Sin City Shanghai

Sin City Shanghai | For a short time in the beginning of the 20th century Shanghai carried the nickname “Paris of the East”. Shanghai was the island of wickedness on the Asian continent. You could get drugs on hotel service and amazingly cheap and good sex. Lead by the British and French, Shanghai catered to every dangerous obsession imaginable. In the 1920s and 1930s, this exotic city lured thousands of adventurers, gamblers, drug addicts and high-flyers to its streets teeming with prostitutes and opium … In 2005 the Canadian TV channel CBC broadcasted a valuable historic documentary about the sin city Shanghai. First Broadcast : 15 Feb. 2005

When British consul George Balfour envisaged the future of a British-only settlement at the location of today’s Shanghai he stood on a piece of marshland by the Huangpu River. That was in 1843. No British colonialist could have imagined the prosperous modern metropolis to come. A settlement was built to house an influx of refugees from the Chinese hinterland. At this point Shanghai was just a rudimentary division of land blocks driven by pragmatism. East-west roads were laid towards the Huangpu River bank, which has lasted to this day as the enduring urban feature of Shanghai: the Bund.

Sin City Shanghai
Sin City Shanghai, a haven in times of conflict.

The first settlers slept rough, just hoping to make some quick bucks in Shanghai. Nobody did intend to stay put for long. The Bund river frontage with easy waterways turned out to be a convenient and strategic location for the British. The French took note of this advantage. In 1856 they secured a segment between the old Shanghai town and the British Bund as the French Bund, though not as grand. Shanghai became a haven in times of conflict. You find a very interesting read about the history of Shanghai at

Sin City Shanghai | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Versova Beach Mumbai

Versova Beach Mumbai | For decades Versova Beach in Mumbai (Bombay) was just an ugly symbol of beach pollution at its worst. Disaster tourists from all over the world came here to witness new records of extreme: One million tons of rubbish. All they could see was waves of plastic containers, bottles, milk packs, cement bags, discarded items of clothing, cigarette butts, snakes of rope, straws, human feces; all topped with an awful smell.

versova beach mumbai cleanup
Versova Beach, Mumbai (India). A shame of mankind, but there was meant to be an end to this mess …

Western societies have routine workflows in place when it comes to a clean decent beach. It does not mean that there is no litter found at the coastlines of Mallorca or the Baltic Sea. Tides bring in rubbish even to the remotest areas far from any direct human contact. But if there is no regular cleaning service in place, the continuous growth in the amount of solid waste thrown away combined with a very slow rate of degradation of most items, are leading to a gradual increase in marine litter at any beach. Mumbai does not have such regular cleaning service. Instead the employees of the city fight with civic apathy, and loose. Mumbai’s civic body can easily replicate garbage collection models implemented in countries like Japan or Germany, but it doesn’t.

In October 2015 United Nations patron Lewis Pugh and lawyer Afroz Shah have kickstarted the biggest beach cleanup in the history of mankind. Almost one year later the fruits of there efforts can be seen. A stunning transformation of Versova Beach is taking place. Since the group started, they have cleared up approx. 1,800 tonnes of waste. Every day has been impactful. It’s quite amazing that a few people can make such a big difference. Every day volunteers start to trickle in from 10am, putting on gloves to collect rubbish. Older generations of local fishermen already compare todays Versova Beach with the one they used to know 30 years ago. At some point the work might be done here. But there are 18 more heavily polluted Mumbai beaches drowning in trash …

versova beach mumbai
Versova Beach Mumbai 2016. Photo by Utcursch – CC BY-SA 3.0

This update we recently found at Hindustan Times: Mumbai’s Versova beach clean-up suspended after 109 weeks, as BMC fails to clear collected waste, City-based lawyer Afroz Shah said 50 truckloads of trash have not been removed since monsoon -> Hindustan Times

Versova Beach Mumbai. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Weird Places: Japan

Weird Places: Japan | Our weird place no. 3 is the entire country of Japan. For the western mindset Japan can be quite weird. Japanese people eat raw fish in the morning. They celebrate the phallus. They nap on cockroach cushions. They pretend to sleep at work and they buy snake wine or shrimp ice cream for desert … Here is a list of things about Japan that baffle foreigners.

Slurping is a good thing. Noodles, especially buckwheat noodles (called “Soba”), need to be slurped loudly when eaten. That indicates the food is delicious, which is considered to be a compliment to the chef. Such behavior would insult any other chef outside Japan.

The smallest hotel room in the world to sleep in you find in Japan. A so-called capsule hotel is originated in Osaka. It features a set of extremely small capsules designed for an overnight stay. To a western tourist this is simply torture. Some German travelers checked it out and wrote about it ->

Inemuri = Napping during work hours. In Europe, if an employee is falling asleep in the office, this will most likely earn him a one-way ticket to the exit door. Japanese business culture is different. It recognizes the hard working employee. Means: you work so hard that you are forced to take a nap – an “inemuri” (napping on the job). But rules do apply! One must remain upright. It is said that some people even fake “inemuri”, to make the boss believe they are working hard. Welcome to Japan.

This 4-minute video clip we found on Vimeo. It brings you is a short but cool collection of moments and memories of a railway journey through Japan. The makers experienced a culture that balances its rich tradition with a futuristic present. Filmed by Vincent Urban, Alex Schiller and Alex Tank.

weird places japan
What the front door? Japan is weird …

What the front door? Japan is weird ...
Too much snake wine or too much raw fish …

weird places japan
Weird places Japan

weird places japan
Diet Water … Yep! That will work out just fine if you really believe in it.

weird places japan
Weird places Japan.

weird places japan
You thought you’ve seen it all. But then came phallus ice cream.

Diet Water ... Yep! That will work out just fine.
Jeans fashion in Japan.

Book a hotel in Japan
Never mind its weirdness! Book a hotel in Japan.

Weird Places Japan. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Top 10 Islands in the World: Seychelles

Top 10 Islands in the World: Seychelles | Pristine and picture-perfect, the Seychelles are really worth traveling for. Some 1000 km east of Kenya, this relatively unspoiled archipelago of just 115 coral and granite islands feature tropical jungles, beautiful coral reefs and palm-lined powdery white sandy beaches. Some are flanked by giant dark granite boulders. Almost half the total land area of the Seychelles is protected, and many of the islands lie within fish-rich marine sanctuaries with excellent diving and snorkeling. The Seychelles feature some of the planet’s richest fishing grounds, making this a top destination for anglers. Add some spicy Créole cuisine into the mix as well as plush tourist resorts and it’s easy to understand the Seychelles’ allure.

There are 45 granite-based islands known as “Granitic Seychelles”. Pictures from these granite islands become iconic in the internet and kind of represent the Seychelles among tourists. Example:

Top 10 Islands World Seychelles
Top 10 Islands in the World: Seychelles. Stereotype Granite Seychelles. Photo: wikipedia (cc)

Environmental legislation is very strict. Every tourism project must undergo an environmental review and a lengthy process of consultations with the public and conservationists. Seychelles is the world leader in sustainable tourism. The end result of this sustainable development is an intact and stable nature, which only attracts financially strong tourists. Short-term mass tourism is not appreciated.
Since 1993 a law guarantees the citizens the right to a clean environment and at the same time obliges them to protect this environment. The country holds a record for the highest percentage of land under natural conservation—nearly 50% of the total land area.

Now this might sound like paradise too: Through harmonious socioeconomic policies and developments over the years, today Seychelles is described as a fusion of peoples and cultures. Numerous Seychellois are considered multiracial: blending from African, Asian and European descent to create a modern creole culture. Evidence of this harmonious blend is also revealed in Seychellois food, incorporating various aspects of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisine.

Top 10 Islands World Seychelles Jerzy Strzelecki wikipedia
Seychelles: sailfish catch, Photo by Jerzy Strzelecki (wikipedia)

Top 10 Islands World Seychelles
Seychelles: typical beach at Mahe Island

Seychelles: Aldabra turtle
Seychelles: Aldabra turtle

Where to stay in Seychelles?

There are only hotels. Spending $1,000 per night for a room is no problem. Plenty of 5-star-hotels are eager to help you. On the other end of the scale only one resort gives you shelter at $100 per night: the Reef Holiday Apartments at Anse aux Pins. Heavy favorites among tourists: Sunset Bay Apartment in Glacis (completely booked until late 2018), Chateau Elysium in Beau Vallon ($477 per night), the H Resort at Bel Ombre Road, Beau Vallon ($800 per night).

Top 10 Islands World Seychelles Book a hotel in Seychelles
Book a hotel in Seychelles

Top 10 Islands World Seychelles. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Top 10 Islands in the World: Palawan

Top 10 Islands in the World: Palawan, Philippines | It is the Philippine’s answer to paradise – simply stunning and not yet overwhelmed by tourists. But the province of Palawan is also known for kidnappings and even terror threats. And topping all that scary stuff, Nickelodeon plans to build a theme park in Coron. Such mass tourist attraction may destroy the health and beauty of a unique marine ecosystem.

Palawan province is composed of the long and narrow Palawan Island, plus a number of smaller islands surrounding it, totaling roughly 1,780 islands. They stretch southwest towards Borneo (Malaysia) with limestone peaks rising from a jewel-like sea so clear, that you can almost see the expressions on the fish from above the surface. Slivers of gleaming white sand fringed with rustling palms rim many of these jungle-clad islands, while under the water, coral reefs flourish with an impressive diversity of tropical fish, offering some of the best diving in the world. Other attractions include unique wildlife, emerald lakes, and quaint fishing villages. Coron is home to plush resorts, and El Nido drips with natural beauty and is one of the most alluring islands in the chain. From here, you can island hop around the spectacular Bacuit archipelago. One of Palawan’s top attractions is the UNESCO-World Heritage-listed Puerto Princesa Subterranean River NP, an impressive limestone cave system with a long underground river.

Top 10 Islands World Palawan Puerto Princesa Subterranean River
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, Source: wikipedia CC

In 2010, a group of environmentalists and geologists discovered that the underground river has a second floor, which means that there are small waterfalls inside the cave. They also found a cave dome measuring 300 m (980 ft) above the underground river, rock formations, large bats, a deep water hole in the river, more river channels, and another deep cave, as well as marine creatures and more. But deeper areas of the underground river are almost impossible to explore due to oxygen deprivation.

Top 10 Islands World Palawan Coron Island
Top 10 Islands World Palawan: Coron Island

Top 10 Islands World Palawan
Book a Hotel on on of the Palawan Islands

Top 10 Islands World Palawan. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.