Grown-up Travel Guide News Update – 23.01.2012

In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel

What will we learn from the Costa Concordia?

The Independent

Until last weekend, booking a Mediterranean cruise looked like one of the least risky activities any traveller could undertake. In light of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, has that now changed?

On the face of it, this appalling accident reveals that despite a lifeboat full of safety regulations governing the operation of these vast pleasure ships, it apparently only took human error – or human arrogance – to bring about catastrophe. The emerging soap opera surrounding the activities of the Concordia’s disgraced captain Francesco Schettino might arouse a degree of gruesome fascination, but concentrating on one man’s alleged incompetence, or cowardice, should not obscure the need to take new industry-wide steps to avoid any repetition of this tragedy.

Aviation has a long history of awful accidents, and an equally long history of learning from them. Take a look at the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority website ( The statistics reveal a wealth of research into plane crashes, down to the age and gender of passengers correlated with the seats they were sitting in. The CAA works to ensure that air accidents become less likely and that, when they occur, the chance of survival is increased.

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Chinese New Year: the best events from Hong Kong to Beijing

The Guardian

Six ways to crash the Chinese New Year party, from the Hong Kong fireworks at Victoria harbour to the temple fairs in Beijing and Shanghai’s Lantern Festival.

Tonight, in a deafening blitz of pyrotechnics, more than a billion Chinese will ring in the new lunar year – the 4,710th of the Chinese calendar, if you’re counting. But the festivities will run over the next 15 days until the first full moon, with ample opportunities for visitors to get in on the action at New Year (also known as Spring Festival) events across the mainland and Hong Kong. Just don’t forget your lucky red underwear.

Hong Kong Fireworks

In a land where it’s normal for husbands, wives and kids to spend months at a time apart because of work ties, Chinese New Year is a time to congregate, cut loose, and blow things up. Fireworks (and firecrackers) are a sort of mass exhale, a collective banishment of the year’s tribulations. They’re also hugely hazardous – enough to scorch a skyscraper to twisted metal in Beijing in 2009. In Hong Kong, proceedings are rather more orderly, but no less spectacular. Many thousands of revellers lined both sides of Victoria harbour to “ooh” and “ahh” over 23 minutes of fireworks launched against one of the world’s great skylines. To mark the Year of the Dragon, the ICC Building, Hong Kong’s tallest, has a 1,000-foot long golden beastie garlanded around the walls inside its observation deck.

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Bond In Motion Event Launch

MI6 reports from the Bond In Motion exhibition event launch held last week at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu…

The National Motor Museum held their launch event for the new exhibition Bond In Motion, celebrating 50 years of James Bond vehicles on the silver screen, at Beaulieu (Hampshire, England) on Sunday 15th January 2012. MI6 was in attendance alongside other luminaries from the 007 community.

Bond girls Britt Ekland (“The Man With The Golden Gun”), Madeline Smith (“Live And Let Die”, Jenny Hanley (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”) and Eunice Gayson (“Dr. No”, “From Russia With Love”) were joined by fellow 007 alumni Colin Salmon (“Tomorrow Never Dies”, “The World Is Not Enough”, “Die Another Day”), Shane Rimmer (“You Only Live Twice”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”), stunt coordinator and second unit director Vic Armstrong and SFX wizard Chris Courbold. Commander Ken Wallis also showcased the famous Little Nellie gyrocopter, which is part of the exhibition.

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New Amazon walkway to take tourists to jungle heart

Plans are under way to build a science centre and 9.6km walkway through the rainforest in the heart of the Amazon.

The $10 million site will serve as a meeting point for scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens and universities, as well as a tourist attraction, UK’s The Sunday Times reported.

It will also provide jobs for local Brazilian tribes who will take an estimated two years to construct the centre and walkway in Roraima, an isolated province in northeast Brazil.

“This will be the first scientific research centre to be built in the jungle proper,” Robert Pasley-Tyler, from the Amazon Charitable Trust, which is backing the scheme, said.

The site will be designed by Marks Barfield Architects, the firm behind the London Eye and the treetops walkway in the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

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