Latest In-Flight Entertainment Options

Almost every second of a long flight can be a hassle – all the way from purchasing your ticket to grabbing your luggage. Fortunately, those few hours that you’re in the air can be relatively stress-free, especially with so much innovation being injected into in-flight entertainment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to sit back, relax, and watch a movie? Wouldn’t it be great to plug in your mobile device and surf the web? Below, we’ll talk more about the latest in-flight entertainment options available today.

Virgin America

They are world renowned for offering the best in-flight entertainment around. It shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise why they share ownership with a company that specializes in entertainment. Each of their aircrafts come installed with touch-screen systems, satellite television, and even a large collection of movies. And if that isn’t enough, the airline goes far out of their way to ensure that you’re offered enough food or drink to make your trip satisfying.

JetBlue

For the traveler looking for top-of-the-line entertainment, look no further than JetBlue. It was only a couple of years ago when they installed satellite radio, dedicated seat screens, and DIRECTV onto their aircrafts. Today, passengers can purchase over 30 channels of television and 100 channels of radio for $5.99. JetBlue’s more recent plan to date is to put Wi-Fi on all of their airplanes so that passengers can further enjoy domestic and international flights.

Singapore Airlines

Their award-winning entertainment is one worth mentioning, especially when they cater to so many people and nationalities. Singapore Airlines offers their passengers radio channels, television programs, movies, games, and a USB port that provides them with the ability to upload media and photos. Certain aircrafts even come installed with close to 100 movies and several hundred CDs, most of which are offered in a dozen languages.

Air Canada

Since 2004, Air Canada has been offering some of the best in-flight entertainment in North America. For music lovers, you’ll be able to enjoy over 100 CDs of audio music as well as satellite radio. Domestic flights provide passengers with more than 30 movie choices while international flights provide them with close to 80. There are close to 100 hours of television shows to watch, including CBC and HBO. From gate to gate, Air Canada offers amenities that can’t be overlooked.

In today’s day and age, in-flight entertainment is becoming more and more prominent. From movies to games and even free Wi-Fi, these amenities are making longer flights much more comfortable and enjoyable for frequent travelers.

What about tomorrow?  In the near future, on-board iPad rentals may be the latest feature.  With custom apps relating to the carrier and carefully selected games and movies.  As services like Wi-Fi matures, they will become free for use, but to download a show or a movie, it will cost you a fee per download.  Even tools that help you enjoy your entertainment will get an upgrade as well – like tray-tables with notices for tablets, usb ports for charging and media uploads.  So leave some room in your carryon for entertainment devices!

Noc enjoys in-flight entertainment while traveling and uses Travel Advantage Network for accommodations.


A Short Guide To What To See And Do In Japan

Whether you are visiting on business or plan for a short or long term stay, hopefully this short list of resources will make your trip to Japan more interesting. While much of this pertains to Tokyo but there should be enough information here to guide you to experience the rest of Japan.

Guide

Art Space Tokyo
Art Space Tokyo acts as your 272 page personal guide and interpreter, connecting you with the neighborhoods and figures behind some of the most inspiring art spaces in this colossal city.

Tokyo superguide
Downloadable PDF city superguide for global shopping experts 30 pages total

Japan 101
Taito Culture Guide
Tokyo Art Beat
TAB is Tokyo’s bilingual art & design events guide. Offering event listings, reviews and a shop, the site is updated daily and lists more than 500 current & upcoming art events, at any moment.
Planet Tokyo
Planet Tokyo is here to guide you through the culture shock that many western travelers experience upon arrival in Japan. If you’re planning a trip, or just hoping to learn something new and interesting about Japan, you’ve come to the right place.
Pop Japan Travel
The original and premiere provider of pop culture themed tours of Japan! There’s no better way to experience Japan’s burgeoning pop culture, including anime, games, manga, food, and fashion (to name a few) – all at an affordable price.
Metropolis
Widely-distributed English-language magazine with a focus on entertainment, events, and Japanese culture. Check out their travel section and visitors guide. Join their community to help plan your trip with advice from those that live there or have been there.

Ideas

Near Tokyo, a City Shows Its Age, Proudly
To learn about Tokyo, you sometimes have to leave it. The capital has been rebuilt so many times that those wanting a glimpse of what it looked like years ago head to places like the Museum Meiji-Mura, more than two hours away.
But the city of Kawagoe, right in Tokyo’s backyard, is a more practical alternative. Less than 45 minutes by train, the center of Kawagoe is filled with a well-preserved collection of century-old kura, or warehouses, that still double as stores, workshops and homes.
How to be culturally correct in Japan
Highlighting Japan
These are online magazines published once a month by the Japanese Government, to help people around the world better understand Japan today, including politics and economy, environment, science and technology, lifestyles etc.

Food

Japanese Local Atmosphere And Hearty Hospitality Are Awaiting You
Top 10 Restaurants in Tokyo
Japan Times Food and Restaurants section
Virtual Japanese Restaurant (an oldie)
Tasting Menu’s Tokyo Restaurants

Get organised

Moleskine City Notebook Tokyo
The Key Map summarizes the overall layout of the city showing the sequence and location of the zone maps. Map of the metro system and list of stations. Up to 76 blank pages giving you all the space you need to write jot down useful information and record your thoughts stories and memories. 32 removable sheets for loose notes and for exchanging messages. 12 translucent sticky sheets to overlay and re-position so that you can trace your route as you go. Up to 36 pages of zone maps ranging in scale from 1:5 000 to 1:17 000 with large-scale maps of the city center and an alphabetical street index.
Travel to-do and packing list
Tripit
Online travel itinerary and trip planner

Places

AtoZ Cafe
AtoZ Cafe, a collaborative project between artist Yoshitomo Nara and design unit Graf. An unlikely rustic setting — especially unlikely when you consider that the cafe is found on the fifth floor of a building in Aoyama — welcomes you in what comes off as a sweet and homey environment, with the majority of the tables surrounding a “house” that acts as a sort of showroom/exhibition space for some of Nara’s works. [excerpt]
Tokyo Attractions
MetroGuide Networks’ overview of Tokyo-area attractions.
Secret Japan
Secret Japan is one of the most comprehensive resources on the web for off beat travel in Japan
Yahoo Travel’s Things to do in Tokyo


Tips For Surviving Long Flights

As someone who regularly has to travel 24 hours or more to return home I can say with some certainty that no matter what you do it’s going to feel a bit like torture. I find 12 hrs relatively fine but beyond that is certainly an exercise in endurance. There are some things you can do to help.

I always take a midnight flight and try to sleep most of the way through that part of the journey. The flight from Asia to the west coast is always the most enjoyable part of the trip. It’s getting across the NA continent that seems to elicit the most pain.

Some quick tips:
Get plenty of sleep during and before the flight. For long flights try to travel at night when you naturally feel like sleeping. Whether you feel it or not traveling is exhausting. Sleep will allow your body to rejuvenate and repair itself.

Drink plenty of fluids as you can get dehydrated quickly inside a plane. If I don’t drink I can see a noticeable difference in my skin. It’s drier and I feel like crap.

Do a bit of stretching and get up and walk around whenever you can. Avoid sitting with crossed legs. This is far more convenient if you are able to snag an aisle seat. I hate stepping over people all the time.

Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks during the flight as they will lead to dehydration and tiredness. I always like a cup of green tea before arrival. I also try to stick to warm drinks when I can – it’s a habit I picked up from living in Taiwan. I can’t remember the exact reason but give it a try.

Eat light meals during and before the flight to avoid an upset stomach. Since you are immobile during the flight it’s hard to allow proper digestion. Despite having experienced great onboard service, I always feel much worse after eating a big meal. Even the best food is relatively unappetizing. Eat light snacks, fruits and a fresh salad instead (airlines would have to work hard at getting fruit wrong).

Take your shoes off and wear loose socks. Your feet and ankles swell immensely on long haul flights – even with exercise. This will increase your comfort (it took a couple days to remove the ‘cuts’ from my socks after one particular flight) and reduce your chances of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

I don’t recommend bulking up with books, magazines, and every device you own. You won’t use them and they only add weight to your bag. A decent airline will provide you with enough entertainment to get you through 3-4 hrs of idle time so it’s not necessary.


A Couple Tips For Last Minute Travellers

I’m on my way out the door in a few hours for a brief trip to Hong Kong and I thought I might share a couple things I have encountered as I prepare.

1st tip: Don’t assume that that packing cube you have had tucked away in the closet for the past 6 months is going to smell fresh and clean. I have 5 packing cubes and all of them smell like vomit. That’s a smell that I don’t want on my clothes so I am doing some last minute cleaning and freshening of all my bags.

2nd tip: Thoroughly check all those hidden pockets in your luggage of choice. This can be fun if you find money or some memorabelia from your last trip. Not so fun is not checking and having a pocket knife, pills, or some unknown liquid be found by security. Clear out the pockets and remove another reason for security to make your life unpleasant. In checking this morning I found old receipts, melted candy, and a toy truck.

If you are traveling – have a fun and safe trip!


Things To Do During A Short Stay In Bangkok

I’ve travelled to Bangkok so many times that many of the traditional tourist attractions, though amazing, have lost some of their appeal to me. Bangkok is a big city with a trememendous variety of activities that cater to just about every interest. Activities for kids (yes Bangkok is an ideal destination for families too), museums, the best movie theatres in Asia, art and design exhibits, towering restaurants on top of the city, shopping and more shopping, are all wrapped with a unique rich culture and some of the friendliest people in the world. With frequent short visits I try to see something different, exploring different neighbourhoods, while hitting the usual haunts that make Bangkok special to me.

Before I get started, I always hit the grocery where I stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, juice and yogurt. I do this no matter which city I land in but I’ve learned the hard way in Bangkok that not eating right can have some uncomfortable consequences. My one risk is coffee to go from a street vender. It’s not a French café but there is something about starting my day with fresh Thai. coffee replete with condensed milk that marks the start of any day there. It’s almost impossible to plan a timed itinerary into a short space of time here so I tend to write a laundry list of places I want to visit and hope that I can manage to check them all off during my stay.

Excluding all the usual meandering about with camera and the inevitable stops for banana shakes, the following is alternate itinerary for a short stay in Bangkok

bangkok street art

Art & Design

Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC).
The TCDC offers world-class design and creativity resources for all visitors, both Thai and foreign. An essential visit for the design enthusiast the TCDC holds regular programs, permanent and temporary exhibitions and the Shop@TCDC offers for purchase a wide range of incredible design objects from around the world. The TCDC Resource Center has a wealth of design knowledge and resources, which includes books, journals, magazines, and comprehensive design databases. Open to members. For more well-rounded design knowledge, TCDC also offers Material ConneXion® Bangkok for members looking to explore design materials and learn how to adapt them effectively. Non-members can get a day pass.Take the BTS sky train and get off at Phrom Phong Station (E5). Enter the Emporium Shopping Complex and go up to 6th floor.

National Gallery.
Housed in a former Royal Mint built during the reign of King Rama V, the National Gallery displays work by Thai artists from the 17th Century onwards. Inherited by the Department of Fine Arts in 1974, it includes permanent exhibitions of works by King Rama VI and H.M. King Bhumibhol Adulyadej, traditional murals from early periods in the capital’s history, and pioneering Thai modern art.Particularly evident is the influence of Western schools of art, like impressionism and cubism, on recent Thai artists. There is also an area featuring temporary exhibitions of art from home and abroad, everything from painting and sculptures to prints and installations. Open from 09:00 – 16:00 (Wednesday – Sunday).
4 Chao-Fa Road, opposite the National Theatre, Rattanakosin
C+66 (0)2 282 2639100

Tonson Art Gallery.
Named after its street address, 100 Tonson Gallery is a striking space set in a private residence covering a total space of 100 square metres. At the forefront of private art spaces in Bangkok, 100 Tonson Gallery aims to promote the contemporary art scene and exhibits artworks by Thai and international artists including paintings, sculptures and photographs, as well as installations, new media and conceptual art. Open from 11:00 – 19:00 (Thursday – Sunday).
100 Soi Tonson, Ploenchit Road
+66 (0)2 684 1527
Very close to Chidlom station; parking available

La Lanta Fine Art.
La Lanta represents talented Thai and Asian artists; it also features inspiring paintings and sculptures in its regular art exhibitions. La Lanta houses an extensive selection of international art prints for home decoration. Adult art classes at beginner and advanced levels are also provided, conducted in small groups by experienced artists. Art-related products such as notebooks and art frames are available for purchase. Open from 10:00 – 21:00 (Tuesday – Sunday).
657 Baan Silom (corner of Silom 19), Silom Road
Surasak station
+66 (0)2 266 9180-1

bangkok-shopping.jpg

Shopping

You could probably contain all your shopping to Chatuchak Weekend Market and not be disappointed. In addition to Chatuchak, here are some other destinations.

Bangkoker.
Started by a Thai architect with a passion for graphic design, this tiny shop has tees that are unique and visually compelling.
Samsen Road, in the Pranakorn area between soi 1 and 3, about a 15 minute walk from Khao San Road
+66 (0)2 628 9722

Fotoguffy: For cameras of yore.
It’s a bit out of the way but might be worth the effort if interested in Lomo and vintage camera gear. The shop’s owner, Khun Boy, used up his savings to buy these hard-to-find gadgets off eBay, so you don’t have to. Most of the cameras here are secondhand, especially the Polaroids, but there are the new models of modern Lomography cameras. Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Chulalongkorn Soi 50, Sam Yan
+66 (0)8 1647 7371

Suan Lum Night Bazaar, the “VIP outdoor market of Bangkok”, has a good selection of Thai crafts, souvenirs, clothes, and local food, all at very reasonable prices. Take the MRT subway to Lumpini station; the market is near Lumpini Park, a short walk from the station.

No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market.
There are hundreds and hundreds of stalls selling everything from jeans to pets. Inside this hot massive space are more people than can comfortably fit. That’s part of the fun. Take the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station and exit down the right-hand stairs, follow the crowd for a five-minute walk, and you’re there.

Pratunam Wholesale Market.
Located at the intersection of Ratchaprop and Petchburi roads, Pratunam Wholesale Market is one of Bangkok’s major markets, selling clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories at wholesale prices. You can bargain if you like but with prices as cheap as they are here you likely won’t have to.

Zen at Central World.
If funky, edgy designer goods are what you are interested in, and price is less of a concern, places like ZEN, Playground, Manga, Flow Now and Q Concept have all the latest design trends in the world covered. This is where all well financed cool and hip in Bangkok go to shop — so they say.
Ratchaprasong intersection, Pathumwan Central World Plaza
BTS Chidlom

bangkok outdoor restaurant

Food

I’m not a foodie and bad experiences aside find that the best food eaten in Bangkok is often found on the street or street side eateries. But sometimes the smell of exhaust fumes and the comfort of cheap plastic chairs gets tiring so I look for more refined digs.

Eatme.
A trendy restaurant with a regular exhibition schedule of international and local organised by H Gallery. The food is good but go there for the art.

“This coolly elegant restaurant, with seats in both the sleek dining room and the inviting outdoor garden features rotating exhibits of local artists, often in conjunction with the
well-regarded H Gallery”. – New York Times 36 Hours in Bangkok
Located on Soi Phi Phat 2, Convent Rd near BTS Sala Daeng.

Café Ubuntu.
A compact two-story café that somehow finds space to place art on it’s walls. Shop 9, Silom Grand Terrace Bldg. 1/252 Soi Sala Daeng 2

Greyhound Café.
This Thai-fusion café run by fashion house Greyhound has a number of locations around Bangkok, but the Emporium location is your best bet. Emporium Shopping Mall, 2nd floor, tel +66 (0)2 664 8663
For better insight on food in Bangkok you should check out Modern Food in Bangkok. A great write up by Geoffrey Smith. You won’t go wrong by picking a couple restaurants from his list.

I no longer partake much in the way of nightlife, avoid crap like Patpong, so when in Bangkok I love spending my evenings going to the movies. Most new cinemas in Bangkok offer some type of Gold Class seating. For the price of a ticket in the West, you get a plush recliner, a pillow and blanket, and even a welcome drink. They bring the menu and you order what you want to eat and drink. The Paragon shopping mall’s Major Cineplex venue is newer, but the EGV Grand in Siam Discovery Center has nicer seats.


Avoiding a stomach virus while abroad

Living in Asia for many years I have become accustomed to dealing with various viral outbreaks, in part due to our extensive local network.

If you are traveling to SE Asia on business or pleasure you might be unaware of local health conditions and nothing puts a damper on your itinerary like having a stomach virus or food poisoning.

Perhaps you do this already, but other than staying healthy, here are a few of the practices we have to deal with this part of life here.

I don’t get adventurous with food. Many colleagues who travel through China are strongly advised by their employers to eat in the hotel or very expensive restaurants only. Your strict schedule cannot afford you losing opportunities due to illness. When I am traveling I love to sample all kinds of food. Especially low end cafeteria style restaurants or food from street vendors. A stomach virus can be acquired from improper handling of food by those infected as could food poisoning. I’ve suffered many times as a result but I am more cautious when I’m not the one paying for the trip. This applies when traveling with my children as well. The common advice of not drinking the water applies as well. I’ve lived here for over 10 years and I avoid it. Ask for no ice as well (not sure if this is purely an ‘old wives tale).

      I carry a bottle of Purell or equivalent. I’m not fanatical about cleanliness in myself or my children but it’s a useful product to (possibly) kill viruses you might come in contact with your hands. Your hands are one of the primary means of infection and kids always have their hands in their mouth. Naturally soap and water is effective too. It’s not about dirt – it’s about potential a virus.
      Buy medical grade face masks. These are a pretty common sight here in SE Asia as a means of preventing the further spread of a virus. During the SARS outbreak here it was like living in some kind of apocalyptic vision of the future – everyone was wearing them whenever they were out in public. We use them for protection in case of a known outbreak and to help prevent further infection when someone in our family gets sick. It wouldn’t hurt to take one with you if you are traveling in higher risk areas like China (they also provide some protection against airborne pollutants).

Some further reading:
What is viral gastroenteritis?
BRAT diet
What is the best way to treat diarrhea?
Sodium imbalance


If you encounter turbulence in the air, focus your gaze on the wing of the plane. It’ll begin to feel as if there’s no turbulence at all. Seriously. There’s something about being able to see the bumpiness that allows your body to anticipate the movement, as opposed to being at the mercy of, what feels like, a 500 ton metal aircraft spiraling out of control. I’m telling you, it works.JD Ferguson, a fashion photographer and model who logs plenty of frequent flyer miles jetting to far flung locales