Lonely Planet recently released its Best in Travel 2014, which includes a list of the top 10 cities for traveling. These cities are spread across the globe and include classics as well as cities that are just coming into their own as traveler destinations. The Lonely Planet list includes some obvious choices like Paris, Cape Town, Zurich, Shanghai, Vancouver, Chicago, and Auckland but it also includes less obvious choices like Trinidad, Cuba, Adelaide, Australia, and Riga, Latvia. Check it out here and then let us know, which cities would you add to the 2014 list?
Although the number of airline passengers has skyrocketed over the past decade, China’s infrastructure has been unable to keep the pace. And as the number of delayed flights have risen, so too have the accounts of passenger brawls and acts of civil disobedience.
The problem has gotten so bad, the employees of at least one Hong Kong airline are learning kung fu as self defense.
Beijing Capital International is the worst airport for on-time departures, with an average delay of nearly 90 minutes. Another Chinese airport, Shanghai Pudong International, ranks fourth on that same list. Fewer than 30 percent of flights leaving Beijing airport are on time.
China plans to invest $230 billion to build 55 new airports in the coming decades, including a second in Beijing that will become the world’s largest when completed. But that’s little solace to the passengers who are constantly bumped from their flights now.For more than a year, passengers — mostly Chinese, but some American and other nationalities — have routinely acted out against airline staff. A three-day and multiple cancellation delay for a 2012 United flight from Shanghai to Newark led to frazzled nerves and fisticuffs. After baggage personnel were caught manhandling travelers’ luggage, they were attacked and beaten by passengers. After the passengers were finally able to make it to their destination, they received $1,000 vouchers for a future United flight, although no one seemed to be in a hurry to use it.
Also in 2012, 20 or so angry passengers angered by a 16-hour flight delay, stormed the Shanghai runway, narrowly missing an oncoming plane. In July of this year, 30 other irate passengers stormed a runway in Nanchang after a seven-hour delay. The Shanghai passengers would later receive about $160 in compensation from the offending airline.
With no end in sight to delays, the problems seem to be worsening — more than 26 fights were broken up at Chinese airports between May and August of this year. Some of these brawls have sent airport employees to the hospital with severe injuries.
Luckily there have been peaceful protests as well. Last year a group of stranded passengers took over the public announcement system to sing songs after airline staff deserted the terminal.
Today’s Video of the Day takes us on a techno-filled trip through Shanghai, courtesy of photographer Rob Whitworth. Although much of the short time-lapse film focuses on twinking lights and congested traffic, it also shows the city is much more than that by stopping to follow both a taxi driver and a woman selling flowers. The video also stops for a few seconds to give a glimpse into a couple local kitchens. My favorite part, however, is just after the minute mark, when the lights that make up Shanghai’s skyline shut off one by one. Watch for yourself and see what part of Shanghai you’d most like to experience.
Rob Whitworth’s time-lapses are always a cut above. His unique tracking and morphing shots draw you into a city’s routine and accurately sketch its character. His panning and zooming give the sensation of flying around a city and dropping in on its denizens for a look around at ground level before taking to the air again.
He’s applied his time-lapse talent to other Asian cities before, notably Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Hoi An, Vietnam, but this is his first video from China. Shanghai makes for a particularly apropos canvas. Its rapid development in the past few decades has draped a curtain of skyscrapers and high-rise apartment towers on a frame of traditional longtang alleys and lanes.
A cursory look at Shanghai would show the snarled motorways and brightly lit commercial towers of Pudong. However, Whitworth takes care to contrast the city’s frenetic development with its more human character: a flower vendor navigating traffic, her cart piled high with bouquets and potted plants; Shanghainese preparing and munching on the city’s famous dumplings; and even a brief flyby of the city’s fledgling Moganshan art district.
A new maglev train purported to reach speeds of 311 mph was tested for the first time on the Yamanashi test track in Japan this week. When put into service in 2027, the high-speed, magnetically levitated train will connect Tokyo with Nagoya, reducing the travel time from the current hour and a half down to only 40 minutes.
While China currently holds the speed title for in-service commercial trains with its airport-to-city maglev in Shanghai, Japan has long been the global leader in high-speed rail. Its famous Shinkansen bullet train network debuted way back in 1964.
With this new train, the L0, Japan will almost certainly reclaim the “world’s fastest” title. However, the Chinese have claimed they have a train in development that will zip along at over 600 mph.
In any case, the L0 will carry up to 1,000 passengers at a time. And in just over 30 years, Japan will have extended the line to Osaka, 300 miles from Tokyo. The government plans to eventually expand the network around the entire country.
Floating trains zipping around the country at almost half the speed of sound; we, or at least the Japanese, are living in the future.