In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Who makes the best traveller: geographer, linguist or engineer?
So what is the ideal profession for a traveller? What mix of working skills translates best into the perfect blend for a life on the road?
Talking of translating, being a linguist seems like a pretty good choice. I long ago decided that when I come back in my next life I’m going to put a lot more effort into learning languages. One of my favourite travel lessons came from a language teacher who commented that we’re all quite happy to claim we’d been to a place after the most fleeting visit. Some people will even claim they’ve been there with only a tick beside the transit lounge when you ask where they went. That’s not good enough for me, but the language expert went on to suggest the same rules could apply to languages. “If you can say ‘Yes’, ‘no’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, you speak the language,” he insisted. “Not much, it’s true, but it’s a start.”
How about a geographer? Well that makes sense, although in these GPS-directed days you don’t even have to be able to open the atlas or street directory to find your way around. Plus, I’ve always felt an ability to get entertainingly lost can add to the travel experience, even if my wife keeps disagreeing on that one.
A naturalist? Or some other occupation which relates directly to something that our travel experiences might be all about? What about an architect, an art dealer, a photographer, a chef, even a wine dealer? I think not. The last thing we want is a travel companion sniffing at the wine and sending it back for being past its prime when it was only the house red in the first place. Is there anything worse than the camera fanatic gassing on about his lens aperture and exposure time when the end result is no better than he could have done with his mobile phone? And do I really want to be ticked off for mistaking a lesser spangle-winged drongo for the greater variety?
World’s largest oceanarium to open in Singapore
The world’s largest oceanarium will open in Singapore in December this year, reported the Straits Times daily.
The $7-billion Marine Life Park (MLP) is the last of the attractions to open at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). RWS, located on Singapore’s Sentosa island, opened its doors in January 2010 and is home to various lifestyle amenities, including a Universal Studios theme park and a casino.
The opening ceremony, to be held on Dec. 7, will be marked by a fireworks display and a series of performances by international performers, including soprano singer Sarah Brightman.
MLP is expected to house more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species, including the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins that sparked a controversy last year. Animal rights activists have since been lobbying for the resort management to release the 25 wild dolphins captured to be part of the resort’s attractions.
One of MLP’s most hotly anticipated attractions is the Adventure Cove Waterpark, which will feature Southeast Asia’s first hydromagnetic water coaster ride and a rainbow reef where guests can snorkel among fishes. Another is the SEA Aquarium, where visitors can stay dry and watch through the world’s largest viewing panel over 100,000 aquatic creatures including manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
“No other attraction in this part of the world comes close to the Marine Life Park in terms of scope and concept,” Dennis Gilbert, senior vice president of attractions at RWS, said in a press statement.
Nepal plane crash: the ongoing threat of bird strikes
Reports have suggested the plane crash in Nepal was caused by a bird strike. Despite a variety of measures to mitigate the risks, it remains a major problem.
Bird strikes have been one of the biggest threats to passenger safety since the earliest days of aviation, with the first case reported by Orville Wright in 1905.
More than a century on, bird strikes remain a significant threat to aircraft, and have been cited as a key factor in dozens of fatal plane crashes.
Recent bird strikes include the US Airways’ flight from La Guardia to Douglas International which was forced to crash land in the Hudson River in 2009. A year later, a Thomas Cook survived a “significant” bird strike while trying to land at Manchester Airport.
Millions of pounds are spent each year to counter the threat, but according to Dr Rob Hunter, former pilot and head of flight safety at the British Airline Pilots Association, it remains a regular occurrence.
“Bird strikes are very common – there will be at least one major incident in the UK every year,” he said. “It is something that pilots will fear when flying at low altitudes, or in areas where there are migrating birds, such as Alaska.
“In some cases air traffic control will offer advisories and radar-based warnings about where flocks are heading, including estimates on their size.”
A single bird is less likely to cause major damage to an aircraft, and it is large flocks that cause the biggest concern, Dr Hunter said.
Oktoberfest lubricates millions of throats
This year’s Oktoberfest folk festival has already attracted an estimated 3.6 million visitors, the city of Munich said overnight.
Officials are expecting a total of about 6 million visitors to celebrate the 16-day extravaganza, now half over, but the beer festival’s start indicates the final number might well be higher.
The Oktoberfest is best known for its bands of oompah music playing in cavernous tents, local men wearing traditional Bavarian Lederhosen leather shorts and women in bright costumes.
This year’s visitors have consumed 3.6 million two-pint (one-litre) mugs of beer so far. A mug, called “mass” in German, of the malty pale beer sells for up to 9.50 euros ($11.75).
Last year’s 6.9 million visitors downed almost 8 million mugs.
While the Oktoberfest’s main draw is the towering mugs of beer, many visitors, especially families, often flock to the Oktoberfest for its fairground attractions such as roller coasters.
Visitors at this year’s Oktoberfest, the 179th, mostly came from Germany, neighbouring countries, Italy, the US, Asia, New Zealand and Australia so far, the city said.
The lost-and-found office said it already counts more than 300 wallets, 200 mobile phones, 50 cameras and two wedding rings on its shelves.
Security guards hindered visitors from stealing beer mugs – a popular souvenir for tourists – in 63,000 cases, the city said.