JODY VICTOR®

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Not So Great Restoration


Posted By on Sep 28, 2016

Historical restorations typically require a delicate touch to maintain authenticity. Unfortunately a large section of China’s Great Wall got a repair job recently that looks like amateur chuckhole fill-in. A 700-year-old “wild” stretch of China’s Great Wall has been covered in a smooth, white trail of cement under orders from Suizhong county’s Cultural Relics Bureau.

The repairs were carried out in 2014, but they only came to public attention recently. It was an effort to restore parts of the wall which have fallen into disrepair and are not open to the public, but the restoration has been met with condemnation by social media users and advocates.

The repair work took place near the border of Liaoning and Hebei province and photos of the results were widely shared by Beijing News on Weibo this week.

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An online crowd funding campaign to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) has been launched by the China Foundation for Culture Heritage Conservation, a semi-official organization. So far, around 385,000 yuan has been gathered from more than 24,000 pledgers. The ancient fortification snakes for 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) across northern China, running through nine provinces.

Many local governments don’t have enough funding to preserve the Great Wall, nor is there enough manpower. The money will be used to restore a 500-year-old and 460-meter-long section of the Great Wall located in Xifengkou, Hebei Province.

The organizers also hope the campaign will raise awareness of the many threats facing the Great Wall. Built in different stages from the third century B.C. to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the wall was built to defend an empire but parts of it are now crumbling. Bricks have been stolen to build houses, for agriculture or to sell as souvenirs to tourists – exacerbating the natural erosion wrought by wind, rain and sandstorms.

According to a 2014 survey by the society, only about 8.2% of the Great Wall is in good condition.

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From Carry-On to Ride-On


Posted By on Aug 31, 2016

A Chicago businessman is selling a rideable carry-on bag. Rather than pulling your luggage from terminal to terminal, travelers can sit on the Modobag and reach speeds up to 8 mph thanks to an electric motor. It’s small enough to be carried on almost any airline.

The bag sold for about $1,000 during the Modomag Indiegogo campaign. The company envisions customers using the bag for more than just airport travel. He recommends office workers ride it to the train or around large conferences. O’Donnell regularly takes his Modobag in Chicago bike lanes to run errands.

The Modobag has a range of about eight miles. Its battery power is intentionally set just under the FAA’s 100 watt hour limit so that travelers can take the bag on planes. The company says the bag can charge up to 80% in 15 minutes.

Modobag includes a memory foam seat that’s strong enough to support a person up to 260 pounds. Riders control the suitcase with a throttle and handbrake.

O’Donnell started working on the project full time two years ago after the idea came to him while lugging a suitcase through an airport.

Modobag appears to have found interest so far. Its Indiegogo campaign reached its funding goal of $50,000 in two days and still has a month left. Modobag will start shipping bags to customers in January 2017.

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There are plenty of urban legends about the friendliness or rudeness of many popular travel destinations around the world. Like many myths, there is a probably a seed of truth to it planted somewhere in the shadows of history. However, for those of us who prefer somewhat more empirical evidence, travel magazine Conde Nast asked its readers in its 29th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
More than 100,000 readers responded to the travel magazine’s reader survey of favorite cities, hotels, resorts, islands, airlines, cruise lines, future travel destinations and, for the fourth year in a row, reader opinions of the world’s friendliest cities.

1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Sydney, Australia
3. Dublin, Ireland
4. Queenstown, New Zealand
5. Park City, Utah
6. Galway, Ireland
7. Savannah, Georgia
8. Krakow, Poland
9. Bruges, Belgium
10. Nashville, Tennessee

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Sydney Helicopters, Hunter Valley Pub Tour
Approx. US $750

This helicopter pub crawl departs from Sydney, Australia — whirling above the city’s famous waterfront for a checklist-notching aerial view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge before soaring into the wild, bucolic yonder of outer New South Wales.

Rosehill Heliport-based Sydney Helicopters’ roster of full-day heli-pub tours includes excursions into the state’s rugged Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, where multiple touchdowns at out-of-the-way bars and charming country inns factor in enough vintage Aussie drink stops to keep the propellers spinning even when they’re not.

Our top pick is the Hunter Valley Pub Tour, a seven-hour journey into one of the country’s prime, picturesque wine-producing regions.

Highlights along the way include stops at quirky rustic ale houses, boutique wineries and elegant vineyard estates for a wine-paired multi-course gourmet lunch — capped with a late afternoon visit to the historic Settlers Arms Inn in St. Albans for one last pint or two of counter fuel before the curiously blurry ride home.

Orbic Air, Mountain Top Landing Tour in Los Angeles
$349 per person

In sprawling, traffic-choked L.A., sitting pretty above all the tailpipes on Laurel and Coldwater Canyons, Sunset and Sepulveda Boulevards and the Freeway Interchange in a sleek whirlybird is a perch usually reserved for cops and car chase reporters.

Orbic Air’s standard 15 to 25-minute L.A. flyovers lift off from Burbank Airport and cover all the standards — from cool close-ups of the Hollywood Sign to vital views of celebrity home rooftops in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

For the real California dreamin’ “Romance Package,” Orbic’s Mountain Top Landing Tour covers several Tinseltown landmarks en route to the city’s most natural charms along the coast — featuring a climactic landing on a secluded Malibu plateau with complimentary bubbly, dessert and a rose.
Diamond ring not included.

The London Helicopter, London MAX Tour
Approx. $2,000 (for up to six passengers)

Gazing down upon London’s spectacular cityscape from St Paul’s dome, the London Eye, The Shard, or (at a pinch) a double decker bus seat may be a jolly good start.

Upping the vantage point over 1,000 vertical feet over the River Thames via bright yellow G-ORKI helicopter takes urban sightseeing to an entirely different level.

Lifting off from southwest London’s Battersea Heliport (only recently opened to tourists), The London Helicopter’s London Buzz and London Sights tours cover a range of riverside essentials in and around the city center — from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf. All crammed into 12 or 18 breathless minutes.

The London MAX Tour clocks a full half-hour of airtime, offering private groups of up to six an extended flight-seeing odyssey that includes nearly forty iconic London landmarks.
For an encore, book a package heli-trip from London to Highclere Castle (a.k.a. “Downton Abbey”) or Stonehenge.

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