Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar – Photo by:Shreekar P

The Flight Deck

Our weekly travel dispatch from the Internet Wasteland


Malagasy Empire: “I’ve been drunk for days, relentlessly rinsing my brain in bootleg rum. I try to ponder what this quest in moonshine country is doing to my mental capacities. But the thought drains from my mind and I return to admiring my attractive surroundings. We are on a morning commute with Madagascar’s bootleggers. Ahead and behind me, hundreds of smugglers jog in single file. Under my feet, the well-worn rock of an ancient trail winds between ridges. All around us, primary forest gleams in last night’s heavy dew. Our destination is a valley at the edge of the mountains, the source of the region’s toaka gasy.” While attempting to find a rodeo in Madagascar for Roads & Kingdoms (yes, we are confused as you are), James Patrick stumbled upon another, much more interesting story: The Bootleggers of Madagascar.

+ Here’s a quick guide on how the “rum that resurrects the dead” is made. (Hold my beer?)

Paradise Found: In a world where social media dictates travel and photographers (used loosely here) are always looking for the new, better or untouched part of the world, it seems crazy that landscapes are overlooked. But they are… mostly because some countries cannot afford to advertise the vast beauty that their countries store. With this in mind, Tayla Gentle asks: Why is nobody visiting Rwenzori, home of Africa’s spectacular secret summits?) (Maybe Delta should organize more real flights to Uganda and less fake flights to Wakanda one of these days..)

+ Outpost Magazine had a good story about travelling to the hidden gem Halayeb, which is a “desert caught between two worlds.” (I’m having enough trouble in one world)

The Meaning of Life: Throughout history, humanity has asked the big questions like: What is the meaning of life? What happens when I die? Where is the nearest food truck? The questions we ask inform us about our fears and insecurities as much as our ambitions and dreams. To answer these questions and many more, Shivya Nath spoke to four monks and reflected on her experience. (Monks would tell me what I already know, that the meaning of my life is food.)

Apocalypto: “San Gregorio and neighboring San Luis Tlaxialtemalco are the last among the municipality’s 14 villages still maintaining an agricultural economy based on the chinampa technique. The land subsidence caused by exploitation of the aquifers by the megalopolis has tilted the plane of the wetland, causing the lower lying chinampas to flood and the canals in the higher areas to dry out. When the canals dry out the fields then rapidly become urbanized by the encroaching city.” CityLab profiles a Mexican village still practicing an increasingly extinct art-form: growing chinampas in Mexico.

Tea for Two: In our feel good story of the week, this artist “creates stunning travel-inspired pieces on used teabags”.


The Business of Travel

London has fallen: Keeping in the relatively predictable tradition of CEOs blaming (rightly or wrongly) political events for poor performance, the Hilton CEO says Brexit is hurting their London business. While the CEO did not go full Papa John’s, it’s interesting to note that UK airline companies are bracing for the worst Post-Brexit. (Maybe this guy has a case!)

Not-So Horrible Bosses: When a job offer says one of the potential disadvantages is that you have to live on a private tropical island in the Caribbean indefinitley, you know we’re going to get excited. Big plus: Richard Branson is the guy you would be working for. While the job is very administrative, you also are… you know… getting to live on Necker Island for free! (so, ugh, where do we sign up?)


Ready. Set. Watch

Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix: Inevitably, Somebody Feed Phil will ultimately and quite unfairly will be compared to one of the most influential and storied show runners in television history: Anthony Bourdain. Where Bourdain carries himself as a well-seasoned and reflective figure, closer to the likes of his literary heroes – Phil bounces country to country with a childlike enthusiasm and wonder that almost, at times, seems naive. Closer to the Samantha Brown canon of television travel hosting, his ability to bring happiness to any situation is what makes his show infinitely entertaining. He offers a different choice in worldview, seemingly unshaped by scars of the world around him that, like a kaleidoscope, tells a beautiful story that you peer in for a moment. Ultimately, we will let you decide which side of the coin you fall on.

If you have stories about the world of bootlegging, Necker Island interview tips or delicious art, feel free to forward them to info@planesplustrains.com. If you are a blogger, vlogger or even a logger and you want us to highlight your content in further dispatches, feel free to send us a message as well.

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