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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2008
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      China plans 'most luxurious train in the world' to Tibet: report
      Mon Mar 10, 2008

      China will launch "the most luxurious train in the world" to ply the
      route from Beijing to Tibet's capital Lhasa, state media reported

      However, a ride on the train, which will begin operations on
      September 1, will be about 20 times more expensive than the ordinary
      fare of about 2,000 yuan (280 dollars), Xinhua news agency said.

      "The interior of the train will be decorated according to the
      standards of a five-star hotel, making it the most luxurious train
      in the world," said Zhu Mingrui, general manager of the Qinghai-
      Tibet Railway Corporation.

      "Such a train can only seat 96 passengers. The fare would be about
      20 times the normal price and also much more than an airline
      ticket," he said.

      There will be three trains, which will head from Beijing to Lhasa
      every eight days. The luxury journey will take five days.

      Each train will have 12 passenger cars, two dining cars and a
      sightseeing car. Each passenger car will have four ten-square-metre
      (108-square-foot) suites featuring a double bed, a living room and
      bathing facilities.

      The train line to the Himalayan "roof of the world" went into
      operation in July 2006.

      Chinese authorities see the 1,142-kilometre (710-mile) railway as an
      important tool in modernising and developing Tibet, which has been
      part of China since its troops occupied the region in 1950.

      However, critics say that the line is allowing the Han Chinese, the
      national majority, to flood into Tibet, leading to the devastation
      of the local culture as well accelerating environmental degradation
      of the region.



      10 Legendary Trips You Can Still Take
      By Donald Burnam

      You can still take these historic journeys, from the Silk Road to
      the Orient Express

      With high-speed trains, fast cars and jumbo jets that can whisk us
      across time zones in a matter of hours, getting from point A to
      point B has never been easier (though we all know it's not hassle-
      free). But with so much time saved comes the loss of something else—
      the idea that sometimes the journey is the destination itself. And
      there's no better way to partake in what's called "slow travel" than
      by doing it on a historic route.

      With several notable treks, two-lane historic highways, and slow
      train lines from which to choose, where does one begin?

      With the experts, of course. We've put together a team of noted
      travel writers and experts, asking for their top historic routes.
      Some routes are known the world over while others are, quite
      literally, off-the-beaten-path. Regardless, all the journeys are
      still functional today—and offer insight into a place that you just
      can't get from 30,000 feet above.

      The granddaddy of all historic routes is, of course, the Silk Road,
      the famed network of old trading routes that connected China to the
      Mediterranean. Most 21st-century travelers don't take the entire
      route, but do it in portions. That's what longtime travel editor and
      writer Don George did. He trekked it through Pakistan and said it
      was one of the grandest trips of his life. "What could be more
      stirring than walking in the footsteps of Marco Polo and viewing
      ways of life that have changed little since his time?" says George,
      who runs the literary travel websites Don's Place and Recce.

      Another highly recommended route comes from writer Tony Perrottet:
      the Athens-to-Olympia pagan pilgrimage path. "I'd advise driving
      it," says Perrottet, who made the journey for his book about the
      origins of the Olympic Games, The Naked Olympics. Ancient Greeks
      would make the pilgrimage to Mt. Olympus just before the
      Olympics. "You end up in the mountains of Arcadia," says
      Perrottet, "which are filled with shepherds and medieval monasteries—
      it's a very magical place."

      For thousands of years, travelers have also been lured to the magic
      of the Nile River. The slow moving waterway makes the perfect venue
      for viewing ancient Egyptian wonders. According to Perrottet, the
      Romans were fascinated with cruising down the Nile, as were the 19th-
      century Victorian-era British who'd stop to gawk at the pyramids and
      mummies. Today, travelers can still cruise down the Nile, just like
      their British and Roman predecessors did.

      Another member of our panel also zeroed in on a historic river
      route. Mary Morris, author of several novels and non-fiction
      travelogues (and most recently, The River Queen, about her trip down
      America's most famous river), picked the upper Mississippi, which
      was trafficked by early explorers like Lewis and Clark, as well as
      Mark Twain. Morris especially recommends the section between
      Lacrosse, Wis., and Dubuque, Iowa. "The river is so wide at that
      point and on each side are savannahs and huge flocks of birds," says
      the author. "It almost feels like you're in Africa."

      Rail journeys were a hit with our team of travel experts, so it's no
      surprise that a few picked the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs
      from Moscow to Vladivostok via south Siberia. Built in the late 19th
      and early 20th centuries, the railway spans eight time zones. "The
      best way to do it," says Morris, "is to get off and on — I
      particularly liked the town of Irkutsk."

      A railway that achieves more elevation than mileage is the
      Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the pick of Oxford Atlas of the World
      editor Ben Keene. Completed in 1881, the railway is only 51 miles
      long. Keene notes that the railway boasts 550 bridges and 919
      curves, but not a single tunnel. It's hard not to feel like you're
      on a rail journey to the top of the Earth.

      When Don George moved from Paris to Athens, he couldn't pass up
      taking the famed Orient Express, the legendary railway line that
      links the City of Light to Istanbul. Passing by cities like Milan,
      Venice and Belgrade, George says, "All of Europe went by outside —
      and inside too. It's a crash course in European history and culture."

      Our experts also picked several historic routes that are walkable.
      One of writer Tony Perrottet's favorite routes is the Appian Way,
      the "Queen of Highways" that led Romans out of the Eternal City
      southward toward Naples and beyond. Author of the travel history
      book Pagan Holiday (about Roman travelers), Perrottet says travelers
      can traverse about 10 miles of cobbled, pedestrian-only road that's
      flanked by millennia-old mausoleums and umbrella pine trees. "It's
      only a few miles from the city," says Perrottet, "but it's so
      idyllic, it feels like you've just stepped back a few centuries or
      more." Perrottet adds that renting a bike is also a great way to
      experience it.

      On the other side of the globe, Don George recommends a lesser known
      hike: the Shikoku, a sacred pilgrimage route of 88 temples in Japan.
      The path takes wanderers along rocky seacoasts, lush green rice
      paddies, and bright fishing villages. "Walking the temple route is a
      pathway to the scenic and spiritual heart of Japan," George says.

      Another obscure, but equally intriguing expert pick is the 95-mile
      West Highland Way in Scotland, a series of old military routes that
      take trekkers through varied terrain. Ben Keene picked this route
      for its diversity, which starts near Glasgow, winds through
      coniferous forests, and ends on top of one of Scotland's highest
      hilltops, Ben Nevis.



      Eight Hotels You Won't Believe
      By Jason Cochran

      From the annals of the wacky, the odd, and the inspired – these
      unusual lodgings will make you look twice.

      Meet the giraffes

      Without sacrificing its estate-in-the-country dignity—or all of it,
      anyway—Giraffe Manor in Langata, Kenya, is arranged so that roaming
      giraffes can poke their heads into any open window or doorway with
      impunity and lather guests with their sticky, prehensile tongues.
      Your guesthouse is their guesthouse, so the silly creatures pop up
      everywhere, including over the breakfast table, in the lobby, and
      through the curtains of the five guest rooms for adults.
      Regrettably, as of this writing, the U.S. government had issued a
      travel warning for Kenya. For the latest info, visit the State
      Department website. 011-254/20-890-948, off-hours: 011-254/20-891-
      078, giraffemanor.com.

      Hang out like a Teamster

      For savoring the windswept Dutch landscape, nothing will lift you
      higher than the Harbour Crane, which for almost 30 years toiled at
      unloading timber at Harlingen, a port city an hour outside of
      Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 2003, the massive crane has housed a
      luxury hotel room for two, roughly 60 feet above the harbor docks.
      Don't expect to sleep in an oily industrial hutch—the hotel's
      lighting system is touch-screen operated, the chairs are Eames
      Lounges, and the spindle of structural steel around you has a
      certain sculptural elegance. But the big payoff: You and your guest
      can jump into the cockpit and seize the controls, swinging the
      143,000-pound crane a full 360 degrees. 011-31/517-414-410,

      Gone to the dogs

      After years of selling dog sculptures that they chainsawed out of
      wood, Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin sank their considerable
      profits into constructing Dog Bark Park Inn, a two-story, beagle-
      shaped B&B in Cottonwood, Idaho. Guests enter the structure from the
      deck that lines one side of the pup's rib cage. The main quarters
      are in the belly of the beast; the sleeping loft is in the pooch's
      head. And, yes, pets are allowed. 208/962-3647, dogbarkparkinn.com,
      open April through October.

      A trailer with a view

      Hotel Everland is a one-room portable inn created by Switzerland-
      based installation artists Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann. It's
      mobile, like a trailer home, but it's fancy, too, with pastel walls
      that swirl and swoop. The artists are moving the inn around Europe;
      through 2008, it will reside in Paris on the rooftop of the Palais
      de Tokyo museum, with its heart-swelling views of the Seine, 100
      feet below, and the Eiffel Tower, in the near distance.
      Unfortunately, Hotel Everland becomes a contemporary art exhibit by
      day. So you can only stay for one night, and you have to be cleared
      out before the museum opens for business—or risk becoming part of
      the exhibit yourself. everland.ch, reservations online only.

      Take this hotel for a spin

      Those of us who miss the Carter administration-era craze for
      revolving rooftop cocktail lounges will no doubt be pleased to learn
      that in certain parts of Turkey, it's still 1977. In sunny Antalya,
      Turkey's version of Miami Beach, you'll find the world's first hotel
      that has a rotating annex: the Marmara Antalya. Two dozen of the
      hotel's rooms are built atop a foundation that spins, completing a
      full rotation every seven hours; guests are rewarded with shifting
      views of the Mediterranean Sea. 011-90/242-249-3600,

      Hobbit habitats for humanity

      If you queued up for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie
      trilogy, you'd probably feel right at home in the Hobbit Motel, in
      Otorohanga, New Zealand. The motel's two hillside burrows are
      faithful replicas of the fictional hobbit dwellings— right down to
      the circular windows and doorways, red-and-beige walls, and
      camouflaged exteriors. The real-life rooms are scaled to human
      proportions, though, so actual hobbits might find them disagreeable.

      The Hobbit Motel is only one part of Woodlyn Park, a bizarre
      collection of lodgings that includes a 1950s railway car, a dry-
      docked patrol boat, and a grounded airplane from the Vietnam War. As
      if that weren't eccentric enough, the complex caters to visitors of
      the nearby Waitomo Caves, where the star attraction is a colony of
      glowworms. 011-64/7-878-6666, woodlynpark.co.nz.

      Up a tree

      Human beings spent millions of years evolving to the point where
      they wouldn't have to sleep in the trees. That job done, there's
      just one direction for them to go: back up. The owners of Out 'n'
      About Treesort & Treehouse Institute, just outside of Cave Junction,
      Ore., fought nervous zoning authorities to permit the construction
      of their 18 unorthodox treehouses—some enclosed, some open to the
      bugs, and some perched in oaks and Douglas firs more than 35 feet
      above the ground. The Swiss Family unit, for instance, is connected
      by a suspension bridge to a special kids' area. The Treeloon unit
      looks like an Old West saloon, complete with swinging doors. And the
      Cavaltree, a duplex in the branches, feels like a pioneer fort.

      Most of the rooms are equipped with modern conveniences, like sinks
      and refrigerators, but bathrooms are in a cabin on the ground. Given
      all the spiral staircases at the 36-acre complex, you have to pity
      the chambermaids. 541/592-2208, treehouses.com.

      Pioneer wagons get an upgrade

      In Christchurch, New Zealand, the two-year-old Wagon Stays company
      has come up with a marketing slogan for its tricked-out,
      ecofriendly, mock Conestogas: "Where luxury meets history." The
      settlers of New Zealand would have considered themselves lucky to
      bunk down in these bad boys, which feature queen-size beds, computer-
      controlled showers, flush toilets, fully equipped kitchens, and
      satellite TV. Most absurdly, the carriages have glass doors that
      open to balconies, which are perfect for kicking back with a pint of
      ale after a long day of going absolutely nowhere. 011-64/3-322-8277,
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