Voluntourism for thrill-seekers

With the global economy in the toilet and natural disasters suggesting the Apocalypse is nigh, voluntourism is reaching record levels. Whether for philanthropic, educational, or financial reasons, travelers are looking for more from a vacation than just lolling on a beach, sucking down fruity cocktails, and managing hangovers.

The newest wave in experiential travel offers challenges greater than building flush toilets in a Rajasthani village, or reading to blind kids in Romanian orphanges. Today’s voluntourist can choose from a range of options that will challenge them both physically and mentally, while still providing that warm, fuzzy feeling brought on by doing something good for Mother Earth. Check out Gadling’s top picks for 2010:Ever yearned to play castaway on a South Seas isle? Now you can, with Albatross Adventures’ “Guano Mining in Micronesia” package. By day, harvest valuable seabird guano- used for commercial fertilizer and gunpowder-while your nights are spent eating seafood fresh from the surrounding waters, consuming kava with locals, and sleeping under the stars and coconut palms (assuming your atoll has trees). Also new from Albatross: “Mexico City Sewer Refurbishment.”

If habitat restoration is more your thing, you’ll want to join forces with the “Clean-up Gore Corps,” a U.S.-based non-profit specializing in “Cambodian Landmine Sweeps” and “Area 51 Revitilization” vacations. Experienced adventure travelers will enjoy “volunterrorism” tours of duty to Axis of Evil countries, and other politically unstable nations. Help Myanmar youth learn assault rifle skills, or teach spelunking to Afghani teens. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child, and your efforts, no matter how small, can make a difference.

Voluntourism in the medical field is also on the rise, which is the inspiration behind Red Cross Tours new “Thailand Blood Drive” trips. Since the recent Red Shirt protests, there is a dire shortage of spare blood, as well as medical supplies and trained phlebotomists in this HIV-stricken nation, and your skills can save lives. Also popular: “Surrogacy for Thai Sex Workers.” Use your uterus to foster hope, in a place where there is none.

For more information on adventure voluntourism, contact the National Organization for Worldwide Assistance: You (NOWAY), at www.noway.org.

Pregnant woman to climb Everest, fetus to be youngest ever on the summit

Pregnant mountaineer Kate Suleman is preparing to climb Mt. Everest, which at 29,035 feet in height, is the tallest mountain on the planet. If she is successful, her unborn fetus will set a new record for the youngest person to ever reach the summit of the mountain.

The adventurous mom-to-be has just completed her first trimester and is already en route to base camp on the South Side of the mountain, which sits along the border of Nepal and Tibet. Once there, she’ll begin the 2+ month long process that is required to make the climb, which includes establishing various camps up the face, while acclimatizing to the dizzying altitude.

If everything goes according to plan, a summit bid will be made sometime in late May. Kate will still be in her second trimester at that point, roughly five months along, and if she reaches the top of Everest, she’ll have helped establish the new record for the youngest summitteer in history. Kate says that she’ll be aided in her efforts by her indispensable Sherpa guides, but also views herself as the Sherpa for her unborn child, helping him or her establish a new world record before they are even born.

While one would think that this would set a nearly unbreakable record for the youngest climber on Everest, plans are already afoot to break the record. Nadya Gosselin, a former climbing partner turned rival of Kate, says that she intends to actually get pregnant in base camp, and then summit the mountain, there by reducing the “youngest ever” age even further.

Stay tuned folks. As the race to be the youngest on Everest continues, it is only a matter of time before someone actually gets pregnant while on the summit.

President Obama drafting legislation to abolish the Central time zone

Full of renewed energy after his health care reform victory, President Obama is hard at work on continuing the introduction of new legislation. In proposal H.R. 4980, President Obama is aiming to abolish the Central time zone.

In the proposal, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas will become Eastern time zone states, and the remaining states currently in the Central time zone will move to Mountain time.

The proposal has the full backing of the Democratic party, but the real reason behind the change is so the President no longer needs to deal with the time change between Washington D.C. and his home city of Chicago, making it easier for his friends to call him without waking him up.

As of right now, H.R. 4980 may not have the required number of votes, but the President has already hinted at adding the “abolish Central time act” to the next wave of changes made to the Health Care bill.

If the proposal does indeed become law, it’ll go into effect the next time the nation enters daylight savings time (Sunday November 7th).

New foodie obsession: cannibalism

Gadling strives to stay on the forefront of culinary travel news. That’s why were were both shocked and excited when we heard about the newest obsession amongst foodies from Stockholm to São Paolo: cannibalism. Before you gasp, think of the other things that people eat all over the world. From dog to tarantula to congealed pig’s blood, people will eat just about anything. And now, we’re pushing the envelope even further by tasting the most dangerous game.

Dr. Pierre Saint Bernard of the Institute of Human Development and Digestion spoke on the matter earlier this year at the Other Red Meat Conference in Berlin. “Cannibalism has a rich and celebrated history in cultures from South America, Polynesia, Asia and yes, even Europe,” he said. “Eventually it became frowned upon, but that was only because of the social mores of the elite who imposed their discomfort with human consumption on the working class.”

Attendees at the Other Red Meat Conference were treated to dishes from a bevy of international chefs specializing in Homo sapien cuisine. Chef Roland Kuapia from New Zealand prepared human tongues and chips, a playful take on fish and chips that he serves at his restaurant, The People’s Place, in Rotorua. “Human tongue is only tough if it’s overcooked,” he said, “and when you batter and fry them in sesame oil it’s next to impossible to overcook them.”

With more and more restaurants around the world serving human meat in myriad ways, it won’t be long before you’re munching on people parts the next time you hit the road. As Dr. Saint Bernard noted in his keynote address, “People are abundant, renewable and ever so delicious. It’s the wine pairing that’s difficult.”

Virgin America and American Apparel to merge, passengers required to wear leotards

Breaking news! This morning, Virgin America announced that it will be joining forces with long time rival American Apparel in what will be the world’s largest hipster conglomerate. Aptly named “Virgin Apparel,” the new company is slated to control 84% of the skintight-jean wearing market, far ahead of the next biggest player in the industry, Jaunted, which controls 7%. Corporate financing firm Moody’s also predicts that fixie bike riders will now dedicate at least 74% of their travel to the new powerhouse, nearly twice the current level.

With such a stranglehold over the market, Virgin Apparel will soon find themselves in the position to start selectively taking reservations. One strategy to “sift out the phonies” recently suggested by Virgin America director of public relations Nick Carey was to “require all passengers to wear leotards and aviator sunglasses,” a move that will surely create deep rifts within passengers’ ranks.

Set for completion in the third quarter of 2010, the merger has not had any impact on Virgin America’s refusal to add Chicago to their route map.

Shares of Virgin America stock soared in response to the announcement, surging up 14% in opening trading while American Apparel’s stock wedged up a solid 3% in kind.