Reviews

Review: Dual Snowboards

I grew up snowboarding all the time but I always looked at the people skiing and couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous that they always looked to have a bit more flexibility and freedom on the skis than I did on my snowboard. Snowboarders and skiers never seem to get along, but the new Dual Snowboards might be able to finally bridge the gap and give snowboarders the freedom they have always wanted and give those on skis the chance to give snowboarding a try.

The Dual snowboard is a true hybrid of both worlds, giving each foot a “mini” snowboard, which allows the two feet to move completely separate from each other. While many might laugh at the site of these odd looking adaptations of the snowboard, they would surely also like to give them a try. Many young snowboarders are jumping on the trend and Dual has even gotten a few professionals to join the Dual team and ride their boards.

Review: Dual SnowboardsOne of the most annoying aspects of both snowboarding and skiing is that the gear is simply bulky. You can easily spot someone in an airport lugging around a huge snowboard case and it never looks like any fun. I was so surprised at how compact the Dual snowboards are (snowboard?). They easily fit in the bottom of my duffel bag and even easily slipped in the laptop section of my backpack. Now, you still have to carry around the boots, but the board is the most annoying part and now that problem is solved!

The price is also a huge plus, with a set of these fun toys only costing about $250, which is a bargain compared to some of the high end snowboard brands. While it might be hard to throw down another couple hundred bux for the Dual snowboards, you can use the same boots and bindings as your regular snowboard! You can ever bring both with you and swap halfway through the day if you’d like.

So, should you buy these? Will the trend catch on and last? We think it most definitely will. Kids are always buying the newest toys and many of them are simply junk, but the Dual snowboard is different. It is a logical progression in an industry which has not seen much in the last few years, I mean who really thought you could reinvent the snowboard? Well, we are here to tell you that Dual has, and they have made it a ton of fun!

 

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*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Dual Snowboard for free as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

 

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Review: The Hoboroll by Gobi

Review: The Hoboroll by Gobi

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Easily the most annoying thing about any bag is that there is no way for everything to be at the top right? Marina and I both pride ourselves in packing extremely light and during our current trip around the world, we still travel with all carry on only luggage. But this of course creates quite a little problem. With all the stuffing, rolling and cramming of our clothes, its like opening a Pandora’s box whenever we arrive in a new location with slim hope of ever zipping our bags up again. And we don’t even think about buying souvenirs, as we have no space to pack them! All of this changed when we tried out the Hoboroll by Gobi, at least for day and weekend trips.

Review: The Hoboroll by Gobi

By have a circular design with convenient compartments, you can easily fit everything you need for a long weekend into the Hoboroll and be on your way. Planning a fun day trip and want to bring a change of clothes? Check. Want to go for a hike that ends with a swim in a nice lake? Check. Plenty of room for a towel, bathing suit and plenty of extra clothes.

 

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” – Greg Child

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While we never thought we would find a better solution than simply throwing all of our junk on a backpack and getting on our way, we were pleased to come across the Hoboroll and even more excited to take it on hikes, day trips, overnight adventures and generally keep it around as a wonderful alternative to the traditional backpack. So, would recommend it to you – you bet. It really is more than just another piece of travel gear and come in quite handy when on the go for an afternoon or on the adventure of a lifetime. And for $27 you can’t get much better!

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*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Hobo Roll for free from Gobi Gear as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Travel Book Review:

Travel Book Review: “I Guess We Missed The Boat” . I Guess We Missed The Boat is fun for people of all ages as eight retired seniors, related by marriage, visit various locales around the globe, often with hilarious results. Some of the adventures include topless beaches, sketchy starfish, psychological bar fights and an encounter with ancient Romans.   The book has been described by readers as “exhilarating”, “a joy to read” and a “side splitter.” But perhaps the best comes from one reader who describes the sense of warmth he got from listening to his parents and their friends reminisce about their various adventures. He says that I Guess We Missed The Boat gave him that “same feeling of fun, mixed with awe, with a drop of incredulity thrown into the pot.” Whether you are planning to travel or just want to be reminded of some of your own travel escapades, this book is for you. Get I Guess We Missed The Boat at the following sites: Amazon.com : $15 .   Travel Book Review: "I Guess We Missed The Boat"READER REVIEWS FOR I GUESS WE MISSED THE BOAT: . “Barry Finlay has made the transition from mountain climbing (Kilimanjaro and Beyond) to hilarity in this new book (I Guess We Missed the Boat). His descriptions of the trials of international travelling, though not funny at the time, are “laugh out loud” hilarious. The stories of his travels with his congenial in-laws and friends are told in a manner that makes you feel that you, too, were involved in the event. Not only are these people seeing the world, they are having fun doing it.” – Elizabeth via General Store Publishing House site. “Finally we are enjoying a focus on the `older generation’, loosely defined as retirees who are well enough to retain the sparkle of adventure as is evident in such successful films as `The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘, `The Bucket List’, `Quartet’, `The Artist’ and others. Well here is a book about retirees who love to travel, understand the restrictions, forego the amenities at times, cope with the inconveniences, and all the while have a laughingly great time, free of the ties of family that being younger usually means. This is an exhilarating read.” – Grady  (Amazon) Travel Book Review: "I Guess We Missed The Boat" “Finlay’s tone throughout the book exactly captures the lighter side of traveling overseas. … With tales of topless beaches, randy animals, sexy lingerie, and rowdy bar brawls, you’ll want to either take cover and stay at home, or want to wish you were out there in all the fun. From the comfort and safety of my own arm-chair, I found this to be a joy of a read.” John Phiser (Amazon) “Mr Finlay definitely understands and captures the best and worst of travelling abroad. He truly captures the exotic and crazy of what can be encountered when away from home. I would recommend that anyone wanting a good laugh read this book.” – Jan Heart (Amazon)     .

bluffer's guide to beer review

Bluffer’s Guide to Beer, Why Can’t You Know it All?

With the fall weather well on it’s way, many around the world are welcoming in all the fall beers, delicious seasonal micro brews and in Germany, the world’s oldest and largest beer festival, Oktoberfest, is in full swing. Whether you are considering grabbing a pint to drink with your buddies, or out on the road traveling around the world, a solid knowledge of beer is almost a must. Beer brings us all together, it ignites friendships, starts conversations and makes memories.

After traveling through 65 countries on six continents, few things remain the same from place to place. People change from city to city, the cuisine, culture, language and overall approach to life morph from one destination to the next. India is easily the most foreign feeling place I have ever stepped foot in, with barely anything “normal” to cling on to. However, one thing still remains the same, India has a national beer, and so does almost every other country on the planet. Sure smiles, body language and good intentions help you relate to a new country, but most would be lying if they said one of the first things on their mind after arriving in a new country wasn’t looking for a refreshing glass of the national beer. Who doesn’t want to try a pint of Singha in Thailand, Guinness in Ireland or Brahma in Brazil?

And yet after all the travel, all the pints drank and all the memories made across the globe, I still know shockingly little about the world’s most popular beverage. As we are in the final planning stages of our upcoming months long journey across Europe, I thought it was high time to change that. I have a hard enough time blending in as an energetic and talkative American as it is, no need to add “uninformed Bud light drinking snob” to that list as well.

In the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer, author Jonathan Goodall takes you to the University of Beer and spits you out the other side with a masters in malt, an honors in hops, a Bachelors in beer. School is in session.

The year is 9000 BC, and somewhere in the Middle East, people are starting to brew beer, almost as soon as the human race is even able to comprehend the world around them. By 740 AD, the Germans have caught on and started their near world dominance in the production of beer. And then, in 1759 Arthur Guinness buys a rundown brewery in Dublin, and the rest if history. The history of beer is fascinating, and laid out in easily digestible bullet points as you go. Ever the nostalgic, I can often be found recalling the days before the internet, cell phones and Coke Zero, but thank God no man has ever had to think back to a time without beer. Ever.

To the layman, beer is just another drink that has always been around. And to that unfortunate soul, the conversation stops there. I’ll admit, I’ve been that guy before. America drinks Budweiser and Bud Light, which is the second most consumed beer on the planet, until recently leaving little room for anything  else. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was even made aware there wasn’t a rule commanding all beer be a nearly tasteless, watered down mixture of disappointment and regret.

‘You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.’ Frank Zappa

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The Bluffer’s Guide to Beer does a great job of educating you on the methods of making beer but where it really shines is in its vast and in depth dissection of each kind of beer, be it pale ale, lager, porter, etc. From Fosters in Australia (which was started by Americans, who knew?) to the Trapest Monks in Europe brewing one hell of a strong beer, to the sweeter beers of Asia, the Bluffer’s Guide to Beer takes you around the globe and back again, examining each variant of the world’s favorite drink, nearly insuring you will never find yourself the most clueless on the subject again, even around a group of beer snobs with their big words like “brettanomyces” and “zymurgy“. Relax, there is an in depth glossary at the end of the book you can keep in your back pocket and reference in a real panic if need be.

Have you always hated IPA’s, never shy from proclaiming so in social settings but secretly have no ideas what an IPA is or what it even stands for? Do you love a good porter as much as a good stout, but don’t know the first thing about either? And how about all those times you go to your fancy neighborhood liquor store and, after 20 minutes staring at the endless 6 packs of microbrews, wind up buying one just because you like the colorful label or clever name? Well, here’s your chance change all of that. 

Interested in Thai beers? Click to read Thai beer, what you need to know.

I may still not understand how cell phones work (seriously though, I can call the other side of the world and there are NO wires?!), not totally understand how the stock market operates, or what the lights on my dashboard really mean, but at least I can walk into a pub in Europe this winter and proudly order a beer, feeling confident to answer any follow up question the bartender might throw my direction. Unless its about wine, then I’m screwed.

The Bluffer’s Guide to Beer is available from www.bluffers.com 

latitude 34 beer in singapore
Marina and I enjoying a pint of Rouge’s Hazelnut Brown Ale in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – What a find!

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.

A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.

Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!
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Local Review: Surf House Phuket

Towards the south end of Phuket there are many nice and relaxed beaches a bit less crowded than their bid sisters towards party central Patong. While there are still many tourists in Kata Beach it has a nice and laid back feel, and stopping by the Surf House is sure to help you relax and put a smile on your face.
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Part bar, part restaurant and mostly an artificial surf spot, this laid back beach bar has it all. Adventurous tourists can try their hand at surfing in their artificial wave pool (ironically enough the gorgeous Kata Beach is literally across the street), or guests can grab a table, have a bite to eat or a cool drink and people watch those trying to be the next surfing superstar.

A one hour pass to the surf pool will set you back 800B, with a 200B first time charge. After that its 800B and hour, 2,000B for 3 hours or 6,500B for the entire day. The have an excellent staff of surf instructors who will teach you all you need to know and lead by example. We have seen then showing first time 50 year old retirees as well as helping young children ride their first boogie board.

The restaurant has surprisingly cheap and delicious food. With almost all menu items falling under 200B, the Chef’s Meat Plater and Double Royal with Cheese are our favorites. They also offer snacks, wraps, pizza etc.

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The bar is well stocked and often has daily specials, such as a Sangsom bucket for 400B (includes small bottle of Sangsom, bucket of ice and mixers.) A Chang Tower (3 liter) is 500B. Girls surf for free from 9-11pm Friday evenings and cocktails are 2 for 1.Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 1.08.14 PM

Free wifi internet is provided as well and is quite zippy. There is also an upstairs lounge area with more comfortable lounge chairs and couches than the wooden ones downstairs but we would wait until later afternoon to venture upstairs is it gets hot very quickly up there. Make sure to stop by on a Friday evening as they tend to have more professional surfers shredding some waves and have excellent drink and happy hour specials.

TIP: Girls surf for free from 9-11pm Friday evenings and cocktails are 2 for 1.

All in all we love the Surf House and often find ourselves spending a relaxed afternoon watching the surfers, listening to the excellent selection of upbeat music by their in house DJ, and generally kicking back and relaxing. Read more on their website at http://www.surfhousephuket.com and we’ll see you out there!

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thai cooking class, chiangmai, baan thai cooking school, thai food

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Thai Cooking Class

Taking a cooking class has always been in the back of my mind as something I’d like to try one day to hopefully further my fairly weak cooking skills. Grilled chicken and veggies are good for a couple years but after that trying something new is a welcome relief and I’m sure Marina has gotten quite bored with my cooking style.

So why not try some Thai cooking classes to spice things up! We met a lovely couple from New York on the train from Bangkok to Chiangmai on their honeymoon and after getting to know each other we decided to try our hand at cooking up some local dishes.

We chose the Baan Thai Cooking School located down a quiet small side street in the heart of the city. They will gladly pick you up and drop you back to any of the hotels in the city center. For only 700B (about 23US) you get a 4 hour cooking course, walking tour of the local market, all the ingredients and the chance to cook four different dishes of your choosing.Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 6.35.13 PM

We chose to cook Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, Hot and Sour Prawn Soup, Chiangmai Noodles, Green Papaya Salad, Seafood Coconut Milk Soup, Chicken with Cashews and Green Curry, among a couple others. The cooking school is set up wonderfully in an old large home with 3 different kitchens and cooking stations so everyone is spread out and has plenty of room. The different instructors are extremely knowledgeable, smart, funny and boy do they know how to cook.

For each dish we divided into smaller groups and would sit together again to eat each course. I was shocked at how easy many of the dishes were and how complex others ended up being. The Spring Rolls and Pad Thai were relatively simple while the Chiangmai Noodles and some of the soups were a bit complicated.

cooking_02We were watched over step by step and felt free to make mistakes and learn from them. Each of us were given our own set of ingredients to cook each dish to our taste. Gay, the liveliest cook instructed us that the more spice and peppers we added the “sexier” the dish would be. We even made red curry paste from scratch, a combination of endless chopping and tons of red chili peppers… it tasted unbelievable.

By the end of the night we were stuffed beyond belief and most could not finish their food, as the staff was kind enough to box up any leftovers for anyone who wanted to bring them home.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and if you ever get the chance to learn some Thai cooking, home or abroad, I would jump on the chance. Just knowing some of the simple ingredients to bring home is well worth it. And if you don’t remember it all from the class, they send you home with complete cookbook full of dozens of classic Thai dishes. I’ve even tried cooking some of them back home in Phuket with great results!

Jeff

**Additional photos provided curtesy of Baan Thai Cooking School (they take tons of photos during each class and post them all about 1 week later)

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Photo Tour through Paris with Divergent Travelers!

When you are asked to think of a magical city, what is the first city that comes to mind for you? For me, it’s Paris. The city is beautiful and full of iconic landmarks that will leave you breathless. You can easily spend a couple weeks here just wandering the streets and taking it all in. I was lucky to visit Paris last Fall as the brisk winter air turned the leaves and created a fulfilled Fall atmosphere. The following photo essay will take you on a walk through Paris and give you a sneak peek into what this iconic city can offer you on your next visit to Paris.

Paris Sign

** Where shall we wander to first? **

Pont Neuf Bridge over the Seine

** Stroll on the Pont Neuf Bridge- the oldest bridge in Paris to cross the River Seine. **

Place Saint-Michel

** Place Saint-Michel is a popular square in the Latin Quarter near the River Seine. **

Lock Bridge- Paris

** Visit the Lock Bridge which displays thousands of locks placed by lovers over the years. **

Mona Lisa Admirers- Louvre, Paris

** Join the masses and admire the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum. **

Notre Dame Cathedral

** Pay a visit to the gargoyles at the Notre Dame Cathedral. **

Concorde Place, Paris

** Take the bus to Place de la Concorde. The site of the execution of Marie Antoinette. **

Paris Fountains

** Admire the faces of the fountains while you make your way around Paris. **

Paris Artisans

** Mingle with the Artisans that setup shop on the Left Bank. **

Louvre Museum

** Visit the courtyard of the Louvre Museum and photograph the infamous glass pyramid. **

Beautiful decor

** Admire the timeless furniture at street side shops in the Latin Quarter. **

Arc de Triomphe

** Get up close and personal with the Arc de Triomphe. **

Moulin Rouge, Paris

** Hop the subway to the Montmartre District and the Moulin Rouge. **

Sacre Couer

** Hike up the hill to see the Sacre Couer and then admire the view of Paris from above. **

Wine in Paris

** Pause for a moment at a café and enjoy some wine. **

Eiffel Tower at night

** After paying a visit during the day, visit the Eiffel Tower at night for a treat. **

This is a small, small sampling of the wonders that this city can offer you on your next visit. Plan for an absolute minimum of 4 days and let yourself get lost in the beauty that Paris has to offer you.

Lina from Divergent Travelers has been traveling for 12+ years, solo and together with her partner David, while working a full time job! Between the two of them, they have already visited 31 countries and are hoping that their stories will not only inspire those of you that are thinking about the jump, but also become a place you can visit for support and information in planning and realizing your dreams! You can follow their adventures on their blog Divergent Travelers, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much to Lina and David for sending us this amazing photo tour of Paris! Check them out and follow their travels on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for more Traveler Check-ins coming up next week!


eating bugs in thailand

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Eating Bugs

Food. It’s one thing we all need no matter what form it comes in. What is taboo in one culture might be the norm in another, and while here in Thailand eating bugs for breakfast, lunch and dinner isn’t commonplace, they are served quite a lot of places and can be found without much trouble.

Being the adventurous, sometimes to a default, person that I am, from the second I saw the cart full of bugs at our local market I knew it was only a matter of time before I would treat myself to a handful of them.

For 100B, roughly $3, I was given a small portion of three different insects. Small fat larva filled with… their insides, skinny little crispy maggots and some quite large grasshoppers, eyes bulging out. All were thrown together, covered in some spices and deep fried for a couple seconds, then thrown in a small plastic bag for my enjoyment, no different than ordering a corn dog at your local state fair right?

I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated at first. I mean its not the taste that gets you, they really just taste like anything else you have ever had fried, especially that last little burnt french fry. The difference is these guys have eyes, legs, wings and guts. Its simply mind over matter, but it is still quite a leap. I accidentally poked the little wooden stick to eat them with through the bottom of the plastic bag and scared myself to death thinking for a second one was alive and trying to escape… mind games.

_MG_2400The scorpion in Bangkok was especially fun. Not covered in any spices and alone on a stick there was no mistaking it. I started with the end of the tail and worked my way up, chewing off the crunchy legs as I went. All in all it was actually pretty tasty and heaps more enjoyable than the maggots and grasshoppers.

When in Rome right? And don’t for a second think this was more gross or dirty than that Big Mac you ate last week.

People have eaten bugs for 1,000’s of years, I think I’ll survive.

– Jeff



The front of the Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada

From the Road: Staying in an Ice Hotel, Quebec, Canada

 

In the past few years many ice hotels have popped up all over the place. In the world of themed hotels, staying in an entire hotel made of ice and snow ranks right up there with the best of them. In January, 2009 I was in Quebec and decided to go and check out an ice hotel, appropriately named “Hotel de Glace

Front desk of the Hotel de Glace, Quebec, CanadaEntering the hotel I felt like I was either entering Narnia or a Disney movie and had an unexpected amount of excitement. The doors open wide like that of an ancient castle and you immediately feel like you are in a different world. Everything, from the roof to the front desk to the chairs and the walls are made of snow and ice. The entire feel is mystical and the way the place is lit and presented is truly magical.

Adding to the charm are warm fur blankets and rugs and warm coats for the guests. Each room is themed slightly different, some with bears and wolves and some with eskimos and trees. All carved into the snow walls of course. The beds are made of ice and snow and are covered in layers of warm fur blankets to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Some rooms even have wood burning stoves to keep the room extra toasty.

The real fun is found in the hotel bar where guests congregate to drink warm concoctions and even take a turn on the slide, all made of ice, which spits you out right at the bar. Guests wear big oversized fur coats, sip their drinks out of ice glasses and take part in a variety of activities the hotel staff put together each year.The "fire" room, inside the Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada

 

The ice hotel is built each and every year and is open for only about 10 weeks total before it gets too warm to exist and melts away into a puddle when the spring comes. Each year the designers work hard to chose a theme and design an equally enchanting and amazing hotel as the last year. Rooms start around $175US for a night and for that price it is definitely worth it for the experience and the memories. And, if you are feeling exceptionally unique, book your wedding at the Hotel de Glace, it would be a fantastic way to remember your special day.

TIPS: This one might seem fairly obvious but bring extra socks and a warm hat. Yes the hotel is made of ice and so are the beds, but the blankets do a good job of keeping you warm, however, you won’t regret having a hat and extra socks handy if you get a bit cold. Even better yet, bring a close friend, husband, mistress or your dog to cuddle up with and keep warm, after all you are sleeping in a glorified igloo.

Other famous ice hotels around the world include:

1. Alta Igloo Hotel, Alta, Norway – http://www.sorrisniva.no

2. Kemi SnowCastle, Finland – http://www.icehotel.com

3. The Aurora Ice Hotel, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA – http://www.chenahotsprings.com


Thai BBQ Restaurant in Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

Local Review: Thai BBQ, Karon Beach

If you are staying in Phuket and in look of an authentic Thai BBQ restaurant, make sure to veer away from the tourist areas and get off the popular roads. In Karon Beach, just below the madness of Patong Beach, you will find a more relaxed atmosphere and if you take Patak Road past the Karon Temple and continue towards the Hilton Arcadia Resort you will find a small Thai BBQ restaurant on your left hand side. Does it have a name and a big sign out front? Nope. But it does have classical Thai music playing and is always full of Thai families and a handful of expats in the know of the good little restaurants.

Thai BBQ Restaurant in Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

The price of the all-you-can-eat BBQ hovers around 150B. There is a sign out front saying they offer a 119B rainy season special but they seem to decide daily what they are charging. Nevertheless, for no more than $5 you can sit all night long, make new friends, and eat some amazing Thai BBQ. Each table is equipped with a small rounded stove which is heated up as you sit down.

In classic Thai style, you are served a bucket of ice and whatever drinks you want. The drinks are cheap, what they should be, not the overpriced 60B for a soda water you find down the street. The food selection is really impressive. There is a solid spread of vegetables including brocoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, baby corn, asian mushrooms, etc. The meat selection is lengthy with beef, pork, chicken, fish, squid, crab, shrimp, fish balls, tofu, liver, tripe and even jelly fish. In addition there is fresh cut fruit, noodles, french fries, etc. The buffet also offers fresh Thai chili and about 5 different sauces for your meal. Thai BBQ Restaurant in Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

TIP: Ask to get a table close to a fan, or ask for one close to your table, they will be more than happy to bring you one. Because of the hot stove on the table, sometimes it can get a bit warm around the table. For those just on vacation and not used to the Thai heat, it might be a little warm at times, but nothing a fan and a cold Singha can’t change. Make sure to try the Black Pepper Beef and the Sesame Oil Chicken, our two favorite dishes!

For a total of around $10US for two people, you really cannot find a better deal. Stay until you are stuffed and enjoy the authentic atmosphere. The restaurant stays open late into the night and it often is still serving patrons well after 1am most evenings. The staff is incredibly friendly and attentive without being annoying. Ask them to teach you a few Thai words, they will be excited and happy to teach you!

Thai BBQ Restaurant in Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

 

seattle space needle review latitude 34

Seattle Space Needle Review

The Seattle Space Needle is one of the most iconic American buildings and well worth a visit if you are cruising through Seattle. However, there are a few important things to know before you plan your visit. Located in the middle of downtown Seattle, the 510 foot building provides not only a beautiful landmark throughout the city, but amazing views of what we think is one of the best cities in the USA. Yes, it rains a lot, but that only helps you appreciate the sunny days more right?

seattle space needle review latitude 34Luckily, the Space Needle is such a tall landmark that you can walk right to it from any direction, all you have to do is look up. It is about a 15-20 walk from Pikes Place fish market, another must visit attraction in Seattle.

The first thing you have to know is the price. The Space Needle charges a whopping $19 just to get up to the observation tower. The views from the tower are beautiful and its very cool to be up so high and look out on Seattle, but probably not worth the price for the observation desk alone. Luckily for you, there is another, way better option. If you plan to make an evening out of your Space Needle visit, make a reservation at Sky City, the 5 star rotating restaurant perched high atop the needle. Each person is required to spend a minimum $35 on dinner, which doesn’t take much, but your reservation includes the observation deck as well, so it is worth it in the end.

photo 4The restaurant, called Sky City, has delicious food, all 5 star quality with a wide selection of local wines and beers. We had a particularly friendly waiter who took the time to describe all of the local beers, recommend a different one to each of us and let us sample them all, our favorites were the Space Needle Golden IPA and the local favorite Mac & Jacks. It was a wonderful dinner, and we each spent just over the $35 minimum. The coolest part about the entire experience is that the restaurant rotates 360 degrees! It completes a rotation every 90 minutes, just the perfect time for dinner and to see each part of the city just as the sun is setting. Its spectacular!

If you go for dinner, you have got to try the Lunar Orbiter dessert, easily the most famous in Seattle. It is not only absolutely delicious and more chocolate than any one human should be able to handle, but it is served with dry ice, which flows and covers your table when you receive it. Sometimes you are just forced to get desserts, deal with it!

NOTE: At the base of the Seattle Space Needle is the Chihuli Garden and Glass Museum, which is really cool! We didn’t even go in, I’m not sure it was even open, but the gardens are really cool and you can see many of the glass sculptures from the outside. You sort of find yourself saying “what in the world is all this?” but in a good way!

marina julia space needle latitude 34
Marina and Julia, my sister, during our wonderful dinner.__

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to forget them all.

A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.

Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!


phuket international marathon, phuket, thailand by latitude 34 travel blog


Running is not one of my favorite pastimes. I never liked running, not even running to the ice cream truck let alone 13.5 miles in a half marathon. And so, about 3 months before moving to Phuket, I found myself checking out the Laguna Phuket International Marathon website late one night and thought I’d go for it. Thinking I would have three months to train once we arrived in Thailand, I assumed I would be able to work my way up to long distance runs and eventually get used to the impressive heat and humidity.

All of the sudden we had been here for two months already and June 9th was quickly approaching. Suddenly I realized I had just 30 days to train for the half marathon. I strapped on my shoes, visited the gym daily, ate clean and made sure to get enough sleep. I mixed long distance runs, short sprints, weight training and rest/stretch days. I worked my way up to about 10 miles straight and hoped the adrenaline of race day would carry me the rest.

marathon_02_webThe marathon started at 4:30am and the half at 6am to best avoid the heat. Starting off I felt fantastic. It is a wonderful feeling jogging along side hundreds of other passionate individuals pushing themselves to reach a goal they set months ago. Whether this was their first run like me, or they were seasoned athletes, everyone was having a wonderful time.

The course was beautiful and wound its way through tiny neighborhood streets, the local market, passed the Buddhist temple as the monks made their morning rounds, through rubber and pineapple plantations and along the beach before finishing at the starting point.

I felt pretty good for the majority of the race. I had my awful techno music blasting, a lot of energy and could easily chart my progress by mile markers along the course. The race provided water and electrolyte stations as well as fruit, ice water soaked sponges and bathrooms along the way.

marathon_03_webI crossed the finish line in 3:06:47, I was hoping for a sub 3 hour finish but my only real goal was to complete the race. Having never run this far in my life, ever, I was just happy to finish the race, not hurt myself or die in the process. Running sort of seems to be strangely addicting now, and with each complete race, the fluttering idea starts to form in the back of my mind about what I can push myself towards next.

I grew up watching my father run marathons all over the world and while always looking up to him with great admiration never thought in a million years I would be able to complete one. Well, I’m half way there, and while I have a lot of work to do, I’m determined to get to the next level and one way, hopefully within the year, call myself a marathon running. It won’t be pretty, but I’ll get there.

Jeff

Below is a short video I shot with my iPhone while running. It is far from a work of art but hopefully it gives some sort of idea of the setting and such. I happily cut out the hours of huffing and puffing so you don’t have to sit through it and trust me there was plenty.


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