Here are some places you should check out before they disappear.
I’m grateful to the folks at VirtualTourist.com for suggesting 10 places in danger of disappearing during your lifetime.
But let me tell you about several. There’s the Dead Sea (pictured) bordering Jordan and Israel that’s drying up because not enough water from the Jordan River is reaching that salt-heavy body of water.
The spread of palm oil plantations is threatening to make extinct orangutan and Borneo Pigmy elephants in Borneo, Malaysia. The Peruvian section of the Amazon is in danger of being turned into fields of crops. And the Maldives are sinking; well, they’re not sinking, they’re in danger of being flooded by the rising sea.
This, of course, does not begin to touch on historic forts and monuments in the Middle East that are being destroyed by warfare in countries including Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Libya.
Speaking personally, one of the great joys of traveling is exploring countries that offer great street food. But I find many Americans’ fear of germs keeps them from enjoying some of the best food they might find on their trip.
The impetus for today’s travel commentary came from interviewing the author of an excellent, new book on street food in Vietnam on my weekend show. Graham Holliday’s book is titled Eating Vietnam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table, and it’s an early offering from a publishing imprint overseen by Anthony Bourdain.
Here are some reasons you should embrace street food: Most vendors sell one or two things, which means they are likely to be very good at making those things. The ingredients are almost always fresh and local. The service is fast, and the price is usually right. Mr. Holliday’s book made me want to catch a plane to Hanoi. And I can tell you that I go out of my way to eat street food in Hong Kong and Bangkok.
I don’t know that I’d go overboard recommending food carts in Manhattan. But don’t give short shrift to local food markets where some vendors sell prepared foods or street stalls in Asian cities. Read more of Graham Holliday’s writing here.
Yesterday I discussed hard-to-get-into restaurants that require you to pay for your dinner when you make a reservation. It’s an effort by restaurants to cut down on no-shows since if you don’t show up, you forfeit your payment. For something completely different, check out this restaurant in a prison.
If you can get in.
Let me put it this way: Brixton Prison in London isn’t exactly in the fanciest part of town. But that doesn’t stop diners from making it a hotspot. The 120-seat restaurant in the prison is appropriately called “Clink,” and it’s staffed by convicts.
Which is why you must provide your full name and birthdate when you reserve to make sure you’re not a relative or an enemy of any of the prisoners working there. It’s why you have to check your cell phone before entering the restaurant—no Instagram photos of your main course here.
And you’ll be using plastic cutlery.
The idea behind Clink in London, the second in the UK, is to provide training for prisoners, and it’s been very effective in getting them eventual employment that’s kept the recidivism rate very low. Oh, the dining room is attractive, and the food and service are quite good, according to London reviewers.
In the US, probably the best-known restaurant that does that is Trois Mec (pictured) in LA. Located in a non-descript, strip mall in an unremarkable neighborhood in Hollywood, Trois Mec is a 26-seat eatery in what used to be a pizza parlor. And you have to work hard to snare a table by calling on Friday morning two weeks before you wish to dine.
Your credit card will be charged about $100 per person when you reserve. That covers meal, tax, an 18% gratuity, but no drinks other than water. No cancelations and no refunds, though tickets are transferable.
Buying meal tickets as if they’re concert tickets is a trend begun in 2011 by Nick Kokonas, a former derivatives trader and co-owner of Chicago’s Next, where themed meals go for $300 including all drinks. (You can even buy “season tickets” at Next.)
A Michelin-starred restaurant in London called the Clove Club just became the first restaurant in that city to follow suit. And like Trois Mec, it’s a hot restaurant where getting a reservation is difficult.
I sense a trend.
There is some concrete advice for that.
That terrible accident involving an Amtrak train a couple of weeks ago brought this subject to mind. Ned Levi is an engineer, business executive, and traveler, and he wrote recently an article for ConsumerTraveler.com that in the case of a head-on or rear-end collision, it’s always safer to be in a middle car. The reason is obvious—the cars on either end absorb the initial shock and possible destruction.
If you have a choice, choose a rear-facing seat. The view might not be as natural as facing forward, but if the train must stop suddenly, you’ll be pressed backward into your seat rather than compelled forward.
He also suggests taking the same precaution you should take when boarding a plane: Identify the nearest exit. And if your smartphone doesn’t have a built-in flashlight, consider carrying one should you need it in the dark to find a way out of a train car.
Mr. Levy has some other tips in his article I’d recommend taking a moment to read if you are a train passenger.