Posts Tagged ‘health’

Coolest Bar in Cairo

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 | No Comments

Cairo is certainly a cosmopolitan place and has a long history of openness. Its large tourist industry, Coptic minority and tradition of hospitality (this last being a debatable point), mean that there is good nightlife.  As a friend explained, “Anything can be done in Cairo.”  Places tend to fall into several categories: coffee and shisha, bar/lounges and beer joints so the first thing to do is decide what you’re up for and then decide where you’re willing to go.   

There are great places in Zamalek, including Deals and Pub 28, as well as other neighborhoods.  But it’s downtown where the places with real atmosphere are found.  Rooftop top places like the bar at the Odeon Palace Bar are usually a good bet if the weather is cooperative.  That one is also reportedly open 24-hours but the current martial law has imposed there is a midnight citywide curfew right now.  And if you’re dying for the experience, Shahrazad and Arabesque have belly dancing.  However, the winner during my visit is undoubtedly Horeya, not far from Tahir Square.     

Sure, there is little to drink besides Stella beer (the local beer which isn’t bad), it’s filled with cigarette smoke and it lacks the niceties such as a nice bathroom found in upscale places. And it doesn’t look like much as you can see in the photo – the graffiti says “I want to see another president before I die.”  And the windows have been smashed or have bullet holes in them (I already said it’s not far from Tahir Square).  But for what Horeya lacks it more than makes up for in character.

Walking in the through the crowded tables, with high ceilings and smoky yellow-colored walls, the place was absolutely bustling.  A friendly waiter put down five large Stellas even know there were just two of us.  We joined conversations with journalists and aid workers just back from or going to the front in eastern Libya, students from the nearby American University in Cairo, a writer, an office worker and two people who didn’t mention what they were up to.  Midway through the evening, two guys danced and sang to the new “Free Egypt” giving high-fives to as many people as they could.  It’s not exactly a place for a quiet drink with family but later I noticed a partition behind which groups of older Egyptian men sat drinking coffee, watching TV and no doubt going over the days gossip and politics.       

At the end of the night, the bottles consumed are counted to determine the final bill and we made it back to the hotel as the mid-night martial law curfew commenced.

How to Pack When going to a War Zone?

Posted on: March 6th, 2011 | No Comments

Packing depends a lot on your expected length of travel, gender and personal preferences but it’s helpful to think in the layer system (discussed in a previous post) and climate throughout the trip (not just at the destination).  It’s often cold in deserts and sunny in cold places, there could be a pool at your overnight stay while in transit and then there’s that unplanned requirement to sleep in the airport (here’s a worthwhile link to consider).  All these should be considered on one trip. 

Almost universally, things that stimulate the mind are carried by those traveling to Libya: books, MP3 players stuffed with music, laptops loaded with cheaply acquired movies and TV series.  But ballistic body armor is not: freelance stringers can’t afford it and aid workers are usually not that close to the fighting.  Besides vests and helmets are heavy, take up lots of luggage space and makes you stick out like a sore thumb.

So in most ways, packing to go to a war is no different than going to any place that is severely underdeveloped with a (possible) lack of electricity, clean drinking water, the presence of bugs and other annoyances that make travel more interesting. Even if conditions are fine today, what if the power suddenly goes out for three straight days?  A candle, matches and a flashlight that doesn’t need batteries would be great.  What if I need to wash my clothes in my hotel sink? I’d need a long cord to dry them.  What if my camera strap breaks, pack rips or jack tears at the elbow?  A bit of duct tape is essential.  This is what the Essential Journey’s Kit was made for and is included on my bag on the way to Libya.

World’s Most Dangerous Road?

Posted on: February 22nd, 2011 | No Comments

In between my recent travels, I flicked through the satellite television channels dealing with travel and adventure.  Filled with tall claims and well spun yarns, they provide fleeting entertainment.  One show gives the impression of dealing with the “world’s most dangerous road” judging by ice-filled roads.  Certainly, in this category there is a fairly long list of contenders.   For sure, the James Dalton Highway in Alaska 414-mile gravel road that connects Prudhoe Bay oilfields needs vigilance and preparation (including a 4-wheel drive, the right kit and extras of everything).  But is it the most dangerous?   

Bolivia’s North Yungas Road, connecting the capital La Paz to Coroico in the Amazon region, is itself known as the “Death Road.”  Fifteen years ago, the Inter-American Development Bank declared it the world’s most dangerous road because it killed 200-300 people a year along its almost 70 km length.  Today, new construction has meant that few travel along this route except for a few intrepid travelers looking for a challenge and the right to say they traveled it.  

The road leading from Baghdad International Airport toward the Green Zone (now the “International Zone”) was surely the most dangerous road in the world at one point.  This is where we lost Marla Ruzicka (see earlier post) and many others.  Although strict checkpoints, constant patrols and blast walls that line the entire length make the roughly 15 minute trip safer these days, it remains a potentially hairy ride.    

East of Kabul

From personal experience, the most dangerous roads lie in Afghanistan and Pakistan where altitude, long-distances, terrible conditions and ever present violence meet.  These days, roads like the one that link Kabul with Peshawar are surly the world’s most dangerous.  That road passes through the tribal areas of Pakistan where NATO fuel supplies were recently blown up, the Kyber Pass (notorious during the British Raj as a site of ambush and intrigue), through Jalalabad in sight of Tora Bora and the now dangerous Sarobi, up a spectacular gorge and into Kabul.  In that same valley, I was stopped several years ago by a rock avalanche that took the better half of a day to clear.   

Or take the road leading north from Islamabad on route N75 to the hill station town of Murree and then north again to Muzaffarabad.  It’s fine up to that point.  This area of Kashmir has been mostly off limits to foreigners except for a period following the 2005 earthquake that devastated the region.  About a year after the disaster, I traveled up the Neelam Valley Road along the “line of control” that demarcates the long, blood-soaked division between India.  As part of the Lesser Himalayas, it is at once beautiful in a way only matched by the likes of the Rockies and the Alps.  It is also hair-raising, crossing over crumbling dirt roads over 8,000 + foot passes with very few guardrails. And, in the time I was there, aftershocks and rock avalanches.  Along long stretches, the road is well within the crosshairs of Indian gun positions on the other side of the valley.  While calm during my visit, our driver plainly said at one point “My brother was killed along here.”

Eartheducation: Neverest supplies expedition to learn about sustainable development

Posted on: January 13th, 2011 | No Comments

Earthducation is a series of eight expeditions to climate hotspots over the course of four years.   The goal is to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning.   Understanding connections between education and the natural environment on local scales will enable and empower change in education on a global scale by providing new approaches to education.

Right now, the Eartheducation team is in Tenkodogo, Burkina Faso (see map), where they are interviewing elders, students and others to learn and connect.  Through this expedition, they hope to create a world narrative of the dynamic intersections between education and sustainability.  The current expedition is led by Aaron Doering and Charles Miller, professors of Learning Technologies at the University of Minnesota. 

Neverest has outfitted them with gear including the Essential Journey’s Kit and On-the-go items.  We hope you find them helpful.  Best of luck and travel safe!

Holiday Cheer: Travel for one’s health continued

Posted on: December 24th, 2010 | No Comments

Following up from our last post, the tradition of imbibing needs a bit more discussion.  To be sure, making new friends is surely one of the best parts of the holiday season whether outdoors or traveling afar.  Knowing a few ways to wish health and good cheer to others is a useful skill.  Interestingly, this is not something that’s relegated to a single country; years ago I spent half a night’s drinking in Munich’s Hofbrauhaus with a team of Japanese businessmen that started with a simple and hearty “Kampai!”  Still, travelers in the know realize that it can be a bit more complicated than that when etiquette and context are considered.  Here’s a few examples: 

In Germany, there are different ways to toast depending on the drink:

Beer: “Prost!” (regardless of the occasion)

Wine: “Prost” with friends and “Zum Wohl” in a more formal environment  

Cocktails: Specific toast such as “Auf uns!” (To us!) or “Auf Dich!” (To you!)  

Schnapps: Toast such as “Hau’weg das Zeug!” (Down the hatch!) but “Prost” is fine as well.

Whiskey/Whisky: use “Cheers!” or a toast like “Auf Schottland!” (To Scotland!), never “Prost”

In Russia, no one says “Na zdorovje” as a drinking cheer.  Perhaps because this toast is used in many Slavic countries people assume it is also used in Russia.  While it does mean “To your health,” Russians only say it as a reply to “Spasibo” (thank you) much like people use “Cheers” in the UK.  So while it might seem strange given the importance of drinking and the tradition of toasting in the country, there is no universal drinking cheer in Russian.   Sometimes people say “Budem zdorovy” (Let’s stay healthy) or “Chtob vse byli zdorovy” (Let everybody be healthy) or shortened to just “Budem” (in Ukranian).  After a toast, it’s common to clink their glasses together but not if you are drinking something non-alcoholic.

In Asia, it’s understandably a bit more complicated.  In many countries, toasting and saying cheers is not common and not just for religious reasons.  For example, in India where at business people may just say cheers but not in other occasions.  In Japan, “cheers” is typically said at the beginning and the end of a meal, while in Singapore there is no set protocol.  In China, a number of terms are used including, “Yung sing” (drink and win), in Cantonese “Gom bui” (dry the cup) and in Mandarin “Gan bei” (dry the cup).  On the mainland, toasting is an important part of formal occasions.  The host makes the first toast and usually continues throughout a meal. If it’s for a quest, a return toast should be given.  Luckily, given the eagerness to drink, it is possible to join the cheers using a non-alcoholic beverage.    

Happy Holidays Everyone!

A dozen ways to say “Cheers”

Posted on: December 22nd, 2010 | No Comments
  1. Spanish speaking countries: Salut, salud or other variation
  2. Francophone countries: A votre santé (or just “santé”)
  3. Costa Rica: Pura vida (“pure life”) which they use for everything
  4. Thailand: Choc-tee
  5. Japan: Kampai
  6. Greece: Yamas or stinygiasou (informal situations) or eisigiansas (formal situations)
  7. Countries of the former Yugoslavia: Zivjeli
  8. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands: Prost or prosit
  9. Ethiopian (Amharic): Letenachin  (L’-TAY-nah-chin)
  10. Farsi: Ba-sal-a-ma-TEE (yes, they do drink in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan)
  11. Finnish: Kippis (KEEP-us)
  12. Ireland (last but certainly not least): Sláinte! (like many other cheers, this actually means “to your health”)

Haiti: The last thing they need

Posted on: November 18th, 2010 | No Comments

Haiti, to understate the situation, has had a tough year.  Last January, a devastating earthquake took more than two hundred thousand lives and the affects continue to cause widespread suffering.  Tropical storms including Hurricane Tomas ripped down makeshift shelters.  And election-related violence has become a daily occurrence.  Now, a deadly cholera epidemic has taken hold of the heart of the country.  It’s the last thing the people of Haiti deserve.  Already hundreds have been killed and thousands have been hospitalized.  The suffering from the disease is terrible.  It’s caused by a small bacteria (shown here) that is relatively easy to prevent.  But too many people lack clean potable water and other basic supplies like soap.  Most unfortunately is that the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Water, of all things, in Quetta’s Flood Displaced Person’s Camps

Posted on: September 1st, 2010 | No Comments

About 30 camps have quickly formed around the city.  Aid is being provided in some camps but not all.  In this camp of nearly 6,000 people, most but not all have tents to live in.  Food is given in rationed distributions.  There is a medical clinic but people complain because of the lack of medicine.  Boys drink directly from water trucked in and provided via taps.  In many others though people drink whatever they can.  In this arid city, people seem to face an ironic jeopardy with respect to water – driven away by flood waters they now spend a lot of time trying to gain access to water.

Traveling through Islamabad Airport

Posted on: August 20th, 2010 | No Comments

Most airports conduct their affairs in an orderly almost post-modern way.  Islamabad is a different story.  Furnace like heat is pushed around by long lines of ceiling fans.  Each departing flight is witnesses hundreds of people seeing off relatives.  To get to the gate, it is necessary to wade through a sea of salwar kameez where few people are ready to make space for anyone else.  The armed security guard seems to have never heard of an electronic ticket.  I’m headed South to Pakistan’s fourth largest city of Quetta.  Once the birthplace of the Taliban, now thousands of people have fled the raising Indus River who need urgent assistance.  If nothing else, this is what exciting travel is all about.

Four Helpful Acronyms for Traveling

Posted on: August 17th, 2010 | No Comments

“RICE” helpful in first aid especially for sports injuries where Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are needed

 “STOP” when lost you should first Stand, Think, Observe and Plan

 “DATE” to respond to a sick or injured person you should carry out a Diagnosis, Assessment, Treatment and Evacuation

 “SUCCESS” is needed when traveling, or in the outdoors, a person should have a Sense of direction, Understanding, Courage, Charity, Esteem, Self-confidence and Self-acceptance