SkyMall Monday: Handy Cooler

This week’s edition of SkyMall Monday comes to you from Bali, Indonesia. I’m on the tropical island attending a wedding and, while doing so, am also sweating on a professional level. It’s not that Bali is all that hot (it’s been in the high 80s since we arrived) but, SkyMall Almighty, it’s humid. As cliches go, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” is one of the more accurate turns of phrase. I’m constantly wiping sweat out of my eyes and seeking out water (or another ice cold Bintang). After a long day of exploring, I’m a damp, lethargic mess. When we finally arrive back at our house, I scurry into our air conditioned bedroom to get my core temperature back down to something that allows my internal organs to function properly. What I wouldn’t give to take that cold, climate-controlled air with me everywhere we go. Paper fans just move hot air around and asking people to gently blow on me gets lost in translation. Thankfully, SkyMall has come to the rescue. Now, when things get hot we can all stay cool thanks to the Handy Cooler.Strapping a commercial air conditioning unit onto your back is simply impractical. That’s why you need to think small when it comes to staying cool. Being able to carry around a personal cooling system is the key to comfort whether you’re in Bali, at a barbecue or eating kung pao chicken.

Think that a little heat shouldn’t slow anybody down? Believe that staying hydrated is all it takes to push through a heat wave? Well, while you pass out from heat stroke, we’ll be reading the product description:

Trying to stay cool is not always easy. Misting fans will get you too wet. Cheap personal fans only move around the air that is already hot. Now, your problems are solved with Handy Cooler, the first ever battery operated, handheld evaporative air cooler that uses a water-soaked cooling filter to provide a continuous flow of cool air. Stay refreshed at the gym, office, home, anywhere you go. Compatible with your favorite aroma oils to double as a diffuser.

It’s about time that evaporative air coolers – like microchips, cell phones and my chances of dating Shakira – got smaller. Surely no one at the office will mind you cooling yourself during the weekly budget meeting. And your fellow passengers on the bus will love it when you pop in some aroma oils.

If you’re still unsure of whether you should strap the Handy Cooler to your palm before heading out into Hades, take a look at this informative video:

I sure wish I had known about the Handy Cooler before I flew halfway around the world just to sweat like a whore in church. Learn from my mistake and pick up the Handy Cooler today.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

South by Southeast: In Bangkok? Head to the mall!

Bangkok means many things to travelers. The backpacker ghetto of Khao San Road. The sublime temples of Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaew. The seedy go-go bars of Patpong. But after visiting this crazy Southeast Asian capital for the first time, I’d like to suggest a new highlight in Bangkok: the malls.

You’re probably going to tell me I’m a spoiled Westerner, too acclimated to the comforts of home to get my hands dirty with some authentic Thai culture. But, perhaps it’s time we all take a closer look at what Bangkok is really like these days. The famed “anything goes” destination of old is still there, hiding down back alleyways and puttering along on Bangkok’s diesel spewing tuk tuks. But there’s also an entirely new Bangkok under construction. An emerging city of modern mass transportation and shiny new temples of capitalism.

So what is it about Bangkok’s malls that makes them so special? Like many malls back home, they’ve got all the usual amenities – the department stores, the food courts and the electronics boutiques. But there’s also plenty that makes Bangkok malls entirely unique: outstanding and inexpensive food courts filled with authentic Thai cuisine, special events and top-notch cultural institutions. Sound interesting? Here’s three reasons why you should head to the mall during your next visit to Bangkok. Click below.

The food courts are amazing
When I think of a mall food court back in the U.S., my stomach starts to churn. Greasy Sbarro pizza, unappetizing McDonald’s and gluttonous portions of Cold Stone Creamery. Bangkok food courts are a completely different animal. In fact, one of the best places to experience affordable, delicious Thai cuisine is at the mall.

Whether you want egg noodles with pork and dried shrimp, a big glass of Lemongrass juice or some Thai sticky rice dessert, the food court is where it’s at. Average price for your meal? About $3 U.S. per person. In addition to all the Thai favorites you’ll find plenty of great Japanese, Korean and Vegetarian cuisine, along with a few good old American favorites.

Air conditioning is your friend
Spend more than five minutes outside in Bangkok, and you will be attacked. Your fresh clothes will be drenched in sweat. Motor scooters, tuk-tuks and huge buses belch smoke from all directions. Monsoon rains deluge down from the heavens. Angry and persistent mosquitoes buzz and itch in your ear. It’s enough to make even the most hardened travelers beg for mercy. Bangkok malls will become your oasis from this chaos. The cool chilled air feels like a gift from above. Even if you have no intention of buying anything at the store, Bangkok’s malls offer an easy, cheap way to chill out.

Surprising attractions
Bangkok malls aren’t just for shopping. They boast top-notch culture, special events and surprising creativity. A great example is the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), located in The Emporium Shopping Complex in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area. The center boasts rotating modern art exhibits from Thai artists, typography exhibits, film screenings and a huge library of design books and magazines. On a recent Sunday, I found myself hanging out in TCDC’s slick coffeeshop, enjoying the stellar Bangkok city views while a live jazz band jammed out onstage. Cheesy mall this is not.

The next time you find yourself in Bangkok, take a closer look at what this amazing city has to offer. In addition to awe-inspiring temples and cheap backpacker street food, you’re likely to find a city that has “come of age” on the world stage.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.

London’s Tube will have (some) air conditioning next summer

Londoners love to hate the Tube. The London Underground is said to be overpriced, overcrowded, and prone to breakdowns and strikes, but perhaps the biggest (and most valid) complaint is that on hot summer days the lack of air conditioning turns the cars into ovens. I’ve even seen people faint, either from the heat or the stink of sweaty bodies.

Londoners and visitors alike will have some relief next summer as the city introduces its first air conditioned subway car, which was delivered this week.

But don’t throw away your water bottles just yet. The first air conditioned car will only be on the Metropolitan line, and that line won’t be entirely air conditioned until 2011. By 2015, the District and Circle lines will also have air conditioning.

That’s a long wait, and the nine other lines will have to wait even longer, perhaps forever. Some, such as the heavily used Northern and Piccadilly lines, are too deep in the earth to easily expel warm air. The Piccadilly is the one that goes to Heathrow, so you can have a nice sweat after several hours of cramped seating and airline food.

Oh, and there’s more bad news. Since this is part of a major revamping of the Tube system, prices will go up 3.9 percent, and bus fares will also go up 12 percent. The fare hikes will start in January 2012.

Plane Answers: Water vapor in a jet’s A/C, flashing landing lights and a fuel question.

Welcome to Gadling’s feature, Plane Answers, where our resident airline pilot, Kent Wien, answers your questions about everything from takeoff to touchdown and beyond. Have a question of your own? Ask away!

Zach asks,

Hi Kent,

My family and I recently flew from Cancun to Philadelphia. On the ground in Cancun, I noticed some sort of condensation coming out of the air conditioning ducts. To tell you the truth, it looked more like smoke than water vapor. The flight attendants didn’t seem to mind, and once we took off, the condensation dissipated. I’m a student pilot and a fairly frequent flyer, but I have never seen anything like it before. What was happening?

You’re on the right track, Zach. We often see condensation from the air conditioning ‘packs’ on airliners in hot cities with high humidity. On the 757 we often get so much moisture that we’ll see frozen ice pellets coming from the air vents. Enough ice can build up in the packs that the airflow drops off to almost nothing until we run the temperature to a warm setting for 30 seconds or so to melt this ice.

In flight, it doesn’t seem to be an issue at all, probably due to the drier air.

Irwin asks:

Recently, while waiting for a flight to arrive at West Palm Beach, FL, I watched another flight from a distance of several miles while they were on approach. As it got closer to the airport, I noticed his headlights were turning on & off, constantly, equal time on & off. There were no clouds and no obstructions of any kind. What was the pilot doing or signaling?
You more than likely saw a Southwest jet. They’ve equipped many, if not all their 737s with flashing landing lights that are supposed to make the aircraft easier to see inflight. Some corporate aircraft have had this feature for years and it may be coming to more airlines in the future.

Louise asks:

Where is jet fuel carried on passenger jets? …in the wings, the belly, below the luggage compartment? …or somewhere else? (We are trying to figure out what made that US Air plane FLOAT, even though the passenger compartment flooded… then we got curious… where IS the fuel stored/carried?!)

Thank you!

Most airliners store the fuel exclusively in the wings. Occasionally companies have offered long range tanks that take a small portion of the fuselage near the forward part of the wings for extra fuel at the expense of baggage area, but this is rather rare today.

The US Airways flight likely had only half of the maximum capacity of fuel on board. We’ve been told that an airliner is capable of several minutes of flotation and US Airways 1549 demonstrated that even with a torn lower fuselage, there was enough time to evacuate the aircraft.

The entire industry learned a great deal from that ditching.

Do you have a question about something related to the pointy end of an airplane? Ask Kent and maybe he’ll use it for next Monday’s Plane Answers. Check out his other blog, Cockpit Chronicles and travel along with him at work.

SkyMall Monday: Electric Travel Blanket

Here at SkyMall Monday, we realize that SkyMall’s popularity is based on our desire to let technology solve all of our problems. Hungry? Cook a hot dog. Hit your child? Stop the bleeding. But what about when you’re in the car with your spouse and the air conditioning has made you uncomfortably cold? Sure, you could politely ask him to adjust the settings to warm you up but that would require you to select the proper words and tone of voice to convey your feelings in a healthy and respectful way. Why not keep your mouth shut and solve the problem by yourself? Because doesn’t it make much more sense to use the Electric Travel Blanket?

Let’s be honest. Talking is overrated. Your spouse works hard all day. He pays the bills, buys you nice things and drives you places in his temperature controlled vehicle. The last thing he needs is you yapping in his ear about how cold it is in the car. Frankly, if he wants to turn the car into a portable meat locker, that’s his prerogative. Why would he want to adjust the air conditioning settings just to make you comfortable? Geez, you’re so selfish. So solve your own problems by plugging a blanket into the car’s cigarette lighter and warm yourself.

Think I’m being over-dramatic? The good folks who write the SkyMall product descriptions agree with me and they’re geniuses. I mean, they write for SkyMall! Take a look:

For as long as cars have been air-conditioned, drivers and passengers have bickered about the “right” temperature. With this super-soft electric car blanket, the “colder” person can be comfortable, even when the A/C is on full-blast.

Yes, it truly is a story as old as time. And by putting the word “colder” in quotation marks, we understand that what they really meant to say was “whiny.” So quit your bitching about the air conditioning because your man likes his cars cold, not his women. Just save your relationship with the Electric Travel Blanket.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.