Presidential AirBnB no more

We all know about AirBnB’s rapid growth and spread. We’ve written about it here. Even Japan is said to be close to approving its operations – formally that is. But how about a Presidential AirBnB apartment to rent?

If this article is to be believed, folks who managed to book the apartment at Trump towers might just had been able to mingle with the secret service folks who were probably crawling all over the building. Perhaps see some important politicians too. And that is exactly what one lucky couple did when they stayed in December. But today’s post is not about the Presidential AirBnB listing. Because it is no more.

It’s about some of the quirkiest places one can book on AirBnB.

Wendy wrote about her experiences of staying in various places (here), from a castle to a windmill, from a bus to a yurt. One of our favorite though in her list of places is the ginger bread house (it’s located in California). Really? Well, not that it was made of dough of course! And how can one not consider to live in a old stone church? Hopefully it isn’t too cold because if our past castle stay was any guide, it is awfully hard to heat up a stone building… Perhaps this might set you off on a browse of properties on AirBnB like Wendy did? Because when we did our browsing, there sure looked like some mighty intriguing listings… perhaps you’d like to live like medieval nobility here?

We’ve read of how folks who have stayed in a buddhist temple, having to work in the day and fast from 6pm till the next morning! Heheh, sounds like a novel way to pick up a set of new travel experiences no?

If you are one for daring and new experiences, looking out for such stays could jolt some adrenaline in you! Will this motivate you to search now for the weirdest AirBnB to stay in for your next journey?

Is this the best job in the world?

Some reality check indeed for all those who aspire for these ‘best job in the world’ roles. Ben sure brought in a dose of realism as he shared how he went through one the first of these roles (here for the article).

We are sure many of you would have experienced this. You read a job ad. The job description is given to you. It reads to be really exciting. You start to dream about the kind of things you will be doing on the job. The interviewer? Well he (or she) did not paint a bleak picture either. And so you sign on the dotted line…

Bam!

Three months later you are wondering what were you thinking. This job ain’t what it was advertised and sold to you! So you rant. Oh how often has this occurred to you? Perhaps one time too many? Maybe you were lucky enough to find the right fit in the right employer. All the time. Lucky you.

So is being a travel ambassador of sorts really that dream job?

Well according to Ben – we think it hinges between yes and no. Granted that he traveled the length of the Great Barrier reef in almost every imaginable transport device from land to sea to air. But it was certainly no bed of roses either with the hectic schedule visiting 60 islands in 6 months while conducting a bevy of interviews, shows etc. In fact, this might sound like a rather high end corporate role. Except it might not pay as much nor come with some of the benefits one can expect from the behemoth transnationals of the world.

But that would not be the point isn’t it?

We are sure Ben will have the memories of his 6 months etched somewhere in his mind for a long time. Would you apply the next time such an opportunity comes along?

Scammed! Fake travel sites…

Some fraudsters are so blatant! In an article a few months back, a seemingly unapologetic scammer appeared to nonchalantly continue selling rooms at some of the most beautiful views on the islands of the Aegean sea. Eventhough they are not authorized nor have any dealings with that establishment!

Mykonos14.jpg
This one’s real ok. Photo’s ours by the way

Not only did they stole from the identity of the genuine sites, they also set up pay for clicks with Google! Yeah the link has been discontinued since the discovery of this fraud, but that tells you that even Google can be duped. Can you imagine the disappointment horror of the folks who turned up only to be told there wasn’t a reservation made? Not only did one suffer monetary loss, one’s holiday would also be ruined!

This brings us to the point of our post.

With the internet, individuals are empowered to start businesses online without the need for brick and mortar presence. The very same versatility employed by well meaning folks can also be exploited by criminally minded individuals and groups for fiendish ends. Think about it. In the paragraphs of the above example, not only have victims lost money and holiday time, they have “lost” personal and confidential information too,  such as credit card(s), contact details etc. The same identity theft of a business can also extend to fraud committed in your name.

Sure would not like receive a subpoena in your letterbox!

Like its cousin fake news, such fake travel sites are the scourge of the internet. Have you been affected by such sites before? How do you think this form of fraud can be prevented?

Little nuggets of fun Tokyo

So far, we have written and shared our previous journalog and handprint story of our Japan journey for 2017. But what we left out was a treasure trove of experiences in Tokyo that we thought we might want to share with you too…

You might have read our report from the field in the past (here and here), we were in Tokyo during the ‘red’ day. This is when women express their affection for their men. You might have also noted that the days were beautiful with clear skies – yep we ordered that. And make sure you place your orders early when you’re going…because there will not be a refund. LOL.

Yes there are many posts out there recommending what to do. When you are done with all of them, the following could be something to consider:

Walk along Ginza on car free Sunday

Every weekend on both days, Dori-street along Ginza will be closed to vehicular traffic between noon till 5pm. Even if you are not intent on shopping, get there to see what people get up to. Some set up deck chairs and umbrellas and sit there all afternoon!

Visit Hama Rikyu gardens

This one’s a little gem and does take a little effort to get to. However, for 300 yen you’d see a wonderful garden set in this bustling city. Yes we know there are free ones elsewhere but this one deserves special mention.

Take a bus to Gotemba

If shopping in the city is not enough for you, then the nearest outlet mall would be at Gotemba. There you can buy luxury good for a discount. Now who would’nt want that? But take note this secret place is now common knowledge, perhaps consider the one at Karuizawa instead…

Buy the delectable cakes from department store food center

Oh this is surely something you must simply be between 7:30pm till 8pm. At almost every large departmental store’s basement food center, there will be an almost frenzy atmosphere of last minute buying. The food is offered for steep discounts since it will not be kept. Be prepared for a squeeze!

No matter whether the above are something you’d consider or not, Tokyo is sure a city that may enamour you to be back and again!

Making packing your luggage an art

Packing. This is one acitvity that we all must do when going on a journey. Even if it is an overnight trip for work, one needs to pack the necessities and niceties. Don’t want to forget the toothbrush, you might not find a convenience store to buy one!

If this article is true, then we all need a ‘training’ on packing. LOL.

We all might have been there before. Struggling with bags left and right, too heavy on one side that it tips over if you don’t hold onto it… Now we can spare you the reading of the above link. Essentially the gist of the story is that if one wants to harness the most space & weight out of your luggage, sign on with the men in fatigues for a workout! What workout we hear you ask?

To pack your bags!

It’s an art, and also a discipline. When soldiers head out for missions, they carry all they need. Imagine carrying too much. Or disorganized. Worse, unevenly packed that the weight is assymetric – ie unequally distributed. This leads to haste, waste and frustration. You don’t want to be opening up all of your packs searching for that one thing, out in the field. Especially not in the dark, wet and cold. Those who backpack should know!

In one word, compartmentizaion. This is a fantastic post evaluating an example of such a product that will help you make the most of the limited space you have in your suitcase or backpack. You might just want to consider it! Who knows? You might be able to squeeze a lot more than you imagined…

Will you sign up for boot camp to learn about packing?

Bespoked travel plans

We’ve written about boutique airlines (here), and we’ve shown how the really wealthy purchase what would be considered out-of-this world experiences (here). For folks with busy lives that leave them little or no time to develop their own travel itineraries, perhaps intermediaries can still be the answer.

Now even plebians such as we can craft unique travel journeys that might erstwhile be the domain of the wealthy. We came across this website after reading Thrillist, and by no means are we in any way linked with them.

Just that this is yet evidence that travel has become mundane.

Yep. We know this is a sweeping assertion. But hear us out.

Try this as an experiment. Type “Paris” into the search field of wordpress. Do you see how many posts come up? While they all may be unique and individual experiences, does this not make one ponder about how common a trip to Paris is these days? Add to the folks on other social media outlets and the ones who don’t (ie social media hermits), there is an incredulous amount of sharings and pictures out there!

Just as we wrote about in naughty cruise journey, people are increasing looking for customized ways to experience travel. Perhaps this is the reason why we see the rise of the ‘Travelers’ – ie folks who want to ‘live’ like a local where they travel too?

What do you look for when you travel? Do you travel with a purpose?