The Galavanting Girls help the children of Roatan

Travel writer, founder of The Galavanting Girls, and creator of the Travel Blog Exchange conference, Kim Mance will soon be setting off on a cruise to visit, among other places, the island of Roatan in Honduras. Rather than spend her time in port sunning on the beautiful West Bay or browsing the new shops at the Port of Roatan, Kim and her crew decided to do something a little more constructive with their time.

While their Princess Cruises ship is in port on November 11, Kim and the other Galavanting Girls will head to Elfrida Brooks School in the area’s capital city of Coxen Hole. Honduras is the second-poorest Caribbean nation (behind only Haiti) and the school, which educates 180 children, is desperately in need of funding.

The Galavanting Girls will be spending the day at the school and dropping off supplies they’ve rounded up. They’re also taking online donations, as little as $5 per person, through the Roatan Children’s Fund on the secure First Giving website. The Girls have already raised $550 for the project, more than double the goal. They’ll be videotaping their visit to the school and will post the footage on their website after November 11.

World’s 25 dirtiest cities

When I read this headline, I was 100% sure that if Calcutta wasn’t number one on this list, it would definitely make the top 5. It doesn’t feature on the list at all!

The list has been compiled by Forbes basis Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s 2007 Health and Sanitation rankings that ranked 215 cities worldwide based on levels of air pollution, waste management, water potability, hospital services, medical supplies and the presence of infectious diseases.

Here’s the top 10 World’s Dirtiest Cities:

Black fumes of smoke, acid rain, and free flowing sewage are part of life in these countries. Pretty depressing huh.

On a positive note: according to Water Aid for every $1 spent on improved sanitation, the benefit equals $9 resulting from decreased cost of health care and increased productivity — yes, the 90/10 rule. It looks like a little bit of work and expenditure can make A LOT of difference.

India’s rich pay to live like peasants

I would never have imagined that the glitz of India would want to leave their mansions and Mercedes to ride in bullock carts, milk cows, feed chickens, bathe in ponds, play traditional village games and fly kites.

Apparently there’s a potential market of 25 million middle class Indians who may be willing to do so. This desire is being catered to by a “native village” built in Hessargatta, just outside Bangalore in southern India, where you pay US$150 a night for the experience to live traditionally like peasants in rural India. Indians who take such trips want to reconnect with their culture and live a life they don’t know of but have heard of from their parents and grandparents.

In most real Indian villages, people live in harsh environments with less than a dollar a day; the irony is that the wealthy are paying a comparatively exorbitant price to get a taste of the “cultural” part of that life.

I’m undecided whether I should be happy that rich Indians — who know not much more than AC cars and shopping malls — want to get grounded and cultured by experiencing the simple life of 750 million poor Indians; or upset because instead of them spending a modest holiday in some real, poor village that will genuinely benefit from their money, they choose to pay a ridiculous price to live in an artificially recreated rural village.

Graft Busting Ruining the Party in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the lower classes rely on the wealthy Muslims to provide them with gifts of cash and clothes during Ramadan. But this year, anti-corruption agencies are vetoing public displays of wealth, which includes giving out generous gifts. So far, 170 members of the upper crust have actually been detained for being to giving. And the new restrictions are sure putting a damper on the celebrations for the peasants.

But a few brave wealthy people have braved the so-called graft busters and given out gifts regardless. And members of the lower class are getting up before dawn to join the line-up to receive one of these gifts. Sounds a lot like a new IKEA opening!

For more info on graft busting in Bangladesh, click here.