: Intrepid Travel
A tilt-shift video by Joerg Daiber. Shot in Bangkok, Phuket, Tonsai and Railay with Lumix GH2, Gorillapod, 14-140mm and 7-14mm Lenses. Post with Final Cut Pro and After Effects on Macbook Air.
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach – Air on the G String, perfomed by the USAF Strings
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Backpacking holidays are increasingly popular nowadays – whether you’re taking a gap year or volunteering abroad, you’re one of the many people who’re choosing to travel light, sleep rough and do it on the cheap. For you intrepid journeymen and women, you scrounging adventurers, we’ve compiled a few of the worthwhile lessons learned by the pioneering travellers who’ve gone before.
The overwhelming moral of their tales? ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’: remember, in times of stress, that there are plenty of explorers that would thank the stars named after them if their biggest problem was a getting the travel insurance sorted….
1. Marco Polo
Marco first set out into the world with his father and uncle at the tender age of 17. They spent 24 years on the go around Asia, travelling and trading, and ended up very wealthy men. During a war with Genoa, Marco was captured and spent the months he spent in prison dictating the extraordinary stories of his adventures to a fellow inmate; the collection was later published around Europe, giving the West its first comprehensive travel guide to the East.
Lessons: Passing on your love and respect for other cultures (and their currency) is one of the great joys of being a parent – still, backpacking with hyperactive children and grouchy teens can be difficult. Just remember it’ll be worth it when they immortalize your travels in print, earning you a bit more travel money to trade with. If you haven’t got any offspring, it’s always worth recording your stories on a blog or in a journal for posterity.
2. Meriwether Lewis & William Clark
Two of the most intrepid and celebrated American explorers of all time, Lewis and Clark set out to map unchartered North America in the early 1800s. They travelled about 7,000 miles and came into contact with dozens of new Native American tribes – situations when their Shoshone interpreter, Sacagawea, came in useful. At the age of just 15 she was married to one of the fur-trappers on their expedition and was a huge help in their diplomatic efforts.
Lessons: Try and have a local guide, someone who knows the areas and the bargains to be had. The websites where you can connect with people who offer couch surfing are also great places to grab a one-on-one tour from a native of your destination.
3. Harriet Chalmers Adams
National Geographic photographer and noted explorer Harriet Adams travelled an estimated 100,000 miles in her lifetime, often accompanied by her husband. She documented the lives of the indigenous people of South America, writing and taking pictures to share with American audiences. She was also a pioneer of the women’s right to explore: she was the founder of the Society of Women Geographers in 1925.
Lessons: The lessons here are twofold: firstly, one-on-one holidays with your significant other don’t have to be schmaltzy romantic affairs. Nothing will get your pulses racing like nearly being eaten by a lion. Secondly: Harriet proved again and again that women can be rough, tough and capable. Ladies, challenge yourselves and gender stereotypes by taking the road less travelled.
4. Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Not the most savoury character but certainly a model in thriftiness: the trip that would end in Balboa heading up the first European settlement in America started with him stowing away on a ship, hidden in a barrel. He was attempting to escape the men who’d loaned him money after the failure of his pig farm – by the end of his journey he’d discovered the South Sea and more gold than you could shake a stick at.
Lessons: Cutting corners means you can afford to be spontaneous; often the most priceless moments of a journey come for free. And don’t be put off by an inauspicious start to your holiday because things have a way of picking up.
5. Jason Lewis
No relation to Meriwether – Jason Lewis is a modern-day adventurer and an example to us all when it comes to endurance. Yorkshire-born Jason spent thirteen years making a self-powered expedition around the globe: cycling, canoeing and even rollerblading across continents and oceans. He survived crocodiles, septicaemia, and two broken legs after being hit by a drunk driver – not to mention a spell in an Egyptian prison. What started as a three and a half year trip ended thirteen years after its start date, when Jason made his triumphant return to Greenwich in 2007.
Lessons: Keep travelling: don’t let a bad experience put you off from getting out there and exploring new places. Make time to accomplish your goals and don’t let expanding your horizons take a back seat to your worries about the unknown. Also, do be careful if you’re kayaking in Egypt – if crocodiles don’t get you, the authorities might.
Location: Big Buddha, Koh Samui – Thailand
Photo: Big Buddha
Big Buddha in Koh Samui, Thailand.
Travel Photo Gallery: Koh Samui Photo Gallery
Chillisauce is a unique event management company based in the UK but offering over 5000 activities for stag weekends, hen nights, adventure weekends and corporate events in the UK and Europe.
Offering everything from clay pigeon shooting, karting, paintball, rally driving to white water rafting, river bugging, water zorbing and mountain boarding.
Chillisauce Stag Do Ideas
Travel Directory: Stag And Hen Travel