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How to find calm amid the chaos in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo isn’t as frenetic as other Asian capitals, but it’s still a busy working city. Here are five ways to find calm amid the chaos at any time of day.

Home to nearly six million people, Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka. There is no metro or tram system so there’s no escape from the rumbling buses, tooting tuk-tuks and tinted cars that clog the wide boulevards.

In stark contrast to the rolling hills, tranquil tea plantations and picturesque beaches that define Sri Lanka, Colombo can feel like an invasive thorn in an otherwise placid landscape. Continue reading

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A long weekend in Norway: 7 things to do in Bergen

Seven fjords, seven hills and an old-world fishing wharf help make Bergen in Norway the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.

Bergen may be one of the rainiest cities in Europe but it’s also a vibrant cultural center with superb access to the western fjords. The city offers an excellent blend of nature and culture and, despite the damp, we loved it. Here’s what we suggest for a long weekend.  Continue reading

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23 interesting facts about Norway

From polar exploits to illustrious penguins, we take a look at the most interesting facts about Norway.

Norway may well be the best country in the world – it’s certainly one of our favourites. It seems to have everything going for it. Not only is it a beautiful country full of stunning wildlife, nature and the northern lights, it’s also home to one of the world’s most progressive and open societies.

Throw in an enthralling history full of vikings, conquest and exploration, and I’m sold. I would move there in a heartbeat if only it weren’t so expensive (and that Kia may have something to say about the cold).

So, in a nutshell, we love the country – which is why we keep going back again and again. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the most interesting facts about Norway that we’ve learnt on the road. Continue reading

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World’s best countries for women – updated for 2016

The best countries for women in terms of gender equality have been announced by The World Economic Forum in the new edition of its annual Global Gender Gap report.

The 2016 report assesses 144 economies on how well they utilise the female workforce in their country based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators. The report can be used as an objective analysis of women’s quality of life and to thereby rank the world’s best countries for women with regards to business, politics, education and health. Continue reading

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19 interesting facts about Cambodia

We first visited Cambodia in 2011 and it instantly became one of our favourite countries. Kia returned this year and fell in love all over again. This time, she took a Mekong River cruise and watched the country drift past from a different perspective. She also revisited the iconic sites of Angkor Wat and S21 prison, two destinations that highlight two deeply contrasting pasts: one of glory and opulence, the other of degradation and cruelty. Continue reading

Phnom Penned: 10 great books about Cambodia

Cambodia’s literary canon is comparatively threadbare. There are no old masters like Salman Rushdie or Haruki Murakami nor contemporary voices like Khaled Hosseini or Mohsin Hamid – a fact of little wonder when one considers what happened in the country between 1975 and 1979.

In that short period, nearly all of Cambodia’s artists, writers, and musicians were systematically killed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime as part of its radical attempt to engineer a classless peasant society. The culling delivered a devastating blow to the county’s artistic heritage – one that still reverberates 40 years later.

In lieu of grand swathes of literary fiction, the reader can turn to an alternative set of books about Cambodia. Start with our list of 10, as shared on the G Adventures blog.

Khmer chameleon: how to blend with locals in Cambodia

It’s become something of a mantra among travel experts, this call to “mix with the locals”. It urges us to learn the local language, to dress in local dress, to “do as the Romans do”.

It’s true that local interaction offers a more authentic experience, but how many of us truly engage beyond haggling at a market or talking to a taxi driver? With western pressures on our time, most travellers are lucky to even leave the tourist hotspots. With a little thought, however, it can be done.

We share on the G Adventures blog five local experiences that offer a slice of real life in Cambodia.

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The Blue Mosque dress code and tips for entry

The third or maybe fourth time I met Peter’s parents, I spent 10 minutes beforehand fretting that my top was too low.

Peter rolled his eyes. “For God’s sake, my mum wears lower-cut tops than that!”

I laughed, flung on a cardigan and readied to leave. His family are thankfully far more liberal than mine.

My neurosis about modesty – a hangover from my Muslim roots – sees me pinning together anything lower than a vicar’s collar any time I visit my Mum. Knowing this, you’ll understand why I was in a tizz over the Blue Mosque dress code and associated etiquette during our recent trip to Istanbul. Continue reading

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What is the world’s most diverse country?

When Sadiq Khan was voted in as London Mayor, he announced his city ‘the most diverse and fantastic in the world’. This triggered interest from the BBC which ran a podcast examining his claim. The podcast named the Canadian city of Toronto as the most diverse but in doing so, highlighted a number of methodological problems that also apply when measuring the world’s most diverse country. Continue reading

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Clovelly village: the land that time forgot

Until recently, we hadn’t even heard of Clovelly village, a picturesque cluster of homes on the north coast of Devon. It was during our recent glamping trip that we came across Clovelly on a day trip from camp.

We were utterly charmed by the unique English village defined by the steep, cobbled streets that tumble down past traditional 16th century whitewashed cottages to a tiny harbour below. It is also one of the few car-free places remaining in the UK. Continue reading

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18 interesting facts about Jordan

Jordan is one of my favourite destinations in the world. It seems to have everything. 

In places, it’s like an open-air museum with ancient ruins and mythical cities dotting the horizon. There are natural phenomena and arresting vistas that make for a photographer’s dream. The lands are steeped in a history as old as the verses of the bible and have played an important part in the biggest religions in the world. Throw in delicious cuisine and welcoming locals, and you have a wonderful destination full of adventure and intrigue. Continue reading

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World’s most powerful passport – updated for 2016

Travelling can be a bureaucratic nightmare for those on restricted passports. Here we look at the best passport to have based on the freedom it provides.

Ten years ago, in my first job after graduation, I shared an office with a researcher called Munir who I nicknamed Dr2 because he not only had a PhD but was also qualified as a medical doctor. (I recognise it’s not the wittiest name in the world but it was the best I could do at the time.) Continue reading

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22 interesting facts about Brazil

Our short city break in Rio de Janeiro was tagged on at the end of our big trip so we didn’t get as long as we wanted in either the city or Brazil itself. We’re committed to returning one day to explore the country’s massive interior and take a boat trip down the Amazon River. For now, we’ll have to be content with the few days we had in the captivating city of Rio with its stunning mountains, rainforests and seemingly endless beaches.

During our stay, we learnt a number of interesting facts about Brazil, proving it’s not all about Carnival and football in the South-American powerhouse. We share our favourite facts below. Continue reading

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12 things to do in Montevideo, Uruguay

When we arrived in Montevideo we had less than two weeks of our round-the-world trip left and very little money. There are plenty of things to do in the city but it’s a relatively expensive destination in an already relatively expensive country. With just two days and near-empty pockets we made the best of the situation and saw the city by way of a DIY walking tour.

Stretching 20km from east to west, the cosmopolitan city of Montevideo is home to nearly half of Uruguay’s population. Like other major international cities, Montevideo has a historic financial centre, bustling markets, a plethora of fine museums and an expanding expat community. Continue reading

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19 interesting facts about Uruguay

We didn’t spend long enough in Uruguay – not nearly long enough. Squeezed for time at the end of our trip, we had just enough to charge through the country stopping off at the charming city of Colonia del Sacramento and the country’s diverse capital, Montevideo.

We feel we have unfinished business in South America’s underdog and have thus vowed to return one day. The country is progressive, stable and sophisticated – a breath of fresh of air in South America.

Despite our brief sojourn we discovered a wide range of interesting facts about Uruguay. We share our favourites below.

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Sherpa film review: has it put me off climbing Everest?

Let’s be clear about this: I have neither the skills nor the money to climb Everest. I’ve spoken several times about my long-running ambition to climb the seven summits, but I’m not so naïve that I can’t see it may forever remain a distant dream.

Naturally, this doesn’t stop me dreaming and I expect the allure of standing on top of the world will never really dissipate. However, after watching BAFTA-nominated documentary Sherpa, I am considering whether foreigners should be on the mountain at all.

Sherpa charts the Everest story from a perspective rarely seen and subtly asks the question: is continued foreign obsession with Everest bad for Nepal, Khumbu and the Sherpas? Continue reading

The oldest cities in the world

There’s a certain aesthetic attached to the oldest cities in the world: bustling souks beneath a bright blue sky, flowing garments made of whispery white cotton, stone masonry painted yellow by the sun.

In reality, however, the oldest cities in the world have faced deep unrest throughout their long histories. Tragically, some are still uninhabitable. The Syrian town of Aleppo, for example, is likely the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world but rages with civil war today. Damascus too is categorically off limits.
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17 interesting facts about Paraguay

American essayist P.J. O’Rourke once quipped that Paraguay was “nowhere and famous for nothing.” He then took a business trip there, fell in love with the country and promptly moved there.

While we can’t say we felt the same striking attraction, we certainly appreciated Paraguay’s history and authenticity. The small and struggling country is a steamy subtropical land of remarkable contrasts with a tragic and torrid history filled with violence and loss.

Despite our relatively short stay, we came across a wide range of interesting facts about Paraguay, the best of which we share below. Continue reading