At Global Basecamps, we talk a lot about “Cultural Japan Tours,” but what does that entail, exactly? Is Japanese culture the ancient, the samurai, the castles, the tea ceremonies, and the ryokans? Or is Japanese culture the modern, the bright billboards, the manga, the bullet trains, and the pod hotels? The answer, of course, is both. But whenever tradition and modernity can meet and become something new, that is what really excites us about culture in Japan.
Few things are more timeless in Japan than fish, and the Tsukiji Fish Market could be described as fish central in Tokyo, as well as one of the biggest fish markets in the world. The market accepts a limited number of casual observers daily, and early risers will find a bustling, vibrant, coordinated dance of fishmongers, restaurant owners and sushi chefs negotiating for the day’s best catch. For Japanese food enthusiasts, this experience is almost like getting a peek behind the curtain, or watching the foundations being laid at a construction site.
In our “24 Hours In” series, we present good ideas of what to do in the featured city over a full day. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!
Have 24 hours to spend in Singapore? Well hold onto your hats friends, because you are in for a wild ride.
Ever since the first boats were traveling back and forth through the seas of Southeast Asia, Singapore has been a hub of international travelers. Traders realized the value of this island’s real estate very quickly, but it wasn’t until the British colonized the place in the 19th century that the Singapore we know today was born. Since its independence from foreign rule in 1963, and subsequent full sovereignty in 1965, Singapore has boomed as an international trade and travel hub. One of the wealthiest, most diverse, and modern cities in the world, Singapore is an extreme contrast with most of the Asian continent.
The city’s image is that of a business-oriented, overly-clean, state-run shopping mall, but if you chip away the lacquer, you will find a vibrant, crunchy center of culture worthy of its Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and Western roots. In 1963, most new Singaporean citizens were Chinese, Indian and Malaysian immigrants brought in by the British government for hard labor. Enough time to fully mesh these cultures has not yet passed, and Singapore remains a diverse nation of immigrants. Though about 75% of its citizens are Chinese, one must remember that over a third of Singapore’s residents are not citizens at all. This is a true international city; religions, languages, and cultures come by the dozen.
Nestled between two hills on the border of Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania, Rhotia Valley Tented Camp is a special place whose mission does not end with being one of the most warm, welcoming and beautiful lodges in the country. On its website’s guestbook page, messages in four different languages sing its praises. It boasts a coveted five stars on its TripAdvisor profile with one reviewer mentioning the words “Heaven on Earth.” And even if you completely forget its special purpose, it is still one of the best safari lodges in the world.
In addition to being a world-class basecamp, the property is also home to thirty six children - mostly orphans - from around the Rhotia Valley (thirty six as of October, 2012). Profits generated from the Tented Lodge directly support the Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, bringing the local community together under a common goal of creating a better future for local children, as well as employing many residents of the village.
In our “24 Hours In” series, we would like to give travelers a good idea of what there is to do in a certain city if one has 24 hours to spend there. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!
Lima is many things to many people. Peru’s capital, the country’s largest, most dense urban area, and its main hub for international flights. If you’re thinking of hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, or taking a flight over the Nazca Lines, you absolutely will spend time in and around Lima’s international airport. (That is, until Peru opens its new international airport near Cusco.) The most likely place you will spend this time, especially if you arrive in the city on a late flight, is the Ramada hotel directly adjacent to the airport.
There are probably two things that keep many travelers from exploring further into Lima during their time here. One is the 45 minutes it takes to reach the city driving from the airport, the other is that the city is not all that visually appealing on first sight, (which is usually from a plane approaching the airport over the city’s less wealthy district.) Trust us though, Lima can be a trip highlight, alongside Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Varied cultures come together here, from Inca, to Spanish, to American and uniquely Peruvian, to create what Lonely Planet calls a “cultural phantasmagoria.” To the modern traveler, it almost seems like someone forgot to ask Peru to cleanly separate these cultures into defined eras, the result being a chaotic mixture that manages to sound, taste and feel uniquely Peruvian. Catholic processions are observed by people drinking the ubiquitous Inca Cola, world-class gourmet eateries do business in 17th century colonial buildings. In the past half century, Peru has experienced a mass migration of people from the mountainous countryside to the urban sprawl seeking opportunity, creating a density of people that cities in every developing country struggle to adapt to. The result of this influx, unfortunately, is mass poverty in most of the city. Lima’s historic district, as well as its touristic Miraflores district and residential San Isidro district, are unique for their upscale shopping and dining as well as wide, beautiful boulevards and clean parks.
Do you love beer? So do we. And surprisingly, beer is one of the many reasons we absolutely love traveling to Japan. Beer is big in Japan, and following is a quick introduction to some of our favorite craft breweries on the islands.