Video Of The Day: Woman’s Painful Escape While Running With Bulls

A woman narrowly outruns a trio of bulls stampeding through the streets, only to find herself having a run-in of a different kind. Her painful escape is a reminder that running of the bulls ceremonies often result in serious injuries, most of which aren’t directly caused by bulls. In Pamplona, Spain, the most famous location for this type of event, between 200 and 300 people are injured during the runs each year. Most injuries are minor, but according to Wikipedia, 15 people have been killed in Pamplona since record keeping began in 1924 – most by goring or suffocation. If the idea of being chased by bulls still sounds like a good time, the tradition is running strong in cities and towns throughout Spain, Portugal and Mexico.

[Video: Mortationparkour on YouTube]

Tranquil travel hits Bali as the entire island falls silent during Nyepi

nyepi While many cultures around the world celebrate their New Year with fireworks, parades, and loud parties, the island of Bali in Indonesia takes a different approach. In fact, travelers looking to enjoy some peace and quiet in a beautiful setting should consider taking a trip to the island on March 23 to take part in the Balinese New Year, or Nyepi, “Day of Silence”.

During Nyepi, the entire island of Bali falls silent in an effort to cleanse and purify. In fact, shops aren’t allowed to open, vehicles and machinery may not be used, work is forbidden, electricity must remain off, and even the Bali airport closes down.

Just because the island falls silent, however, does not mean you shouldn’t visit. In fact, an array of cultural activities and package deals are offered in honor of Nyepi, making it the perfect time to visit Bali.

bali AYANA Resort and Spa

For those who would like to experience Nyepi for themselves, the luxury, cliff-top AYANA Resort and Spa allows guests to stay on the property and continue to use the restaurants, spa, and other facilities during the event as long as noise is kept to a minimum. They also take part in the festivities that lead up to the day of silence, including creating a giant paper mache figure called ogoh-ogoh (shown above). On the night before Nyepi, locals from all over the island come out to show off their own ogoh-ogohs, which tend to resemble skeletons and monsters, while live bands play in the background. It is believed that those taking part in this cultural ceremony confront their own negativity and purge it from their souls.

Rates start at $239 per night plus taxes and gratuities. Email or click here to book. radiant The Radiant Hotel and Spa

The Radiant Hotel and Spa is a 5-star boutique hotel that sits on 50-acres of pools, palm trees, tropical gardens, and magnificent fountains. In honor of the Balinese New Year, the hotel is offering a 3 day/2 night Nyepi Package which includes two nights in a Superior room, daily breakfast for two, an evening at the buffet, unlimited soft drinks, a 45-minute foot and shoulder massage, and 10% off beverages. And to help you enjoy the tranquility a little more, you can add-on one of their relaxing spa packages, like a 30-minute Jacuzzi soak followed by a 70-minute full-body natural oil massage, shower, and snack, or a combination that includes a sauna session, massage, body scrub, and facial.

Package rates start at $154 plus taxes and gratuities for the dates of March 22-24. E-mail or click here to book.

conrad bali Conrad Bali

This contemporary designed, beachfront property is all about creating unique and worthwhile experiences for their guests, from cooking classes to brunches on the beach to tennis lessons. For Nyepi, the Conrad Bali is helping guests cleanse their souls by hosting an array of holistic and healing activities, like yoga and meditation. They are also keeping their spa open so that guests can enjoy treatments like a tea-infused aromatherapy bath followed by a marine mud and sea salt body wrap, or a full-body massage and natural yogurt body mask.

Rates start at $168 per night plus taxes and gratuities. Click here to book.

sun boutique hotel Sun Boutique Hotel

The Sun Boutique Hotel is a modern hotel with enjoyable features like spacious rooms, soothing wall art, a delicious bistro, and a beautiful rooftop garden. In honor of Nyepi, they are featuring a Sun Nyepi Package which includes a welcome drink, daily buffet breakfast for two, daily tropical fruit basket, two water bottles each day, coffee and tea, and lunch and dinner for two on March 23.

Package rates start at about $174 for a standard room. E-mail or click here to book.

komaneka Komaneka

If you love being surrounded by nature in a peaceful setting, this is your perfect hotel. From March 22-March 24, Komaneka will be offering a Nyepi Package, which includes two nights in a Bisma Suite room, a 60-minute Balinese massage, two lunches and dinners, welcome drink, daily breakfast and afternoon tea, daily en-suite cookies, fruits, and flowers, daily entrance and return transfer to Neka Art Museum, free mineral water each day, free activities like cultural offerings, dance lessons, and wood carving, and free shuttle service to and from central Ubud.

Package rates vary depending on when you book. E-mail or click here to book.

Easyjet’s jilted in the sky

easyJet was ready to help passengers walk down the aisle while walking down the aisle. The airlines plans to conduct mile-high marriage ceremonies, however, were stymied by local British bureaucrats who said they couldn’t give the airline permission. Under this unusual program, pilots – like captains at sea – would have facilitated the swapping of vows.

The relevant officials in Luton, which is north of London, has refused to extend these powers to the airline, claiming that it’s not permitted under the law. The airline, of course, is “very disappointed,” as are the imaginary masses ready to run the security gauntlet to seal the deal.

A Look Ahead at London 2012

The closing ceremonies of Beijing ’08 were not quite as spectacular as the opening ceremonies. Not quite, but almost. There were still plenty of people wearing LED lights, drummers and acrobats climbing tall structures.

London got a chance to do their “we’re hosting the next Olympics” skit. It sucked in comparison to the other performances of the evening. There was some guy who looked like an gray-haired Jimmy Page. (It was obvious that the Stones said no to the gig). And Beckham kicked a ball off the top of a bus that had magically converted into some sort of green lump.

While they shake off their Olympic withdrawals, some people are passing the time by guessing what the opening ceremonies are going to look like in ’12. Here are some of the ideas:

1. They will hire the cast and crew of the Beijing opening ceremonies and perform the exact same show.

2. They will tap a different film director, like Ridley Scott or Madonna’s husband, and offer an unlimited budget to create a series of whimsical dance numbers featuring soccer hooligans and those guards with the furry hats.

3. Beckham will be, under order of the queen, part of the ceremony. Fine, as long as he doesn’t have to say anything in that high-pitched cockney voice or take his shirt off.

Whatever they come up with, it’s going to be great. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until 2011 to get their hands on some of the 7.7 million tickets up for sale.

Band on the Run: My First and Last Gig as a Hawaiian Wedding Singer

Ember Swift, Canadian musician and touring performer, will be keeping us up-to-date on what it’s like to tour a band throughout North America. Having just arrived back from Beijing where she spent three months (check out her “Canadian in Beijing” series), she offers a musician’s perspective on road life. Enjoy!

The wedding was beautiful. I sang my songs. There were two white doves that expertly landed right behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. People cried. Then, they were married. My sister is now a wife and I got a brother-in-law in the deal. I’d say I fared fairly well, if you ask me.

People came up to me afterwards and asked if I would be singing at the reception. I said “No, I’m done” and then smiled happily and they looked at me sadly. Relief must have flowed out from the shape of my lips in that particular smile and I mistakenly conveyed to a number of people a series of possible misunderstandings: either I was glad it was all over because I didn’t enjoy it, or was nervous and was relieved to be over the nerves, or was unhappy with my performance or was simply bitter at having had to sing at my sister’s wedding — none of which were true!

“You have such a beautiful voice, dear, we’d love to hear you sing some more.” This was always delivered encouragingly and as though I ought not to deprive everyone of my voice and music for the rest of the day. I realized that I couldn’t possibly explain to anyone here that gigging at a family wedding was the last thing I wanted to do more of. It’s just not my thing. It’s a one-time experience and I am glad it’s done. I was happy to have made my sister happy with the gift of song, but was equally happy that the gift had been delivered.

I thanked them for their kindness but explained that there was already entertainment planned at the reception.

I also silently thanked the universe for not having pre-decided that I’d be it.

The reception was held on a boat. It was a dinner boat cruise called “The Maui Princess” and there were about one hundred and twenty diners, only forty of whom were part of the wedding party.

There, on the main deck, was a woman and a guitar and a device that played the backing tracks for dozens of famous songs. She was installed behind two metal railings and the sound system piped through both the main deck and up to the upper deck where the dinners were served. Her spot was right in front of the restrooms. She played for three hours and I felt increasing sympathy the longer her gig stretched.

And increasing gratitude that it was her and not me who was employed in this capacity.

She played a series of famous songs and chose fairly well. She had to do certain songs like the Hawaiian Love Song (ever heard of it? Me neither, until now) but generally she chose some good songs by Sting, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Nicks, even Bonnie Tyler (and you know the one!) And her guitar chops were pretty good.

Still, I felt for her. In between songs, she was obligated to make announcements about the ship’s progress, to tell people not to bang on the railings, to let people know about the “safety features on the vessel.” For me, this would be the closest thing to truly being a “flight attendant” (which I sing about in my song “Ten Pin” as a metaphor for performing a gig where no one is paying attention to you) although I guess in this case you’d have to call it “doubling as a ‘float’ attendant” (har har) because her job was so multi-faceted.

The cruise was brief but enjoyable. About two hours of beautiful scenery and free alcohol. Well, three per person but there was hardly any moving to get more at the bar as the chairs were bolted to the deck and everyone had a hard time getting around.

I brought my own food (no vegan fare was possible in the set menus) and I ate leftover veggie sushi to my table partners’ envy. Their meals were good too, they said, but mine looked especially appetizing and fresh. I wondered if that was the moment where I should have shared, but I just smiled and said “oh, how rare it is that my fellow diners are jealous of my food! Eat your heart out!” and took a big mouthful. They laughed.

(Once in awhile, it’s nice to have the upper hand when meat eaters so often drill me about how I could possibly have enough energy to survive eating as I do. My answer is generally that I haven’t eaten meat or fish for seventeen and a half years, so I guess I’m surviving. Thriving even! That usually shuts people up unless they are particularly obnoxious…)

Just before we docked, the crew started to dump the unconsumed Mai Tai (mixed Hawaiin drinks) into the ocean. I hated to see this. I mean, sure it’s not toxic waste, but does the ocean really need alcohol and corn syrup and food colouring? I don’t think so. On second thought, do we?

The whole wedding party then headed for drinks at another location where my sister wanted to have the traditional “first dance” with her new husband and then “the second dance” with our father. The restaurant manager heard her say this and was very clear that it simply wasn’t possible. Apparently, if there’s dancing on the premises, it reclassifies the venue as a bar and then changes the nature of their liquor license.

My sister looked crestfallen when she got this news and while the manager was still standing there, I piped in “Well, what if we dance on the sidewalk?” There was a pause and then the manager looked at me thoughtfully and she said, “Uh, you could do that. We don’t own the sidewalk! That’d be fine.” She smiled wistfully at the idea, I thought, and headed back behind the bar.

And so that’s what they did.

A portable music player was brought out and the gathering of wedding goers took to the sidewalk and we all watched my sister and her new husband dance (to “Amazed“) and then my sister and father dance (and simultaneously cry on each other’s shoulders to “I Loved Her First“) and then the night came to a close.

I had made it through a whole day in heels.

And my Hawaiian wedding singing days are over.


(which simultaneously means “hello,” “good-bye” and “love” as well as “mercy,” “compassion” and “peace.”)