A great supporter of the show and Damon's dear friend, Eric Seldin doesn't just run our Asian Bureau and help us produce TV but he and his wife Mot also moonlight (or in truth daylight) as bagel makers. BKK Bagel Bakery is the only place in Bangkok where you can get that real New York experience. Here's a video from a local Thai Food show just to prove that we're not joking. The next time you're in Bangkok you MUST stop by.
I love this video. It was put together by a group of Climate Change Scientists to rebuke non-scientist media pundits who deny the existence of climate change, as well as to make the subject relevant. It is fun, very catchy and serves to remind us all that the need to protect our environment is real. We should fall for the BS of the denyers.
On March 26th Karma Trekkers will take part in a CNBC World TV special called Through the Eye of the Storm, a celebration of Japan. The program is in support of the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts of GlobalGiving, The Salvation Army and The Red Cross. This is a call to action for all to pitch in and help Japan move through the eye of the storm. The show will air nationally in the US on CNBC World Saturday 3/26: 2000 to 2100 and 2300 to 2400 and Sunday 3/27: 0900 to 1000. Sunday will also be simulcast in Canada. Then it will be offered free of charge to broadcasters around the world.
Damon encourages the Karma Trekkers community to help, please visit:
Text "JAPAN" to 50555 to give $10
Text "QUAKE" to 45678
Or call toll-free number: 1-800-SAL-ARMY
http://www.redcross.org Text "REDCROSS" to 90999 to donate $10
As every fan of Karma Trekkers knows Damon keeps a journal throughout every trip. He always has. From the first adventure in Peru to our most recent journey through Costa Rica, Damon has diligently recorded his thoughts and observations.
We get many emails from fans across the world inquiring about his writings. But since a journal is a personal memoir we felt it best not to ask for a copy. However all that changed this week when we received two notes; one from Adelaide, the other from Zurich. When we saw that fans from A to Z were curious about his writings, we asked him for some notes.
As the Karma Trekkers team travels the world they get to stay in some wonderful properties and have had some truly life changing experiences in great hotels. A brilliant property is in fact a world unto itself. So while the producers and crew have been crisscrossing the globe capturing Karma Trekkers, the team has been keeping notes on the best attributes of the hotels they call home. Here their list of the Top 5 things that EVERY great hotel needs.
But first a quick clarifiction. Producing a show like Karma Trekkers means that the team doesn't always get to stay in 5-star hotels. Many times they're in small family run guest rooms, grungy old state-owned hotels or worse. But that's a whole other post - the worst places to stay and there have been very many scary places. This blog however, is about the nice ones. It is about ammenities not concepts, so we'll keep it light and luxurious, two words not normally associated with Karma Trekkers.
Number 1: A View
Ok it sounds obvious that a show about travel and experiences should like hotels with a view but well, they do. Being isolated in a hotel is no way to see and experience a culture, so even after a long day of trekking and meeting the locals it is still nice to retreat to a room with a view. For this, nothing beats the innovative Commune By The Great Wall in China which features a view of a private unrestored portion of the Great Wall.
Number 2: Coffee Maker
It goes without saying that if you spend your days walking and talking, exploring and filming then you’re going to need a good coffee maker. And that also means great coffee and cream in the room. Kudos here to the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok which not only has excellent in room coffee but they also offer a hot water machine and a selection of teas and noodles. This is perfect for the jet-lagged traveler.
Number 3: Pub
On the road rituals matter so the team has a tradition of having a tasty local beer at the end of a long day. It is a time of relaxation that they all look forward to. The belief is that you always meet the most interesting people in Pubs. In Cuzco, Peru they found a wonderful Irish Pub right near the hotel. Technically it wasn't part of the property but from what they say it felt more like home.
Number 4: Free Internet
The winner here for the team was a French Antartic ship called L'Boreal. While part of the usual Karma Trekkers team was shooting a documentary on climate change in Antarctica they were in constant contact with the studios via WIFI. It wasn’t fast but hey they were on a ship in the Antarctic Ocean and that’s just wonderful.
Number 5: Bathrobe
There’s an unwritten law in hotel operations that says you send the maid, bellman or maintenance man to guest rooms only when the guests are exiting showers. And for this reason alone all hotel rooms should come with large and well fitting bathrobes. Trust me the maids, bellmen and maintenance guys will appreciate it as well. The best according to the team was at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town.
Karma Trekkers' crew usually prefers small, culturally-sensitive properties with authenticity and a sense of community. But when pushed they do confess to liking a few luxuries every now and then.
So what about you? What do you think we’ve missed so far on this list of what every great hotel should have?
Karma Trekkers is about unlocking the common thread in all of us. It is about finding what unites us as people, not what separates us as individuals. We all inhabit this tiny planet, all breathe the same air and all share the same resources. How many of us are there? Well this fascinating video will remind you how small this world is and how interconnected we really are.
The beauty of Eco-friendly architecture is that you are tapping into and amplifying the peace and exhilaration of nature.
Since graduating from Santa Clara University with a double major in environmental studies and anthropology I have remodeled and landscaped our family vacation home into a luxury villa which is now available to rent by night, week or month. When I first walked the hill above the Sarapiqui River I could feel how peaceful that area was. The goal of remodeling the villa was to combine luxury in the jungle with a peace beyond imagination.
I designed oversize custom furniture built for comfort, added soft décor, ceiling fans and all amenities including a fully equipped kitchen, entertainment system and Wi-Fi. 38 huge wrap-around windows were installed to minimize the need for artificial lighting and provide a 360° view. I also raised the roof of the foyer to 35 feet to create a natural convection system that draws the cool river breezes through the villa.
A balcony running the length of the back of the house was added to optimize the views of the river island and thousands of acres of rainforest reserve on the far shore. Sipping delicious Costa Rican coffee on the cushioned furniture or resting in a hammock overlooking the rainforest canopy is surreal. You find yourself sharing one continuous moment with the multicolored humming birds, toucans, and flocks of green parrots flying by at eye level.
Eco is fun. There is a 100 foot tall stand of bamboo fifty yards from the villa. The clicking sounds it makes as it sways in the wind are incredible. I decided to maximize the experience of the bamboo and the view of the river by building a 600 sq. ft. outdoor entertainment area complete with BBQ, bathrooms, tables, chairs, hammocks and a dance floor for gatherings and parties.
Planting fruit trees increases the wildlife populations and provides us with the delicious fruits we enjoy. Bananas and papaya are favorites of the humming birds, toucans and parrots, mamón chino (rambutan), shaped like a small green plum with rubbery red spines succulent and sweet, draws in hundreds of golden tailed oropendolas.
Plant bougainvillea, hibiscus, bird of paradise and dozens of other varieties of native heliconias with intense colors and shapes you may never have seen before. Blue morphos and a variety of species of butterflies with brilliant orange, red and green flutter throughout the property.
10 acres on the river bank and island are a rainforest reserve.
All of the artisans, landscapers and staff are from our local community. They have become friends who share in the satisfaction of creating the first and only luxury villa in Sarapiqui.
Helping the habitat helps ourselves
Costa Rica is fast becoming the first country to reach carbon neutrality.
David Lando Ramírez
In this third installment of an on-going series, Dylan Brown looks at the economic benefit of Eco Tourism in Costa Rica
On the website of the Tirimbina Research Center, it states that, “The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as follows: responsible travel to nature areas in a manner which preserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local population.” This means that those who carry out and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following principles:
-Encourage environmental/cultural knowledge and respect.
-Provide positive experiences for visitors as well as hosts.
-Provide direct financial benefits for conservation
-Provide economic benefits to the local population
-Support international human rights and labor agreements.
On the website of the Fund for Costa Rica, it states that, “In Costa Rica, the tourism industry is a pillar of the nation’s economy. Tourism generates more foreign exchange for the Costa Rican economy than any other economic activity including coffee, pineapple, and even banana exports. In 2005, tourism generated over $1.5 billion in foreign exchange, and accounted for 8% of Costa Rica’s GDP. Thus, a sustainable way to conserve biodiversity in Costa Rica is for the country’s successful ecotourism industry to help pay for it. The Fund for Costa Rica is working to promote investment by the tourism industry in programs to improve the environment and to conserve biodiversity.”
The article Giants Worth Millions by Alejandro Balaguer demonstrates how profitable ecotourism and conservation can be. Balaguer writes that whale watching businesses exist all over the world these days; about nine million people have gone on whale watching trips, putting more than a billion dollars into the world economy every year. Costa Rica has also taken in millions of dollars from whale watching, proving that conservation can be a good business. Many countries such as Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have set an example and created “whale sanctuaries,” so now countries can protect a resource and obtain benefits without killing the whales.
Balaguer, in the article, then goes on a whale watching trip with Kim Beddall, who has spent several decades working with whales and is one of the pioneers of the whale watching business. Balaguer states that “As we begin our journey and the boat bobs up and down in the waves, Kim gives us a class in sustainable development.” Kim states that, “Here in Samana, Dominican Republic, no one was observing whales in 1985. Today we might take 45,000 passengers out in a period of 65 days. This has a very significant economic impact on the area. It is a valuable resource because it provides important income for the community in hotels, car rentals, transportation, and food. Clearly, environmentally friendly businesses can bring both direct and indirect benefits. The whales offer a profitable show that could take hundreds of Latin American communities out of poverty.”
Like Beddal, many biologists and operators of tourism businesses believe that one way of keeping other countries from hunting whales is to have regulated and responsible observation in the region. But nature lovers aren’t the only ones who disagree with whale hunting. The Buenos Aires group (made up of thirteen Latin American countries including Costa Rica) sees whale watching tourism as a way of delivering economic development to coastal communities. In their last declaration they urged promotion of this activity throughout the oceans of the region as a way of opposing efforts to bring back commercial whale hunting. “The position of Latin American and Caribbean countries in general has been very positive in terms of conservation and of opposition to whale hunting. The economy is always going to determine what happens, so if you want to protect the whales, the best thing to do is to observe them and give the local communities an economic reason to protect the marine mammal. Whale watching is an economic alternative to whale hunting” Beddall concludes.