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A new eco-conscious expo in South Korea

At the Expo Digital Gallery, you can watch the advanced IT and LED lighting art interwoven to create an outdoor marine culture art gallery. That amazing overhead LED screen measures 218m by 30m. — Photos by MAJORIE CHIEW/The Star and courtesy of Expo Yeosu Korea 2012

THE exhibition halls are fully booked and impossible to get into, says our tour guide, Jinny Kim. And it wasn’t even opening day at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012!

Our group, though, has special permission to enter, as we are there to report on this extraordinary expo. Even before we get in, though, we hear details that are jaw-dropping: The expo, which began on Saturday and runs until Aug 12, will draw 10 million visitors, and its expected economic effect will be 12.2 trillion Korean won (RM32.7bil) as well as the creation of 80,000 new jobs, explains Yeseul Oh, a spokesperson for the expo’s organising committee.

To draw all those visitors, the 93-day expo will be jam-packed with over 3,000 cultural programmes, with 40 performances and events daily!

The venue is Yeosu’s 2.71sq km New Port development where the expo site covers an area of 250,000sqm. The result of four years of work and US$10bil (RM31bil) in investment, Expo Yeosu is the country’s second international fair since Expo Taejon (Daejeon) in 1993.

While that event was about development, this year’s theme is “The Living Ocean and Coast” and emphasises the importance of the marine environment. To quote the expo’s website, the event “will provide an opportunity to enhance the international community’s perception of the function and value of the ocean and coast, share knowledge on the proper use of the ocean and coast, and recognise the need for cooperation in the marine sector.”

In keeping with that very green spirit, the entire expo site was constructed using environmentally-friendly methods and recycled materials to produce the least amount of waste possible. All preparations and events are designed to leave a limited carbon footprint.

Basically, the expo forms a model city exhibiting the low-carbon lifestyle of the future. It is an open-air gallery housing artworks of architectural grandeur and providing a glimpse of a high-tech city circa 2050 against the backdrop of the sea.

The Aquarium is well worth visiting as it is the largest in Korea and offers an up close look at rare marine species such as beluga whales.

The construction and operation of the expo facilities and exhibitions are based on South Korea’s cutting-edge information technology allowing for novel experiences involving virtual and augmented reality.

The major exhibition facilities are the Theme Pavilion, the Korea Pavilion, and the International Pavilion, which comprise a joint pavilion hosting 56 developing countries and the individual pavilions of 49 countries.

Among the areas our tour takes in on the expo’s second pre-opening day are the Aquarium and Japan Pavilion. (Our guide informs us that the Malaysian Pavilion would be worthy of a visit but that it is, unfortunately, not ready at this time.)

Just getting to the International Pavilions is fascinating because a supersized LED screen with fantastic digital shows stretches over the walkway; the 218m long by 30m wide screen is part of the Expo Digital Gallery, which is a pedestrian mall offering a variety of electronic art.

After that experience, we head to the Japan Pavilion where we are treated to footage of the beautiful seas around that country and receive sobering information about the sea’s connection with forests, cities and the March 2011 tsunami disaster. There is also a screening of an animated story about a Japanese boy, Kai, a tsunami survivor who rides a magical flying bicycle to see residents restoring their hometowns.

Dazzling: The night-time musical fountain show at the Big-O, one of the iconic structures at the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012.

Visitors are also introduced to Japan’s advanced ocean technology that help people enjoy the bounties of the sea.

If you can’t make it to every facility at the expo, do be sure to get to the Aqua Planet Aquarium – it is definitely worth a visit. It is the largest in South Korea – comprising a 6-tonne water tank – and displays 280 species of fish and rare marine species such as beluga whales from Russia. It’s awesome when you walk through a transparent tunnel and find marine life teeming around you – makes you wonder just who is in the tank!

This facility has three zones: The Coastal Life zone allows visitors to see rare ocean animals such as white whales, Baikal seals and sea dragons; the Marine Life zone can be viewed in all directions, the first of its kind in South Korea; the Eco-Terrarium zone recreates the ecological system of the Amazon and houses rare South American freshwater fish such as the pirarucu and piranha.

While we can’t get to it, we hear that the Climate & Environmental Pavilion is a hit with visitors too, as they get to experience the extreme cold of the Arctic ice-edge in the Arctic Glacier Experience section.

A myriad of futuristic robots await visitors at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) Marine Robot Pavilion. Meet Navi, the tallest robot ever introduced in South Korea. An adult comes up just knee-high to the 6.5m tall, 1 tonne machine.

Led by Navi, a fleet of robots present the performance of marine resource exploration and mineral mining in a 6,000m-deep virtual underwater environment.

There is also Ever, a feminine robot that has 30 different facial expressions, and Mero, which dances to famous songs by Korean boy band Super Junior. Also, a seven-colour robot fish and robots from other countries such as the United States, Britain and France, join a total of 73 robots on display.

The Sky Tower, the tallest structure at the expo, is a monumental piece of art, recycled and redesigned from a pair of abandoned 55m-high cement silos. It has a harp-shaped exterior, an embodiment of giant waves, but really, the tower is a fully functioning pipe organ that plays tunes related to the sea!

The main Theme Pavilion is the country’s first offshore pavilion.

The Ocean Experience Park is part of the city’s concrete shore-protection project that has been turned into an eco-friendly park. It is a great venue to learn about the significance of coastal ecosystems while lapping up the pristine beauty of the sea.

And at Energy Park, you can have hands-on experience with the latest technologies using renewable energy sources such as wind and tides. This eco-friendly park also offers a place to rest while exploring these green technologies.

Apart from the different pavilions and other facilities, the expo also offers large scale events such as the state-of-the-art Night Multi-Media Show of a dazzling display of laser lights. The Big Ocean Show is a weekly performance that uses the sea, beach and ships to create different performances that reflect the expo’s theme. And the World Ocean Performance features artists on a floating stage, thus using the sea as a platform for cultural activities.

Celebrities gracing the Big-O shows include nine-time Grammy Award winner John Legend and a host of K-pop stars such as the Wondergirls, Dynamic Duo & Simon D, Beast, Jay Park, Apink, BTOB, Busker Busker, Leessang & JeongIn, 2AM, B1A4, 2PM, MissA, Infinite, Shinee, Super Junior, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, Ailee, FTIsland, and ZE:A & c.

And if you are separated from your travel companions amidst the throngs of people and carnival atmosphere at the expo, the Big-O is the place to converge. This 48m-tall round steel structure is the iconic centrepiece of what is truly an amazing expo.

For more information about the International Exposition Yeosu Korea 2012, go to eng.expo2012.kr.

The writer was part of a eight-member delegation comprising representatives of the Malaysian media, Korean Air and Korea Tourism Organisation that toured the expo before it opened. The trip was organised by the Korea Tourism Organisation and supported by Korean Air.

Article excerpted from www.thestar.com.my

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A-Z health information for smart travelers

Malaysians are traveling overseas in ever- increasing numbers. It is important to prepare before you leave (whatever your age or destination) and stay in good health while traveling can help you to have a happy and enjoyable trip.

Immunisations

  • Immunisation is ONE OF THE BEST FORMS OF PROTECTION for all travelers.
  • You need to make sure that you receive all compulsory vaccination before your trip.
  • If possible, set an appointment with doctors 4 to 6 weeks before your trip.
  • Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body and some vaccines must be given in a series over a period of days or sometimes weeks.
  • If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. You might still benefit from shots or medications and other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Prevention of Foodborne Diseases: Five Keys to Safer Food

Things you should bring during traveling

  • Insect repellent containing 25-50% DEET
  • Over-the-counter anti-diarrhoeal medicine
  • Alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol)
  • Sun block that offers at least SPF15
  • Your prescription medications in their original containers (including a copy of the prescription)
  • Your travel health kit should remain with you at all times, including in your carry-on baggage.

The voyage
Traveling by Air
Low level of oxygen level within the aircraft, dehydration from low humidity and crossing time zone may cause fatigue.

  • To reduce jetlag, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, rest on the flight and avoid a hectic schedule on arrival.
  • Minimize foot swelling and increase circulation in the legs by moving your feet and toes around while seated.
  • When taking off or landing, chewing gum or sucking on sweets may reduce ear discomfort as the jaw action helps to equalize middle ear pressure.

Traveling by bus, train or ship
To reduce or minimize motion sickness from this journey

  • Take anti-motion sickness drugs, such as dimenhydrinate or promethazine, before the journey.
  • Opening the window for ventilation and avoiding smoky environments.
  • Avoid reading in the cabin.
  • Sitting near the front of the vehicle & looking ahead.

What to do if you get diarrhoea?

  • Most diarrhoeal attacks are self-limited and clear up in a few days.
  • Diarrhoea may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and/or fever.
  • The important thing is to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Ensure that you always drink sufficient amounts of fluids (especially children).
  • If you are restless or irritable, or shows signs of strong thirst, or has sunken eyes, or dry skin with reduced elasticity, dehydration is already progressing and immediate medical attention should be sought.
  • If your bowel movements is frequent, very watery or contain blood, or last beyond 3 days you should seek medical help.
  • As soon as diarrhoea starts, drink more fluids, such as Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS)* solution, boiled, treated or bottled water, diluted (weak) tea, soups or other safe fluids (bottled or can drink).
  • Avoid any drinks that tend to remove more water from the body, including coffee, overly sweetened drinks, some medicinal teas and alcohol.

*If ORS are not available

11 Tips and Tricks for Greening your Hotel Stay

Let’s face it, as much as we love camping, hostels, and eco-lodges sometimes a hotel is the most reasonable option. Luckily, even when staying at the least environmentally-friendly hotel you have a lot of control over your environmental impact. Here are 11 of our favorite tips and tricks for being a little friendlier to Mother Earth during your next hotel stay:

  1. Unplug, unplug, unplug. The first thing you should do when you walk into a hotel room is unplug. 5 lamps? Unplug 4. Mini-fridge? Unless you’ve brought a turkey and mayo sandwich, unplug. Coffee maker? Unplug. Hair dryer? Unplug. Appliances drain energy even when they’re not on. If you just spend 2 minutes unplugging items you will already have made a difference.

    photo credit: trekkyandy

  2. Hang your towel. In my experience housekeeping is haphazard in their pledge to “save the environment one towel at a time.” Most times I hang the towel and come back later to find they’ve replaced it anyway; but about 50% of the time they leave it for me.
  3. Move the soap. An easy trick to reduce your waste is to bring the bar of soap with you to the shower when you shower and leave it by the sink the rest of the time. Seriously, when was the last time you used two full bars of soap at a hotel? (Or even one full bar?)
  4. Stick the “Do not Disturb” on your door. Or just call housekeeping and tell them you won’t need their services during your stay. To prevent the hotel from wasting water by changing your sheets and towels, wasting electricity by vacuuming, and spraying harsh chemicals all over your toothbrush, just ask them to refrain from cleaning your room during your stay.
  5. Adjust the thermostat. By lowering the temperature by 2 degrees in the winter or raising it by 2 in the summer you will save a lot of energy. And you won’t notice the difference.
  6. When you leave the room turn everything off:
    • Lights
    • TV
    • Thermostat (if the weather is mild)
  7. Flush less frequently. No need to flush every time. Practice the “if it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow” rule.
  8. Bring your own toiletries. I personally know the pains of the 3 oz of liquids on planes rule. A liter of genuine, carried-back-from-Ireland Whiskey was confiscated from us on a 6 am flight the day the emergency (and now permanent) rule came down. True story. But think of all of the plastics that are used to create tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner. And all of the extra packaging in luxury hotel items. Plus, by bringing your own shampoo you can prevent a bad hair day from bad shampoo.
  9. Take shorter showers. Sometimes a long, hot shower feels incredible. But do you need that every day? The average US shower head spits out about 2.5 gallons per minute, which means in a 15 minute shower you use nearly 40 gallons of water. Yikes!
  10. Leave the pen (and other freebies) behind. I don’t know why, but I’m a sucker for free pens. Even the crappy ones that explode in my purse on the airplane ride home. Do the earth a favor and leave these items behind.
  11. Recycle. Find out if the hotel recycles. If they do, ask if they separate it out from waste-bins. If they don’t, take your free USA Today and empty cans and bottles and toss them in an extra pocket in your suitcase to recycle later. They weigh almost nothing.

Article excerpted from www.gogreentravelgreen.com

What tips or tricks do you have that help you be a (more) responsible hotel-goer? It takes less than 5 minutes only to do the above, go green to protect this earth.

5 Tips for Finding Vegetarian on the Road

This post is by contributing author Lauren Fritsky of The Life that Broke.

As a proud Iowan, I’m a lover of red meat; so, when I’m on the road backpacking, my biggest challenge is finding a steak that can compare with good, Iowa beef. Contributing author Lauren Fritsky has a different problem: finding vegetarian food while traveling the world. Check out these five tips for finding veg-friendly food on your next backpacking adventure.

“Do you have a vegetarian option?”

As someone who doesn’t eat red meat or pork and dates a straight-up vegetarian, I’ve heard a range of laughable responses to this question — everything from:

“Yes, we have fish” to “Just take the ham off.”

Sigh.

If you’re tired of dealing with similar confusion from servers who think that vegetarian means that if the meat’s white, it’s alright, try these tips for actually finding food you can eat on the road.

1. Find restaurants online

Anyone who has stood on a street corner in Asia and watched a shop owner kill a live animal might seriously doubt that vegetarian cuisine is possible in all parts of the world. But it is! Sites like Happy Cow let you plug in your destination and eating preferences to find restaurants around the world.

Veggies on the Road is another resource listing eateries across the globe that offer at least three vegetarian dishes. If you have some semblance of an itinerary, look up your next destination and print out the list of vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants these sites. Don’t forget to smile as you walk away from the cleaver-wielding shop owner to your plate of mock chicken with veggies.

2. Say it right

Some people are unsure of what vegetarian really means. The same goes in foreign lands where definitions for the practice may differ and language barriers can make it difficult to find what you want. This resource from the International Vegetarian Union supplies key phrases in many languages to help you find veggo on the road.

You can also use the Veggie Passport iPhone app to translate your food preferences into 33 languages.

So the next time you’re in the Czech Republic, you can confidently ask “Mate take nejaka vegetarianska jidla?”

3. Get aPPetizing

Speaking of apps, you’ll never go hungry looking for vegetarian or vegan food again if you have an iPhone. Apps like VegOut and VeganSteven let you find restaurants near you and even pull up the menus.

4. Don’t eat at local restaurants

Weird tip, huh?

If you’re having trouble eating meatless at the local restaurants, try hotel dining areas — even if you’re not staying there — and pubs.

Many people don’t think to try and dine at accommodations they haven’t booked into, but the public is free to eat at places like Marriot. Hotel menus often have a wider variety of options than some of the local eateries, including vegetarian, depending where you are in the world.

Pubs might also have bar menus full of non-meat fare. Even if you have to build your dinner by ordering a baked potato, side salad and hummus with bread, it’s better than nothing.

5. Eat what you want, where you want

Did you know that Minnesota actually has a law allowing anyone on a restricted diet to take their own food into any restaurant and eat it right there? Individuals can also ask the wait staff to heat up their food in the oven or microwave.

It’s worth checking if areas you’re traveling to have similar laws.

Even if they don’t, other vegetarian travelers have had success asking restaurants to heat up or cook their tofu, rice or veggies. Sweetness will take you a long way here, so be polite and overly thankful if you’re accommodated. Convenience store microwaves are another option for heating up your homemade or store-bought vegetarian meal if you find an obliging clerk.

Depending on where your travels lead you, you might always have to stay on your toes to find vegetarian. But a little Internet and iPhone savvy plus some local know-how should keep you up to your elbows in tofu from Tampa to Tokyo.

What are your tips for finding vegetarian on the road?

Article excerpted from www.backpackingmatt.com

Go Green or Go Home: Tips for Being Eco-Friendly on the Road

This is a post by contributing author Lauren Fritsky of TheLifeThatBroke.com (@LaurenFritsky).

Using eco-friendly products, recycling and eating locally-grown food can be easy — at home. Yet if you’re on a RTW trip backpacking in Thailand, Sydney or Vancouver, you might find it difficult to keep up with your environmentally-conscious lifestyle. To help you stay green while backpacking around the world, we asked some globetrotters for their tips on staying green on the road.

Check out these green travel tips from some travelers in the know…

Creative Commons: MikeBehnken

Christine Amorose of C’est Christine

“I try to minimize my carbon footprint by limiting my use of plastic whenever I can. Instead of using plastic shopping bags at markets or shops, I use my Chico Bag. It’s lightweight and small enough to fit in my purse every day — and doubles as a beach bag or picnic basket when necessary. Instead of constantly purchasing plastic bottled water, I just fill up my stainless steel Klean Kanteen with cold tap water.”

Lara Dunston of Gran Tourismo

“When my husband and I travel, we will always choose a holiday rental over a hotel if we can — and primarily for ‘green’ reasons. By staying in an everyday house/apartment, we’re using an existing resource and one that uses a lot less energy than a hotel, so we’re leaving a smaller environmental footprint. We will recycle if we can, re-use our towels, and not waste food — all things that hotels make difficult to do!

We’re also contributing to a local community, shopping at local markets and using local businesses, and we’ll always buy local, seasonal produce rather than imported products, so all in all it’s a much more sustainable and responsible way to travel.”

Creative Commons: The Wandering Angel

Caroline Eubanks of Caroline in the City

“I’ve been using the same knockoff Nalgene water bottle for the last probably five years. It’s good to refill before a flight instead of spending $5 on one you will throw away. I’ve also stored my toothbrush inside so it doesn’t get dirty, as well as filling it with boiling water to keep my bed warm. Multi-purpose!”

Ben Lancaster of Amateurs in Africa

“Pay a little more. It’s not much difference in price, but using accredited local tour guides makes a huge difference to the sustainability of the local tourism industry and the local communities you’re visiting. The guides are also way better and funnier. Fact.

Unfortunately with limited infrastructure for processing waste, packaging from Western manufactured products is an issue [in Africa]. As such, you’ll often see rubbish being thrown into the streets due to a lack of knowledge and understanding — lead by example and hold on to your waste until you find a bin. Also, ask companies what they are doing to help combat the issue in communities from which they are profiting.”

Lindsey Tramuta from Lost in Cheeseland

“I think one of the best ways to maintain a green lifestyle during travel, aside from choosing means of transportation that will keep your carbon footprint to a minimum (trains, public buses, hybrid vehicles, etc.), is to immediately seek out local recycling centers upon arrival at your destination. If necessary, ask locals where you can recycle plastics, glass, paper and other products to not only maintain the eco-habits you practice at home but to respect the environment you are visiting.”

Nicole Schwab of Chasingwonderlust

“When I travel, I would say that the most ‘green’ thing I usually do is take public transportation and/or walk most places I go. I usually try to see most places on foot for a number of reasons. First of all, I think that’s the best way to get to know a place & discover things you might otherwise miss. Also, it gives me a bit of exercise to work off all the calories I typically eat when I’m on holiday!”

Article excerpted from www.backpackingmatt.com

Top 10 reasons why sea turtle watching is a good family activity

This post was contributed by Brad Nahill, Co-Founder of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD.  I met Brad during last year’s Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC).  Brad started SEE Turtles with Dr. Wallace J. Nichols in 2007 to build the market for sea turtle conservation tourism.

Since its launch in 2008, the project has generated more than $200,000 in support for turtle conservation and nearby communities, educated millions about turtle conservation travel, and our volunteers have filled more than 1,000 shifts at turtle nesting beaches.  Brad co-founded SEEtheWILD in 2011 to offer travel experiences that support wildlife conservation efforts.

Below is Brad’s Top 10 List for why sea turtle watching is a great family eco-activity:

10. Sea turtles don’t bite (and if they try, they are easy to get away from).

9. They are easy to spot since we know when and where they are nesting in places like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Southeastern United States.

8. Sea turtles are endangered and visiting their nesting beaches can help to protect them by providing income to conservation groups local communities.

7. Watching turtle hatchlings scurry to the water is better than any cartoon, video game, or nature show.

6. The beach where turtles lay their eggs are warm and most have great waves for body surfing and nearby places to snorkel.

5. Giant leatherback turtles are Earth’s last living dinosaur more than 6 feet long and up to 1,000 pounds or more!

4. A few turtle nesting beaches in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and India have “arribadas” where thousands of olive ridley turtles nest at one time.  Imagine that photo!

3. For older kids (16+), some turtle projects offer families the opportunity to play marine biologist and volunteer for several nights helping collect information and protect the eggs.

2. In places where turtles are well protected like Hawaii, you can swim near green turtles and watch how graceful they are in the water.  (Remember not to touch them!)

1. Your kids can watch a turtle laying its eggs at night (without lights) without bothering the turtle (they go into a trance while laying).

All photos by Neil Osborne

Article excerpted from www.greenloons.com

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