Lost in Translation in Hangzhou – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Lost in Translation in Hangzhou

“Welcome to the back!” proclaimed an English sign at the front door of a small Chinese restaurant in Hangzhou, a city in China, known for its West Lake. It was here where Marco Polo once sailed, mesmerized by its stunning beauty and declared the place in ancient times as “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Six exhausted backpackers from four countries and I, who all met in a hostel, froze for a moment in silence, as if trying to decipher one of China’s ancient, decrepit signboard. We exchanged quick glances, hoping one had a clue to share. We were pretty sure we were standing at the entrance, not the back, of the restaurant. Almost in unison, we quickly realized what the sign meant was, “Welcome back.” It’s one of those rampant translations gone wrong in Chinglish, a blend of Chinese and English.

With hunger excruciatingly creeping into our stomachs, we gave up looking for another restaurant. We’d been walking all day and we were so hungry we could eat a barrel of dumplings sans chopsticks.

Two ladies behind the reception desk smiled when we came in. One disappeared quickly to call someone from the kitchen. When we were all seated, the other waitress came with a kettle of tea and a vacuum flask of hot water. She carefully poured the hot water and tea alternately with impeccable skill. When she was done, she said something in Chinese and our jaws dropped. We understood not a single word. She looked at each one of our tired faces, hoping a single one of us could make sense of what she just said. Meeting our uncomprehending looks, she smiled sheepishly and left embarrassed.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

China Gay Travel Resources

 

Udon Thani’s Red Lotus Sea – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Red Lotus Sea - Once Upon a Journey

YES! Thailand still has hidden gems only a few (western) tourists know about. Talay Bua Daeng – or Red Lotus Sea – in Northeast Thailand is one of those gems and it’s definitely one for the bucket list. CNN named it one of the world strangest lakes in 2014 and well, it’s not a lake you see every day – for sure.

Imagine a lake with thousands of pink flowers, spreading as far as the eye can see!

Getting on the lake by boat is one of the most romantic experiences we’ve ever done. And Valentine’s is actually the perfect time to visit: the red lotuses only bloom a couple of months each year. But that makes the experience the more special. It is quite off the famous routes through Thailand though, but no worries: we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting this magical pink lake.

The season for the pink flowers to bloom is from December to the end of February, just after the rainy season. When you visit, make sure to go early in the morning. From sunrise to noon you can see the water lilies opened up: they open when they see the first morning light and close when the midday heat comes.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

 

Getting From Beruit Airport to City Center – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , November 14th, 2018

Beruit Airport, Lebanon - The Nomadic Boys

Lebanon’s main international airport is the “Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport” (BEY), located around 9 km (5.6 miles) south from downtown Beirut.

It takes around 15 minutes by taxi to get from Beirut airport to the city centre. This is currently the main way to reach downtown Beirut from the airport as there is no public transport serving the airport.

We’ve set out below all the options available, including for late arrivals and other travel tips based on our personal experience travelling in Lebanon.

Public Taxi and Official Airport Taxi

Taxi is the main way to get from Beirut airport to the city centre and should cost no more than $20 (30,000 Lebanese pounds). There is always an abundance of public taxi drivers waiting outside the Arrivals Hall at all hours of the day. However, they do not use meters and will try to overcharge you the standard $20 rate.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Lebanon Gay Travel Resources

 

RECIPE: Italian Cassata Cake – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , November 11th, 2018

Italian Cassata Cake - The Nomadic Boys

Cassata Siciliana is a delicious sponge cake, which originated from the island of Sicily in Italy. It is one of our favourite Italian desserts and so easy to make.

A cassata is a round sponge cake, which is moistened with fruit juices or liqueur, then layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit. Like the Uruguayan chaja, a cassata is not too complicated to make, though if you’re rushed for time, you can of course order it via an online cake delivery. For us, the best is always baked at home, especially recipes like Jamie’s rolled cassata or by the BBC.

Our recipe for Sicilian cassata serves around 15 people. Preparation time should take no more than 30 minutes and total baking time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Sicily Gay Travel Resources

 

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 11th, 2018

In 2014 (yes, I know, it’s been 4 years already), the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was the world’s most-visited tourist attraction, according to Travel+Leisure. If you look at the Instagram hashtags of this marketplace, you’ll be dazzled by the colors of what this well-known tourist destination would offer to your four senses.

On the day I was there, the scene didn’t disappoint me. I was enamored not just by its history, sights, and colors but also how the Turkish vendors won’t bother you just by passing through their shops. Unlike other busy markeplaces I’ve been to in many countries (like China, Hongkong, Vietnam, and Thailand), the sellers at Grand Bazaar are not the pushy kinds. They’d leave you alone once you politely say, “I’m just window shopping.”

I was there in the early morning, so the crowd was still thin, and I felt like I was the only (or most) obvious tourist going around.

The Grand Bazaar is a 15th-century shopping mall that makes your shopping experience worthwhile. However, in the frenzy of buying all good things, do not forget to revere the character of the architecture and historical vibes sprouting from the walls.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Turkey Gay Travel Resources

 

Sedlec Ossuary: The Church of 40,000 Bones – Keep Calm and Wander

Author: , November 9th, 2018

Sedlec Ossuary - Keep Calm and Wander

I’m gonna bring you with me to Sedlec Ossuary, a church with 40,000 human bones inside! It’s chilling, eh? Don’t worry – there’s nothing to be scared of. Hopefully, after seeing all these, you’d still be able to sleep well, without nightmares. Guess what; I was fine. I was able to sleep without monsters and ghosts in my dreams.

I’ve got to be honest though – I found it weird the moment I stepped inside. I was fascinated and overwhelmed by all the skulls and bones surrounding me like they’re trying to petrify me. I had goosebumps the entire time I was there, but I was not in a hurry to get out of that holy place; in fact, I was the last person in our tour group who went back to our bus.

How to get to Sedlec Ossuary. It’s an hour drive by car from Prague – and the best way to get there is by joining a half day tour to Kutna Hora. Every hotel and hostel in Prague advertise this tour, and they can also book this for you. Now, you might be wondering why on earth Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with 40,000 bones! It actually has a fascinating story.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Czech Republic Gay Travel Resources

 

Gay Lebanon: Safe for Gay Travelers? – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , November 9th, 2018

Gay Lebanon

Lebanon is one of the most liberal, progressive and gay friendly countries in the Arab world.

However, this is by Arabic standards. In other words, being gay in Lebanon won’t get you arrested with risk of death as it would in say, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran, and neither is it as restrictive as in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. However, being openly gay in Lebanon is a criminal offence, so you definitely need to be cautious.

We visited gay Lebanon as a gay couple to celebrate Stefan’s birthday. We absolutely loved the country, the people, the food and were so impressed to discover a thriving LGBTQ community, as well as a handful of really fun gay bars and clubs despite the anti-gay laws. Overall, travelling as a gay couple in Lebanon, we found it to be quite safe, but as long as you abide by various safety precautions.

Gay Rights in Lebanon

On the face of it, gay life in Lebanon is hard because homosexuality is a criminal offence. On the positive, there is a growing movement to decriminalise homosexuality in Lebanon on a political and legal level.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Gay Lebanon Travel Resources

 

The Best Sri Lanka Safari – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , November 8th, 2018

Sri Lanka Safari - The Nomadic Boys

When we visited Sri Lanka, we did a safari at both Yala and Udawalawe, which are the most popular national parks in the country. The reason why we decided to explore both parks is because we just couldn’t choose between one or the other. Online research led us to believe that Yala is the best park for a safari in Sri Lanka, especially for spotting leopards. However, we also found a few forums where people raved about their experiences at Udawalawe, which included spotting leopards.

Therefore, based on our experiences visiting both parks, we’ve put together our comparison of Yala and Udawalawe National Parks side by side, to answer a simple question: which is the best safari in Sri Lanka?

And the answer might surprise you!

Yala vs. Udawalawe: a Few Facts!

Yala National Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka and also one of the biggest in terms of size. It was the first national park created in Sri Lanka in 1938 along with Wilpattu. It covers an area of 979 square km (378 square miles) and is divided in 5 blocks. Only blocks 1 and 5 are open to tourists, with number 1 being the most popular for sightings (and the most crowded by jeeps). The other blocks cannot be accessed by the public because they are used for research and documentaries.

Udawalawe National Park on the other hand is smaller, a third of the size of Yala, covering 308 square km (119 square miles). Nonetheless, given its smaller size, Udawalawe has a greater density of animal to size ratio, particularly with Sri Lankan elephants. Being a less popular safari destination than Udawalawe, it is also quieter, which makes it a more enjoyable safari experience in our opinion.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at the Nomadic Boys

Sri Lanka Gay Travel Resources

 

48 Hours in Gay Stockholm – Globetrotter Guys

Author: , November 7th, 2018

48 Hours in Gay Stockholm - Globetrotter Guys

Stockholm is a city of islands (14 to be exact!). It’s a city where traditional gabled buildings line cobble-stoned streets. It’s a city of stunning green landscapes, incredible architecture, gastronomy, cultural landmarks and of course, the ABBA museum.

Stockholm prides itself as being known as the ‘Open City’. No matter who you are, your religion, gender, race, sexuality, whether you are looking for adventure, history or luxury, Stockholm is for you.

Stockholm was not on our original travel plan, and we didn’t know what to expect. All we really knew was that it was the capital of Sweden, and being located in Northern Europe we would be due some very cold weather – especially as we were visiting Stockholm in winter! However, after spending a very busy 48 hours in Stockholm exploring this Scandinavian capital, we were completely sold and already planning a return trip in Summer!

We have pieced together a travel guide below which you can use to fill your time in Stockholm. We have also provided practical tips such as how to get around, how to get there, where to eat and whether or not you should bring cash.

How to get to Gay Stockholm

Stockholm has 4 airports receiving international flights, however the main airport used by most of the major airline carriers is Stockholm Arlanda Airport. It’s more than likely that this is where you will both arrive and depart from.

Bromma Airport is a little closer to the centre, but is not served anywhere near as frequently by international flights. Whilst some international flights do arrive into Skavsta Airport and Västerås Airport, these are few and far between, and most flights arriving or departing from here are domestic.

See our practical tips on how to get to and from Stockholm airports to the city centre at the end of this article.

By Sion & Ben – Full Story at The Globetrotter Guys

Sweden Gay Travel Resources

 

Gay Beruit – The Nomadic Boys

Author: , November 7th, 2018

Gay Beruit - The Nomadic Boys

Lebanon is one of the most liberal, progressive and gay friendly places in the Arab world. This is saying a lot for a country where homosexuality is still a crime. However, by comparison to its Arab neighbours, Beirut has the best (albeit quite underground) gay scene, including one of the largest gay clubs in the Middle East called POSH.

We visited gay Beirut from Cyprus to celebrate Stefan’s birthday over a long weekend and absolutely loved the food, the people and of course the many gay parties. This is our gay guide to Beirut featuring the best gay bars and clubs, events, gay friendly hotels and best things to do.

A word of warning to gay travellers to Lebanon, although the country is more progressive than places like Iran, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it is still a largely Islamic influenced country where homosexuality remains illegal. Therefore, be careful with public displays of affection and avoid posting anything online that is LGBTQ related before/during your trip to prevent any problems at the airport immigration. Also, avoid having an Israeli stamp in your passport as Lebanon has an outright ban on anything related to Israel/Israelis. Be sure to check out our article about gay life in Lebanon for more practical safety tips.

Gay bars in Beirut

As homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon, places are careful not to advertise themselves as being openly “gay bars“, preferring “gay friendly” instead, in order to prevent having any problems with the police. These are the main gay friendly bars in Beirut that are thriving despite the anti-gay laws:

Bardo: this is one of the oldest and famous gay bars of Beirut. It is popular with twinks (and their fans) especially at the “Powerpuff Queens” party every Thursday. Generally it doesn’t get busy until after 11pm. But if you come before, it’s a lot quieter, which makes it great for a few cocktails, especially during the week when they have 2 for 1 happy hour offers. Bardo is open every day until 2am and is located in downtown Beirut on Mexico Street, just off Hamra Street.

By Stefan Arestis – Full Story at The Nomadic Boys

Gay Beruit Travel Resources