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Official To Chinese Tourists: 'Be Quiet, Don't Spit'

Official To Chinese Tourists: 'Be Quiet, Don't Spit' May 18th, 2013 at 1:00PM: Kim Traynor A senior official in China has urged Chinese tourists to improve their behavior, the South China Morning Post reports. Vice-Premier Wang Yang said the "breeding" of some Chinese tourists leaves something to be desired and there are problems with them, "talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and willfully carving characters on items in scenic zones." Mr. Yang is...

Maoist Rebel Leader Opens 'Guerrilla Trail' In Nepal

Maoist Rebel Leader Opens 'Guerrilla Trail' In Nepal Oct 4th, 2012 at 1:00PM: A former Maoist guerrilla leader in Nepal has started a new trail through the heart of what used to be rebel territory, the Indian Express reports. Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda created the trail to bring much-needed money to a poor region of Nepal that rarely sees tourists. Prachanda was the head of the guerrilla group that fought a bloody civil war in Nepal...

Dive Communist plane off the coast of Bulgaria

Dive Communist plane off the coast of Bulgaria May 27th, 2011 at 11:00AM: Fish are pretty and shipwrecks are cool to explore, but how would you like to dive a Communist airplane in the Black Sea? A 1971 Soviet-made Tupolev-154 was submerged this week off the coast of Bulgaria to create an artificial reef for SCUBA divers. Orlin Tsanev, chairman of Black Sea Dive Odesos association, told Reuters: "The submerging of the plane aims to make it an attraction and (a place)...

Candid look inside North Korea

Mar 18th, 2011 at 2:30PM: In this video, Steve Gong goes into a North Korea hair salon and gets his hair cut "Pyongyang style." Like the city it is named for, Pyongyang style is a largely unchanged fashion. This metropolis on the banks of the Taedong river appears much as it did when the U.S.S.R. was its principal ally many years ago. The ghost of communist Russia hovers over Pyongyang like a specter, and in this...

Weekending: Varna, Bulgaria

Weekending: Varna, Bulgaria Dec 8th, 2010 at 11:30AM: Back in September, the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan offered locals and expats like me an excuse to go on holiday while our American friends were celebrating the end of summer and Labor Day. With more time to explore than a typical Weekending trip, I checked out Turkey's most western neighbor, Bulgaria, and fell in love with modern and medieval captials Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo. The...

Weekending: Sofia

Weekending: Sofia Oct 5th, 2010 at 2:30PM: Since moving to Istanbul, I've gotten the chance to travel to a lot of interesting destinations, from Beirut to Bosnia, that are much easier and cheaper to access from Turkey than America. For my first long (more than a weekend) trip, I went to Bulgaria for a week over US Labor Day and Turkish bayram (end of Ramadan holidays). Over the week, I traveled from the capital city Sofia to medieval...

Five facts about the North Korean Arirang festival

Five facts about the North Korean Arirang festival Aug 12th, 2010 at 8:00AM: North Korea's Arirang festival is in motion, and people from all over the world are traveling to the isolated communist country to watch what truly is an impressive undertaking. But, what do we really know about it? So much about North Korea is shrouded in mystery, making it hard to really learn much about what goes on there. Instead of relying on the accounts of tourists, the western media or...

China closes Tibet once again

China closes Tibet once again Sep 25th, 2009 at 8:00AM: China has once again closed off the borders of Tibet to foreign travelers ahead of the October 1st holiday celebrating 60 years of Communist rule. According to this story from the Associated Press, the travel ban went into effect on Tuesday and is expected to last at least until the 8th October and is the result of fears of protests and demonstrations in the Himalayan state. The article says that...

June 4 trial date for American journalists in North Korea

May 14th, 2009 at 8:30AM: Laura Ling and Euna Lee, both reporters for Current TV, will be tried in a North Korean court on June 4, 2009 for entering the country illegally and planning "hostile acts." Ling and Lee were picked up along North Korea's border with China on March 17, 2009 Anybody want to guess how this one will end? According to reports by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which is controlled by the...

Outsiders not welcome at Chinese spy museum

Outsiders not welcome at Chinese spy museum May 2nd, 2009 at 9:00AM: Foreigners keep out! Committed to preserving national secrets, the new Jiangsu National Security Education Museum in Nanjing is only open to Chinese citizens. So, if you want to see guns embedded in lipstick, maps hidden in decks of cards and other accoutrements of the spy trade (or, "tradecraft," as spies over here call it), you have to have the right passport. Most of the items on display are...

Riga, Latvia: the best place you've never been

Riga, Latvia: the best place you've never been Mar 10th, 2009 at 3:00PM: A lot has changed since the Cold War ended. If this is news to you, please stop reading immediately. You don't want to drink water from a fire hose. But, if you are in fact aware that the Berlin Wall fell (and that David Hasselhoff provided the soundtrack, to the joy of Germans and the chagrin of Americans), then keep going. You're about to find out why you need to get out to Riga, Latvia. The...

Travel read: Around the Bloc

Travel read: Around the Bloc Dec 21st, 2008 at 11:00AM: I stumbled upon Stephanie Elizondo Griest's writing on a stopover in New York City. She was reading from her third and most recent travel-related book, Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines, at Book Culture near Columbia University. I was immediately struck by her engaging use of language and her savvy presence. It's a pleasant sight to behold a young, female traveler and writer who is...

Where did the commies go?

Where did the commies go? Sep 23rd, 2008 at 10:00AM: With September came the near fall of another Communitst leader, as Kim Jong Il, dictator over North Korea vanished from the limelight, joining his Cuban counterpart Fidel Castro in the murky depths of unknown, fiercely hidden ailments. The realist in me knows that both leaders are gravely ill. Kim Jong Il is said to have suffered a stroke early this month and hasn't since been seen in public --...

Beijing forces vehicle traffic to halve, subways choke

Beijing forces vehicle traffic to halve, subways choke Jul 22nd, 2008 at 11:00AM: The great thing about running a communist state is that you can dream up and enforce any crazy rule you want -- and the people can't do anything about it. China, scrambling to clean up its image as the Olympics draw closer, has been making changes to the landscape left and right -- beautifying Beijing, planting flowers and cleaning up the streets. This week, in an effort to clean up the...

Photo of the Day (5/26/08)

Photo of the Day (5/26/08) May 26th, 2008 at 4:30PM: Since I am still on my Russian kick this week, I couldn't resist picking this photo from St. Petersburg by Radim. I just saw this sight in St. Petersburg this weekend. Right outside the Alexander Nevsky Monastery are two major cemeteries. One of them houses graves of prominent Russian artists such as Dostoevsky or Rimsky-Korsakov. The other cemetery, buried in unkept grass and bushes houses...

Blogging fearlessly from Havana. How?!

Blogging fearlessly from Havana. How?! May 19th, 2008 at 3:30PM: One of my favorite country blogs of all time is that of Yoani Sanchez, the 32 year old blogging secretly from Havana. To write on her blog, she has to pretend to be a tourist and go to a hotel to access the Internet. Of the 11 million people who live on the island, only about 200,000 have open access to the web -- they are mainly government employees, researchers and academics, to whom the...

Infiltrating North Korea Part 11: North Korean Style Advertising

Infiltrating North Korea Part 11: North Korean Style Advertising Dec 16th, 2007 at 10:00AM: Billboards are a ubiquitous presence in most any major city. Depending on local ordnances, they may fill the entire side of a building, dominate cityscapes, or simply appear on the roadside in a variety of shapes and sizes. The city of Pyongyang is no exception. The only difference is that there is only one product being advertised here: communism. Propaganda is the evil step cousin of...

Infiltrating North Korea Part 4: The architecture of Pyongyang

Infiltrating North Korea Part 4: The architecture of Pyongyang Dec 9th, 2007 at 10:00AM: Pyongyang, for the most part, is surprisingly tasteful and impressive without being too ostentatious and grandiose. This is because Kim Il Sung, like all megalomaniacs, built his capital to showcase the power and sophistication of his regime and to serve as a shining example of Socialism's prowess. Nonetheless, I had still expected a horribly dilapidated city much like the carcass of so many...

A Canadian in Beijing: 798 Arts District Accepts the Cultural Baton

A Canadian in Beijing: 798 Arts District Accepts the Cultural Baton Jun 8th, 2007 at 7:00PM: The arts district of Beijing is called the "798" district. That's its address, to be precise. It's technically in "Da Shan Zi ???" (which is the area of the city) and this complex used to be a series of factories that have now all been converted to galleries and cafes. It's quite beautiful and peaceful there and I have been meaning to tell you about it for a while. My friend and I took the bus...

May Day in North Korea

May Day in North Korea Mar 13th, 2007 at 9:23AM: Czech travel agencies seem to have a new hit on their hands: celebration of May Day in Pyongyang, North Korea. Perhaps the last country on the planet where pompous celebrations of the communist regime are still going strong, North Korea is the hip place to go. Apparently there are enough people either A) nostalgic enough for the spectacle of communist kitsch which seized in the Czech Republic...

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