Friendly Planet Blog

Archive for November, 2011

Tune in with ‘Radio Shangri-La’s’ Lisa Napoli

If you’ve been following our posts lately, you probably know we’re gearing up for our first meeting of the new Friendly Planet Travel Book Club. Our office has been buzzing with conversations about “Radio Shangri-La,” the first book we’re reading. Author Lisa Napoli‘s journey to Bhutan has been sparking comments like, “What do you think it’s really like there?” and “I wish I could know more!”

Well, I was delighted when one of our Friendly Planet Travel bloggers got the opportunity to get these answers and more, directly from Lisa. Our blogger Caitlin sat down with her, via Skype, to chat about what it’s like to travel to Bhutan, the vast differences in scenery and culture from the U.S., and what working at the first youth radio station in Bhutan was really like for her.

In her book, Lisa talks about writing down three good things that happened to her everyday. Tune in to see what they were. Lisa and Caitlin also talk about the changing influence media is having on the people of Bhutan, and whether a trip to Bhutan will change the life of every person who goes there, so be sure to hit play below to see the entire conversation.

If you have any questions for Lisa, check out her website and Twitter. She has additional interviews and information about Bhutan on her YouTube channel. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite to read her book, Lisa has made the first 30 pages available as a sneak preview.

So after you watch our interview, I hope you’ll crack open “Radio Shangri-La,” if you haven’t already. Then please join us at the Jenkintown Library tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to delve deeper into this book. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us Lisa — we had a great time!

Friday’s Friendly Funny (on Wednesday!)

My friends over at Friendly Planet Travel are taking the next few days to eat, relax, and enjoy some time with friends and family. But we wanted to share a Friendly Funny with you — so here it is, a few days early!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Creative Commons Licence
Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

If you’re reading ‘Radio Shangri-La’ for our first book club meeting …

… you’ll want to read this! Adam Platt, a writer for Condé Nast Traveler, detailed his experiences in Bhutan in “Bhutan or Bust!” Bhutan is the setting of “Radio Shangri-La,” so I thought this article would be the perfect introduction for readers to get to know Bhutan before diving into the book.

A self-described “neurotic lowlander,” Adam Platt is like most of us, consumed by technology, work, and a recessive economy.

But most people of Bhutan have no knowledge of these things. In fact, when Adam asks Tobgay, a young monk from Bhutan, if he has any words of advice about the recession, the monk responds, “Please explain the meaning of this word recession.

A quick overview for anyone not familiar with Bhutan: The country, while around the size of Switzerland, doesn’t have a single stoplight. It has only three movie theaters; no tall buildings; and hardly any unemployment, pollution, or crime.

The people are spiritual, pragmatic, and environmentally green. They measure progress not by GDP, but by Gross National Happiness. In fact, the country can boast that its people are among the happiest and most content in the world.

So if you want to hear more, check out Adam’s full article over on Condé Nast Traveler. And start by reading this excerpt of “Radio Shangri-La,” and then pick up the full copy and join us at our book club meeting on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Creative Commons Licence
Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Love reading about far-off places? You’ll love the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

Bookworms unite! If you’re passionate about reading and travel (like most of us here at Friendly Planet Travel), you’ll be delighted to hear about our latest project. Friendly Planet Travel is embarking on a journey to see the world through amazing literature with our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club.

Every month, we’ll be discussing a different travel-related novel, memoir, or travelogue. It’s a great way for all of our travelers and fans to connect and experience the joy of travel with friends and neighbors right in their own town.

We’re starting our book club by meeting in Jenkintown, Pa., where we’re located. But if you’re not from around here, we’re also starting a Facebook group so you can join us from around the planet. We’ll let you know when this group is created, and how you can get involved.

For our first meeting, we will be reading and discussing “Radio Shangri-La,” a non-fiction book by Lisa Napoli. The author, a Los Angeles-based radio journalist, tells the story of her midlife crisis and how it inspired her to pick up and move to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. She starts volunteering at the country’s first youth radio station, Kuzoo FM.

There, she experiences the simplicity and happiness of life that Bhutan is known for. And as she becomes more immersed in the culture and connected to the people around her, she begins to find the happiness that she has been searching for.

The New York Times called “”Radio Shangri-La” an “affectionate portrait of life in a slower-paced, high altitude society…[an] absorbing, often touching memoir.” We’re excited to dive into a lively discussion about Lisa’s discovery of happiness and the differences between American and Bhutan cultures.

Pick up a copy of the book on Amazon or your local bookstore and start reading! Get your friends and family to join in too. It’s a great way to spend quality time and have good, intellectual conversations with those around you.

Please join us at the Jenkintown Library on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to discuss this amazing account of one person’s journey to happiness. Space is limited, so this will be a first come, first seated event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Getaway Dossier: The side of South America you should see

Machu Picchu

We added three new South American tours to the Friendly Planet mix last week, so for my next Getaway Dossier, I thought I’d share my knowledge about all things South America to help you plan your next trip, whether you’ve already booked it or are considering one.

The most recognizable landmark on this continent is probably the Amazon River, but there’s much more of South America’s natural beauty and ancient history worth seeing. Here are my recommendations for the best things to see, do, and know about South America before the plane leaves the tarmac.

Weather: Opposites attract. Since South America is on the opposite side of the equator from us in the U.S., the seasons are a mirror of ours. When it’s summer here, it’s winter in South America, and vice versa. The most temperate times to visit South America are the spring and the fall, which is when the temperatures are the mildest.

The rainy season is in the summer (December to March). However, the rain doesn’t normally last long on any given day. Lima, located on the western coast, has moderate weather year-round with mild temperatures and cloudy skies. Rio de Janeiro, located on the east coast, is also temperate 12 months out of the year, making it a great place to visit.

In Machu Picchu on the southwest side of the country, and at the Iguazu Falls on the eastern side, the days are warm and humid. If you’re traveling anywhere with higher altitudes, dressing in layers is a must because temperatures will drop significantly at night.

Food: BBQ can’t be beat. South America boasts fantastic tropical fruits, such as coconut, mango, guava, pineapple, papaya, and more. And its seafood can’t be missed, especially in coastal towns. My absolute favorite thing to eat when I’m in Brazil is churrasco, also known as Brazilian barbecue.

Meat is cooked on huge skewers over an open fire. Then, waiters come by your table and slice it hot off the skewer right onto your plate. If your stomach is a bottomless pit, you’ll love this: When you’re ready for seconds, thirds, or fourths, just hit the button on your table and a waiter will be at your side with fresh, hot meat.

Restaurants that serve churrasco appear most typically in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu, but can be found all over the country as well. If you’re not much of a meat eater, most metropolitan areas offer a varied range of cuisine.

Currency: Tip the right way. Three of the most common countries to visit in South America are Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, and each has its own currency. The currency in Peru is the nuevo sol; in Argentina, it’s the peso; and in Brazil, it’s the real.

In restaurants in Peru, an 18 percent service charge is included in the bill if you pay with a credit card. If you’re paying in cash, there isn’t a fee so you should tip between 5 and 10 percent. In Argentinean restaurants, tip 5 percent of the bill if your service charge was added and 10 percent if it wasn’t. Tip movie ushers and bus terminal porters 1 peso, and air terminal porters 2 pesos per suitcase. As for tipping in Brazil, a 10 percent tip is usually included in the restaurant bill, but you can leave more if your service was especially good.

Tip cab drivers no more than 10 percent, and tip bellboys, porters, or concierges about 1 real per luggage item or for any help they provided.

Iguazu Falls

Landmarks: It’s all about the falls. Iguazu Falls straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil, and consists of 275 smaller falls and islands. They’re believed to be 200,000 years old and are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to see the falls from both sides. The Argentinian side at Devil’s Throat is the most famous place to take in the spectacular views. There are also boat and helicopter rides that take you up close and personal with this natural beauty (weather permitting). The falls might be the main attraction, but be sure to visit a fantastic bird sanctuary nearby. You can see dozens of exotic species of birds, as well as butterfly and hummingbird exhibits.

Culture: Appreciate the modern and the ancient. South America is a fantastic mix of old and new. It’s inspired by the traditions of its historical culture while keeping in step with modern society. This is one of the aspects that makes the continent so beautiful. When you visit, you’ll see wonderfully modern cities with every imaginable amenity. Then you’ll visit places like Sacred Valley, where the people still honor the traditions of their ancestors in their everyday life.

Don’t forget: Layers, layers, layers. You’ll probably be experiencing significant weather changes from one location to the next, so I’d say the most important thing to remember when traveling to South America is to dress in layers. Make sure you wear good walking shoes, and bring sunscreen and bug repellent. Much of South America is in the rainforest, so you’ll definitely be happy you brought these along!

The tours we offer to these destinations highlight the history and wonder of ancient South America, and the emerging culture of its cities. It’s a beautiful continent and different from anything here in the U.S. — that’s what makes it so special.

For the full itineraries on our three new tours, visit our website. And if you have any questions, write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

Tour & Cruise Packages Our specialty for 30 years! Find one now:
choose a region Europe Mediterranean Asia Middle East Africa Central America Caribbean South America South Pacific
  • Follow Friendly Planet Share the love of travel
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams