Cheap Holidays at Fiji

Travel agents tell there has been a rushing of inquiries about inexpensive holidays in Fiji following the exclusion of New Zealand's High Commissioner by the military regime.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has warned folk to believe cautiously before travelling to Fiji, saying bitterness could be shown toward New Zealanders.

But a travel agent says there has been no drop-off in tourist numbers. Melanie Pohl, from the Flight Centre, says many customers are aware that the ongoing problems may mean good travel deals.
Meanwhile, there has been a big increase in the number of New Zealanders going on overseas holidays in the past month.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show there were 16 percent more short-terms trips in May than there was the previous year - the largest increase for May on record.
The increase was also the biggest monthly increase since December 2004, with just over 170,000 people leaving the country in May.
The biggest jump was in the number of people going to Australia - up 17 percent.

Cheap tickets to space :)

There are many reasons why exploring and subsequently living in place will be costly.

However, possibly the greatest obstruction which needs to be surmount for the doorway to be opened so that mankind can freely move from the ground will be the fact that here on our planet we survive at the side of a seriousness easily; each kilogram of textile going into orbit must be hauled upward out of the ground’s gravitational force.

Currently, the price-to-orbit starts at around US$19,000 per kilogram – and that’s for inanimate people - the price for lifting humans to orbit is often high payable to the fact that we expect atmosphere, nutrient, water and a controlled surroundings, all of which need to move with us; the overall cost will require to include education, ground backing crowd, ground based recuperation teams and base.

At every place launching a really big sum of the people that is lifted into ground orbit comprises of the fuel needed by projectile engines. Are there any new methods of moving textile off the surface of the earth? What can be done to lower the costs of flinging mass into earth orbit?

One alternative is the concept of a ‘space elevator’.
space elevator

The basic idea is a structure of some kind that reaches from the surface of the earth into space. Getting to – or from – earth orbit will be achieved by travelling up and down the structure. At this date, it’s difficult to imagine construction materials that would allow for the erecting of what most of us would imagine as a traditional ‘building’ – bricks or some other material compressing themselves down to the ground and thereby maintaining overall structural integrity. It is extremely unlikely that the construction of such a tower will ever be achieved that will raise a mass to geostationary orbit – 35,786 km. A slightly more realistic solution involves the production of a long, strong cable, extending at least to geosynchronous orbit where it might be tethered to a counterweight such as a space station or captured asteroid. Material can then be ferried to and from orbit by riding down the tether.

Once the space elevator has been constructed, the theoretical cost for moving mass to orbit dramatically decreases – by some conservative estimates to as little as US$ 500 per kilogram – and by other estimates, far less.

Still, the question remains; what material will the tether need to be made of in order to have the necessary tensile strength for a project of this magnitude? The emerging capabilities of nano-technology hint at a possibility in the form of carbon nanotubes. Structurally, these nanotubes are composed of graphite; a carbon atom bonded to three other carbon atoms, these then form very strong hexagonal sheets, and in turn these sheets are rolled into a small seamless cylinder with a diameter of a nanometre – one billionth of a metre. Carbon nanotubes have been produced which have a tensile strength of over 50 times that of high-carbon steel.

There are other problems to be considered in the construction and maintenance of a space elevator. At the level of the earth for example; how to deal with the effects on the tether of poor weather within the earth’s atmosphere, lightning, fierce storms and so on. Or the risk of disaster due to the severing of the cable due to accident or deliberate sabotage. carbon nanotube As the cable crosses out of the realm of the earth’s influence other problems arise; such as leaving the earth’s protective magnetic field and the subsequent effects of solar radiation on unprotected passengers travelling in a relatively slow elevator – or the corrosive effect that the same radiation will have on the elevator cable. Perhaps the greatest concern will be that of orbital debris and collisions. A small particle of dust, or worse, metal, travelling in the opposite direction as the space elevator’s cable could have a relative closing velocity of more than 20km / second – or 72,000 km/ hour. An impact with a large object would most likely result in a complete loss of the space elevator. However, to clear the way for the elevator cable, in theory, some sort of garbage collection is possible as since the dawn of the space age US Government agencies have been tracking pieces of orbital debris, some no larger than a paint chip.

If it is to be done, the accomplishment of a space elevator will only be achieved by the dedication and commitment of scientific researchers who will expand our knowledge of the natural universe and technological innovators who will develop new materials, production techniques, control and automation systems. At one point within the 20th century, it was widely believed by extremely learned and reputable people that travel by ‘heavier-than-air’ machines was impossible.

Round the globe budget tickets

Is it possible to circle the globe using nothing but budget airlines? If you route it right, yes.

I’ve been saying for years that it doesn’t make more sense anymore to purchase an entire round-the-world airline ticket forward of moment unless you are just getting a bare-bones one that you will occupy in with shorter hops and unconventional transport. What I bought for my best RTW journey in the mid-90s seems strange now: a pile of newspaper tickets in rise that went New York- L. A. - Bangkok- Kathmandu- Delhi- Athens- London- New York. (Even so we bought local jaunts from Singapore to Jakarta and Istanbul to Amsterdam though. ) It particularly doesn’t make sense on one of the legacy airline alliances unless you’re using mileage or are just enjoy being on grip with call centre employees.

Gadling found a great article from the Telegraph where a writer bought tickets at the last minute to go around the world from London. He spent 900 pounds ($1,800 these days) and touched down in 8 different places before returning home. The short hops were easy, but he had to work a bit to find ones across the oceans it looks like. One leg was on Zoom to Bermuda and another was on Oasis from Hong Kong to London ($230!). Here’s the story on Gadling and the original from the Telegraph.

Japan on the Cheap (part III)

What I establish unsatisfying about the Japanese landscape at best was that, except for oriental manner roof tops and the folk, the whole nation looks like a scaled downward edition of the United States, though often cleaner. The Golden Arches along with new U. S. associated quick nutrient chains dotted the countryside. Granted for many U. S. tourists seeing all that Americana overseas would have them look decent at house but I wanted something uniquely Japanese. I didn't have long to lament my position.

The small village of Mashiko is a ceramicist's dream. Located 62 miles north of Tokyo, this uniquely Japanese village is famous for its "Mashiko-yaki" style of pottery. According to Frommer's destinations, "Mashiko's history as a pottery town began in 1853, when a potter discovered ideal conditions in the nearby mountain clay and red pine wood for firing. It wasn't until 1930, however, that Mashiko gained national fame, when the late Hamada Shoji, designated a Living National Treasure, built a kiln here and introduced Mashiko-ware throughout Japan. Other potters have since taken up his technique, producing ceramics for everyday use, including plates, cups, vases, and tableware. Altogether, there are about 50 pottery shops in Mashiko (along with 300 kilns) into which you can wander and watch craftspeople at work. Pottery fairs, held twice a year in late April/early May and late October/early November, attract visitors from throughout Japan." Unfortunately we arrived in Japan in July.

A particular item worth mentioning is the abundance of beer. There were tubs of suds. Along with beer vending machines, the tiny eating establishments carried many brands of ice cold beer. Being a beer lover as well as a pro-ceramic artist, I was in heaven. We toured the gift shops and galleries, and lunched at a local restaurant, where I continued to wet my whistle. When lunch was over, our hosts had to pour me back into our vehicle. It was an inebriating experience but one that could never happen in the United States. The Japanese people are orderly to a fault and very well behaved.

We drove through the countryside, although we could have taken the train. Something uniquely Japanese is that commuter trains extend their rails far outside cities. From my window I noticed a number of one-car commuter trains running through tiny hamlets and farmers' fields, some with only a passenger or two riding inside. Sad to think that long-distance commuter lines were once the backbone transport of U.S. cities until "Detroit" lobbied Congress to place more emphasis on building interstate highways for automobiles.

We arrived back home early that evening for a home meeting. After dinner we were joined by a delegation of Japanese mothers accompanied by school-aged children. As a former public school teacher, I was asked to give a talk comparing and contrasting the Japanese and American education systems. It was a labor of love but oddly, before I started to speak, our hostess informed me that, "We Japanese are not a religious people." I have no idea why she told me that. I was going to speak about education.

It was also my understanding that generally Asian women have been second class to men for thousands of years. In modern Japan the roles appear to have been reversed. Nearly every woman that I listened to was glad that she was a woman and openly derided her workaholic husband or told me that they were enjoying their lives as modern women—whether stay-at-home moms or wives—and wouldn't want things any other way. That was my last day in the Land of the Rising Sun. We left for Narita early in the morning of our fourth day and the daughter of our hosts drove us to the nearby train station.

American-style breakfast at a Tokyo fast food restaurant was marginal at best, horrendous at worst. I recommend sticking to local cuisine for breakfast in foreign countries (except, perhaps, South Korea where they can cook real American food) though I may be overly biased when I say this. Anyway, when breakfast was mercifully over, our gracious hosts and we rode a second train back to the airport, taking in as much of the city of Tokyo from our seats as we could squeeze into a single morning. Once the train started moving, I asked our hosts why we were standing when there were plenty of empty seats available. They told us that since we made our connection earlier than scheduled, it was only fitting for us to stand, so that regular commuters for the time could sit down. This was so typical of the Japanese spirit. Every action was subject to a rigid written (or unwritten) honor code, and train seating was no exception.

Soon it was moment to tell "sayonara. " Together with our friends, we were in big Narita International Airport awaiting our flying to Manila, the closing stage of our Asian travel. As we waited to stop in, I couldn't assistance but discover a group of uniformed higher school girls each wearing the same light and blue dark crewman uniforms universally identifiable around the reality as the basic manner of school garb for all Japanese feminine students. Minutes subsequently we first checked our baggage and so ourselves after woefully saying our farewells. We deplaned at Ninoy Aquino International in the Philippine capital nearly five hours subsequently, yet sweet from our glad stoppage in Japan.

[by The Epoch Time]

Japan on the Cheap (part II)

The everyday Japanese house was like most of the folk—tiny. Her house was comfy and had a feeling of really being at the house of a supporter and not of an alien. What I did discover that was distinct was the "stool. " The bathroom was an example of hi-tech inventiveness. The simple mounting of the stool was an escapade. There were buttons on the position for flushing; a bidet for women, a water temperature gauge, and still a button that … easily … was used to make the work that for many years bathroom newspaper used to make. Also there was an inherent wooden Jacuzzi, sauna, and standing lavish for soaping your system; bathing in Japan is an experience in and of itself.

The kitchen was completely Western. However, the rest of the house was typically Japanese replete with tatami mats, bonsai trees sitting regally on table tops and sleeping mats on the floors. And I never got over the fact that, in my opinion, everything about Japan was at least four sizes too small.

I make it a practice to get up early everyday—very early. On my first full day in Japan, the daily paper arrived. It was a normal delivery just like in my home city of Chicago. Well, almost. When the delivery woman arrived at our door she politely bowed, handed me the newspaper, and said something in Japanese. I returned her bow and said "Arigato" (that's "Thank you" in Japanese) then went back in the house. Since I'm a very early riser no matter where I am, I was already up around 5 a.m., washed, spent time in silent reflection, and went back outside to gather in the pure air of the morning.

Like so many people in my "yuppie-fied" neighborhood back home, the Japanese people are very health conscious. Breakfast consisted of tea, naturally, coffee, toast, a bit of fruit, sliced tomatoes (I love 'em) and no meat but plenty of happy conversation.

We didn't go out of the house that day. We were trying to work through some serious jet lag from the horrendous 18-hour flight from Chicago to Tokyo. As a "large" person, squeezing into one of the tiny Japan Airlines seats presented an enormous challenge for me. When the plane finally did touch down I felt like a spent pretzel in a beer garden, all chewed up. I needed the day off.

We exchanged gifts late morning the next day. Our ever gracious hosts presented my wife with a beautiful blue kimono. I returned the favor by presenting them with one of my finest pieces of pottery. My wife immediately tried on the kimono. My gift was placed regally in their living room on a small table.

That day the effects of our jet lag had subsided and we took to the open road. My wife and I wanted to do what ordinary Japanese people do. After we were on the road for about an hour our host's daughter, who did all the driving in her pick-up truck, took us shopping at the Japanese version of Jewel or Dominick's. I can't remember the name of the store. All the products had Japanese labels, packaged in similar manner as most American stores, and the basic lay out was the same as any ordinary grocery store you would find in any city in the U.S. One thing stood out; the prices were quite high but the products were all items you could buy in most Chicago-area Asian supermarkets.

I think that "Construction Season" is universal or at least in cold weather countries like Japan and the northern United States. There were road crews everywhere but unlike the stress-causing crews in Illinois in Japan traffic flowed freely despite the heavy road work.

Japan on the Cheap (part I)

The caravan drive from Narita International Airport to Tokyo appropriate reminded me of how distinct Japan is from the United States despite its modernity. The folk are shorter, highway lanes are substantially smaller than interstates in the U. S. , and trains and folk seem to handle their lives by some invisible domestic clock.

We met our Japanese friends at the airport. They rode the caravan with us from the airport to our transportation level in downtown Tokyo. From there we caught a commuter caravan to the suburban township where they lived.

Unlike with the L train in Chicago, there are no escalators to Japanese trains just plenty of high stairs. My corpulence got the better of me in no time. After purchasing our tickets we waited on the platform to make our train connection.

I'm a people watcher—have to be if you want to write about human subjects. Accepting the fact that we were in a foreign country, I noticed that nearly every male had on a suit and tie, and carried an attaché case while the women wore Western style dresses and skirts. But it was the young girls who struck me as somewhat odd. Many, if not most of them, had blonde hair and appeared to dress like some of the characters in popular Japanese comic books.

Minutes later our train pulled into the crowded station. Tired from standing nearly 30 minutes once we got inside we quickly took our seats. The doors closed and we were on our way. As I sat looking around at the unfamiliar scenery, I couldn't help but notice that a lot of the men were openly drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages the way we Americans gulp down soda pop. Some of the men immediately dozed off either from the beer or as victims of the Japanese penchant for over-work. Many of them looked like they could have used at least 12 hours of solid sleep.

As I sat there gazing out at the blackness my mind recalled the large number of elderly men who were gathered outside the train station and sat around dressed in rags on flattened cardboard boxes. These men would be recognized as homeless in Chicago but when I asked my friend about them she replied that "they are not without homes but are rich businessmen who prefer living on the streets because family problems prevented them from returning home." OK. I gathered from her answer that homelessness in Japan was a national embarrassment and she simply refused to acknowledge its existence.

About 45 minutes later we arrived at Shinjuku-Sanchome Station where my wife and I were met by the lovely daughter of our hosts. She drove us to the home in her pick up.

Easy travel planning this summer

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