Video: Epic kayaking crashes

Kayaking can be a challenging and dangerous sport, particularly when the water is running fast and wild. The video below hammers that point home with a compilation of some of the craziest and downright scary crashes that you’re ever likely to see on the water. Everything from broken paddles to backward drops over big waterfalls are on display, which makes for an exciting video but will leave you feeling glad that it isn’t you in the kayak.

SkyMall Monday: InstaCloth & the horrible videos it inspires

I’ve written about hundreds of SkyMall products and probably looked at thousands over the years. Lately, however, I’ve also been scouring YouTube for videos of the products. You see, I find video demonstrations of SkyMall products to be mesmerizingly awful. Never, though, have I been so enraptured by the videos for one product as I was this week while researching my next SkyMall Monday review. While I was unable to find any official video produced by either the manufacturer or the good people at SkyMall, I was very pleased to discover three unofficial videos that serve to educate, entertain and perplex viewers. So, this week, rather than enduring my ramblings about a SkyMall gadget, I encourage you to sit back, relax and allow those who are more intimately familiar with the product show you how to use InstaCloth.OK, first some necessary background courtesy of the product description:

No washcloth in your hotel room? No problem. Just splash a little water on these 1″ diameter tablets and they unfold into full-sized disposable white wash cloths.

If there’s no washcloth in your hotel room, I question whether you might have tried a little too hard to save money on your accommodations. And frankly, when I add water to something, I want it to become a dinosaur.

But, I digress. This post is about the videos. To start things off, let’s see a demo of InstaCloth hosted by a monotone gentleman who has no idea how to emote when something is “amazing.”

Well, that was informative but entirely too well lit. What if some presumably high teenagers demonstrated the product in a basement during a blackout?

That towel will come in handy when the flashlight dies, that kid trips over his bong and needs a sling for his broken arm.

Lastly, all SkyMall products need to be tasted to be believed. Surely that’s why this girl popped an InstaCloth into her mouth like it was a Mento.

I think it’s best if we just pretend as if that video never happened…and that InstaCloth doesn’t exist.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Time lapse video: Queen Mary 2 sails the Atlantic

Queen Mary 2: Atlantic Timelapse from Adonis Pulatus on Vimeo.

Adonis Pulatus took these time lapse shots while aboard the Queen Mary 2 as it sailed from New York to the Caribbean last December. The luxury ocean liner appears to stay perfectly static as waves crash all around, making the boat almost appear to be photoshopped over a video of the deep blue. But Cunard’s ship isn’t really just a giant speed boat racing through the water, a fact that becomes clear once some brave souls zip around the swimming pool in the chilly air.

Deemed the “most luxurious ocean liner ever built,” the ship has been privy to an unfortunate series of events lately. Last month five women and four men – believed to be illegal Chinese immigrants – were taken into custody just after landing in New York. Before that, a 40-year-old stage hand was sentenced on child porn charges last September. Perhaps this is why the ship appears mostly empty in the videos – or maybe it’s just the cold.

Somaliland: the other Somalia

There are some places you just can’t consider for a vacation. While even Iraq has recently opened up to carefully handled tours, Somalia remains out of bounds. What with an Islamist movement proudly proclaiming its ties to Al-Qaeda, and a decades-long civil war between rival clans, there’s no chance of exploring the Somali culture and landscape, right?

Actually, that’s only half true.

The Republic of Somaliland is the northern third of what most maps show as Somalia. Anyone paying attention to the news knows that Somalia hasn’t been a unified nation for quite some time, but this one region, a little larger than England and home to 3.5 million, has managed to bring stability and a developing democracy to its people. Born out of the colony of British Somaliland, it gained independence in 1960 and immediately joined former Italian Somaliland to create what we now know as Somalia. A brutal dictatorship and a civil war later, it declared independence in 1991 and has quietly built a nation as the rest of Somalia disintegrated into chaos.

But no other country recognizes Somaliland as an independent state, which makes it very hard to get international investment and attention. Now Somaliland officials are hoping an increase in tourism will help to literally put their country on the map. It already has regular contact with its neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti, and has representatives in several major capitals. The Tourism Ministry is busy making plans and there’s a good website highlighting Somali Heritage and Archaeology.

%Gallery-84671%With a countryside only thinly populated by nomads, Somaliland has good potential for safaris. Lions, cheetahs, zebras, antelope, and other animals are easily spotted. Even more stunning are the well-preserved paintings at Laas Geel, believed to be some of the oldest in Africa. They’re located near the capital Hargeysa and remained unreported until 2002. Colorful paintings of hunters and animals date back an estimated 9,000 years.

Other towns to check out are Barbera and Zeila, two ports with excellent coral reefs as well as old colonial buildings from British and Ottoman times. More important than bricks and mortar, though, is the chance to interact with a culture that has had comparatively little contact with the outside world. This is a rare chance to see a country unaccustomed to tourism, where there are no “tourist sites” and “local hangouts”. For the adventure traveler, it’s still pretty much uncharted territory.

After almost 20 years of independence, Somaliland is beginning to get some recognition from adventure travelers. The most recent edition of Lonely Planet Ethiopia has a short section on the country, and three young backpackers recently posted a video of their trip there on YouTube. A reporter from the Pulitzer Center has also covered the country on an online video. Somaliland could become the adventure travel destination of the new decade.

While Somaliland has some good potential, travelers should take care. Government bodyguards are required (costing $10 a day each) and there are few facilities for visitors. The country has also attracted the ire of Al-Shabab, an Islamist group with ties to Al-Qaeda that wants to take over the Horn of Africa. In 2008 a series of deadly car bombings blamed on Al-Shabab left two dozen dead in Hargeysa. Also, the countryside is not yet safe enough for foreigners to travel overland from Ethiopia on public transport. There are regular flights to Hargeysa from Addis Ababa and other regional capitals. The office for Somaliland in Addis Ababa (which is not recognized as an embassy by the government of Ethiopia) can issue visas and give advice. If you do decide to go, it’s best to plan well in advance and talk to the government as soon as possible.

8 great bug-eating videos from around the world

There’s nothing better than having new and exciting experiences while traveling the globe. But, are you gutsy enough to try eating delectable delicacies such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, and gigantic worms?

Me neither … but these eight people are.

Giant Chinese Cockroach – Thailand

This cockroach is so big, I’m surprised they didn’t sell it by the pound.

Fresh Weevil Grubs – Amazon Jungle

Bear Grylls stars in this “Man vs Fresh Weevil Grub” clip. Oops, sorry for the squishy bits. Hope you didn’t get squirted.

Large Crunchy Cockroaches – Thailand

These guys went looking for the “Bug Carts” in Bangkok. I’m not sure that’d be my first stop.

Scorpions – China

“Kinda like eating an eyebrow,” he says. This guy eats four of them!

Giant Mangrove Worms – Philippines

Giant worms pulled from trees… and I mean GIANT. Could you eat the whole thing?

Deep Fried Tarantula – Cambodia

“Eat your heart out.” Looks kinda chewy if you ask me.

Giant Waterbug – Thailand

This poor guy had no idea what he was in for. Is he crying? There’s no crying in bug-eating!

Grasshoppers – Thailand

Thai Lady: “It’s crunchy.”
Director: “Like potato chips.”
Thai Lady: “Yeah. Kind of.”
Director: “$15 bucks and you got a whole meal here.”

Enough said.