Video of the Day – Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Swimming in water filled with millions of jellyfish may be most people’s worst nightmare. But for visitors to the Palauan island of Eil Malik, it’s the main attraction.

Situated about 500 miles east of the Philippines, Jellyfish Lake is one of 70 marine lakes on Eil Malik that was formed when the ocean receded over 12,000 years ago. After being trapped in this natural basin, the jellyfish that inhabited the lake gradually evolved without the ability to sting since there were no predators sharing the same waters. Now, daring snorklers can fulfill their worst nightmares (or biggest dreams) by swimming among the jellyfish without being stung. However, those with sensitive skin are advised to wear a wetsuit or protective clothing.

This beautiful, dreamy music video comes from photographer/videographer Sarosh Jacob who captured his adventure with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, set to Radiohead’s “Nude”. For more great underwater videos, check out Sarosh’s Vimeo page.

What’s the most daring adventure you’ve been on? Share it with us! Upload photos to Gadling’s Flickr Pool or leave a comment with a link to your video in the comments below & we may select it as our next Photo/Video of the Day!

Daily Pampering: ‘Suite’ ride on the Seabourn Sojourn world cruise

If you’re going to see the world, you might as well do it in style. The Yachts of Seabourn just unveiled its Seabourn Sojourn in London and is preparing the ship for a 2011 sail around the world.

The 110-day World Cruise from Los Angeles to London via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean will be beautiful from the Seabourn’s Grand Suite, which offers guests up to 534 square feet of space.

How much for the journey of a lifetime? The good news is that you don’t have to stay in the Grand Suite, in which case it will only cost you around $50,000 to sail the world. But, this column is about the ultimate in luxurious experiences and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t try to convince you to go around the world in the Grand Suite for $233,285.

If it helps, price of the cruise includes first class round-trip airfare, private transfers, 300 lbs of luggage shipping, and $1000 shipboard credit.

p.s. You’re totally worth it!

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Travel company rediscovers seabird thought to be extinct

Seattle based travel company Zegrahm Expeditions specializes in eco-sensitive travel, organizing trips to all corners of the globe. The company promises to give clients the “ultimate expedition travel experience”, whether they’re taking part in one of Zegrahm’s trekking adventures or small-ship cruises. Zegrahm’s strives to give their customers a sense of discovery, no matter which trip they go on, but on one recent expedition that sense of discovery took a very real turn when team members sighed a rare seabird that hasn’t been recorded in the wild for more than 83 years.

The expedition, which was led by seabird expert Peter Harrison, took place this past February. The journey entailed a small-ship sailing adventure from Auckland, New Zealand to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Along the way, the ship stopped at several remote, and seldom visited, islands on the Vanuatu archipelago. While there, Harrison, and a number of other members of the group, spotted and photographed, 21 individual Vanuatu Petrels, a seabird that hasn’t been seen in the wild since they were first discovered by ornithologist Rollo Beck back in 1927.

Zegrahm is already planning a return trip to the region in November of this year, and again in 2012. Both expeditions are expected to be very popular with bird watchers hoping to get a glimpse of this rare and unique seabird, that until now has only been seen in museums. Known as the Faces of Melanesia expedition, this cruise is generally noteworthy because it routinely visits remote South Pacific islands that few people ever see. But with this recent discovery, it will probably become well known in the bird watching community as an opportunity to add another species to their list.

Top 10 travel-themed 50’s songs

When Jeremy took on top 10 travel-themed 80’s songs last week, I headed to the 1950’s. Partially influenced by seeing the 1958 movie version of South Pacific this summer, this choice turned up ten songs that range from show tunes to country to R&B.

Even though much attention was given by American mainstream culture to get Rosie the Riveter back in the kitchen after World War II, certain themes of 1950’s music indicated that Rosie still had dreams of heading elsewhere.

From what I’ve discovered, this theme of escapism–the desire for an exit from the hum drum of everyday life seems to be a predominent expression in song lyrics throughout that decade.

Perhaps with the Cold War giving Joe McCarthy the green light to seek out Communists among creative folks in Hollywood, people had good reason for wanting a mental hiatus from reality. It’s a thought.

Interestingly, some songs, like choice # 9, a song from South Pacific, hold dreams that are as true today as they were back then.

Arranged in chronolgical order according to their release date, here are the top ten travel-themed ’50’s songs, plus a bit of information about each. This is indeed a mixed bag.

[This photo of a woman gazing fondly at the Hi-Fi in her kitchen was hard to resist. I wonder which song she’s listening to?]

Travel 50’s Song # 1. “Jambalya on the Bayou by Hank Williams. Released in 1952, this song captures the need to add a bit of excitement and spice to life. The song topped the charts at # 1 for good reason. How can you not want to head to a Louisiana bayou for a dose of Cajun culture after hearing this one?

As an interesting note about cross-cultural exchange: The original melody of “Jambalaya” was inspired from the French Cajun song, “Big Texas.” After Williams’ version was released, Cajun musicians reworked their version to include Williams’ lyrics paired with Cajun instruments. This helped bring Cajun music into mainstream American culture through its encounter with country music.

Travel 50’s Song # 2. Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” the theme song from the 1955 Walt Disney movie.

How many travelers haven’t been inspired by a thirst for the wild frontier? Davy Crockett’s travels helped change his mind when it came to what American politics and the quest for land were doing to American Indians. Crockett took on the establishment to help defeat a bill that would have cost Indians land that had been granted to them in treaties. In a last wild west move, Crockett fought and was killed at the Alamo in San Antonio in a battle to defend Texas.

Travel 50’s Song # 3. The title “Wayward Wind certainly evokes up an image of heading out to see where life will take you. Sung in 1956 by Gogi Grant, Tex Ritter and Jimmy Grant— and several others since then, the song pays tribute to the type of person who is “next of kin to the restless wind that yearns to wander.”

Gee, that sounds like me. This one is Gogi Grant’s rendition. I love, love, love her voice. Also, this song is the one that keeps playing in my head.

Travel 50’s Song # 4. Also in 1956, Connie Francis crooned “Around the World in 80 Days.” In this song, Paris, New York and London are backdrops for finding love. How many of you out there are traveling the world eyeing the crowds for Mr. or Ms. Right? This is a cornball song, but it does make a plug for travel and romance. Bing Crosby’s version was the theme song for the 1956 movie, Around the World in 80 Days.

Travel 50’s Song # 5. In 1957, the song “Over the Mountain and Across the Sea,” let people know that, although you may not have to travel around the world to find love, it may require traveling a distance over the horizon.

The duet Johnnie Louise Richardson and Joe Rivers sang this version that made it to # 3 on the R&B charts and #8 on the Billboard Top 100.

Travel 50’s Song #6. Even though “Day-O (The Banana Song)” isn’t a Harry Belafonte original, Belafonte shot the song to #5 on the music charts in 1957. The first recorded version of this Jamacian folk song was in 1952 when Edric Connor and the Caribbeans released their rendition. Connor, a Trinadian singer, titled the song “Day de Light” on his group’s album, Songs from Jamaica.

After reading about the various ways the song has been parodied, and the countries where it’s been recorded, it’s obvious that some songs have a way of transcending cultural boundaries.”Day-O” is surely an example of this.

Travel 50’s Song #7. In 1958, “Freight Train,” written in about 1906 by Elizabeth Cotton when she was eleven years old, was released in the album Folksongs and Instrumentals with Guitar (also then known as Negro Folksongs and Tunes). This song captures the essence of longing for points beyond the horizon. Here’s an older Cotton singing the song herself.

Inspired by the freight trains that passed by her house, Cotton wrote this song when she lived in Carrboro, North Carolina. When she was 13, her mother began working for the Seeger family, as in Pete Seeger. Thankfully, Cotton’s musical genius had a venue to be noticed and she went on to inspire others through her lyrics and signature guitar-playing technique dubbed “Cotton Picking.” Cotton lived to be 92 and kept singing and picking well into old age.

Travel 50’s Song # 8. Like the song about Davy Crocket, “Rawhide” evokes a sense of adventure through its depiction of life in the west. The song “Rawhide,” recorded by Frankie Lane in 1958, became the theme song for the TV show Rawhide that aired from 1959 to 1966. This is a great song to know if you’re planning a trip that involves major hiking or long distance driving.

Travel 50’s Song #9. “Bali Hai,” one of the songs in the 1958 movie version of the Broadway musical South Pacific, calls to the allure of island life that promises dreams come true and an escape from a troubled world. I’ve been to small islands in the South Pacific near the very spot where Sgt. Calley had his fleeting moments of love, happiness and peace. Who doesn’t have a Bali Hai in mind?

Travel 50’s Song “10. Frankie Ford sang Sea Cruise in 1959. This rollicking number became a top-20s hit and has been sung in various versions ever since. Whether it makes you want to take a cruise is questionable. There’s no question that it may inspire you to dance.

The Pearl of Moorea Part 2: The Resort

The intent of my recent vacation to Moorea was to do absolutely nothing. And, I lived up to these lofty goals admirably.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Christmas holidays are my time to relax and catch up on life. The first time I tried doing this a number of years ago I somehow ended up at a Club Med. I thought it would be the perfect escape, but instead there was non-stop pressure to drink, party, dance, play volleyball, shoot hoops, water ski, jet ski, kayak, dive, and participate in countless other activities. One couldn’t even relax at poolside with out some sun-damaged Bozo coaxing everyone up on their feet to sing some cultish song about the sun.

Sure, there is a time and place for Club Med, but not for me and my winter vacation.

And so, my girlfriend and I opted for a far mellower option and headed to the Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa in French Polynesia where my only obligation was to indulge in the total lack of any obligation whatsoever. I could do absolutely nothing, and not feel guilty about it at all.The resort certainly provided a slew of activities, but they weren’t shoved down our throats. A concierge in the lobby was there to arrange jeep treks, dives, and dolphin swims and a pool boy stood by to hand out snorkel gear and kayak paddles. But that was it. There were no bullhorns announcing aerobics classes or floatie races in the pool. There was just a pleasantly, slow-paced, do-as-you-please ambience. And I loved it.

The resort itself is gently nestled amongst coconut trees and grassy knolls, spilling ever so gracefully into the crystal clear waters of the South Pacific. Yes, that means that the Pearl Resort has over-water bungalows–every couple’s dream accommodation.

Unfortunately, we did not book any nights in the over-water bungalows because, like most dreams, they were prohibitively expensive. We did ask about them when we checked in, however, and a few days later received a surprise call from the front desk telling us that they had upgraded us for free. Our last three nights would be spent in the over-water bungalows. Sweet!

The bungalows were everything one might imagine from such a place: a thatched roof, dark wood interior, king-sized bed, our own private ladder directly into the water, great bath products, air conditioning, private deck, and my favorite, a glassed-off section of the floor which revealed the lagoon below. It was absolutely fantastic and something I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever experience in my lifetime.

Before moving into the over-water bungalows, we stayed the first few nights in a garden bungalow. I was a little concerned about this when we booked it, but the interior proved to be just as amazing as the over-water bungalow. We didn’t have an ocean view, but we did enjoy our own private little pool which was a great way to wake up in the morning and to cool off later when the weather heated up.

Oh, yes, the weather… This was one of the only disappointments of the trip. We had arrived during the rainy season and Moorea lived up to it. The sky was usually full of clouds and it rained every day in short, powerful bursts. Of course, it was a warm, tropical rain which did not prevent us from swimming and walking around, but it did prevent any possibility of returning home with a tan. I’m not complaining, however. The weather was very pleasant for relaxing on a beach chair and pulling out a book. Or, as we quickly learned, enjoying the pleasures of the spa.

Sun or rain, the Pearl Resort proved to be the perfect antidote for the big city woes which ailed us. It was beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the rooms were cleaned regularly, the grounds were immaculate, and the ambience heavenly. I wanted to get away from it all, and the Pearl Resort helped me do just that.

Yesterday: Getting There
Tomorrow: Food and Fun