Indian YouTube star Wilbur Sargunaraj makes a “first-class” Canada video


Wilbur Sargunaraj first became a viral hit with the YouTube video Love Marriage and has been called “India‘s first YouTube star,” making songs and videos combining the “funny foreigner” schtick of Borat with a Bollywood beat. Sargunaraj’s further projects have served to increase our “CQ” (cultural quotient) with “first class” videos like the informative how-to on using an Indian toilet.

For this new “Canada cool” video, Sargunaraj went up north to Ottawa, where it’s -40 degrees (fun fact taught to me by a Canadian: -40 is where celsius and fahrenheit meet!). He does a lot of Canada fun activities, like ice skating at the Rideau Canal and eating BeaverTails on Ottowa Street. Check out the video and leave us your comments: internet phenom or flash in the pan?

Thanks to Legal Nomads‘ Jodi Ettenberg for the video.

Amazing Race 13 recap 8: Kazakhstan makes Bizarre Foods look tame

India was easy compared to Kazakhstan–sort of. This week’s Amazing Race 13 was a glance into some of the more unusual aspects of Kazakh culture. As teams sped through the streets of Almaty, even though much of the city looked western and urban with architecture that reflects its former Soviet Union ties, the teams experienced more of Kazakhstan’s agricultural tradition than perhaps is apparent in Almaty daily life.

I’m not sure how much more I learned about Kazakhstan, but I do know what not to order in a restaurant. Plus, Borat made this country famous, something the teams referred to when they found out this is where they were heading.

Travel Tips:

  • If you’re a vegetarian don’t attempt to eat the rear end of a sheep
  • If you make a mistake, the quicker you admit it, the faster you can make up time
  • If you ask people directly for help, you’ll have much better luck than just randomly shouting out, “Can someone give us directions?”

Cultural traditions and Recap: If you find yourself in Delhi and want to head to Kazakhstan, there are three options: through Frankfurt; through Dubai; and through Moscow. In the Amazing Race, it doesn’t matter which flight you are on because when your team shows up to the Alel Agro Chicken Factory in the middle of the night, you’ll have to hang out until 7:30 a.m. when it opens. That means the team that went through Dubai (Andrew & Dan) had time to get there by the time the gate opened. As a bonus, the sunrise over a chicken farm was lovely.

Once the gate opened, the first task of the day was the mad dash to the clue box. Nick, in true competitive spirit, snatched a clue right out of Andrew’s hand, thus propelling Nick & Starr towards the Fast Forward with Terrence & Sarah close behind.

While these two teams tried to down soup made from the butt end of a sheep as belly dancers danced, the other teams donned white jumpsuits, masks, shoe coverings and gloves in order to find one of seven golden eggs among the 30,000 chickens that were milling about the chicken shack.

As the chickens clucked and pecked, one person from each team cajoled the chickens to move in order to find one of the prized eggs. As the team members searched, the other team members clutched their masks to their faces and shouted encouragement. Although I wondered about the stench, I’d rather have done this then the Fast Forward.

Downing the soup was a dreadful process that probably Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods would have had trouble with. Both Nick and Starr tried not to barf with each bite while Terrence tried not to barf as soon as he eyed the guy eating the sheep’s head. Terrence, a vegetarian hadn’t eaten meat for 15 years.

Sarah gamely scarfed her gross looking soup down, but it was too much for Terrence. Why they didn’t give up sooner? I have no idea. Instead, they watched Nick and Starr almost make it to the last bite before they headed back to the chicken factory to look for their golden egg. I was curious about what else the restaurant served. Here’s a link to other food descriptions that sound much better, except I would not want to eat sheep’s head.

As soon as each team found their golden egg, they hopped into a giant crane truck with a driver who was to take them through the city to Koktobe Arch at the foothills of the Tienshan Mountains.

Dallas & Toni were off to the foothills first, while Dan & Andrew had the worst luck–again. Their driver had no idea where to go, and in their resulting miffed state, the guys had a hard time attracting positive energy and someone to give them directions. Instead they thought that the Kazakhs were the “worst people,” even though people in this country have a reputation for their great hospitality.

Toni and Dallas made it up the mountain first. There they were met by Mongol warriors dressed in traditional warrior attire riding on horseback. One of the warriors was a falconer who waited with them for a falcon to sweep in with the next clue held in its claws. That was cool. And, there was a brief glimpse of the beauty of the surrounding mountains. No time to linger, though.

Once teams got their next clue from the falcon, it was off to either dress up in a two person cow suit to find a glass of milk while walking through Almaty mooing at people, or to learn how to play a simple tune on two Kazakh instruments. Each team picked dressing up like a cow –even Sarah & Terrence once they backtracked from their failed attempt at the Fast Forward.

The cow costumes were part of a children’s puppet theater troupe. Dallas & Toni had a great time with their mooing and met with many laughs and smiles from the people they passed. Andrew & Dan, growing weary of each other, had a hard time getting people to help them with directions by continuing their poor tactic of yelling out something like, “Can someone help us?” It took awhile for them to attract help.

Tina & Ken found the milk stand fairly quickly, Tina downed a glass she found on the counter even though it was warm. Unfortunately, she didn’t notice the clue on the bottom of the glass. Off this pair went, searching for another milk stand before they figured out their mistake. Back to the stand they went to get their glass. Then they made the mistake of taking off their cow suit at the puppet theater before heading to the meat stall in the Zelyoniy Bazaar, even though, Toni & Dallas, seeing them, told them they needed the cow suit. The meat market person wouldn’t give them Tina & Ken the clue, so back they went to change into the cow suit once more.

By this time, Toni & Dallas had already found their last clue and were heading to the Pit Stop at Old Square where they came in second behind Nick & Starr.

By the end of the episode excitement ensued as Dan & Andrew messed up and took a cab to the Pit Stop from the meat market. Phil sent them back so they could return to the Pit Stop on foot. He told them to hurry. They hustled. The hustling paid off.

Who was eliminated?: Sarah & Terrence. Despite Sarah & Terrence’s success with each task once they gave up in the Fast Forward, it wasn’t enough for them to edge out Andrew & Dan. Andrew & Dan were ecstatic to find out they were still in the game.

Although disappointed, this couple who uses endearments for each other in about every sentence took the loss in stride. Terrence just can’t eat meat. It’s as simple as that.

Words of Travel Wisdom: Saying things like “Good job my love,” makes difficulties easier to take. Even if you don’t win a million dollars, traveling with the person you want in your life can give you great things and make a relationship stronger. Money can’t buy happiness. (It could help though, don’t you think?)

What Nick and Starr won: Horsepower wave runners. This is the first time a team has arrived at the Pit Stop in first place four times in a row.

Personally, I’d like another team to come in first once in awhile. I was also sad to see Terrence & Sarah go. I’ll miss hearing their endearments.

You and Europe video contest

Here’s a way to win a trip to Europe for two. Here’s one catch. You have to either travel to Europe and shoot a video of the experience–or have been there before and have a video on hand, or there’s no hope for you. The European Travel Commission’s, “You and Europe” contest is one where travelers submit video footage of their European trip to www.visiteurope.com. There it can be viewed by the public and the judges.

If you’re heading to Europe this summer, you have time. The deadline isn’t until September 30. After that the judges will decide who wins. According to the Web site, videos can be “funny, poignant, romantic, serious, or silly–capture an aspect of the culture–whatever captures your imagination.”

Videos need to be no longer than three minutes. As a bit of advice, based on “an aspect of the culture,” I wouldn’t make this a Borat-style film where your interactions are the focal point. The Web site is pushing Europe to travelers. As darling and stunning as you are, you’re not it.

To give you tips and ideas, there is a how-to video on making a travel video from CompulsiveTraveler that is geared towards the contest. You can also view what others have submitted for a shot of inspiration.

Hint: These are good. Make yours better.

The most underrated country in the world

“Why is it so hard to admit you like the good ‘ole US of A?” asks Ben Groundwater, resident Backpacker Blogger at the Sydney Morning Herald.

As a non-American who spends a lot of time in the US, I wept with joy when I read his latest blog “The most underrated country in the world“. OK, I didn’t weep but I did enjoy it tremendously.

He gets into analyzing the American psyche, which–let’s be honest here–has been the full-time job of many a backpacker worldwide. From my own modest experience psychoanalyzing the American “it”, I advise against it. Unless of course you take pleasure in pissing people off. (Gadling is hiring, by the way)

Anyway, back to Ben. He shares his own observations about America: “I first touched down in the US as a kid, a time when it’s impossible to hate the place….As you grow up, however, the place becomes harder and harder to love….My long-time travel buddy, the Hilton Hippy, has got the shits with the Yanks. Never going back there, he says. Doesn’t want to be fingerprinted by some half-witted goon in immigration. Doesn’t want to throw his tourist dollars into a place run by a glorified county sheriff….But let’s cut to the biggest perceived problem with the US: the people…..They’re meant to be loud-mouthed, rude, arrogant, and ridiculously insular.”

Hold on here, be patient. This is where Ben goes positive on us. “Thing is, the Seppos get a bad wrap because of their behaviour when you meet them overseas, but at home, they’re generous to the point of being overbearing. I’ve been driven across state lines by people I barely know, been offered directions by New Yorkers before I’ve even had a chance to pull out a map, had people beg me to come visit so they can show me their home town. Borat made those college kids look pretty damn stupid when he hitched a lift with them in the movie, but have a think about what was actually happening. Here was a bunch of kids heading off on holidays, picking up what was, to their minds at least, a middle-aged Kazakhstani hitchhiker, sharing their precious stash of beer with him and trading stories. Find me any Australians who would do that.”

He’s got a point there. Americans are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. (As a non-American I can actually say that and not sound like a totally clueless Yankee flag-waver.)

(Read Ben’s entire The most underrated country in the world” blog here)

Borat To Write Travel Book Called “Borat: Touristic Guidings To Minor Nation of U.S. and A”

BoratThough this news story ridiculously refers to Borat Sagdiyev as a “fictional Kazakh television reporter,” I still think it’s worth a mention.

Evidently, the articulate, suave, and uber-sophisticated Borat has just agreed to share his eminient knowledge and produce a book of travel advice. Two books in one, the first half is a guide to the United States for Kazakhs; the second half is a guide to Kazakhstan for Westerners. Wisely, the book will have a dual title: “Borat: Touristic Guidings To Minor Nation of U.S. and A.” and “Borat: Touristic Guidings To Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Who needs The Smart Traveler’s Passport?

Evidently, Borat’s book will be filled with images, illustrations, and practical advice. We’ll do our best to get him in for a Talking Travel.