All posts by Harman Stinson

Harman's travels have taken him through the Caribbean, across the United States, Australia, Canada, Alaska and Europe. He has seen far off places such as Turkey, Croatia, the Greek Isles, and the Ukraine. While traveling he has climbed extensively in the Sierra Nevada and skied throughout the western U.S. His sailing experiences have taken him from the coast of Florida all the way to Grenada, Croatia and an extended sailing trip from New England to Bahamas in a 28 foot Cal.

Blue Grotto – Bisevo, Croatia

The Island Biševo is made up of limestone and has numerous sea caves along the coast of the island, which may be visited by boat. This cave picture here is Modra Špilja, the Blue Grotto. It is called Skuja na Zanje in the local dialect. The natural entrance below the sea level and you used to have to enter the cave by diving. But more than a century ago an artificial entrance was built to allow visitors to enter the cave by boat. Visiting in the late morning is ideal for a visit. This is the time when the light inside the cave is best. The earlier or later during the day, the less light in the cave. Before and after the sun hits the sea in front of the cave, a visit is absolutely pointless.

Travel Tips – Money / Currency

Keep your money safe from thiefs or just figuring out exchange rates and other currency issues are important. Here are some ideas on how to make it easier for you. If you have any ideas to contribute please email us.

Currency and exchange issues

Never discount the usefulness of traveler’s checks–as old fashioned as they may seem, they can be a reliable means of exchanging currency and making purchases, particularly where credit card and ATM service is not available. Also, if you plan on traveling to only one country, change your currency before you go; many developing countries will only readily change more sought-after currency, so if you’re carrying Rands, Lira, or other, you may find it difficult to exchange these for the local currency.

If you plan of visiting more than one country and don’t want to juggle envelopes full of different denominations, try to find out what is the most easily changed–the U.S. dollar is widely exchanged throughout the world, so if your country’s currency is not as easy to change, it may be worth carrying U.S. dollars (or another common currency, such as the pound stirling) while you travel. This, naturally, applies to traveler’s checks as well as to cash.

Foreign ATM machines

No matter how globalized we think the world is, there are always going to be places where it’s just plain impossible to get cash in an emergency. Most first-world countries will have a well-developed network of ATM machines that accept cards issued by major banking services. But as you get into the developing world, you’ll inevitably run into a number of roadblocks. In many developing countries, ATMs can only be found in major urban areas such as the country’s capitol. And often these machines will only accept cards that were issued by that specific bank, leaving the rest of us tourists out of luck. And of course, the majority of the developing world still doesn’t have access to or an infrastructure for such luxuries as the automatic teller.

Before going on a trip, particularly to a developing country, be sure to do your research: find out what major credit cards are readily accepted, whether or not ATM machines are common, and if your card will be compatible with them.

Credit card problems

It’s not uncommon to find yourself in the middle of an extended trip with a credit card that no longer works, not because you failed to pay your bill, but because the card issuer froze your account for security reasons. This is not meant to be a malicious, or even inconvenient, act. In fact, it’s the credit card company’s way of doing its job: protecting you and itself from credit card fraud. Most card issuers monitor spending patterns, including average monthly bills and the general region of purchases made. When a traveler depends on his/her credit card away from home, this often raises a caution flag to the card issuer that someone may have stolen the card and is going on a “cross country” spending spree. They will thus freeze that account and wait for the card holder to call and confirm the theft or not.

To play it safe, always keep a record of your card issuer’s customer service number (and check for a separate number if you’re traveling overseas) so you can make that call when necessary, and alert your credit card company before going on a trip, so they don’t mistakenly freeze your account. It’s also a good idea to pay your bill in full before leaving on a long trip, so as not to have your credit card canceled because of delinquent payments.

Protecting your travelers checks

Traveler’s checks are often thought of as the safest and most reliable way traveling cash free. While this may be true, it doesn’t mean they can’t be lost or stolen and used by someone else. You cannot always prevent this from happening, but you can take measures to make it easier to report and replace lost or stolen checks. First, it helps to make copies of your travelers checks, or at least keep a record of their serial numbers. Second, make sure you know the denomination of your checks; it may be easier to get all of them in just one denomination, but keep in mind that you may have trouble cashing large denominations in certain places. Third, know the date and location you purchased your traveler’s checks and always get a phone number to report them lost or stolen. Doing these things won’t guarantee your security, but it will make your life easier in the event of such an emergency. Money conversion cheat sheet

A really handy, wallet-sized currency cheat sheet can be obtained online and printed with the touch of a few buttons. Log on to OandA.com (http://www.oanda.com) and select “Traveler.” Choose “Print Travelers Currency Cheat Sheet” and select the appropriate home and destination countries, then click on “Get My Cheat Sheet.” It’s that simple.

The Web site allows you to customize your cheat sheet according to various exchange rates (cash, credit, interbank, etc.), languages, and specific dates. And because it’s continuously updated, it’s also a convenient reference for keeping track of worldwide currencies.

Don’t attract criminals

The best way to keep from attracting a thief’s attention is to avoid wearing expensive looking jewelry and having cameras and other pricey items out for all to see. Keep your jewelry covered up or under lock and key at your hotel (most higher-end hotels will have a safe either in the room or at the reception desk). Cameras should be kept out of site as well–either tucked into bag or backpack when not in use, or better yet, strapped around your neck and under your jacket. Smaller point-and-shoot cameras will often fit into a pocket on the inside of your coat. Carrying large amounts of money

When carrying large amounts of money, especially in major cities where pickpockets are prevalent, it is a good idea to have a money belt that you wear underneath your clothing. Only keep small amounts in your pockets, keep everything else zipped up in the belt, including your passport and credit cards if possible. If you know you will be needing a credit card, you can take it out beforehand; this way, if you are robbed, most likely the thieves will only get away with a small amount of cash.

Money conversion

It’s a great idea, when dealing with money conversion, to carry a small pocket calculator. All you need to know is the exchange rate, and with one quick calculation you’ll know exactly what you owe. If you’re to embarrassed to pull out a calculator when browsing for gifts to bring home, you can write a out quick cheat sheet of the exchange for $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and so on. This should make it easier to figure out the appropriate price of things without having to draw too much attention to yourself.

Travel Tips – Miscellaneous

Knowing certain things before you head out can help you avoid the headaches and inconveniences that can ruin a great trip. We’re compiling tips for everything from keeping your money safe to information on what you’ll need to do before hitting the road. If you have any ideas to contribute please email us.

Know Your Knots

For anyone traveling in the wilderness, boating, or just trying to tie something to the roof of your car, knowing your knots is essential. The “bowline” is a sailor’s classic, providing a slip-free knot with a loop on one end; the “sheet bend” is perfect if you want to temporarily connect two lengths of rope to make a single, longer piece; if you plan on hauling lumber, the “timber hitch” is the knot for you; and you can use a “trucker’s hitch” to keep that canoe on top of your station wagon while you’re speeding down the highway.

Whatever your uses, a good resource is http://www.troop9.org/?s=knots/index. Here you can find animated images and instruction on tying these knots and more.

Traveling with Film and Digital Photo Media

If you plan on taking pictures while traveling, whether you use a traditional film camera or a digital camera, it’s a good idea to keep your undeveloped pictures in a carry-on bag as opposed to you checked luggage. The powerful airport baggage screening machines used for checked luggage have a much stronger signal than do the smaller versions used for carry-on bags. It’s possible for these more powerful machines to damage undeveloped film or digital data cards, meaning you could potentially lose all your pictures. Avoid home break-ins while on the road

Don’t let crooks kill two birds with one stone. If you’re on the wrong end of a mugging and keep both your house keys and identification in your bag, a robber will know where you live and how to get in there. Whether traveling far or near, it’s a good idea to protect yourself: keep your keys separate and keep the robbers out of your home.

Mobile computing

As laptops get smaller, PDAs have enhanced capabilities, and cell phones become more technologically advanced, mobile computing is fast becoming the norm for travelers. If you plan on sending emails from the road, updating online travel logs, sending digital pictures, or more, and don’t want to be slave to cyber-cafes, look into some of the options above. Many of the smaller and more advanced devices on the market are still quite pricey, but there are some good deals to be found, and as more people turn to portability and independence for their on-the-road computing needs, prices will surely drop. These days a wireless laptop is a most for travelers who want to stay connected and in most big cities wireless networks can be easily found, just make sure your computer is protected against virus and others problems that can come from using unsecured wireless networks.

Internet access numbers on the road

For those intrepid souls taking your laptops on the road, don’t forget to bring a list of internet access numbers for your ISP. Wireless access is not yet ubiquitous, and many places won’t offer the comfort of a high-speed ethernet connection, so you may find that dial-up is the best (or only) way to go. Most ISPs will list state-by-state access numbers on their Web site, and may have toll-free numbers within the company’s home country. The larger services may even provide international numbers for connecting abroad. And for all you ramblers who may just hit the road and then decide where you’re going, check out your ISP’s home page before you head out and jot down a bunch of these numbers, so no matter where you are, you’ll find yourself connected.

Traveler’s first-aid kit

Accidents happen, both big and small… It’s always a good idea to play it safe when traveling and pack a first-aid kit. This should include (at least) the following items: Band-Aids; Bacitracin or other antibiotic ointment; iodine pads for larger cuts, and gauze with adhesive tape; moleskin; tweezers; thermometer in a hard case; nonaspirin pain reliever; medication for colds and diarrhea; motion sickness medication, such as Dramamine (if applicable); and any prescribed medications in original labeled containers.

Traveling with disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits travel-related businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of a disability, and mandates that the businesses make it possible for everyone to take advantage of their goods and services as fully as people without disabilities. However, while this is true in the United States (and for U.S.-based carriers), in much of the world there are still many questions about what qualifies as general accessibility for disabled people.

If you’re traveling abroad, be sure to do your research. Talk with travel agents who specialize in planning trips for the disabled, make sure airlines and other carriers accommodate the needs of disabled passengers, and check for things like wheelchair accessibility at hotels, rules pertaining to guide dogs, and more.

Emergency wheelchair repairs

Traveling with a wheelchair doesn’t have to be difficult. One thing to keep in mind is, bicycle shops can often make emergency repairs on manual wheelchairs (and in some cases, on electric-powered chairs too). Bicycle tubes and tires are almost always interchangeable with wheelchair tires, and bike tubes are much less expensive. Also, bicycle shops generally have longer hours than hospital wheelchair departments or medical-supply houses, and are usually open on weekends.

Identity theft — Mail

Never leave for a trip and let your mail pile up in your mailbox. If a thief steals your mail, he may be able to get enough information from it to steal your identity.

Also, never leave your outgoing bills your mailbox where a thief can find them and get information such as credit card and bank account numbers. This is all the information a thief needs to steal someone’s identity.

Packing list

It is a good idea to carry a list of expensive items you have packed in your checked luggage. That way, if the airline loses your bag, you have some record of what has been lost.

Likewise, you should never pack any irreplaceable items, such as, medicine or jewelry in your checked luggage; make sure you put it in your carry-on bag, or leave it at home for safe keeping.

Lost? Find your way back…

When visiting a country where you have little language skills, make sure to have a card with your hotel name and address on it in case you get lost or are trying to give a taxi directions. It’s also wise to make a point of learning a few key phrases, such as, your local address and inquiries as to how to find a cab, telephone, police, etc., which may prove useful in bind. E-mailing important documents

Before traveling it’s a good idea to photocopy all of your important documents (passport, tickets, etc.); keep a copy with your gear, separate from the originals. For instance, if you lose the bag with your passport, you’ll have a copy of it to bring to the consulate in a separate bag. Give another copy to a friend or family member back home, for safekeeping, in case both the original and your copy get lost. You can also scan them and send them to your e-mail address so if you ever lose your paper copies you can just print more out.

Don’t attract criminals

The best way to keep from attracting a thief’s attention is to avoid wearing expensive looking jewelry and having cameras and other pricey items out for all to see. Keep your jewelry covered up or under lock and key at your hotel (most higher-end hotels will have a safe either in the room or at the reception desk). Cameras should be kept out of site as well–either tucked into bag or backpack when not in use, or better yet, strapped around your neck and under your jacket. Smaller point-and-shoot cameras will often fit into a pocket on the inside of your coat.

Protecting your camera

Cameras are one of the most common items stolen on a vacation. Most are stolen while in high-crime areas such as city centers or shopping bazaars. Most people on vacation don’t want to be without their cameras, but if you are going to be traveling in high-crime area, or even an area you worry might be high crime, then you may want to bring along a disposable camera instead of an expensive SLR or digital camera. Cheap point-and-shoot cameras are good for this as well, and neither take up much space in a suitcase. Otherwise, be sure to keep your camera out of sight, attached to a strap around your neck, and/or zipped under your jacket, if possible.

Address on luggage tags

Traveling abroad means putting you address on your luggage, which in turn means everyone can see where you live and know that you will be gone. More than one robbery has been perpetrated by shady characters lingering around local airports, scoping out the home addresses of people they see taking outgoing flights. The best way to protect against this is to put your business address on a piece of luggage. This will insure that no one who spots your address will be getting the correct one, and that your bags–if lost–will find their way back to a place you can retrieve them. Another idea is to put your local police station’s address label on the label, but this could lead to complications if your bags are lost. And we’d like to hope that your bags are more likely to be lost in transit, than your house being robbed.

Turkey

Turkey FlagTurkey is truly the meeting place of Europe and the Middle East. Although, generally, Turkey is considered a middle eastern country, its main hub Istanbul has a European feel with old world charm. This bustling city is a doorway into a country that has two distinct sides.

Turkey is rapidly entering the modern world, and may very soon be part of the European Union. This will take the country into a new phase and could open its doors even wider to tourism and economic growth. Turkey is a wonderful place to visit–whether walking through the old city of Istanbul or strolling down the ancient streets of Ephesus, you begin to understand what an important crossroads Turkey has been throughout history.

Turkey Information
Turkey MapPopulation: 65.7 million
Government: Federal Republic
Square Miles: 483,260 sq mi (779,452 sq km)
Capitol: Ankara (pop 3.7 million)
Official Language: Turkish
People: Turks (85%), Kurds (12%), other Islamic peoples, Armenians, Jews
Religion: Muslim
Major products/industries: Agriculture, motor vehicles, petroleum, engineering, tourism

Traveling in Turkey
Turkish airlines can fly you to most all Turkish cities, but there are other cheaper ways to move around Turkey. Turkish buses are good way to travel through the country–they are cheap, comfortable, and they go everywhere. Trains are a good value if you plan on traveling long distances overnight, if you can get a sleeping compartment, but they don’t travel as frequently or cheaply as buses. If you plan are driving, make sure you have plenty of insurance and nerves of steel. Turkish drivers are famous for their speed and aggressiveness, so driving is not recommended. Taxis are recommended over driving, but if you do happen to be driving and want to avoid getting behind the wheel more than you have to, there are automobile ferries that can bring you down the coast during the summer.

Weather in Turkey

Turkey is a great place to travel in the “shoulder” seasons of spring and fall, when the weather along the coast is best. In the summer the weather can be uncomfortably hot and in the winter the coastal areas are essential closed.

Turkish CuisineTurkey
Most places in Turkey you’ll find cuisine not unlike that in the United States. Chicken and lamb seem to be on all menus, often heavily tenderized and breaded. Entrees don’t tend to have heavy sauces on them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of taste. Most meats or poultry in Turkey are prepared with a lot of spices, which gives the food some flare. On the whole, restaurant meals are reasonably priced, and if you plan on eating out in Istanbul, finding a good inexpensive meal usually means little more than walking down the block from your hotel (hotel restaurants are typically overpriced and less representative of true local cuisine).

What to Know
TurkeyThere is a lot to see and do in Turkey and it is best to research where you would like to go beforehand. It is a large country and seeing what you want in one visit may not be possible, but making sure you get to see Istanbul as well as some of the famous historical sites like Esphesus or Troy should be high on the list.

India

Indian FlagSince 2500 B.C., the cultures that grew into the modern state of India have been involved in a wild dance of religion and politics that make the India of today one of the most colorful, culturally rich, hyperintense, and interesting places in the world. The culture, politics, and economic effects can run to such extremes, in fact, that tourists have often been divided in to “love” and “hate” groups when it comes to appreciating all India has to offer, in relation to the trials one must at times undergo to enjoy it.

The history of the region that is now India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal has evolved based in large part on the tides of religious belief. Founded in the Indus River valley on the roots of Hinduism, the millenia that followed saw the rise of Buddhism, and Islam as prominent and politically charged practices. This, coupled with the forced influence of colonizing groups such as the early Aryans and, later, the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English; as well as the great size of India and its multitude of people, makes this country on of the most interesting from a social standpoint. The cities are crowded and bustling while the countryside may at times seem spare. The economic divide is garish and unashamed, and, while no longer sanctioned by the government, the age-old caste system is still very much in place.

But these elements only make up part of the social fabric of India. Since the Partition of Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan in the 1940s, heated political tensions–and the occasional nuclear standoff–between these two countries over rights to the region of Kashmir have had a global effect. Further Hindu-Islam conflicts have flared up in other regions within India. The west plays an increasing role in Indian culture, from the tremendous British influence, which was responsible for building everything from an internal transportation system to a strong academic program; to America and its media and fashion obsession; and the former Soviet Union with its power and influence in that region (particularly before its fall). All of these things come together at times to feel counterpoised, and at time chaotic.

Traveling in India
India MapInternational flights to India typically go to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Kerala. If coming from Europe or beyond, it’s a good idea to have your accommodations organized in advance, as these flights tend to arrive in the predawn hours. This way you can go straight to your hotel or otherwise, rather than wandering the streets until sunrise.

Overland, the most traveled routes between India and Nepal are the Birganj-Raxaul Bazaar, Sunauli-Bhairawa, and Kakarbhitta-Siliguri roads. The only crossing between India and Pakistan is between Lahore and Amritsar, which is accessible by train or road. Bus service runs between Lahore and Delhi, operating four times a week, but be cautious as it could be a potential target for nationalist violence.

The state-run domestic Indian Airlines flies throughout the country, as does the international carrier Air India. There is also a glut of smaller domestic airlines, including Sahara Indian Airlines and Jet Airways, that will take you throughout India.

The infamous Indian train travel can be a colossal ordeal, but is also essential if you want to see the “real” India. Knowing the rules of the game is important if you’re going to survive what could otherwise be a nightmarish experience. Stick to the express or mail trains, but experiment on all the different classes of travel to see every side of the culture. Patience is the key in all aspects of the train system, from booking fares to just about any other aspect of transportation beaurocracy. It can be frustrating to the uninitiated, but keep it together and you’ll find the confusing methods that make up the Indian rails actually add up to a working system.

Buses provide another option (or, in the cases of getting to Kashmir or Nepal, maybe the only option). They range in price and comfort depending on where you are, how busy your route is, whether you use a state-run line or a private carrier, and more. The less expesive lines tend to be overcrowded, loud, and uncomfortable; some of the pricier lines may provide some relief from that and will often get you where you’re going faster than the trains.

Weather in India
It bears repeating: India is a huge country. There are microclimates throughout India, and like any nation of its size, the best times of year to visit–climatologically speaking–vary depending on where you want to go. October to March tends to be the most pleasant period across the bulk of India, but monsoons, deserts, Alpine mountains, and more mean dramatic differences between localized areas. Before you go, check up on the climate of your specific destination and keep it in mind as you plan your itinerary.

Republic of India Information
Population: 1,014,003,817
Government: Federal Republic
Area: 1,229,737 sq mi (3,287,590 sq km)
Capitol: New Delhi
Official Language: Hindi
People: 72% Indo-Aryan, 25% Dravidian, 3% other
Religion: 80% Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2.4% Christian, 2% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.5% Jains, 0.4% other
Major products/industries: Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, agriculture, livestock

Twelve Apostles – Port Campbell National Park

The Twelve Apostles are a set of limestone rock towers located on the “Shipwreck Coast” of southern Australia in Port Campbell National Park. Port Campbell National Park is located on the “Great Ocean Road” in Victoria, Australia. Many of the original 12 have collapsed what is left still draws in the tourists.

Mongolia

Mongolian FlagMongolia is one of the world’s most untamed countries. This exotic land may be considered the last frontier in Asia, and despite a history that includes such all-powerful warlords and diplomats as Ghengis and Kublai Khan–roving horsemen who’s bands of warrior-statesmen were responsible for unifying the largest empire in history–it seems amazing this country has kept it’s independence, existing between such giants as China and Russia. But Mongolia survives, through harsh winters, a serious lack of infrastructure, and few natural resources… In Mongolia, you are nothing if not a survivor.

Many Mongolian people are nomads who depend on their herds of sheep, goat, cattle, horse, and yak. Most Mongolians live in gers–traditional white felt tents that can easily be broken down and moved (this is even true in the cities). A family’s ger will have many religious and superstitious rules associated with them, and it’s suggested that you gain an understanding of these rules if you’re ever invited inside.

Traveling in Mongolia
Mongolia MapThe easiest way to get to Mongolia is to fly through Beijing, Moscow, or Berlin. Mongolia’s international airline, called MIAT, will get you there, but there is no guarantee when that will be, as flights are routinely canceled due to poor weather conditions. You can also reach Mongolia by way of the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which links Moscow and Beijing, or by crossing the border from Russia or China in a car (though, technically, this is still illegal).

Once inside the country, getting around is usually done via MIAT flights to one of the over 80 rustic regional airports across Mongolia. But buying tickets can be complicated because of low-technology: the airline has no computerized reservation system, forcing passengers to depend on one-way flights wherever they go. Be aware that flight times change regularly, with little or no notice; foreigners typically pay more for their tickets than Mongolian residents; and the airports are often little more than a dirt tracks on which to land.

There is bus service throughout the country, but the journeys are slow, delays are common for a variety of reasons, and schedules change often. You can also rent a jeep, but it’s advised to do so only with a guide, as breakdowns and accidents are common, but gas and good roads are not.

Weather in Mongolia
With 260 clear-sky days a year, Mongolia sounds like a sun worshipper’s paradise (in fact, it’s commonly known as the “Land of Blue Sky”). But the extreme climate varies greatly. Mongolia’s long winters keep some lakes frozen until June with temperatures dropping down to -22°F. The rainy season is short–lasting only from July until September–and the showers tend to be brief and gentle. The interior is dominated by the sprawling Gobi Desert, which gets just enough precipitation to support scattered herds of livestock and wild horses. Mongolia’s high altitude makes for cool evenings in the summer, while the spring is accented by terrible dust storms.

Mongolia Information

Population: 2.6 million
Government: Communist Republic
Square Miles: 610,740 sq mi (1,566,000 sq km)
Capitol: N’Djamena (pop 700,000)
Official Language: Mongolian, Turkic, Russian, Chinese
People: Khalkh Mongols (86%), Kazaks (2%), Chinese (2%), Russian (2%), about a dozen other ethnic groups
Religion: Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim, Shamanism
Major products/industries: Copper, livestock, cashmere, wool

Iraq

Iraq FlagMuch of early history centers itself around an area known as the “Fertile Crescent,” referring to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present-day Iraq. Many ancient kingdoms were borne out of this region, including the Assyrians, Sumerians, and Babylonians–whose legendary King Hammurabi penned the enormously important Code of Hammurabi, one of the most significant legal doctrines of all time.

Much later this region was part of the Ottoman Empire, until 1932 when Iraq became an independent kingdom. Traveling to Iraq has not been appealing to most people in recent years; the country has been part of a series of wars dating back decades–first with their neighbor and foe, Iran; then with the United States after a failed attempt to gain control over another neighbor, Kuwait. Currently, the U.S. government and the governments of several other nations are extremely focussed on removing the despotic dictator Saddam Hussein and his regime. This has led to large-scale military action between Iraq and much of the outside world.

Economic sanctions and internal mismanagement have essentially ruined the Iraqi economy, food shortages have reached devastating levels, and the threat of war has all but guaranteed that Iraq won’t develop into a tourist destination in the foreseeable future.

For the present, it is our contention that–barring extreme circumstances–traveling to Iraq should be avoided at all costs. Particularly for Westerners, it is considered very unsafe.

Traveling in Iraq
Iraq MapFor those brave enough to travel to this war-torn and tumultuous nation, getting in is the hardest part. Due to war-related restrictions, there are no commercial air carriers running flights to Baghdad’s international airport. By road, borders with Turkey and Jordan are heavily guarded. Internal and cross-border struggles with the Kurdish population make many outlying regions dangerous. And internal violence between allied Western troops and local Iraqi militia pose a threat to just about everyone.

Weather in Iraq
The weather in Iraq is very arid and the country gets little rainfall. The hottest season in Iraq is between May and September. In Bagbdad the temperature in summer can reach 123°F (51°C), but averages about 95°F (35°C). In the winter it gets down to a temperature average of 50°F (10°C).

Iraq Information

Population: 24,001,816 (2002 est.)
Government: Republic
Square Miles: 169,235 sq mi (438,317 sq km)
Capitol: Baghdad (pop. 5 million)
Official Language: Arabic (official), Kurdish
People: 79% Arabs, 16% Kurds, 3% Persians, 2% Turks
Religion: Shia Muslim (65%), Sunni Muslim (30%), Christian (3%)
Major products/industries: Oil, natural gas, agriculture, fishing

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea FlagPapua New Guinea Flag Papua New Guinea makes up the eastern half of the island of New Guinea–the second largest island in the world. It was divided between Germany (north) and the U.K. (south) in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia in 1902, which occupied the north during World War I and continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975.

Papua New Guinea MapPapua New Guinea has vast natural resources, but exploitation of them is difficult due to rugged terrain and the high cost of developing an infrastructure. Agriculture provides a subsistence livelihood for most of the population, while mineral deposits, such as oil, copper, and gold, account for a large part of export earnings.

Wildlife diversity, varied landscape, primeval indigenous communtities, and pimordial forests and mountains excite adventure travelers around the globe. However, years of bad press–some exaggerated, some not–relating to ethnic and racial conflict, as well as extreme poverty and violent crime, are cause for concern among tourists. Take the necessary precautions before going to Papua New Guinea, but enjoy it for all that it has to offer.

Traveling in Papua New Guinea
Australia Oceania MapPapua New Guinea is a country so raw and untamed it attracts adventrous travelers the world over. But Papua New Guinea also suffers from major unemployment, terrible crime, and exploitation. Because of this the tourism industry is quite new and has limited infrustruture for dealing with visitors. This can make Papua New Guinea a dangerous place to travel, and for all of its beauty, there is also real danger in traveling there. If you are planning a trip to Papua New Guinea it’s wise to follow a few guidelines. First, it’s best not to travel at night; this goes especially for wandering around after dark. You should also dress conservatively so not to draw attention to yourself. It’s smart to listen to local advice and make friends with the locals around the area you are visiting, but the best advice is to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.

Flying to Papua New Guinea is the easiest way to get there. Most flights leave from Australia, but you can also catch flights from other places such as Singapore, Manila, and Guam. Most flights go to Port Moresby, but there is also an airport in Alotau.

The best way to travel around the country is by flying. The main carrier–Air Niugini–has flights to small airstrips scattered around the country. There are roads around the country, but because of the terrain they are limited. There are public transportation systems (PMVs) which travel around a pre-established route; they are cheap and will drop you off anywhere along the route. Renting a car is not a good option because local tribes can take serious, and sometimes deadly, actions against drivers who get into accidents. You can also travel by boat, but this can be uncomfortable and unreliable.

Weather in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea has a hot, humid, and wet climate year round. The “defined” seasons are as follows, December to March is the wet season and May to October is the dry season. But annaul rainful in different areas ranges from 39 inches to an amazing 20 feet. The temperatures on the coast range between 77° and 86°, but in the highlands the temperatures can be very chilly.

Papua New Guinea Information
Population: 4.5 million
Government: Democracy
Square Miles: 180,508 sq mi (462,840 sq km)
Capitol: N’Djamena (pop 700,000)
Official Language: 750 indigenous languages plus Pidgin and Motu
People: 95% Melanesian, 5% Polynesian, Micronesian, Chinese
Religion: 44% Protestant, 22% Catholic and 34% pantheistic beliefs
Major products/industries: Coffee, copper, gold, silver, copra crushing, palm oil processing, logging