International Travel

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The tiny Denmark town building Western Europe's tallest skyscraper

<p><span>When it comes to tall buildings in Europe, most people will generally think of towers in London, Frankfurt or Madrid. However, a plan has been announced to build one of the continent’s tallest skyscrapers in a small rural Denmark town instead.</span></p> <p><span>Brande, a town of just 7,000 people on Denmark’s rural Jutland Peninsula, is set to house a 320-metre skyscraper that will serve as the headquarters for fast-fashion giant Bestseller. </span></p> <p><span>Designed by architectural studio Dorte Mandrup, the Bestseller Tower will be the tallest building in western Europe, beating out London’s The Shard by about 10 metres.</span></p> <p><span>“It will be a landmark that places Brande on the map, but it will also function as an architectural attraction benefitting hotel guests, students and other users of the building,” said Anders Holch Povlse, Bestseller’s owner and Denmark’s richest man.</span></p> <p><span>Last month, the local council in Brande voted to move forward with the tower project. According to the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/apr/01/like-the-eye-of-sauron-western-europes-tallest-building-planned-for-tiny-danish-town-brande-bestseller"><em>Guardian</em></a>, most locals have supported the initiative from the clothing company – which was founded in the small town – to build the soaring structure over the flat rural landscape. Upon completion, the high-rise will be visible from 60km away.</span></p> <p><span>“There really is no opposition,” said Anders Udengaard, local politician and longstanding Bestseller critic. “But for most people looking at a project like this being built in a community as small as this is, it does seem rather insane, doesn’t it?”</span></p> <p><span>If anything, resistance against the project seemed to come from the country’s urban residents. “Such a big building will make the world claustrophobically small,” said Trine Kammer of Aarhus, Denmark’s second most populous urban region. “Why do I have to be reminded of Bestseller when I’m walking by myself in a quiet wood?”</span></p> <p><span>Danish satire website Rokokoposten has also likened the proposed building to the villainous Tower of Sauron from <em>Lord of the Rings</em>.</span></p> <p><span><a href="https://www.designboom.com/architecture/bestseller-tower-brande-skyscraper-denmark-dorte-mandrup-04-04-2019/"><em>Designboom</em></a> reported that the construction project is set to break ground this year with completion expected to take place in 2023.</span></p> <p>Have you ever visited Denmark? What was the highlight for you? Tell us in the comments below.</p>

International Travel

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4 modern man-made marvels in Southeast Asia

<p>Southeast Asia is well-known for its gorgeous natural and historical attractions. Just think of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Halong Bay in Vietnam and Borobudur in Indonesia.</p> <p>Equally gorgeous and impressive, though, are these modern, man-made structures. Check out these four impressive sites that are also attracting large crowds.</p> <div class="view view-article-slider view-id-article_slider view-display-id-article_slider_block view-dom-id-c42fd07198902a614a7d8230cf786566"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>1. Golden Bridge, Vietnam</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>High up on Ba Na hill near Danang City in Vietnam sits a pair of giant hands holding up a pedestrian walkway.</p> <p>The 150-metre long Cau Vang, or Golden Bridge, rises more than 1400 metres above sea level and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.</p> <p>Although brand new – the attraction just opened in June – the hands have been aged to look like they’ve been around for many decades. According to the principal architect, the project was designed to look like the hands of God pulling out a strip of gold from the land.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>2. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Futuristic-looking giant trees and a man-made forest under a glass dome are all part of this 101-hectare multi-award winning horticultural destination that opened in 2012.</p> <p>The giant Supertrees are between nine and 16 storeys tall and you can take a stroll on a suspended walkway between two of these trees to enjoy the view from up above.</p> <p>A short walk away, you’ll come across the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The former houses a collection of flowers found in deserts around the world, while the latter has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and showcases plants that are usually found some 2000 metres above sea level.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>3. Statue of Lord Murugan, Batu Caves, Malaysia</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Located just 12 kilometres from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves is the site of the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia and the second tallest in the world.</p> <p>The statue of Lord Murugan, located at the Sri Murugan Perumal Kovil at the foot of Batu Caves, was completed in 2006 and stands a little over 42 metres tall.</p> <p>There are three limestone caves in the area, all of which house Hindu temples and shrines.</p> <p>Visitors have to scale 272 steps in order to reach the entrance of the caves.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>4. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Brunei</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>With floors and walls made from gleaming Italian marble, made-in-England chandeliers, granite from Shanghai and millions of glass mosaic pieces covering the golden main dome, this is definitely no ordinary mosque.</p> <p>Named after the 28th sultan of Brunei, the grand mosque was completed in 1958.</p> <p>The impressive building is surrounded by an artificial lagoon, where a replica of a 16th century royal barge is docked at the end of a marble bridge.</p> <p><em>Written by Siti Rohani. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/destinations/4-modern-man-made-marvels-southeast-asia"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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Travelling during a storm: 4 things you need to know

<p>It was a week of natural disasters recently when the Philippines and Hong Kong had to deal with Typhoon Mangkhut, and the Carolinas in the USA had to deal with Hurricane Florence.<br /><br />The storms left a trail of destruction in its wake, as well as deaths and injuries.<br /> <br />If you’d been scheduled to travel to those destinations when the storms were taking place, you may have been anxious trying to decide what to do.<br /><br />Here’s some advice on the steps you should take if future travel plans become affected by natural disasters such as storms or volcanic eruptions.</p> <div class="view view-article-slider view-id-article_slider view-display-id-article_slider_block view-dom-id-24ffe0424e99039ecbcf5083a01bcbf6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>1. Has your embassy issued a travel advisory?</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p><a href="https://safetravel.govt.nz/">Safetravel</a> may issue a travel notice advising that non-essential travel to the affected area should be postponed.</p> <p>For example, if you have a family emergency, you may still consider going ahead with the journey, but if it’s for a holiday, you should postpone your trip, or look for alternative destinations.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>2. Get in touch with your airline</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Airlines will likely cancel flights during the affected period, such as the time the storm is predicted to make landfall.</p> <p>Affected passengers will likely be allowed free rebooking for a certain period so do get in touch with the airline to find out the details.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>3. Call your accommodation provider</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>If you’ve booked rooms or accommodation that have flexible cancellation schemes, you can easily make changes to your booking.</p> <p>However, it may get trickier if you’ve booked a room that has strict non-cancellation policies.</p> <p>In this case, try getting in touch with them directly to work out a solution.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>4. Check your travel insurance</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>This is one of those times when you will be pleased that you have purchased travel insurance.</p> <p>Just make sure you’ve read all the fine print to see what coverage the policy offers for trip postponement, disruption or cancellation.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Siti Rohani</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/travelling-during-storm"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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7 hidden features on airplanes you had no idea existed

<div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even">Keep an eye out for these on your next flight.</div> <div class="field-item even"></div> <div class="field-item even"><strong>1. The magic button for extra room</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Did you manage to snag an aisle seat? Not only can you get up without crawling over people, but you can make your seat extra roomy at the push of a button, thanks to one of the coolest secret airplane features. Reach under the armrest closest to the aisle and feel around near the hinge. You should find a button, which will instantly let you swing the armrest up when you push it, according to<span> </span><em>Travel + Leisure</em>. Once it’s in line with your seat back, it won’t dig into your side anymore, and you can move your legs around without hitting anything.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>2. The hidden handrail</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>We’re willing to bet you hate it when people aggressively grab your seat on the way to the bathroom. Once it’s your turn to make your way down the aisle, though, you realise you have no choice but to follow suit – or do you? Flight attendants don’t just touch the ceiling for fun when they walk; the bottom of the overhead compartment has a scalloped area that gives better grip when walking down a moving airplane, according to<span> </span><em>Condé Nast Traveler</em>. Next time you need to get up, reach to the ceiling for balance.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>3. Secret sleeping area</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>A long-haul flight is hard enough on passengers, but imagine being a pilot or flight attendant trying to make it through a 14-hour workday. It’s an exhausting job, so some planes, like Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner planes, have secret passageways that let staff get some decent shut-eye, according to<span> </span><em>Insider</em>. A locked door near the front of the plane or a door posing as an overhead bin hides the entrance to a set of beds, kept private with thick curtains.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>4. Hooks on the wings</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>If you peek out the window to an Airbus plane’s wing, you can spot yellow bumps with holes in the middle on an otherwise smooth, white surface. If there’s an emergency water landing, the wings would be very slippery for passengers trying to get to the inflatable slide that would have deployed. To help travellers get off without falling, the easy-to-miss airplane features let cabin crew slip a rope through one hook and fasten it to the next, according to pilot “Captain” Joe. Passengers could hold on to the rope while on the plane to make it away from the plane safely.<span> </span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>5. Triangle above window</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Scan the wall of your plane; above four windows, you’ll see a black triangle. Each one lines up with the edge of the airplane’s wing, according to pilot “Captain” Joe. If a flight attendant needs to check the airplane’s slats or flaps – the moving parts on a wing – they’ll know exactly where to go for the best view. If you’re getting motion sick on a plane, you might want to see if you can move to a seat between the triangles. The wings are the plane’s centre of gravity, so sitting between them would give you the smoothest ride.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>6. Holes in the windows</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Look closely at an airplane window and you’ll spot something weird: a little hole in the bottom. Take an even closer look and you’ll realise that unlike other windows, this one is made of three panes, and the hole is in the middle one. The quirk is there to protect against the pressure drop of flying high into the atmosphere, according to<span> </span><em>Slate</em>. As a plane ascends, the pressure outside drops massively, but the cabin is designed to stay at a comfortable pressure. That leaves a big difference in pressure inside and outside of the plane. The outside window takes on most of that pressure, and the hole in the middle one helps balance the pressure difference. The inner window is just to protect the middle one. </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>7. Hidden handcuffs</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>If passengers are getting unruly, flight attendants have the right to restrain them. In the US, they might use typical cop-style cuffs, but most will use plastic restraints similar to zip ties, according to<span> </span><em>Express</em>.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p><em>Written by <span>Marissa Laliberte</span>. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/flights/7-hidden-features-airplanes-you-had-no-idea-existed"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

International Travel

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Liz Hurley sends fans into a frenzy with her latest holiday snaps

<p>British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley has sent fans into a frenzy with her latest snaps on Instagram. Hurley is currently relaxing in the Ananda Resort in the Himalayas, but seems to find the time to relax in the sun.</p> <div class="embed"><iframe class="instagram-media instagram-media-rendered" id="instagram-embed-0" src="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv9DzmlA9iQ/embed/?cr=1&amp;rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.instagram.com" height="646" width="450" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" data-instgrm-payload-id="instagram-media-payload-0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <p>Fans were on board with the outfit, with some asking whether or not she’s a vampire as she doesn’t appear to age.</p> <p>One fan commented, asking “is that you 20 years ago!?” whereas another said that Hurley is “the English rose”.</p> <p>The star seems to be showcasing her latest swimwear in her clothing line<span> </span>Elizabeth Hurley Beach.<span> </span>The swimwear Hurley is wearing can be found in her latest line<span> </span>Cruise.</p> <p>Hurley launched the London-based swimwear line named<span> </span>Elizabeth Hurley Beach<span> </span>in 2005 after deciding that she wanted to take a break from acting.</p> <p>On the company’s website, she explains:</p> <p>“I wanted to develop resort collections, which make women feel fabulous at any age.”</p> <p> </p> <div class="embed"><iframe class="instagram-media instagram-media-rendered" id="instagram-embed-0" src="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv_XmK6ADbv/embed/?cr=1&amp;rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.instagram.com" height="700" width="450" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" data-instgrm-payload-id="instagram-media-payload-0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <p>Her fans were also loving the video above, as it’s gained more than 370,000 views in less than 15 hours. Hurley is again wearing a piece from her swimwear line.</p> <p>One fan couldn’t contain themselves saying, “Still amazing, you are timeless!”</p> <p>What do you think? Let us know in the comments.</p>

International Travel

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No tourists allowed: Komodo Island implements tourist ban

<p>The Indonesian island inhabited by endangered Komodo dragons will be closed to tourists starting 2020 following reports of rampant smuggling of the lizards.</p> <p>According to <span><a href="https://en.tempo.co/read/1190397/komodo-island-off-limits-for-tourism-in-2020-says-govt"><em>Tempo</em></a></span>, the government will close the Komodo National Island indefinitely starting January next year, with the reopening date still pending.</p> <p>The announcement came after authorities busted a smuggling ring which had sold 41 Komodo dragons abroad for up to Rp500 million (AU$49,570) each.</p> <p>Spokesman for the East Nusa Tenggara government Marius Jelamu said authorities will focus on conservation efforts during the closure, including examining the lizards’ food supply and preserving the island’s natural environment.</p> <p>The closure will only apply to the Komodo National Park, meaning that visitors may still see Komodo dragons at other conservation areas such as Flores, Rinca and Gili Motong islands.</p> <p>According to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), there are approximately 6,000 Komodo dragons left on earth, most of which are concentrated on the island. In 1991, the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the giant lizard population.</p> <p>This is not the first time that a popular tourist destination had to be shut down for conservation purposes. The famous Maya Bay in Thailand has been off-limits to tourists since June last year due to extensive environmental damage from tourists and boats. The <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/03/thailand-bay-made-famous-by-the-beach-closed-indefinitely"><em>Guardian</em></a></span> reported that 80 per cent of the coral around the bay, which was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film <em>The Beach</em>, has been destroyed.</p>

International Travel

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Island paradise! Inside Bruce Willis’ luxurious $46.5 million Caribbean home

<p>Bruce Willis and his wife Emma Heming Willis have put their beautiful Turks and Caicos’ Parrot Cay island home on the market.</p> <p>But the lavish abode does not come cheap with a price tag of $46.5 million (US$33m).</p> <p>The Caribbean house features two guest villas, with the direction of the property facing towards the sunset.</p> <p>The home is perfect for those who prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, as it is located on a long stretch of private beach in the Caribbean.</p> <p>The actor purchased the property in 2000 and finished construction in 2004, according to the <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/" target="_blank"><em>Architectural Digest</em></a>.</p> <p>The main house was then renovated in 2018 after the birth of his two children with Emma. The mansion holds a special place in the couple’s hearts as it has been the location of many holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.</p> <p>Last month, the pair celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in the calming space by renewing their vows.</p> <p>“It’s always served as a safe haven for us all,” said the couple in a statement.</p> <p>“A place where Bruce could be totally anonymous. From flying kites to building sandcastles to swimming in the pool all day, it’s just a safe, chill and happy place.”</p> <p>The luxury property is spread out over 465sqm and includes an open floor plan. Also included is a spacious master bedroom that takes up the entire upper level of the main house.</p> <p>It also comes with one of the island’s biggest pools, with unlimited access to a butler who brings you waterfront cocktails whenever you fancy.</p> <p>Even the guests aren’t left out, as each villa comes with its own private pool.</p> <p>The home even comes with a private garden to keep the kids entertained for hours on end.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to look inside Bruce Willis’ mega mansion in the Caribbean.</p>

International Travel

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The tropical puppy island to add to your bucket list

<p><span>The combination of sparkling sea waters, hot bright sand and adorable puppies might sound too good to be true, but it’s what you can expect when you visit this dreamy destination.</span></p> <p><span>Perched on the Turks and Caicos Islands near the Bahamas, Potcake Place is a dog rescue charity that allows tourists to walk local puppies and dogs along Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales.</span></p> <p><span>The pups are called Potcakes, named after the food that locals give them. According to the founder and director of the charity Jane Parker-Rauw, Potcakes are predominantly German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and fox terriers.</span></p> <p><span>The charity helps 500 strays get adopted every year. However, according to <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/terripous/theres-an-island-where-you-can-play-with-rescue-puppies-and?utm_term=.fn5XvGRAl&amp;bffbanimals#.ia2DJP4Qj"><em>Buzzfeed</em></a>, Parker-Rauw noticed that the puppies were quite wary around people. To solve the problem, in 2010 she started allowing locals and tourists to come and play with the canines for a few hours every day on “puppy socialisation walks”, in order to let them get used to being around humans before they find a new home.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BrgIXAvH8_6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BrgIXAvH8_6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Mathilda Hermodsson🌍 (@mathildahermodssonn)</a> on Dec 17, 2018 at 12:34pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BuEf3hhBWmg/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BuEf3hhBWmg/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">Hi, my name is DiVina and I like long, romantic walks on the beach with #shelterdogs. 🐾 #adoptdontshop #turksandcaicos #gracebay #animalshelter #crazydoglady</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/divinaface/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> DiVina Gurrola</a> (@divinaface) on Feb 19, 2019 at 8:35am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BtkqlsbFDxT/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BtkqlsbFDxT/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Jessica Demaris (@booboojessy)</a> on Feb 6, 2019 at 11:53pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BtdzGtqBe_B/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BtdzGtqBe_B/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">We can’t adopt an island dog, we can’t adopt an island dog...</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/unstoppabledogs/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> Meg McCarthy-Cataldo</a> (@unstoppabledogs) on Feb 4, 2019 at 7:53am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span>While there is no charge to walk a puppy, the queues could be long and the number of dogs available for trips varies day to day.</span></p> <p><span>Parker-Rauw said these short excursions could do wonders for the young dogs’ development. “These short interactions with nice people both in and out of the adoption center really help to give them confidence that yes, most people really are good,” said Parker-Rauw. </span></p> <p><span>“We have seen hundreds of times a very shy puppy just excel and develop over a short time this way. It's lovely.”</span></p> <p><span>Parker-Rauw said she and her rescue organisation, which is 100 per cent run by volunteers, are hoping to reduce the number of dogs on the street without resorting to euthanising. She said her efforts on educating, neutering and spaying the canines in her shelter seemed to have paid off, as she believed there are now fewer strays. “For the first time in a long time, I have some hope that we are actually getting where we need to be,” she told <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/potcake-place-puppy-turks-and-caicos/index.html"><em>CNN</em></a>. “No more homeless dogs.”</span></p> <p>Will you add this place to your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments.</p>

International Travel

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Why it's OK to charge tourists more for chips

<p>It was recently reported that <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/27/the-chips-are-up-bruges-cafes-charge-tourists-extra-10">cafes in Bruges charge tourists 10 per cent</a> more than locals for chips. Explained as “discount for customer loyalty”, tourists automatically end up in a higher price bracket.</p> <p>This reminded me of a conversation I overheard between two tourists in Sicily who felt they were regarded as “walking wallets” by local shop owners, a sentiment I often hear hinted at by holidaymakers when walking foreign streets. As the summer holiday season fast approaches, it’s perhaps timely to question the ethics behind inflated prices for tourists.</p> <p>Tourism has long been regarded as a vehicle of economic prosperity and source of increased revenue. It is one of the world’s largest industries, with a global economic contribution of over <a href="https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic-impact-research/2017-documents/global-economic-impact-and-issues-2017.pdf">US$7.6 trillion</a> (£5.8 trillion). The United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecasts that by 2030, the number of international tourist arrivals will reach <a href="http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284414024">1.8 billion</a>. With one in ten jobs on the planet reliant on tourism (that’s <a href="https://www.wttc.org/research/economic-research/economic-impact-analysis/">292 million people</a>) and an equivalent worth of <a href="http://www2.unwto.org/content/why-tourism">10% global GDP</a>, there is little wonder that host communities want to make the most of the opportunities it brings.</p> <p>One of the most famous places for hiking prices up for visitors is Venice. The city’s “<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/11592890/Venice-rips-off-tourists-says-complaint-taken-to-EU.html">two-tier system</a>” became so extreme that a complaint reached the European Commission in 2015 which claimed discriminatory practices against tourists – the complaint was rejected. And when Thailand planned to introduce national park fee increases in 2015 it was clear that the higher prices would fall on <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/Should-foreign-tourists-pay-more-than-locals/">holidaymakers rather than local people</a>. The increased fees for “<a href="https://www.thainationalparks.com/posts/new-national-park-entrance-fees-announced">foreign adults and children</a>” came into effect from February 2015.</p> <p>Such differential pricing may seem unfair. But if locals had to start paying the same prices as tourists, it’s likely that many of them would be prevented from enjoying heritage sites in their own communities. Many would be priced out of their own homes. Their wages are rarely anywhere close to the levels of their travelling guests.</p> <p>Travel guidebooks are the first to warn you “not to pay the price first given” in local markets. I have to admit, I have often tried to “look like a local” by hiding my camera to avoid “tourist prices”. But this is a moral argument: a willingness to pay higher prices may actually represent a more responsible approach to travel.</p> <p><strong>Paying our way</strong></p> <p>A two-tier tourism payment system, where locals are charged less for the same product, may be one way of implementing <a href="http://www.tourism4development2017.org/">sustainable tourism practices</a> and protecting valuable resources. We should consider the longer-term impact on valuable resources caused by large numbers of people passing through a location for short intense periods of time, often simply to take a photo (before getting back on their large tour buses).</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/sustainable-tourism-is-not-working-heres-how-we-can-change-that-76018">Issues of sustainability</a> must be coupled with increased awareness of local reliance on tourism where traditional industries have declined and natural resources are depleted. Expecting tourists to pay a little more to protect and maintain the sites they enjoy is morally defensible – whether this be Bruges, Venice or Thailand.</p> <p>A form of “tourist tax” on food, accommodation and attractions may seem unfair (even discriminatory), but tourism shouldn’t be a one-way transaction. Foreign visitors often place significant pressure on scarce and limited resources at certain times of the year. We all need to recognise this impact. The concept of “<a href="https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/3246.pdf">pro-poor tourism</a>” is one approach. This strategy encourages us to view tourism as a tool of poverty alleviation, especially in some countries that have few other natural resources or export markets.</p> <p>The ability of tourist spending to bring about social, cultural and economic benefits should not be underestimated. A generous tip or willingness to pay more goes some way in acknowledging the strain (and damage) that tourists can put on fragile infrastructures and communities.</p> <p><strong>Ripped off</strong></p> <p>Recognising the positive contribution that tourists can make is important, but of course one needs to be aware when informal “tourist taxes” and inflationary practices become exploitative and fraudulent. When a family in Rome was <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/10039834/British-tourists-complaint-over-54-ice-cream-hits-a-nerve-in-Rome.html">charged £54 for four ice creams</a>, it made international newspapers, prompting concerns about the way some operators hike the price up for visitors.</p> <p>But the example is extreme – and a simple price check before purchase would have helped the family avoid this unfortunate situation. Perhaps more worrying has been the rise of <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/20-tourist-scams-to-watch-out-for-when-traveling-abroad-this-summer-2016-7?IR=T">sophisticated scams</a> involving switching goods, acts of deception and false stories of hardship to elicit money from unsuspecting visitors.</p> <p>There are inevitably going to be hidden and additional costs associated with being a tourist. Some are justified. A degree of sensitivity to local needs and social responsibility towards helping replenish resources and repair damage needs to be balanced against naivety (and sometimes stupidity) in our holiday transactions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/80234/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Sally Everett, Deputy Dean (Business School), Anglia Ruskin University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-its-ok-to-charge-tourists-more-for-chips-80234"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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4 things you need to know before visiting Singapore

<p><span>There are a lot of things you can expect when taking a trip to Singapore – good food, great shopping scene, well-maintained historical sites and vibrant culture and nightlife are just a few of them. To enjoy these to the fullest, here are four tips you can follow to make your visit as smooth-sailing as possible.</span></p> <p><strong><span>1. Prepare for the heat</span></strong></p> <p><span>Perched near the equator line, Singapore has a tropical climate with consistently warm weather and high humidity. This means that a short walk outdoors can give you a lot of perspiration. Dressing accordingly can help you beat the heat – opt for breathable clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Don’t forget to pack an umbrella just in case of rain or shine. </span></p> <p><strong><span>2. Get around</span></strong></p> <p><span>With great transport system and small land area – the island nation is slightly smaller than Canberra – it’s easy to get around in Singapore. As mentioned above, walking might not be the most comfortable way of getting around as you may end up sweaty and sticky – even locals sometimes choose to grab a taxi for a short trip. </span></p> <p><span>Taxis are quite popular, and the fares are not too expensive. However, you can only hail them at designated spots. Finding an available cab during peak times or rainy weather might also be quite hard. You might want to carry cash – drivers would often prefer them, and cards generally attract surcharges. For more convenience, you can also download ride-sharing apps.</span></p> <p><span>Otherwise, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) subway system is quite affordable and easy to navigate. Tickets and EZ-Link cards are available to purchase at the stations.</span></p> <p><strong><span>3. Feast on local food</span></strong></p> <p><span>The culinary scene in Singapore is one not to be missed. You can try out degustation menus at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants or go to the hawker centres for authentic local delicacies. If you are concerned about hygiene, fear not – according to <a href="https://theculturetrip.com/asia/singapore/articles/survival-guide-top-10-tips-for-traveling-to-singapore/"><em>The</em> <em>Culture Trip</em></a>, each hawker stall would come with a coloured placard to indicate the cleanliness level from A (the best) to D (a risk). Have a go at some of the country’s signature dishes such as Hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, kaya toast, bak kut teh and more.</span></p> <p><span>The nightlife here is also well and alive – however, keep in mind that alcoholic drinks are more expensive.</span></p> <p><strong><span>4. Know the laws</span></strong></p> <p><span>Singapore comes with many rules and regulations. Actions that might go unmonitored in other places – carrying <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/don-t-travel-until-you-know-these-laws/">certain kinds of chewing gum</a>, spitting on the street, littering or even <a href="https://www.goabroad.com/articles/study-abroad/singapore-laws-to-know-before-you-go">not flushing the toilet</a> – could result in a fine if you get caught. Even harsher punishments await those who are found to be doing, possessing or selling drugs, including medical and recreational marijuana. </span></p> <p><span>Have you ever been to Singapore? Share your story in the comments.</span></p>

International Travel

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Why tourists go to sites associated with death and suffering

<p>On a beautiful summer day in 2016, as I walked with a group of college students along a well-trodden path sprinkled with needles and cones from majestic pine trees, our mood was somber and morose. The chirping of birds and the burning off of the dew on the grassy hills by the rising sun in this idyllic setting did not help either.</p> <p>We were cognizant of what had happened here not too long ago.</p> <p>This place – <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09528829608576624">the Ponar Forest</a> – is the site where 72,000 Jewish men, women and children from Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, and nearby villages were massacred by the Nazis and their collaborators.</p> <p>I am an educator of the Holocaust, and my travel course takes students through Central Europe to a number of Holocaust sites. The aim is to provide students with a hands-on learning experience.</p> <p>However, some could well argue that this course is just another form of “dark tourism” – an interest in locations that are associated with human suffering and death.</p> <p>What is so problematic about dark tourism? And are there redeeming features that make it worthwhile?</p> <p><strong>Is it voyeurism?</strong></p> <p>First, let’s understand what dark tourism is.</p> <p>In January 2016, Otto Warmbier, an American college student, was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/world/asia/north-korea-otto-warmbier-sentenced.html">arrested in Pyongyang, North Korea,</a> for allegedly stealing a political propaganda poster. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor after a one-hour trial. A mere 17 months later, Warmbier was released to his parents in a vegetative state. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/19/otto-warmbier-dies-coma-student-north-korea-prison">He died a few days after.</a></p> <p>Warmbier was on a trip advertised by <a href="http://www.youngpioneertours.com/">Young Pioneer Tours</a> to destinations that, they said, “your mother would rather you stayed away from.” This tragic incident vividly illustrates the perils associated with certain locations.</p> <p>This then is what is referred to as <a href="http://hdl.handle.net/1959.9/346560">“dark tourism.”</a> It involves traveling to sites associated with death, natural disaster, acts of violence, tragedy and crimes against humanity. It could also include <a href="https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-07-2012-0059">travel to dangerous political hotspots</a>.</p> <p>While data about the number of people embarking on dark tourism are not readily available, there are indications that it is becoming more popular. Over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.01.011">increase in the number of peer-reviewed articles on dark tourism.</a> From 1996 through 2010, between three and seven papers appeared annually; from 2011 to 2016, that number increased to between 14 and 25. My own Google search of “dark tourism” yielded nearly four million hits.</p> <p>Some scholars have argued that <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2014.948813">dark tourism is akin to voyeurism</a>: that is, fulfilling a desire for the forbidden. Other researchers though have found little evidence that people are interested in death per se. A commonly reported motive seems to be <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2017.01.011">learning about past events</a>, a curiosity that drives an interest in such sites.</p> <p>Of course, it is hard to say with certainty what the real motives might be. Studies rely on self-reported data, and <a href="http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/the-dangers-of-self-report/">respondents in such studies like to be perceived in a positive light.</a> This is especially true if the questionnaire touches on a sensitive subject that may reveal a disquieting or troubling characteristic.</p> <p><strong>Ethics of travel to some spots</strong></p> <p>Nonetheless, there is an important <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2017/06/23/tourism-to-north-korea-isnt-about-engagement-its-torture-porn/?utm_term=.f20ff6354833">ethical dimension to dark tourism</a>. Take the case of tourism in North Korea. Proponents have argued that anti-American sentiment may be decreased by the people-to-people contact enabled by such tourism, or that such visits may create a subversive effect. Proponents believe through such exposure North Koreans may come to appreciate the liberties enjoyed by people in the developed world and begin to question their own ways of living.</p> <p>Indeed, the <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2015.1032896">past decade has opened up North Korea to tourism</a>, allowing citizens from most countries to visit. Critics, however, argue that the average North Korean does not interact with tourists; <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/north-korea-holidays-tourism-how-to-travel-pyongyang-is-it-right-human-rights-record-a7203306.html">the guided tours are well-scripted</a>, allowing engagement with the regime and not the people. Moreover, tourism legitimizes the regime while enriching it at the same time. In North Korea, for example, it is estimated that <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2016.1232635">tourism is a US$45 million per year industry</a>.</p> <p>The question that emerges then is whether it is ethical to promote a repressive regime that is repeatedly cited for human rights violations. This question is germane to all tourist locations that have <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/amnesty-international-reveals-the-10-worst-attacks-on-human-rights-across-the-world-last-year-a6892911.html">questionable human rights records</a>, from China to Hungary.</p> <p>And what of places of human suffering from <a href="https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/disaster-tourism-tragedy-draws-tourists/">disasters</a> such as the <a href="https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/chernobyl-bg.html">Chernobyl nuclear power plant</a> in Ukraine, or from fascist regimes that are no longer in existence such as the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/08/07/why-the-world-should-not-forget-khmer-rouge-and-the-killing-fields-of-cambodia/?utm_term=.07e29c3fd704">killing fields of Phnom Penh, Cambodia</a>? Are they free from ethical constraints?</p> <p>Few would doubt that it is immoral to benefit from others’ calamities, no matter how far removed these incidents may be from our present time or place.</p> <p><strong>Observing boundaries</strong></p> <p>So how do we in particular, as Holocaust educators, escape the trappings of dark tourism?</p> <p>I strive to provide my students with an educational experience that pays tribute to the social, cultural and artistic aspects of European Jewry. For example, we pay a visit to the Polin Museum in Warsaw, which tells the history of Polish Jews. At the same time, however, going to the former concentration camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek or Treblinka does privilege places of human suffering and death.</p> <p><strong>How then do we maintain our intended purpose?</strong></p> <p>An important point of emphasis in our Holocaust travel course is the need to respect the sites we visit. My students are told clearly, especially in places of death and martyrdom, that exhibits and artifacts are to be inspected visually. Never should they reach out to touch or take anything.</p> <p>Students can, at times, fail to understand the criminal meaning of some acts and get into a great deal of trouble. In 2015, for example, <a href="http://time.com/3931830/teenagers-arrested-auschwitz-artifacts/">two teenagers were arrested</a> for taking found objects at Auschwitz. More recently, another student stole some artifacts from Auschwitz in order to <a href="http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4991041,00.html">complete an art project</a> for her graduate degree.</p> <p><strong>Why intent matters</strong></p> <p>When places of death and torture are respected from the perspective of valuing the sanctity of life and not seen as a source of titillation resulting from a <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2014.948813">voyeuristic need</a>, then these behaviors, I believe, will not occur.</p> <p>Indeed, the atmosphere at the Auschwitz museum cafe may appear to be <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0458063x.2017.1295720">Disneyland-like</a>, with visitors casually resting over their cups of coffee or ice creams. In fact, however, it is the attitude or intent of the visitor that ultimately determines dark tourism’s presence.</p> <p>Even in Auschwitz, then, a visit per se is not a sufficient criterion for dark tourism. Snapping a smiling selfie at such a site, however, should be of some concern.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/81015/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Daniel B. Bitran, Professor of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-tourists-go-to-sites-associated-with-death-and-suffering-81015"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Why we just can't resist coastal glamour

<p>Tourists are naturally drawn to Europe’s coastlines in the summer – but one particular type of seaside region has fascinated travellers more than most since the 19th century: the riviera. Although the word is usually used to refer to the French Côte d’Azur, the term has acquired a widely acknowledged meaning in our collective imagination. The concept of “riviera” (literally meaning “coastline” in Italian) defines a lakeside or seaside region composed of multiple resorts and small towns, all sharing a developed tourist industry. They are often, crucially, reserved for socioeconomic elites who can afford the regions’ high costs of living.</p> <p>The word riviera also denotes certain attributes. It speaks to comfort, the quietness of life and exceptional climate. Beyond its precise definition, we can easily visually imagine what a riviera looks like. It has palm trees along the sea, a clear blue sky, magnificent hotels and casinos. And, these days, it also probably has extortionate food and drinks and yachts hogging marinas that might once have been populated by fishing boats.</p> <p>This vision is epitomised by the French Riviera, with its glamorous Cannes Film Festival and the exclusive principality of Monaco, where one in three residents is a millionaire. All along the Mediterranean coast, right up until France meets Italy, holiday villas host elite visitors, seeking shelter from the paparazzi.</p> <p>Even the official summer residence of the French president is located just off the French Riviera, on a private peninsula. The current president Emmanuel Macron, for all his desire to shake things up, <a href="http://www.theweek.co.uk/95503/inside-fort-bregancon-may-invited-to-macron-s-summer-retreat">intends to keep this tradition alive</a>. His plan to build a private swimming pool there <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44562016">caused controversy at the beginning of the summer</a>.</p> <p><strong>More than just a coastline</strong></p> <p>We could easily decide to call any stretch of land along water a riviera. After all, most lakeside or seaside places feature the same environmental attributes – holiday accommodation, tourism and leisure services, transport infrastructure, usually a good climate. But a riviera is really defined by socioeconomic exclusivity. This is the ultimate factor that really turns a stretch of coastline into something more enticing.</p> <p>As the riviera is seen as the coastline <em>par excellence</em>, it captures our imagination more than any other beach resort. While sipping an overpriced spritz, one pretends, for an instant, to be part of the films, stories and social circles happening here. Not every coastal town can convey this feeling; it has to have been recognised and placed on everyone’s mental map. For instance, the entire French Mediterranean coast could not fall into this definition. Instead, only the collection of towns and cities between Cannes and Monaco truly embody the definition of France’s most exclusive coastline.</p> <p>This socioeconomic definition has enabled more areas to brand themselves as rivieras. Take the Swiss one, for example, which really only consists of a few towns around Vevey and Montreux. By travelling only a few miles too far to the west or to the east, some of the conditions of a riviera completely vanish. Switzerland has even renamed that local district “Riviera – Pays d’Enhaut”.</p> <p><strong>Can’t fake the feeling</strong></p> <p>A quick look at Wikipedia’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riviera">list of rivieras</a> shows just how many countries, in one way or another, have acquired their own riviera.</p> <p>Some use the term to recognise the already existing touristic power of a certain region. Others adopt it as a strategy to attract more tourists. In England, the region of Torbay in Devon began being advertised as “the English Riviera” in the 1980s, following a peak of popularity in the 1970s. With its collection of small coastal villages, palm trees and relatively clement weather, Torbay can indeed resemble Nice or Cannes at times. But despite a concerted effort to push the label through campaigns, the region has actually seen fewer visitors since the initiative. Meanwhile, Cornwall, much of which very much matches the definition of a riviera, has retained its popularity without using the term.</p> <p>But rivieras are now facing more dynamic competition as a result of changes to the tourism industry. “Instagrammable” has also become more than a term in the tourism world: it’s an obligation. Travellers are looking for certain visual standards – something that rivieras have offered since the 19th century. The idealised scenes depicted in the famous advertising for riviera travel are practically an analogue version of an Instagram account: a couple lazing in the sun and sipping a cocktail on their hotel’s private jetty, with yachts and palm trees in the background. We’ve all seen this scene in our social media newsfeeds.</p> <p>The ubiquity of Instagram inevitably means that other coastal regions are catching on, becoming consciously more visually attractive rather than looking as though they’ve been destroyed by mass tourism. As a result, rivieras could lose their visual originality.</p> <p>At the same time, sites like AirBnB have made it cheaper and easier to access these once “exclusive areas”. While this might not have an impact on the prices of food, drinks, and social events, the overall socioeconomic balance of rivieras could indeed change – for better or for worse.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/101637/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Jordan Girardin, Associate lecturer, University of St Andrews</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/a-short-history-of-the-riviera-why-we-just-cant-resist-coastal-glamour-101637"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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The hidden costs of selfie tourism

<p>Technology has changed the way we travel. Smartphones, travellers’ comments and photos, search engines and algorithms can all inspire and empower us to plan complex journeys all over the globe within minutes.</p> <p>Planning and booking tourism has always had an element of risk. One has to commit upfront – there is no sample to try before you buy, and no return policy. It is not surprising that people increasingly rely on social media content and networks to identify, evaluate and select their preferred tourism destination and suppliers.</p> <p>But even if the final destination is beautiful, many social media users will now ask themselves a set of new questions. Is it the trendy and fashionable place that you want to be “seen” travelling? Is this a place you won’t be embarrassed to share with your peers and followers online?</p> <p><strong>In TripAdvisor we trust</strong></p> <p>Increasingly, <a href="https://www.tripadvisor.com.au">TripAdvisor</a> is the starting point for information (photos, videos, comments, blogs) for choosing a travel destination, particularly among millennials.</p> <p>Travel inspired by social media has gained popularity because it saves time and reduces the purchase risk of travellers when searching for travel information and planning their trip.</p> <p>The universal penetration of smartphones has created the “always switched-on” tourists, who use their devices to share tourism experiences on the spot and in real time. Identifying, searching and sharing tourism experiences and information <a href="https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286408">have been identified</a> as the two top major ways in which social media has transformed tourism.</p> <p>For many people, mobile phones have become their external brain when on the road. However, in some cases, continuous mobile phone use on holidays has led to tourists anthropomorphising their devices, by attributing them human characteristics and perceiving them as personal travel companions.</p> <p><strong>‘Selfie gaze’ tourists</strong></p> <p>These so-called “<a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-28231-2_13">selfie-gaze</a>” tourists see and experience the destination largely through their cameras and the comments and feedback they receive on their posts.</p> <p>In this sense, their satisfaction does not depend on the quality of the destination and experience, but on how well they manage impressions and attract “likes” and positive comments.</p> <p>The perception that those taking the selfie are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422530/">being widely viewed</a> has also changed the way people consume places and what they see and how they behave at a destination. This is because online profiles and posts have to be carefully managed by tourists to highlight positive attributes, socially desirous experiences and present a more idealised self.</p> <p>“Selfie-gaze” tourists do not only participate in touristic photography – they also artificially create it. One example of this is the infamous “duck-face” photo that so frequently appears in social media feeds.</p> <p>Gone are the days that destinations had control of their image-making and communication. Once used as a travel memory, social media has converted personal photography to a significant source of travel inspiration and the most popular way of online communication, self-expression and identity formation.</p> <p><strong>The Insta-tourist</strong></p> <p>Instagram hosts more than 220 million photographs hashtagged with #selfie and more than 330 million hashtagged with #me. People go to such trouble to get the perfect picture of themselves — creating at least a moment that is artificial – in their quest for an image of authenticity.</p> <p>Tourists get <a href="https://skift.com/2015/09/04/tourists-are-literally-dying-to-get-the-perfect-selfie/">killed</a>, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/27/priest-condemns-selfie-taking-tourists-disturbing-worshippers/">condemned</a> by priests, or arrested by police for <a href="https://www.vogue.com/article/thailand-alcoholic-beverage-control-act-law">insulting</a> local culture and people, or <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4795028/Baby-dolphin-dies-tourists-selfies-Spain.html">disturb</a> local nature.</p> <p>EU countries have banned selfies at major landmarks such as Eiffel Tower, while <a href="http://www.philstar.com/travel-and-tourism/2015/05/20/1456847/disney-world-bans-use-selfie-sticks">attractions</a> and museums ban the use of selfie sticks for the physical protection of other tourists.</p> <p>In the quest of self-promotion and the search of an idealised tourism experience, my <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-51168-9_44">research</a> shows how tourists share fake and unrealistic information. This could include “checking-in” to places they haven’t been or pretending to be happy despite staying in terrible conditions.</p> <p>Although this deviant online behaviour biases and dilutes others in their travel decisions, tourists continue doing it believing it doesn’t harm anyone. But it can distort the real travel experience and give people false expectations about destinations.</p> <p><strong>Influencer marketing</strong></p> <p>Tourism marketers spend more and more of their marketing budget on “influencer marketing”, a strategy referring to the use of celebrities and online opinion leaders to post favourable content for a brand.</p> <p>The influencer market <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Advances-in-Social-Media-for-Travel-Tourism-and-Hospitality-New-Perspectives/Sigala-Gretzel/p/book/9781472469205">has been estimated</a> as having a value of US$10 to US$15 billion in 2017. More than one-third of marketers now spend more than US$500,000 a year on it, and influencer posts on Instagram alone are worth US$255 million a month. Another <a href="https://influencermarketinghub.com/">recent survey</a> of marketers found that almost half (48%) anticipate their influencer marketing budgets will rise in 2017.</p> <p><a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886913012890">Research</a> shows that it is not age, but the dark triad of personality traits – narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy – that push people to pursue selfie glory regardless of the result.</p> <p>Selfie-gaze tourism also lead to conspicuous consumption in which tourists travel to destinations and perform experiences in front of the camera to display economic power and attain or maintain social status.</p> <p><strong>Deeper tourism education needed</strong></p> <p>Obviously, it’s not useful to rail against basic human needs or deny the functional benefits of technology. But what we need instead is a serious education of tourists and citizens for a mindful use of social media before and while travelling.</p> <p>This is an area of research that urgently needs to be explored to ensure technology use does not negatively influence travellers’ psychological, mental, emotional or even physical wellbeing.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Marianna Sigala, Professor of Tourism - Director of the Centre for Tourism &amp; Leisure Management, University of South Australia</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/metourism-the-hidden-costs-of-selfie-tourism-87865"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

International Travel

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Cruise workers reveal "hook-up culture" on ships

<p><span>Working within the enclosed environment of cruise ships has encouraged a hook-up culture that matches or even exceeds that of a college dorm, <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/cruise-ship-workers-describe-intense-hookup-culture-2019-2"><em>Business Insider</em></a> reported.</span></p> <p><span>Current and former cruise ship crews revealed to the website that living with their co-workers has brought about a permissive sexual culture in their workplace, with an unusual amount of intimate activity.</span></p> <p><span>"There's a lot of sex on cruise ships," said a former casino manager for a cruise line.</span></p> <p><span>According to former cruise line waiter Brian David Bruns, the hook-up culture is so strong that a co-worker was surprised when he had not hooked up with any colleagues during his first night onboard. "What the hell, man?" Bruns recalled the co-worker saying.</span></p> <p><span>The permissive culture has also led to inappropriate behaviour at times. A former staffer said one of her managers often made comments on her sexual orientation and criticised her hairstyle, while a current employee said male co-workers made advances on her as her boyfriend’s contract was close to ending.</span></p> <p><span>While living on a cruise ship might put sexual activities on fast track, many employees found it as a hindrance in building serious relationships. Taylor Sokol, a former cruise director, said working and living in such a proximity might make it difficult to maintain a healthy distance from romantic partners. "It's kind of hard to give someone their space when you live maybe 10 feet away from them."</span></p> <p><span>Working on the seas also makes settling down a lot more difficult, as a lot of contracts require crews to stay onboard for months. Nina Beader, who used to work for one of the major cruise companies, said she decided to stop working on cruise ships because she wanted to build a family and have time to spend with her children. "I did not want to end up being 40 and not having a family," she said.</span></p> <p><span>Some even resorted to leading double lives. "You get a lot of married people that have their own separate lives on the cruise ship," a former worker told <a href="http://mentalfloss.com/article/70240/14-behind-scenes-secrets-cruise-ship-workers"><em>MentalFloss</em></a>. "I've worked with couples that have wives at home and a whole different relationship while they’re on the cruise ship. It’s kind of like a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy."</span></p> <p><span>Former cruise singer Ruthie Darling experienced the other end of the story. "After dating an officer for about three months and practically living in his cabin with him, I discovered he had a fiancee on land," she wrote on <a href="https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/working-on-a-cruise-ship-tips"><em>Thrillist</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>"A more experienced friend told me that this sort of behaviour wasn't unusual. You had your relationship at sea and your relationship on land. The more I looked around at career cruisers, the more I noticed it was standard practice."</span></p>

International Travel

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4 things you didn’t know about Adelaide

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adelaide is the city that’s often forgotten about in music tour line-ups, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it off your travel list forever. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in Adelaide. For example:</span></p> <p><strong>1. The beaches</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Glenelg beach is Adelaide’s main tourist beach, and it’s not hard to see why. Wildlife, such as seals, dolphins and fish, are along the beach as well as a variety of walking trails to keep those who aren’t interested in wildlife occupied.</span></p> <p><strong>2. It’s close to everything</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adelaide is affectionately referred to by those who live there as the “Twenty Minute City”, because that’s how long it takes to get anywhere in the city. With some of the best trams and bus systems in the nation, you won’t need to worry about renting a car during your stay.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Don’t forget about the opals</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adelaide is the centre of the opal trade for all of Australia, and if you visit the galleries and art museums scattered throughout the city, you’re bound to see opals on display. If you’re looking to pick some up for your friends or family, there are plenty of kiosks and stalls where you can buy the stones, whether they’re by themselves or incorporated into jewellery.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Hop to Kangaroo Island</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hop is a bit of an overstatement, as it’s a bit of a trip from Adelaide. But definitely go and visit Australia’s third largest island, which is home to white cliffs, black caves and green hills. You’ll be pleased to discover there are a lot of kangaroos on this island, as well as seals, koalas and dolphins. You’re able to stay on the island as well, if you don’t want to make the trip back the same day.</span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Have you been to Adelaide? What was your favourite part? Let us know in the comments.</span></p>

International Travel

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The best European destination for 2019 has been revealed

<p><span>Budapest has been named this year’s “European Best Destination”, beating out 19 other cities and regions across the continent.</span></p> <p><span>Travellers from 153 countries participated in choosing the best destination at the 10<sup>th</sup> annual European Best Destinations, with the competition receiving a record of more than half a million votes this year. </span></p> <p><span>The capital of Hungary emerged on top, with more than 62,000 votes from travellers around the world. </span></p> <p><span>The competition’s website praised the city’s culture, gastronomy scene and heritage sites. “The pearl of the Danube is not only the best European destination, it is also one of the most beautiful and safest cities in the world,” it stated. </span></p> <p><span>“Budapest offers the elegance of Paris, the architectural heritage of Vienna, the charm of Porto, Stockholm’s gentle way of life.”</span></p> <p><span>Portugal’s Braga came at number two with the most votes from Brazilian and UK travellers. “The city offers the best of Portugal in a friendly and warm atmosphere,” the website said.</span></p> <p><span>Italy’s Monte Isola and France’s Metz followed at the third and fourth rank respectively. Both became the most-voted cities in their respective countries in the competition’s 10-year history.</span></p> <p><span>Below are the 2019’s top 15 European Best Destinations:</span></p> <ol> <li><span>Budapest, Hungary</span></li> <li><span>Braga, Portugal</span></li> <li><span>Monte Isola, Italy</span></li> <li><span>Metz, France</span></li> <li><span>Poznan, Poland</span></li> <li><span>Malaga, Spain</span></li> <li><span>Geneva, Switzerland</span></li> <li><span>Cavtat, Croatia</span></li> <li><span>Bratislava, Slovakia</span></li> <li><span>Sainte-Maxime, France</span></li> <li><span>Dinant, Belgium</span></li> <li><span>Athens, Greece</span></li> <li><span>Kotor, Montenegro</span></li> <li><span>Riga, Latvia</span></li> <li><span>Florence, Italy</span></li> </ol> <p><span>Other destinations in the running included Paris, Brussels, Berlin, London and Vienna. The voting took place online across 21 days from January to February.</span></p> <p><span>Last year, Poland’s Wroclaw won the prestigious title, winning over Spain’s Bilbao, France’s Colmar and Croatia’s Hvar Island.</span></p> <p><span>Click through the gallery above to see the top 5 European destinations.</span></p> <p><span>Have you visited Budapest before? Let us know in the comments below.</span></p>

International Travel

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World’s happiest countries for 2019 revealed

<p>The World Happiness Report has just been released and the results are a little surprising.</p> <p>Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world for a second year in a row, with another four Nordic countries following in tow and grabbing a spot in the top 10.</p> <p>The report released by United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranked 156 countries by their happiness levels based on life expectancy, social support and corruption.</p> <p>The well-being of immigrants taken in by each country was also measured and added to the list.</p> <p>Britain trailed behind the likes of Israel, Austria, Costa Rica, Australia, Luxemborg and New Zealand.</p> <p>Australia ranked 11th, just missing a spot in the top 10.</p> <p>The North African nation of South Sudan placed at the bottom of the happiness index, and America is proving to be less and less happy each year as the country falls from 14th place to 19th in just two years.</p> <p>Russia ranked 68th, falling from 59th since last year while France took 24th place and China 93rd.</p> <p>The least happy countries ranking in order include South Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Syria, Botswana, Haiti and Zimbabwe.</p> <p>Four different Nordic countries ranked in the highest ten places on the list.</p> <p>Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute said the five Nordic countries who were ranked high in the index were clearly “doing something right in terms of creating good conditions for good lives.”</p> <p>“'Briefly put, (Nordic countries) are good at converting wealth into well-being,” Wiking said.</p> <p>The finding on the happiness of immigrants “shows the conditions that we live under matter greatly to our quality of life, that happiness is not only a matter of choice.”</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see the top ten happiest countries in the world.</p>

International Travel

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Plane seat etiquette: Who gets the armrest?

<p><span>When it comes to plane etiquette, the unspoken rules and courtesies can be quite confusing. With narrowing seats and <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-tips/the-new-rules-that-could-make-flying-better-for-everyone/">shrinking legroom</a> in airplanes, the issue of personal space has become more contentious among passengers. </span></p> <p><span>One of the common sources of <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/why-you-shouldnt-let-air-rage-get-the-better-of-you/">air rage</a> cases between cabin mates is the armrest. In 2017, a man and a woman <a href="https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/offbeat/airplane-fight-armrest-video">reportedly</a> got into a screaming match in a Monarch Airlines flight from London to Malaga over an armrest between the aisle and middle seats. Last year, a woman posted a video on Twitter of her seatmate on an American Airlines flight who was allegedly "making an active scene" over their arms touching. The video went viral with more than 453,000 views.</span></p> <p><span>So, who should have the right to the armrest? While there are no hard and fast rules, there are some customs that many deem fairer than others. </span></p> <p><span>Most experts believe the middle seat should have both armrests. "The person seated at the window seat has their own armrest and wall, along with the person seated in the aisle seat – they also have a little more leg room," Zarife Hardy, director of the Australian School of Etiquette told <a href="https://travel.nine.com.au/2018/05/03/10/22/is-the-middle-seat-passenger-entitled-to-the-armrests-on-a-plane"><em>9Honey Travel</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>"So, the person or people seated in the middle generally get the armrests first … However, let's keep it fair and just wait to see how it casually and politely happens."</span></p> <p><span>Flight attendant Jacqueline Marie shared the sentiment. "I one hundred percent believe the middle seat has the right to both armrests," she told <a href="https://thepointsguy.com/guide/jetiquette-who-gets-the-middle-seat-armrests/"><em>The Points Guy</em></a>. </span></p> <p><span>"I view the armrests as boundary lines but, shockingly, as a flight attendant I have never been asked to fix a dispute regarding seat space. But you know the sad thing? I honestly feel like many of those who get stuck in the middle just hope for a peaceful flight and they avoid confrontation, even if it means they will not be as comfortable."</span></p> <p><span>According to Christopher Elliott, journalist and co-founder of advocacy group Travelers United, the armrests are still a shared space – but the middle seat should have priority. </span></p> <p><span>"If you're sitting in a window or aisle seat, the middle seat passenger gets to put his arms down first," he wrote on the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/whose-armrest-is-it-anyway-the-unspoken-etiquette-of-airline-bus-and-train-travel/2017/02/22/13704fbc-f461-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.c1abbdf6c270"><em>Washington Post</em></a>. "If there's room left over, great. If not, it belongs to the middle seat passenger."</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">When I decided to take a picture &amp; video to document the incident, I deplaned, picked up my bag, and boarded the shuttle. While I'm on the shuttle, this woman LIED that I assaulted her and the <a href="https://twitter.com/AmericanAir?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AmericanAir</a> flight attendant called the cops to remove me from the shuttle bus. <a href="https://t.co/czMyxkQVQ7">pic.twitter.com/czMyxkQVQ7</a></p> — The High Priestess of Black Joy (@AmberJPhillips) <a href="https://twitter.com/AmberJPhillips/status/989729546810241024?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 27, 2018</a></blockquote> <p><span>But what about situations like the woman on the American Airlines flight faced, when we feel like a seatmate has invaded our space?</span></p> <p><span>Gary Leff, co-founder of <a href="https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2016/08/26/someone-invading-space-plane/"><em>InsideFlyer.com</em></a> suggested to observe the situation. If there is another empty seat in the cabin, you can ask a flight attendant discreetly if you can move – however, this scenario is unlikely to happen on a crowded flight.</span></p> <p><span>"If your seatmate could easily take up less space, try to start a polite conversation and mention that you’d appreciate some of the armrest," said Leff. </span></p> <p><span>However, if they unwillingly take up more space due to their body size, Leff suggested there is not much that you can do.</span></p> <p><span>"The only time to enlist the help of the flight attendant is as a last resort. A flight attendant isn't going to stay by your seat through the flight to monitor your seatmate's behaviour. But if the person is clearly abusive, getting it on record with the crew can be a prophylactic measure."</span></p> <p><span>Have you ever dealt with armrest problems on the plane? Let us know in the comments below.</span></p>

International Travel

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Why I quit my day job and started cycling to Bhutan

<p>I’d had enough. It was October 2017, and I’d been wondering what the point of my job was for far too long, and while I’m sure there was something meaningful somewhere and to someone in what I was doing day-to-day, it had certainly lost meaning for me. For all the good that writing another academic research paper would do, I thought I might as well be cycling to Bhutan.</p> <p>The idea of cycling to this small country nestled in the Himalayan foothills is one I’d had for many years. Bhutan is famous for deciding to value its population’s happiness and well-being <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/01/bhutan-wealth-happiness-counts">over economic growth</a>. As an academic researcher focused on understanding happiness and well-being, the journey looked to me to be something of a pilgrimage.</p> <p>Before I quit, I’d spent more than ten years at different universities, trying to understand what the most important contributors were to well-being. But what I found was that I was burnt out. Given the nature of my research, the irony of this was not lost on me. I needed to do something different. I wanted to travel; to explore and understand happiness through a non-academic lens. But I wanted to connect the research I’d been doing over the years with what was happening, or indeed not happening, in the world.</p> <p><strong>Purpose and meaning</strong></p> <p>When I began my research, I was motivated by the importance of the subject. Most people I knew wanted to be happy and so, I thought, my research might help people to do that. I did what academics are incentivised to do: publish in the best peer-reviewed journals (indexed by academic readership and citation counts), as well as bring in research funds. I also did things such as engage with people outside of academia that might not ordinarily read my research – <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christopher-boyce-122326/articles">the public</a>, <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-satisfaction-linked-to-personality-change/">the media</a>, <a href="http://economicspsychologypolicy.blogspot.com/2015/09/future-directions-for-well-being-policy.html">governments, policymakers</a> – things I wasn’t always incentivised to do, but nevertheless did because they contributed to a personal sense of purpose and meaning.</p> <p>When it comes to living happy and fulfilled lives, we humans need meaning, we need purpose. People who feel there is a deeper purpose and meaning in what they are doing in their day-to-day lives tend to be happier, healthier, and more satisfied. Research shows, for example, that a life orientated towards meaning brings greater satisfaction <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-004-1278-z">than a life oriented toward hedonic pleasure</a>. Those that have a strong sense of purpose in life <a href="https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2016/02000/Purpose_in_Life_and_Its_Relationship_to_All_Cause.2.aspx">live longer</a>, and having a strong sense of purpose may be just as good for your health as engaging in regular exercise. Some would even conceive that purpose is, by definition, a key aspect <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/1990-12288-001.html">of happiness itself</a>.</p> <p>Work is an important source of purpose and meaning for many people. When people get made redundant or become unemployed, much of the loss in well-being they experience is often due to the <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-22497-005">loss of purpose and meaning</a>, rather than the loss of income. Even if there is no deeper personal purpose and meaning in the actual work itself then there is much to value in our daily social interactions and the structure that work provides us, although they are easily overlooked.</p> <p>It is purpose and meaning that helps people get up each day and it doesn’t necessarily have to be specifically about work. Purpose and meaning can take many different forms and is deeply personal. It might be looking after family, following a hobby, passion, or faith. Purpose and meaning is also an important source of resilience, helping people get through the difficulty and challenges that are an inevitable part of life.</p> <p>The importance of purpose and meaning is well recognised. In the UK, for example, one of the four questions that the government’s Office for National Statistics asks in its <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/datasets/headlineestimatesofpersonalwellbeing">Well-Being Survey</a> is: “Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?” To which people are asked to respond on a scale from zero “not at all” to ten, “completely”. In the UK the mean score to this question is <a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/datasets/headlineestimatesofpersonalwellbeing">about 7.8</a>, suggesting people feel their lives are relatively worthwhile. However, there is variation around this mean. Around 15% of the population answer a score of six or less on this question and this level has been relatively stable.</p> <p><strong>Walking the talk, being authentic</strong></p> <p>It has always felt important to me to apply my research findings to my own life. My research consistently showed that once basic needs are met, having more money is <a href="https://theconversation.com/however-you-spend-it-money-isnt-the-key-to-happiness-25289">only weakly related to happiness and well-being</a>, relative to other things such as relationships, health (mental and physical), and our personality characteristics. Taking this on board, I have decided not to take better paying jobs or strive for promotion (one of my first ever published papers demonstrated that promotion <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hec.1734">can have detrimental effects on one’s mental health</a>) for the sake of it. Instead, I tried to create a life where I had more space to focus on those aspects of life I knew to be the most important for well-being.</p> <p>Another important <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dont-be-swayed/200808/does-authenticity-lead-happiness">contributor to our well-being</a> is something psychologists term authenticity. Authenticity reflects our tendency to live in line with our beliefs and values rather the demands of others, of society. So in following what I believed to be true from the research I and others were doing I was doubly rewarded; I was happier.</p> <p>Nonetheless, the longer I spent in academia the more I began to question the wider relevance of my research. I began to realise that a lot of debates around happiness <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/does-money-buy-happiness-a-frustrating-and-tiresome-debate/">could sometimes be shockingly misleading</a> such as the extent that money can buy happiness – which too often <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/bUqnhcQjq9tPPjeK5RJI/full">gets overstated</a>. Gazing out beyond the academic world, I saw a society that seems to act, whether consciously or not, as if the most important thing <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-scharmer-gdp-economic-growth_us_5ac6160de4b056a8f598db31">is to keep the economy perpetually growing</a>, regardless of the ill effects that endless consumption has on the planet and <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2014-44347-005.html">people’s mental health</a>.</p> <p>I felt despondent. What was the point in writing another academic paper? Perhaps, I thought, I ought to be doing something a bit different. Not only to rediscover meaning and purpose, but to continue striving for an authentic existence and, through that, perhaps a little more happiness too. It was then that I finally decided that it was time to leave my full-time job at the university and to start my cycling odyssey to Bhutan.</p> <p><strong>A kingdom of happiness</strong></p> <p>We might not hear about them very often, but there are actually many places in the world where economic growth is not so overtly favoured above other things. It might be just a few people who have decided to live together and put their well-being above economic gain; there are small <a href="https://transitionnetwork.org/">communities, towns</a> and <a href="http://www.happycity.org.uk/">cities</a> already doing this. But in the case of an entire country – Bhutan – the stated central aim of government is to increase happiness and well-being.</p> <p>In 1972, the fourth king of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, first expressed the idea in an interview. <a href="https://ophi.org.uk/policy/national-policy/gross-national-happiness-index/">He said</a>: “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” Initially, Gross National Happiness was a concept rooted in the country’s spiritual traditions, and government policies would be evaluated based on their supposed influence on well-being rather than its economic effect.</p> <p>Back in 1972, however, there was little in the way of reliable metrics to compute the influence of a policy on well-being. So the idea of increasing happiness remained more of a philosophical concept. Nevertheless, the happiness concept became embedded in the policy-making process. Some of the decisions that arose from this approach included a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2003/jun/14/weekend7.weekend2">ban on television</a> (up until 1999), <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/tmullen/2018/02/27/why-bhutan-is-still-out-of-this-world/#3d84b40b44be">making tobacco illegal, and restricting tourism</a> to preserve the country’s culture.</p> <p>The Bhutanese have since developed a <a href="http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/">Gross National Happiness Index</a> to measure the country’s collective level of well-being – this has been the government’s goal since its constitution was enacted in 2008. The index has direct links to policy making and it is meant to provide incentives for the government, non-governmental organisations, and businesses to operate in ways that increase the happiness index. For example, environmental protection is enshrined in its constitution, which puts a limit on profitable industries such as logging.</p> <p>Yet Bhutan is by <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/02/12/584481047/the-birthplace-of-gross-national-happiness-is-growing-a-bit-cynical">no means the happiest place on Earth</a>, despite its focus on happiness. Finland topped the <a href="http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2018/">UN’s 2018 World Happiness Report</a> and Bhutan came in at 97 out of 156 countries. A number of factors are at play here, but Bhutan has been criticised for having a top-down focus on what constitutes happiness. It also suffers from considerable poverty, <a href="https://www.hhrjournal.org/2016/04/the-paradox-of-happiness-health-and-human-rights-in-the-kingdom-of-bhutan/">human rights abuses</a> and many other issues that numerous countries face.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the case of Bhutan continues to inspire conversations as to what should be the purpose of society and how countries can measure success. Bhutan also illustrates what might just be possible if there were the political will.</p> <p><strong>The journey, not the destination</strong></p> <p>Against this backdrop, I set off from the UK in October 2017 with the <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/all-that-i-need-to-make-a-happy-bike-tour/">barest of essentials</a> packed onto a bicycle and my route, you might say, <a href="https://thehappyboyce.travelmap.net/">has been circuitous</a>. As I write I am in Canada, and it was important for me to travel across South and North America, as I wanted to pass through other places that, much like Bhutan, are exploring new ways of living and where the economy does not necessarily dominate political and social life.</p> <p>In Costa Rica, for example, there’s a real emphasis on “pura vida” or the pure life. Citizens live <a href="http://happyplanetindex.org/countries/costa-rica">long and happy lives</a> (comparable to that of financially rich countries) on levels of income that are much lower. I met many a living example of what I’d seen in the research – happiness that comes from <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/latin-america-what-is-it-that-makes-you-so-happy/">relationships</a>, <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/blue-zone-happy-zone/">good health</a>, and <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/this-could-be-heaven-right-here-on-earth/">being in connection with ourselves and nature</a>. Once basic needs are met, money <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/10385135/Why-a-richer-society-isnt-making-us-happy.html">adds little to well-being</a> and I met many people with not very much; but enough to be able to help me as I passed through their village or town on my bicycle.</p> <p>I also wanted to visit Canada, which has an exemplary <a href="https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/">national index of well-being</a> that was developed in conjunction with citizens. It was developed as a bottom-up process with clear and direct links to policy. From a research perspective we know that <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167200266002">autonomy and having a voice</a> is important for well-being and I have learnt from <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/may-all-voices-be-heard-may-all-gifts-be-given/">personal experience</a> how important it is to feel heard.</p> <p>And, of course, there were many places in between that I wanted to visit that felt important to help me understand happiness more deeply: <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/love-is-why-we-are-here/">communities intent on happiness</a>, <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/in-awe/">natural wonders of the world</a>, and various <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/vegas-and-the-desperate-hunt-for-an-improbable-happiness/">cities</a> with something to contribute.</p> <p>I’ve flown some of the way (across oceans) but cycled most of it in a bid to make the journey authentic and purposeful. Not only did I think cycling would be good for my own well-being (physical and mental) but because it is a form of travel that has minimal ecological impact and therefore would not harm the well-being of those around me. Plus, my experiences travelling on a bicycle before I began this journey showed me that it is a fantastic way to meet people. It is a fairly unusual form of travel in some parts of the world and it draws interest and builds connections.</p> <p>People can often make a place. I knew that the people I met would form an important part of my trip and I wanted to create long lasting connections, which are of course an important component of a happy life. These connections have come through sharing experiences of what it means to be happy – sharing my own research and personal experiences of happiness and also being willing to hear about the experiences of others, from the people I have met in the street and the plazas to the people making policy decisions.</p> <p>There are many people who are interested in implementing programmes and happiness policies into their own lives and the lives of others as a means to genuinely promote happiness and well-being in the area where they live.</p> <p>When I spoke with people involved in policy decisions in Costa Rica, for example, we discussed the country’s involvement in the <a href="https://wellbeingeconomy.org/">Wellbeing Economy Alliance</a>. This is an organisation that resembles the G7 group of countries, but rather than a focus on the size of the economy, these countries – including Costa Rica, Scotland, New Zealand and Slovenia, among others – aim to promote well-being.</p> <p><strong>Overcoming challenges</strong></p> <p>My journey has been undeniably amazing on a personal level. Each day can bring something different, unexpected, challenging, and that demands a lot psychologically. Suddenly I might find myself in the home of a person I met in a plaza sharing food with their family. The next day I could find myself sitting in my tent alone but in the company of a beautiful night sky. There have been some truly special moments and, through these, I have often felt happy and learnt many interesting things about myself. For example, that I am <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/i-wont-be-coming-back/">much more than just an academic</a>, and that sometimes what we perceive ourselves to be can limit what we can be.</p> <p>Yet it has not been easy, and has definitely not been a holiday. My journey has involved a substantial amount of physical effort and at times deep challenge. About two months into my trip I got bitten by a street dog in a tiny village in Peru. The need to deal with the physical effects aside (treating the wound, getting to a hospital, getting vaccinations), the experience <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/anger-the-anguish-that-lies-beneath/">really</a> <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/anger-the-anguish-that-lies-beneath/">affected</a> me <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/13/resentment-hostility-and-hatred-arisei-watch-i-accept-the-emotions-are-passingand-a-powerful-insight-lands/">psychologically</a>.</p> <p>I wanted to come home. I was struggling to find the emotional strength I needed to get through. I felt alone. But I persevered and I put my ability to do so down to eventually finding the support I needed (both locally and from back home), as well as having that clear sense of purpose.</p> <p>I’m glad I persevered with the journey as all the other experiences I’ve since that incident and the people I have met have been enormously enriching and given me a greater feeling of wholeness. Plus, an important part of happiness is dealing with adversity and building resilience for when difficult things happen, as they inevitably do.</p> <p>Now, I’m in Canada and, in truth, I’m surprised I’ve made it this far. I often wonder whether I’ll ever actually make it to Bhutan; there are many more mountains to climb and seas to cross. Lately, I’ve been having a difficult time on the road – <a href="https://adventuresinhappinessblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/a-year-on/">it’s been a year</a> and I deeply miss the surroundings of home, friends and family.</p> <p>Maybe I don’t actually need to go all the way to Bhutan. Maybe what I’ve done is enough. Either way, I can rest assured that happiness is found in the journey – not the destination.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/105531/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Christopher Boyce, Honorary Research Associate at the Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-i-quit-my-day-job-researching-happiness-and-started-cycling-to-bhutan-105531"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

International Travel