Ode to Neil: What is 1% of 2,000 posts?

I’ve been blogging with Neil for about a year now wondering how the heck is he managing to crank out such bounty with his sly wit and traveler’s know-how. Since the number of posts Gading manages to put out in a day are sometimes hard to keep up with, I thought I’d give you a sampling of my favorites of Neil’s.

Of course, like he wrote when he signed off today from Gadling on his last post–his 2,000th, I’m sure we haven’t read the last of Neil. However, I thought that someone who has 2,000 posts in two years certainly could have a post dedicated to him. It’s not exactly the same as the trophy-like statue of the Greek god Hermes pictured here, but hopefully it will suffice. Hermes is linked to travel among other things.

(Neil, to turn this into a real statue, you can print out a copy of the picture, carefully cut around the outline of the statue like a paper doll, glue it onto a piece of tag board, cut around that, affix it to a toothpick with tape, stick one end of the toothpick in a bit of playdough or something and perhaps you can get it to stand up.)

Statues aside, this is what 1% of 2,000 looks like–20 posts. But, first, here’s my all time favorite written for our April Fool’s Day bonanza in 2007. Bush Lifts Mark Cuban Travel Ban

These are culled since April of 2007. I picked these because they either made me laugh, inspired me to write my own post, I learned something I didn’t know, brought back some of my own travel memories or gave me useful information that I used. You can decide which is which.

1. Iceland’s putrid fish delicacy.

2. Infiltrating North Korea Part 15: More song and dance, and a conundrum about chocolate

3. Help Gadling buy this woman a cow

4. How to buy goods confiscated by TSA

5. The museum of broken relationships

6. Dumpster diving: The cheapest way to eat when traveling.

7. Hollywood’s Craziest Foriegn Country Stereotypes

8. Turd Coffee: An Indonesian Specialty

9. Affordable Float Plane Fishing in Alaska Part 1: A How to Guide

10. 9,000 Naked Men in Search of Wood

11. The Thankless Life of a Sherpa

12. Removing Leeches

13. The Philippine Penal System Vacation: Free Song, Dance and Meals!

14. Best (Authentic) Mexican Restaurants in Los Angeles

15. Disneyland’s Secret Restaurant

16. Griffith Park: A return from the ashes

17. Are Cookies on your Computer Increasing the Cost of Your Vaction?

18. Go Now before They’re Gone: Conde Nast Traveler’s 20 Most Threatened Places

19. The Strange, Uncomfortable Silence of Naked Germans

20. Cow Tourism

Red Corner: Stereotyping Pinko Communist Russia

Vodka-swilling, fur hat-wearing, blini-eating Ruskies!

Stereotyping, negative or otherwise, plays an important decision in deciding where to travel. “The Irish are all drunks!” might be exactly the thing that drives you to Ireland, or it might be what makes you avoid it altogether.

Some nationalities and countries have more negative stereotypes than others. For example, our old Cold War nemesis, Russia, still occupies a rather dubious place in the world of stereotyping. Much of this negativity remains from the days of godless commies goose-stepping through Red Square, but quite a bit more has been heaped on since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the anarchy which followed.

But, is everything you read in the papers true about Russia? Do caviar eating Mafioso rule the streets? Is economic collapse as common as a cold Moscow Winter?

Dmitry Paranyushkin has addressed a number of such stereotypes in his appropriately titled article, Russian Stereotypes. No, Russians don’t “drink vodka the same way British drink their 5 o’clock tea,” he writes.

Paranyushkin scoffs at some of the wild misconceptions westerners have about Russia, but does admit the country “has its flaws and gems.”

Most importantly, he invites the skeptics to come and check it out for themselves, before Russia changes and becomes just another Starbucks-drinking, McDonald’s-inhaling, rap-infested, first world country.

Red Corner: Moscow Yachting

Perhaps the last place in the world one might expect a yachting trend would be Moscow. Sure, the city sits on a river, but it’s a river that one can literally sit on for 3-4 months of the winter when it is frozen solid. That’s not exactly great yachting conditions.

And yet, yachts have become the new plaything for Russia’s growing class of uber-rich. Sales are booming for all types of vessels. According to a Reuters article in the Moscow Times, salespeople can’t keep half-million dollar boats in their docks. And these are the low end boats. Those going for millions of dollars are selling like blinis as well.

I can’t imagine that Moscow will ever be the next Cannes or St. Tropez, but then again, “Luxury Yacht” and “Moscow” would never have been uttered in the same sentence ten years ago.

Red Corner: Shooting Plastered Bears

Sometimes people travel to kill things. For those that enjoy doing so, one of the most attractive creatures to dispatch is a bear.

And so, when Juan Carlos, the King of Spain visited Russia recently, that is exactly what he wanted to do. The Russians, however, were concerned that the foreign dignitary might travel all the way to Russia and fail to score a kill. This would be an affront to his manhood and bad PR for Russia’s bear shooting industry.

So, the Russians decided to help King Carlos in his quest. In the old days, the Soviets would have put a dissident in a bear suit and gave him a 2-minute head start. But this is the new and improved Russia. Local officials allegedly took a caged bear (perhaps from a zoo? This is unclear) and fed him a roofie: a load of honey spiked with copious amounts of vodka.

Mitrofan (yes, the bear even had a name) was then flushed from his cage and into the gun sights of King Carlos, who proudly dropped him with a single shot.

Aw yes, the thrill of the hunt! Doesn’t it just make your heart pound with excitement?

Red Corner: The Onion Mocks North Korea’s Bomb

North Korea has dropped the bomb and the satirical newspaper, The Onion, has responded appropriately.

N. Korea Detonates 40 Years of GDP” screams the headline, and the article only gets funnier after that. I’ll give you just a small taste of the black comedy that follows:

“This is a grand day for the Democratic Peoples Republic Of Korea, whose citizens have sacrificed their wages, their food, and their lives so that our great nation could test a nuclear weapon thousands of feet beneath our own soil.”

Ouch! Great satire bites close to the truth and this gems really nails it.