Brits behaving badly abroad

brits behaving badly

Today the Foreign Office released British Behaviour Abroad 2011, with detailed figures on British nationals in trouble overseas (read: Brits behaving badly abroad). The period surveyed: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011.

There are lots of interesting tidbits in the survey. British nationals request consular assistance in greatest numbers in Spain and the United States, though since both of these countries are very popular destinations for people from the UK, this is perhaps not all that surprising.

The more interesting chart in the report is of which countries see the highest numbers of requests for consular assistance per visitor and resident abroad. The top five, in descending order: The Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Cyprus, and India. British nationals abroad are most likely to be arrested in Thailand, followed by the United States.

Another interesting detail: The Foreign Office claims that 43 percent of the 18-24 set know someone who has taken illegal drugs while abroad. Aggregate drug arrests are highest for British nationals abroad in Spain (171), the United States (100), Jamaica (63), Norway (55), and Thailand (51).

The good news is that the number of British nationals arrested is down, 10 percent overall and 20 percent for drug-related offenses.

The report also tabulates deaths, hospitalizations, rapes, and sexual assaults abroad. Each of these categories saw slight movement up or down in 2010-2011, with deaths, hospitalizations, and sexual assaults slightly up and rapes down.

[Image: Flickr | La Citta Vita]

Philippines terrorist threat prompts travel warning

Philippines terrorist threatWhen the U.S. Department of State issues a travel warning related to terrorism its serious business. Concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world, its a reminder that terrorism can occur anywhere.

“Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death” the department of state said in the warning.

Indeed, the Philippines have a long history of terrorist activities with hundreds killed in bombings and other attacks by Islamic extremists. The Philippines has also been called the “Kidnapping Capital of Asia”, with kidnap-for-ransom establishing itself as a popular and lucrative business for the Philippine underworld. But the latest focus on terrorism in the Philippines may stem from a fear of Islamist militant groups that may be plotting attacks to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden last month in Pakistan.

That should be plenty of reasons for caution when thinking of travel to the Philippines. Tourism officials in the Philippines, unlike their Mexican counterparts, have been silent so far but law enforcement officials downplay the US travel warning.”I am not saying there is no immediate threat. [But] there is no specific report of terrorist threats in the country,” Philippine National Police Director General Raul M. Bacalzo told Inquirer News.

This might be one to watch.

For more detailed information on general crime and security issues in the Philippines, see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for the Philippines.

You may also obtain information on security by calling the State Department at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays)

Flickr photo by Maks Karochkin

Travel television Q & A: Carmen Roberts

travel television carmen robertsCarmen Roberts is a travel reporter for BBC World’s Fast Track program. Extraordinarily well traveled, Carmen recently decamped from London–home for over a decade–to Singapore, the country of her birth.

Here Carmen shares a few tips, a secret destination, and gives us the skinny on how her career developed.

Q: Carmen Roberts, how would you define your occupation?

A: Roving travel reporter and video journalist

Q: You grew up mostly in Australia, if my advance research can be trusted. What brought you to London and now to Singapore?

A: I moved to London on a whim in 2000. I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend and booked a ticket all within 24 hours, and a few weeks later I was on a plane in a bewildered state. Last month I moved back to Singapore, where I will now be Fast Track’s correspondent in Asia.

Q: Can you point to events in your childhood or young adulthood that inspired a life of travel?

A: I was born in Singapore, but my father was from New Zealand and then when I was five years old, we moved to Australia. So, from a very early age, I was travelling on planes. I remember going to visit my grandmother in New Zealand when I was about nine and I travelled as an unaccompanied minor. I loved it!

Q: What do you love about London, and what would you recommend that a visitor not miss? Ditto for Singapore.

A: While the Tube is great (when it works!) you can miss so much if you don’t go above ground. The Tube map is deceptive at times, and if you walk you can get to many places much quicker and have a far more pleasant experience. I especially love the parks in London. Kensington Gardens in my favourite.

What not to miss in Singapore? The food is amazing and you must try the street food, or hawker stalls. They are very safe and dirt cheap. You can get a bowl of noodles for less than a fiver. Gluttons Bay and Maxwell Food Court are my favourites. And if you are a nature lover, you must go to Pulau Ubin.Q: How did you get your job with the BBC?

A: Right place, right time.

Q: How dreamy is your job, truthfully?

A: Haha! I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that! Yes it’s great, I get to travel around the world and meet new people and see a great number of things I wouldn’t ordinarily see if I were travelling on my own steam. But it’s not always glitz and glamour, like when you have to wake up at the crack of dawn and plaster your face with make up for a piece to camera (or standup). Or when you are stuck in the middle of steamy India and your camera has seized up due to humidity and you are about to interview a government minister.

Q: Where do you love to travel for work? And where do you love to travel for
a true holiday?

A: Going to the US for work is quite fun. There’s no language issue and everyone there is clued up with a public relations team. They understand what you are trying to do and are more accustomed to dealing with TV crews. For leisure, I like to get hot and sweaty, and go mountain biking.

Q: Do you have any secret favorite destinations you’d like to share with us?

A; El Nido in the Philippines is just amazing, a true piece of Paradise.

Q: Can you give us a travel tip or two? High-tech, low-tech, whatever.

A: Always make sure you know the emergency numbers in the country where you are travelling. I always email myself travel documents, rather than taking hard copies. And if you are feeling flush and want to upgrade your plane ticket, it’s usually cheaper to do it on the day at the airport.

Check out short Gadling Q&As with other fascinating travel media figures, including Philippe Sibelly, Zora O’Neill, and Benji Lanyado.

[Image credit: Milton Boyne]

Princess chefs cruise to top honors at annual Baccardi competition

Princess chefs top honorsMuch is said about the fabulous food and dining options on major cruise lines. Celebrity chefs lend their name to onboard cuisine adding trendy offerings for passengers to select while at sea. On occasion, everyday working members of the cruise industry excel and rise to top their peers in regional and world-wide competitions. Princess Cruises announced this week the award of top honors in the prestigious Bacardi Bartender and Chef Cruise Competition.

“We’re tremendously proud of both chefs for demonstrating such culinary excellence,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “It’s always a great honor to be singled out from one’s peers and receive industry acknowledgment of the creativity that enhances our passengers’ experience. We congratulate them on this achievement.”

%Gallery-116985%Pacific Princess Executive Chef Antonio Cortese received top honors in the “Heart Healthy” category for his Red Snapper Mojito, while Coral Princess Sous Chef Abelardo Alvarez won the “Vegetarian” category with his Deep Fried Sushi with Bacardi Wasabi Emulsion and Spicy Kimchi.

The Bacardi Bartender & Chef Cruise Competition, an international event open to all bartenders and chefs in the cruise and ferry industry, requires bartenders and chefs to create original recipes using Bacardi products. The goals of the competition are to “support the cruise industry and its talented artisans, recognize innovation onboard the world’s best cruise and ferry lines, and foster a path for staff to further their trade expertise”.

Other winners include top chef Emerlito Lago of the Phillipines from Cunard Line for his Baccardi Rum Touched Maine Lobster Tail, Noxeke Thanduxolo of France from Royal Caribbean International for his Baccardi Rum Poached Crayfish with Cucumber Cheese Roulade and Kuppakkattu Bulakris Nair Ajayakumar from Italy representing Carnival Cruise Lines with is Martini and Rossi Braised Basa Fillet with Tomato, Chili and Fennel. A complete list of winners and their recipes can be found at

On the bartender side of the competition, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Lines and Viking Line took top honors with an assortment of cocktails with Assistant Bar Manager Chris Chudley from Royal Caribbean International winning top honors for his Bombay Sapphire winner in the gin category named “Elderphine”.

Photos courtesy Baccardi Competition

Cell phone signal helps rescue five American sailors

cell phone signal rescues sailorsAfter missing for more than a week, five American sailors are safe today. Their sailboat, the Pineapple, developed engine and communication problems after running into bad weather off the coast of Guam. They were lost at sea. A massive search produced no results. Finally one of those on board was able to grab a cell phone signal long enough to call for help.

Relatives and friends of the crew, four male and one female, had reported them missing when the 38-foot catamaran failed to arrive in the Philippines by January 18. Coast guards and rescue authorities from the Philippines, United States, Palau, and the Northern Marianas all searched for the missing sailboat with no results. Yesterday the one female on board managed to contact her husband using her cell phone when the vessel drifted within signal range. The husband called rescuers in Guam to give the boat’s coordinate and the US Coast Guard took it from there.

“The husband confirmed the vessel ran into bad weather and suffered a rudder and radio casualty.” said a statement from the US Coast Guard, adding “This delayed the Pineapple’s voyage but it was never in danger of sinking.”

It sounds like they were pretty lucky though. After searching for 63 hours, the US Coast Guard had found nothing on it’s own. It turns out that the rescue attempt could have been made much easier with some advance planning on the part of the Pineapple’s crew.

“I’m elated for the family and friends of the Pineapple, but compelled to point out that this voyage was made without taking basic, common-sense precautions.” warned Captain Thomas Sparks, U.S. Coast Guard Guam commander.

Apparently no one bothered to file a comprehensive sailing plan which is not required but customary on long sea voyages. Also, the ship had no long-distance communication or emergency distress equipment, also standard on world-class voyages.

They did have a good cell phone signal though.

It is hard not to ask “So, who was service provider?” and/or “What brand was that phone?” Neither have been identified. You can bet we’ll see that one on a future Gadling Gear review though.

Flickr photo by smith