Photo Of The Day: Standing On The Cliffs

Look out! It’s a long way down in today’s photo, brought to us by Flickr user Buck Forester. Similar to the shot Alex selected this past Friday, today’s photo was also taken along the gorgeous beaches of Kauai in Hawaii, just from an entirely different perspective. Instead of walking along this rugged island’s eye-popping shoreline, Buck takes us to another view high above the waves below, providing this colorful, vertigo-inducing look at the view from the top.

Taken any great Hawaii photos of your own recently? Or perhaps at a beach near you? Add them to our Gadling group on Flickr. We might just pick one of your shots as our Photo of the Day.

Getting high on Hong Kong

Everything about visiting Hong Kong is vertical. From the towering skyscrapers of Victoria Harbor to the city’s jaw-dropping views and rooftop secrets, it’s a destination best experienced from up above. But it’s not just height that makes Hong Kong a great city for travelers. It’s the mind-boggling density that comes with it: the high rises clinging to the slopes of mountains, the daily blitzkrieg of billboards and light and the hidden retreats tucked on high that taken as a whole have the power to awe and delight.

During Gadling’s visit to Hong Kong last month, we had a chance to investigate some of the numerous high places that give this metropolis its unique air. From vertigo-inducing cocktail lounges to modern architectural masterpieces to heart-stopping city views, we looked low (and high) for Hong Kong’s best spots. Wondering what we found? Get ready to get high on Hong Kong. Keep reading below for more…Drinking in the sights
The street level signage for Hong Kong steakhouse Wooloomooloo is unassuming and forgettable. But visitors who take the elevator to the 31st floor of the restaurant’s Wan Chai location will discover some truly unforgettable city views. Hidden high above this busy downtown district is low-lit oasis of romance and luxury, with floor to ceiling windows and million-dollar views of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers, Victoria Harbor, and the Happy Valley racetrack.

Wooloomooloo’s main attraction is the restaurant’s open air roof deck, where visitors can sip a few cocktails or a glass of wine, bathed in the glow of Hong Kong’s 24-hour light show below.

A vertical masterpiece

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Hong Kong, you probably already know the iconic Bank of China Tower, designed by architect I.M. Pei. The beveled edges of this sky-high building make it one of the city’s most famous tall landmarks – and also among its most controversial. This towering structure has been criticized for its poor feng shui, a Chinese philosophy that advocates proper “energy flow” in design. Love or hate it, did you know the Bank of China Tower has a viewing deck open to the public? Take the elevator to the 43rd Floor for a peek inside this architectural wonder and some imposing views of the city below.

The ultimate Hong Kong view
Hong Kong has some downright impressive heights, whether you’re drinking at a swanky rooftop restaurant or checking out the view from one of its most famous buildings. But the most amazing way to see Hong Kong from up high is the panorama from The Peak. Located on the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, “The Peak” offers visitors a literal bird’s eye look at this remarkable city.

Half the fun of getting to The Peak is riding on the historic Peak Tram cable car, which drags passengers up the mountain’s perilously steep hillside. Once you arrive at the top, you’ll be treated one of the world’s most unique city views, looking down from on high at Hong Kong’s impressive skyline below. Though many will opt to pay for the Sky Terrace viewing deck, don’t feel obligated. Instead, walk out the doors of the Peak Tower to find several free spots with equally amazing views.

Hong Kong isn’t just a metropolis that “stands tall” on the world stage. It is tall – from the restaurants to the architecture to the stunning views. Stay long enough, and you might never want to come down.

Rise 35 stories above the city on Chicago’s new balloon attraction

Navy Pier, Chicago‘s biggest tourist trap, is offering visitors a new way to see the city. If riding the elevator to the top of the Sears Willis Tower or relaxing as a giant Ferris wheel slowly inches you skyward doesn’t satisfy your thirst for getting airborne, maybe this one will. A 120,000 cubic-foot helium balloon, called the AeroBalloon, promises to float you 350 feet above the ground.

The balloon’s gondola, which has a hole in the center through which passengers view the ground, can carry up to 18 people, which it will hold aloft for a ride of 8-10 minutes before returning to Earth. Kids must be at least 5 years old to ride and those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The rides are offered from 8am to 10pm Monday through Thursday and from 8am to midnight Friday to Sunday. The attraction will shut down for the season on October 31.

Tickets cost a hefty $25 for adults ($15 for kids 12 and under). $25 for 10 minutes? No thanks. I’ll take my view with a side of cocktail – at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center – where I can pay around $15 and linger as long as I want.

Gadling + BootsnAll – Picks of the Week (3.13.09)

Welcome back to Gadling’s weekly “Picks of the Week” from our friends over at travel site, BootsnAll. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you some of our favorite stories this week from the site. Take a look below and click on through if you find something that catches your interest:

  • Weird Philippines – the Philippines is already an “out there” destination for many travelers, so it goes without saying that those who visit are privileged with some amazing sights and strange local customs. Marseille Markham tells us about her Top 5 Weirdest Philipines sights. Remember that Filipino prison where they dance to Thriller? You can go see it LIVE. Get me a ticket to Cebu immediately…
  • Spanish Lessons in Central America – my first experience abroad was staying with a family in Costa Rica during High School. It was an amazing introduction to the culture and also a great way to wok on my Spanish. Rebecca Brych give us the lowdown on how to study Spanish in Central America for anyone who might be inerested. It’s very comprehensive guide of everything from finding a school to picking classes to figuring out where to stay.
  • High in the Sky – I always associate mountains with travel. But for many people, mountains mean they’re home. Julie Blakley takes a look at the Highest Cities in the World in her latest post. Let me tell you, I’m out of breath just looking the elevations for some of these places. Think Cusco is high? How about La Rinconada, Peru at over 16,000 feet!
  • Feisty Female Travelers – you might know Christine Amanpour, the Chief International Correspondent of CNN, as one woman that’s really set the bar high for solo female travelers, including trips to Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. This week Lucy Corne takes a look at six of history’s most famous and well-known female travelers, a tribute to all they’ve done to set a “traveling example” for women everywhere.
  • Gondola Gallery – you pretty much know if you visit Venice, one of Italy’s most famous cities, you’re going to see some gondolas. The iconic boats are pretty much the town’s unofficial symbol at this point. BootsnAll’s Italy blog features some of their favorite gondola photography in this week’s feature.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s Gadling and BootsnAll “Picks of the Week.” We’ll be back next Friday with another week’s worth of great content. Stay tuned.

Tourist and Rude-Tourist Prices

One thing that I never get used to about travelling is the ever-changing prices. Here in North America, prices are clearly outlined everywhere — on signs, price tags, ads. They typically stay the same throughout the year. But almost everyone I’ve travelled to outside of North America has a special kind of pricing — I call it “I charge what I feel like charging” pricing.”

Vendors often don’t post their pricing; they eye you up before they figure out what they’re going to charge. This is both good and bad — on one hand, it allows you to barter with the vendor, but on the other hand, it usually means you’re getting ripped off, just by virtue of being a foreigner. Prices also vary by season. Summer prices can be double what you would be paying if you went a few months before or after.

Truth be told, it’s quite common for prices of food, accommodation and souvenirs to be raised drastically according to not only the season but where you’re from. But here’s an instance of seasonal prices being taken to whole new level — Merchants in Venice are charging 3 different prices: Low (for locals), High (for tourists) and super-high (for rude tourists.)

I think this is amusing (certainly nobody in Canada would have the gall to charge rude people more) but actually, I kind of like the idea. There’s nothing more annoying than the ignorant tourist who goes to another country to do little more than act like a jerk and insist that everyone speak English to him. He makes everyone else look bad. Word to the wise: when you’re a guest in someone else’s country, the least you can do is maintain some sort of polite dignity for the language and customs, and if you can’t do that much, perhaps you deserve to get treated less hospitably.

(via Intelligent Traveler)