Is Mexico The Zombie Capital Of The World?

zombies With zombie culture becoming more and more popular, it’s not uncommon to see corpse-themed walks and parades popping up in cities all over the world. While it’s easy to get into these events and have fun, Mexico seems to take celebrating the undead to a whole different level.

Zombie Walk started as a way to promote a film festival in Sacramento, California, in 2001. The event began spreading all over the globe, including to Mexico. After breaking Sydney‘s Guinness World Record in 2011 with more than 9,803 zombies in Mexico City, the country’s zombie culture has grown tremendously. Zombie Walk Mexico has gone from being an annual event to a full-on lifestyle, with themed parties, film festivals, media releases containing zombie news, promotions and games. In fact, each month, there are at least one or two zombie parties.

Along with the parties, says Martín Emilio Zavala Santamaría, the Press Department Chief of Zombie Walk México, “It is fairly common that there are from one to three zombie activities each month, mostly during October and November, as the date of the ‘Dia de los Muertos’ comes close in Mexico.”

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He continues to talk about how the movement has grown, explaining, “In the beginning we never expected 12,000 zombies at our walk, and now we see at least 200 people at every zombie event and are expecting a thousand runners in the Zombiecausto. With a webpage producing texts, audio and photos, making our own videos, appearing in public radio and TV, we keep producing more because people keep asking for more.”

Some activities Zombie Walk has had in the past include “Sony Flash Mob,” where they helped Sony with the recording of an impromptu public zombie dance; “Zombie Night at the Drive-In Cinema,” where they played “Night of the Living Dead,” served themed foods and gave out costume prizes; and the “Morbido Film Festival,” an annual horror and fantasy film event.

Their biggest event, however, is right around the corner on August 4, “Zombiecausto.” It entails racing through the woods scrambling for your life to get away from a zombie mob to a safe zone. The goal of the event is get participants to feel as if they’re actually living in the world of the undead. Additionally, the country’s next zombie walks will take place on October 22, in Guadalajara, Leon and, of course, Mexico City.

If you’re interested in taking part in some zombie-related fun in Mexico, you can contact info@zombiewalk.mx for information. For a more visual idea of Zombie Walk Mexico, check out the gallery above.

[Image above via Bob Jagendorf; Gallery photos via the Mexico Tourism Board]

8 Websites Offering Unique Local Tours Around The World

eating fire While it can be worthwhile booking a tour through a big-name company when traveling, it can get boring seeing a new city in the same old fashion. To do something off beat and interesting, these companies are offering unique tours and activities created and led by locals.

Gidsy

A marketplace for local and unusual experiences, Gidsy was started in 2011 in Berlin by two brothers, Edial and Floris Dekker. The idea was formed in an unusual way, when the hungry brothers were looking for someone to take them mushroom picking so they could make mushroom risotto. Thus, Gidsy was born. The business puts an emphasis on the host, trying to show off their personality and unique skill or knowledge.

“The experiences are better because they’re expressions of an individual’s personality and passion,” explained Edial to VentureBeat. “Instead of attending a yoga class at a gym, for example, you’ll find an expert on Gidsy offering candle-lit yoga classes on a rooftop.”

It’s free for hosts to make a profile and offer their service, and a great way for them to meet new people and make a profit. Some unique tour options include making sock monkeys for charity in New York ($18.88), learning to eat fire in Los Angeles ($25, pictured above), getting a relaxing singing bowl massage in Amsterdam ($19) and partaking in a twilight Berlin underground walking tour ($24.58).HipHost

Founded by Mario Ricciardelli in June 2011, HipHost was started with a “vision of empowering anyone to share their passion and expertise by creating awesome local tours.” The company focuses on allowing travelers to go local in a new city, and also on helping them to save money. You can check how trustworthy a guide is through interviews, personal recommendations and reviews. Additionally, they have a great money back guarantee – if you’re not satisfied, you’ll be issued a refund immediately. Some of their unusual offerings include exploring the haunted spots of Phoenix ($22), a sunrise meditation and beach walk in Miami Beach ($9), a medical marijuana dispensary and music tour of Los Angeles ($76) and a tour that takes you to film locations from the movie “Twilight” in Portland, Oregon ($73).




CanaryHop

Described as a “marketplace for activities, tours, lessons and experiences,” CanaryHop is a helpful tool for connecting travelers with local hosts in a city. The idea for the site, which was cofounded by Andy Samberg in June 2011, came when the founders were traveling through the South of France with their families. After searching the web for hours, they still couldn’t find anything to do. They knew there had to be a better way to make the most of vacations.

“Our solution is to give travellers around the world a diverse set of local activities that they can book for their kids, for themselves and can be accessible by locals, tourists, travel agencies and more in booking travel around the world,” CanaryHop told Tnooz.

CanaryHop is designed around the idea of a canary, or host, and travelers “hopping” along with the tours around the world. You can search via activity, lesson, location, price or level of child-friendliness. And, if you find the same tour cheaper somewhere else, CanaryHop will refund you the difference. Some interesting tours to find on CanaryHop include a scavenger hunt in Denver ($40), a tour through Salem based on the pages of “A Walk Through Salem” and “A Walk Under Salem” ($10), a private sandcastle lesson in South Padre Island ($200) and gladiator classes in Rome ($338).

brewcycle GuideHop

Started in 2011, GuideHop is a “peer-to-peer marketplace for tours and guided activities.” The company aims to connect people from around the world, and help travelers and those interested in making discoveries try new things. It integrates social media by allowing you to post your activities to Facebook and Twitter, and also focuses on giving guides fair rates, while at the same time showing those signing up for tours exactly how much the guide receives from the price.

“Your hotel room should not be what you write home about. An uninspired bus tour of all the obligatory sites shouldn’t be the only way you experience a city,” the founders told Tnooz in an interview. “It’s no fun burying your nose in a guide book but you don’t want to waste your precious spare time on some lackluster tourist trap.”

Users can search by location, activity or top guides. Some of their unique experiences include taking a brewery tour while riding a 15-person brewcycle ($30, pictured above), playing unicycle football in Austin ($15) and a Beatles walking tour of New York ($34).

Triptrotting

Triptrotting is a versatile site that not only allows travelers to connect one-on-one, but also through tours and activities hosted by locals. The idea began to take form in 2008, although the venture was formally founded in July of 2010. When traveling through Thailand, the founders felt like “clueless tourists,” being herded from one site to the next. While they took photos of numerous monuments, they couldn’t help but feel as though making a connection with locals was the key factor missing. They wondered what natives their age did, and from there, the idea for Triptrotting was born.

Triptrotting is passionate about global citizenship, stating on their “About Us” page, “Through face-to-face interaction, people will learn to understand each other beyond cultural differences and boundaries. With the help of the Triptrotting community, we hope to make the world a better place through cultural exchange and understanding.”

Some interesting tour and activity options offered include a nighttime photo tour of New York ($90), a Lincoln Park urban nature tour in Chicago ($55), a Segway experience of Santa Monica and Venice Beach ($128) and a tour of the hidden areas of Berlin ($38).




Vayable

Vayable, which the site defines as “the best way to find unique, insider travel experiences, worldwide,” has the unique mission to better the world through experiences. For example, a study by UNESCO showed that tourism is one of the greatest threats to global sites by which it sustains itself. Vayable tries to respond to this problem.

“… the survival of the industry translates into the survival of the communities that sustain it, particularly in developing countries,” Vayable says in their mission statement. “For many countries, tourism presents the greatest promise of prosperity and economic mobility. Vayable provides these communities with a new, safe and fun way to accomplish this.”

The idea for Vayable came when co-founder Jamie Wong went on a trip to Morocco. Guidebook in hand, she wandered into a carpet shop and began telling the owner how much she wanted to visit the Sahara Desert. Moments later, they were driving for 15 hours through the Atlas Mountains to the desert, where Wong met the shopkeeper’s cousin, Ali, who was head of the caravan tribe. Wong got to travel for five nights on camel, sleeping under the stars and eating bread baked in the sun. When the trip was over, she realized the small amount of money she had spent – well, what she saw as small, anyway – had given Ali and his cousin enough to live on for a month. Wong’s new understanding of the world lead her to want to make a difference. From here, the idea for Vayable was born.

Some interesting experiences they offer include touring Paris by scooter at night ($80), doing a fake hipster tour of London ($24), urban spelunking in New York ($90, shown in the video above) and an educational homelessness walking tour through San Francisco ($20).

weapons SideTour

SideTour, whose tagline is “Challenge the ordinary,” was launched in the summer of 2011 by Vipin Goyal within the TechStars incubator in New York City. They set up travelers and curious locals with hosts who can show them unique skills and facets of the city. While many similar companies use a listing system, where users find an interesting activity and contact the host to arrange to meet, SideTour uses an event outline. Hosts plan an activity for a specific date and time, and then interested parties can purchase tickets. For now they’re focusing on New York only; however, they will be spreading to other cities in the near future.

“We update our site weekly with the most uncommon and unexpected activities, so you’re always in the know with whatever’s going on around you,” says SideTour. “Our NYC-based team curates each and every listing so you can book knowing that a great experience is guaranteed.”

You’ll need to create an account or sign in with Facebook to see events. Upcoming activities they’re offering include having lunch with a monk ($20), discussing national security with an ABC news reporter ($25), getting insider access to Hollywood’s secret weapons depot in SoHo ($60, pictured above) and spray painting your own graffiti tag with an NYC crew ($75).

Meetup

While often overlooked by travelers, Meetup is excellent way to find unique activities to enjoy with like-minded people. With more than 9,000 groups and about 340,000 monthly meetups in 45,000 cities, they boast being the world’s largest network of local groups. You can search for meetup groups that interest you, join, then attend interesting activities and events. The concept for Meetup began shortly after 9/11, when founder Scott Heiferman read the book “Bowling Alone.” He realized the less people interact with those they don’t know, the less they trust strangers. Because of this, they end up interacting less. Additionally, Heiferman used to go see a band he loved, Luna, often times alone. Although he would see the same people at every show, he usually felt awkward going up to them.

“…it’s not just find the people that have a similar interest because the other people that like that band were in the same place multiple times a year, but it’s more about giving them permission to talk to people, giving them license to talk to each other,” Heiferman explained in an interview with Betabeat.

What’s really great is the activities and events are usually free or extremely inexpensive to attend. You’ll have to join the groups to RSVP to events, although there is an option to contact the group moderators. Simply let them know you’re coming to town and interested in attending an upcoming event. While it’s hard to narrow down just a few offbeat groups to join on Meetup, some include:

  • Long Island Role Players– This is great if you’re interested in fantasy-meets-reality role playing games, like “All Flesh Must Be Eaten,” a survival horror game, “Four Color Blues,” a superhero adventure game and “Dungeons and Dragons,” a game of political rule.
  • Sydney Arthouse and Foreign Films– Join this group if you’ll be in Sydney, and are interested in arthouse and foreign films and going to events like film festivals, open-air movie screenings and coffee and drink gatherings with other cinema-lovers.
  • Dublin’s City Life Drawing– This group meets on Tuesdays at a studio in Dublin to draw still life and have constructive discussions. The members also go for drinks afterwards at a local pub.
  • Free Fun in Las Vegas– If you’re looking to save money but have fun in Vegas, this group hosts activities that are $5 or less. They post events like free movies and swimming, $5 improv comedy shows, free farmers markets and free poetry slams.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Olympics

olympics The 2012 Olympics are quickly approaching and people from all over the world are making travel plans to go see The Games in person. While most people know the event takes place July 27 to August 12, and that the location for this year is London, there are a lot of facts about the Olympics that people do not know. To help people get to know the quirkier side of the event, My Destination has created a fun infographic.

Did you know at 62.7 meters, the Olympics stadium is 1.5 times taller than Rio de Janeiro‘s “Christ The Redeemer” statue? Or that the logo for the 2012 Olympics cost £400,000 to create, the same price it would be to adopt a panda in China for 365 years? These are just some of the fun facts you’ll learn from the infographic.

To view the infographic, continue to the next page.


The Olympics and the World - an Olympic inspired infographic from My Destination

Click to enlarge
Made by My Destination: locally informed, globally inspired travel guides and information

How To Have Good Luck Around The World

llama fetus Do you carry a lucky penny or have a rabbit’s foot attached to your key chain? For some new ideas on how to keep your luck running high, here are good luck rituals from around the world.

Bury A Llama Fetus In Bolivia

Walking around the Witches’ Market in La Paz, Bolivia, you’ll see myriad mummified llama fetuses. These aren’t just for decoration, but are actually a good luck charm from ancient Andean culture. Before a new house is built, a llama fetus is buried under the foundation to help give the owners good luck.

Paint Your Door Red In China

In China, it is thought that painting your door red is not only welcoming, but will also bring good fortune and happiness. In Feng Shui, it is believed the door is the mouth of the house, and a bright red color can draw positive energy to the home. There are many other rituals for good luck in China, such as keeping a paqua, or small octagon mirror, above the bed or by the front door to keep bad energy away from your home and out of your dreams. Moreover, having a water source on the property is thought to bring wealth and happiness.

pots and pans Throw Your Old Appliances Out The Window In Italy

Traditionally, throwing your old appliances, clothing and housewares out of the window on New Year’s Eve in Italy is thought to bring good luck for the future. According to Walks of Italy, the thought is that you are letting go of the past and ridding yourself of any negatives you may have experienced. While the custom isn’t practiced by everyone anymore due to safety reasons, there are those who are still keeping the tradition alive for the country.

Some other good luck practices in Italy include tossing coins on the floor or under your bed, exchanging sweets on New Year’s Eve and lighting a Christmas log on the last day of the year to ward off evil spirits. Additionally, at weddings the groom will often carry a piece of iron in his pocket during the ceremony to keep evil spirits away, while the bride may rip her veil a bit to bring the couple good luck.

Toss A Baby From A Temple In Southern India

Yes, you read that right. In southern India, it is an age-old tradition to toss a baby off a 30-foot temple balcony, to be caught on the ground by a giant blanket. The ritual is said to bring the newborn good luck. According to Ian Garland of the Daily Mail, the practice was banned by the Indian government in 2009 but returned in 2012 to the Nagrala Village, as many locals believe it is their religious duty to carry out the ceremony.

A less shocking ritual in India is people exchange sweets for good and prosperity when they visit a home during a festival.

bedHave A Young Boy Roll In Your Bed Before Your Wedding In Singapore

In Singapore, there are many good luck traditions that revolve around weddings. First there is an chuang, or the setting of the bed. Before the wedding, a prosperous man will come to help determine where to place the marrying couple’s bed. A young male relative will then come and roll on the bed, to bless the couple with fertility. Foods like green beans, red beans, oranges, dates and other fruits are then scattered around the bed for good luck.

There is also shang tou, or hair combing, that takes place on the eve of the wedding. The hair of the marrying couple must be combed four times, usually by a female relative. The first round of combing represents the continuity of marriage, while the second stands for a harmonious union into old age. The subsequent stoke is a blessing of fertility, and the final combing is a wish for prosperity in a long-lasting marriage.

Wear Yellow Panties On New Year’s Eve In Colombia

While it may sound funny, Colombians like to ensure good luck for the entire year by taking some precautions on New Year’s Eve. They first ensure good fortune by wear yellow underpants. And to help bring even more luck, they consume 12 grapes at midnight on the special day. Additionally, Colombians don’t “pass the salt” to other people, as they believe this brings misfortune.

chameleon Burn A Chameleon If You’re Unmarried In Morocco

For unmarried women in Morocco, it is often believed that burning a chameleon in a glass will erase their bad luck, and increase their chances of getting married. Likewise, before a wedding ceremony the groom will often send his bride-to-be gifts, such as boxes of milk and Henna plants, to bring good luck for a happy and successful marriage. Also in regards to weddings, the woman getting married, who is traditionally expected to visit a hammam to be purified, will be soaked with water seven times by her close girlfriends, in order to bring good luck to her new life.

It’s not just brides and grooms who participate in good luck rituals. If you have a turtle in your garden or your home, and you keep it, you will also be brought good fortune.

Carry A 5-Yen Coin In Your Wallet In Japan

While 5 yen ($0.06) may not sound like a lot of money, this coin, pronounced “go-en” in Japanese, is close to the pronunciation for the words for destiny, karma or good luck. It is also the only coin with a hole in the center, making it easy to turn into a charm. In Japan, many people carry it in their wallet or purse, or wear it on a ribbon or chain for good luck.

Another way to procure good luck in Japan is through Daruma dolls. The papier-mâché figures are egg-shaped, and bare the likeness of Bodhidharma, the monk credited for founding Zen Buddhism. The dolls are sold with blank white eyes, and locals will add the first pupil when a goal is set and the second when a goal is achieved. Moreover, the dolls are considered a symbol of good luck by the Japanese.

tattoo Get A Tattoo In Tahiti

The word “tattoo” actually comes from the Tahitian word tatu, so it’s no wonder that this form of body art is so important to the culture. In fact, getting a tattoo is a ritual to bring luck and protection, as the tattoo represents your history, family background and often includes symbols that represent good fortune.

Another good luck ritual in Tahiti occurs during a wedding ceremony. This is when the priest will offer a blessing with a sacred auti flower and coconut milk. While doing this, the priest joins the bride and groom’s hands together and reads from a certificate of tapa cloth, usually made from a hibiscus tree.

Hold Lead And Boiling Water Over Your Head In Turkey

In Turkey, one way many people rid themselves of bad omens is through the ritual of lead pouring. To begin, the lead-pourer melts a tablespoon-sized piece of lead in a pan, while the person who is looking for good fortune sits with a cloth on their head for protection from the hot metal. From there, a small pan of boiling water is held over the person’s head, while the liquid lead is added. Most times, a prayer is chanted during the ritual. When the lead hits the water, it immediately turns solid, absorbing the person’s bad omens.

Another good luck tradition is to visit a special church that is open for just one day a year: April 23. Aya Yorgi, a Greek Orthodox church, receives hundreds of people on that day annually. These visitors tie multi-colored threads to trees at the bottom of the hill leading up to the church, in an attempt to bring good fortune.

baboon Wear Baboon Skin On Your Head In Tanzania

According to Fair Travel Tanzania, who kindly interviewed the Hadzabe tribe in Tanzania, Africa, there is a ritual performed to help hunters who do not have luck catching animals. First, the elders advise them to wear baboon skin on their head and body, while putting beads on their shoulders. This is done at night, either under a baobab tree – the most sacred tree for Wahadzabe – or in the camp where they live. The whole community participates by singing and dancing and smearing the unlucky with herbal medicine to clear their misfortunes. Then, elders take the bows and arrows of the participants to bless them: “Haine (or God bless) these bows and arrows and make them shoot better,” is repeated over and over again. The unlucky also get to chew herbal medicinal plants, and should be good and ready for hunting the next morning.

Play Traditional Instruments For Friends And Family In Aruba

In Aruba, they try to ensure good luck for the new year through a ritual known as Dande. The tradition has been going since around 1880, right after the slaves were liberated. Groups made up of five or six people visit the homes of their families and friends, wishing these loved ones good luck and happiness for the upcoming year through music. Traditional Aruban instruments, like the tambu, wiri and raspa are played, along with the cuarta, guitar violin or the accordion to produce the upbeat rhythms of Dande. Lyrics for the songs usually incorporate well wishes for each person present. After the music is over, the head of the household will offer the performers a drink. What’s really interesting is the tradition is very local to the culture, as no other islands in the Caribbean participate in Dande.

[flickr photos via Michah & Erin, somegeekintn, Joelk75, Tambako the Jaguar, NH53]

Hippie-Inspired Pop-Up Hits Vancouver, Canada

pop up Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club is well known for hosting lavish and unusual pop-ups. And to help welcome the warm weather, they are hosting a “Summer of Love” pop-up restaurant on June 3.

The hippie-inspired event will feature a multi-course feast of Persian delicacies, and guests are asked to wear pieces like flowing skirts, flowers in their hair, wooden beads, linen and sandals. When you arrive to the designated park, you can relax on your blanket in the sun until you hear the music beckoning you to the hidden lounge. Follow it, and you’ll be greeted with soft silk pillows for a Roman dining experience, and spiked tea made with elderflower, fir tip and arbutus bark. There will also be a wine pairing upon request.

“The energy of spring is a perfect match for the lively flavours of the Middle East,” says Robin Kort, owner of Swallow Tail Secret Supper Club. “There are so many exciting flavours: tart, spicy, refreshing, floral and sweet.”

As usual, the location of the pop-up will not be disclosed until after the booking is made.

Tickets are $79 per person. Email robin@swallowtailtours.com for more information or to book.