Top 4 Dangerous Airports

For every great thing in the world, there are equivalents which are not so pleasant. For every top-of-the-line cell phone model, there’s one with the barest of features and will probably cause cancer! For every wonderful, sparkling, luxurious resort, there’s a beach near a crime-ridden area, filled with litter and an old house near it to rent. And for every large airport filled with amenities and safety precautions, there are ones which are essentially an airstrip and a building. Here are those airports that have earned the title of most dangerous in the world.

1. Lukla Airport, Nepal – The people who attempt to climb Mount Everest know this place very well. Renamed in January 2008 as Tenzing-Hillary airport, after the two men who first ascended the highest mountain in the world, this airport is where all Everest climber aspirants land to start their journey. The runway is around half a kilometer long, 20m wide, with an incline being a staggering 20%! With a 700-meter drop on one end and a mountain in the other, and the airport being so high up, this is another added risk to adventurers. There have been five recorded plane accidents. Nevertheless, the people who do come here consider it as part of the risk they signed up for.

2. Courchevel, France – A ski area in the French Alps, it is the largest linked ski area in the world. This is the first resort in France to be constructed from scratch, as opposed to the others which were built around an already existing village. Courchevel’s airport is infamous for having a short runway of around half a kilometer and a gradient of 18.5%! Pilots have to land on the higher incline to slow down enough, and takeoffs must be done towards the decline to pick up speed.

3. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba – The only airport in Saba, in the Caribbean, it is well-known to flyers because of the methods of landing and taking off for the small airport. There have been no tragedies there, but it is still very dangerous. One side has high hills while all the others drop into the sea. The runway length is a bone-chilling 396m, only allowing small aircraft and helicopters to land! The tower is an advisory service only and does not provide air traffic control. You also can’t refuel, so tough luck if you run out.

4. Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin – A very busy airport in the Eastern Caribbean, it is a major gateway for other airports nearby. Its runway of a little above two kilometers means that large jets have to fly low to land, and beachgoers at nearby Maho Beach are often treated to an up close and personal view of a big plane. Signs are placed nearby so no unfortunate spotter would be blown back by any plane’s powerful engines.

The ease of air travel allows lots of airports to pop up, including not so safe ones. Been to any of these airports? Speak up and tell us about your experience!

3 Things You Should Know Before Going To China

The Beijing Olympics are getting closer and closer, and more people are considering going to the most populated country in the world to watch. I don’t really condone China and their policies, but for those who want to make the trip, here are a few important reminders.

1. China has only one time zone. All places in China use Beijing’s time, which is GMT+8, no matter where in the country you are. On the off chance you wander quite far, don’t panic when the sun sets early!

2. There are three units of currency. They’re all called Renminbi. The primary unit is the yuan. The jiao is a tenth of a yuan, and the fen is a tenth of a jiao. The latter two are available in 1, 2 and 5 units while yuan is available in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. The exchange rate hovers at around 7 yuan per US dollar. You can’t use the dollar in most places so convert quickly. Also, you can’t bring Renminbi into the country.

3. Mind your manners. In China, everyone gets food from a big plate, with each person having smaller plates. Chinese hosts also love to place food on your plate. Don’t refuse! This displays their politeness and friendship. Leave it on the plate if you are full.

There are more things but I feel these are the most essential. What tips can you give?

4 Firsts in Exploration

Humans are known for their inherent curiosity, the desire to learn more about the world around them. In the past, man’s need to explore was as strong as his need to eat and breathe! Even now this is the case for many, who, even with very few places left to discover, now try to explore the world with conditions set upon them to further challenge themselves. We’ve heard of the disabled man who reached the top of Mount Everest, or the men who reached the South Pole only on skis. To many of us, this sounds absurd, but they are merely following the built-in call for travel and exploration that all humans have.

There are, however, men who set an example in the past, men who were undoubtedly the first people to unlock yet another place in this earth for everyone to see. Who are these men?

1. Roald Amundsen and his party were the first men to reach the South Pole, on December 14, 1911. He was 39 at the time. This man from Norway was obsessed with reaching the poles ever since he was a child, training his body just for the task. He was beaten to the race to the North Pole, but eventually became the first to reach the South. We could learn from him! Even after he was beaten, he did not falter and still went for the other goal.

2. Pavel Kononovich Sen’ko, Mikhail Michailovich Somov, Pavel Afanasyevich Geordiyenko and Mikhail Yemel’ Yanovich Ostrekin were the first men officially to have reached the North Pole. There are earlier claims of having reached it, which stopped Roald Amundsen’s trek, but this Soviet party is the earliest one with complete proof. Earlier claims were eventually proven to not have actually reached the pole. They got there using planes, but it was still dangerous as the conditions there did not favor flying that type of aircraft.

3. Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni are the two climbers to have reached the summit of K2, the world’s second tallest mountain. The Italians were heavily aided by their teammates, the two reached the summit on July 31, 1954. Efforts to reach the top started in 1892, but success only came much later. It was thanks to the previous expeditions that they were successful.

4. Ferdinand Magellan led the fleet that first circumnavigated the world, giving firsthand proof that the world is round, even though it is known already because of mathematics as early as the Greek times. Only one of his ships survived. Magellan was killed on April 17, 1521, in the Philippines, fighting the natives, before he could finish the journey. Juan Sebastian Elcano took over and eventually finished the trip. Magellan did not intend to sail around the world, it had simply turned out that way due to his exploration.

I didn’t mention Mount Everest since everyone knows that already. These people are indeed remarkable pioneers of their time, and led the way to future explorations. What do you think of these men?

5 Interesting Airline Facts

Like many other things, corporations like airlines have their own little facts and figures that may surprise some people. Here are a few of the more interesting ones I found on this website.

1. Singapore Airlines ranks second when it comes to buying Dom Perignon in the entire world! Business class has almost 100 bottles of champagne assigned to it, all by itself. That’s a lot of champagne! No wonder passengers have a good time there.

2. Cathay Pacific carries rice cookers, toasters, cappuccino makers and skillets on board their airplanes. Breakfast there is always fresh!

3. Qantas, Australia’s national airline, originally stood for Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service. I guess that had to drop it when they went international.

4. Abu Dhabi Airport Services once did a complete turn around for a Boeing 777 in under 40 minutes, as opposed to a normal minimum of one hour. They unloaded passengers, cargo, mail, cleaned the aircraft, and loaded outbound passengers, cargo and mail in that short time. It must have been exhausting!

5. Virgin Atlantic lists catering as their third biggest expense, after fuel and maintenance.

These are interesting little things to know! Do you know any more little facts?

5 Riskiest Travel Places

It’s no secret that the world isn’t a safe place. Not every place is as safe as a strongbox, and you can’t feel secure in certain places as when you’re staying at a fancy resort. Even if there is danger, some people still love to explore and are rewarded, while some are easily frightened. So, what kinds of countries do you definitely need to avoid if you want to be sure to come home with your belongings (and yourself) intact? iJet, an expert in this type of security, can give us a few ideas.

1. Iraq – A well-known unstable region that is definitely on this list. No region here is truly secure, even the green zone, and the insurgency is still at large. Despite security attempts by the US Forces, bombs and civilian deaths are still common, although this is lessening. Journalists are escorted by soldiers at all times. Don’t expect that much protection if you’re here just for kicks.

2. Haiti – Lack of a police force and corruption plagues this country. It has severe environmental and economical problems. Peacekeeping troops have been stationed here, but they can’t do that much. Firearms are rampant, with people walking down the streets with weapons not an uncommon sight. The culture is, however, rich, and you may want to take the risk if you know how to watch yourself. Don’t think there are any five-star hotels.

3. Somalia – This African country is not well-supported by the US, which is trouble for American travelers. Violence flares often here, with fighting still ongoing. Even with the Islamic Courts Union largely gone, they are still active along with Ethiopian troops. The nation is still broken. Parts of the nation are recovering, though, with technological aspects developing nicely. Food in Somalia is great, too. Fly in and sample the local dishes, and remember to stay on the beaten path.

4. Democratic Republic of the Congo – The worst place for women to be, so if you’re one, avoid going here at all costs. Violence against women is considered common by a majority, and rape happens often. A movement is out to right this wrong, but their influence is minor at best. Crime levels are high, and you’re likely to get kidnapped or killed for your belongings here. Their art and music, however, are great. I recommend viewing them from very far away.

5. Afghanistan – The Taliban has a powerful presence in this war-torn country. Outside of the capital, the risk of being kidnapped or killed is high. Beware when walking along the road; land mines still litter the landscape. Homemade bombs are also common. But there is something good here. Residents are proud of their culture, and if you play your cards right, you’ll enjoy your time here immensely.

I was about to place the US as an honorable mention, but only a few areas are risky in the traditional sense. What other places do you think are risky or places you shouldn’t go? Any comments? Speak up!

Paying Extra For Coach Seats

US Airways is going to begin charging $5 extra for aisle or window seats in some planes, according to CNN. The program starts on May 7, with Preferred members getting the seats with no extra charge. Fuel costs are rising, and they have to find a workaround.

A part of me thinks that it is yet another way to add even more costs to planes. With a lot of airlines already closed and the recent issues plaguing the airline business, this announcement further weighs down the already sinking industry, since with this the other airlines might follow suit. They have to make up for the fuel, you say. Yes, they have little choice if they want to earn. This, however, wasn’t the best way of going about it, even if they did make it free to some people. What’s going to happen next? We have to insert a quarter in a slot to use the lavatory?

The ordinary passenger these days is surrounded with delayed flights, halted flights, the mood swings of the people who check the hand carried luggage, and extra charges. I think the airline should address these issues first before adding even more things you pay for.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sharks

After digging out pictures on a sighting of a small, non-threatening shark (at least that’s what the locals say) on a trip to Hawaii quite a while ago, (I went here in case anyone was wondering) I got to thinking. Sharks are really fascinating creatures! They have captured the hearts of men all over. Feared for their apparent eating habits, only further fed by news reports and Hollywood movies, sharks are avoided and sometimes have been hunted and now not too many remain in the seas. However, many people have recognized the true majesty of the shark, thanks to science. In light of that, here are five things you probably didn’t know about sharks.

1. Only four types of sharks present a large threat to humans. There are more than 360 species of them, but only the great white, bull, tiger and the oceanic whitetip sharks are known for biting humans. These attacks are provoked more often than not, and sometimes even mistaken! There are a few more species which have attacked humans, but they rarely cause death.

2. Sharks only bite…sometimes! A shark cannot eat several times in a row like we can. Oftentimes a shark will bite something to check if it’s worth eating, much like people checking the back of the box for price and nutrition! If it senses that what it’s biting isn’t worth the digestive time, it releases the person, animal or object and goes off to find better food. Talk about discriminating!

3. Sharks may be afraid of dolphins! We’ve heard tales of dolphins protecting humans from sharks. An experiment was also done by Mythbusters where a mechanical dolphin was placed near a seal cutout and raw bait, while a great white shark was feeding. Instead of going for either target, the shark opted to stay away! He only went for it when the dolphin was removed. Scientists still can’t explain why, so don’t try to rent out a dolphin just yet.

4. Sometimes, sharks don’t need a mate to reproduce. There has been a documented case of a shark giving birth without male contact for three years. The newborn had no parental DNA, which makes it a close copy of its mother! This may be a last resort if there are no males around, but since they can’t evolve because of that, it may cause them to become extinct.

5. Sharks are worshipped as gods! Hawaii, that group of islands out in the Pacific Ocean, has more than its share of sharks. It’s not surprising that they model gods out of these creatures. These gods are said to be able to transform from human to shark at will! Many of them are said to be originally human. A common type of story about these gods goes like this: the shark in human form warns beach-goers about sharks in the water. They ignore him, and are later eaten by the human who warned them, who had turned into a shark. When someone warns you about sharks in the water, follow it!

We humans have not fully unraveled the true workings of the shark. Is it friend or foe? Hopefully these facts will make you appreciate sharks more. What other little tidbits do you know? Share them with us!

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