Mount Everest, Nepal – Photo by:Christopher Burns

The Flight Deck

Our weekly travel dispatch from the Internet Wasteland


Redemption: “A Chinese double amputee who finally made it to the peak of Mount Everest on his fifth try has won the hearts of Chinese internet users in awe of his bravery and perseverance. Xia Boyu, a 69-year-old man who first attempted to scale Everest four decades ago, became the second double amputee to reach the summit and the first from the Nepal side. The first double amputee to reach the top of Everest was Mark Inglis from New Zealand, who did it from the Tibetan side in 2006.

On his first Everest attempt in 1975, Xia suffered severe frostbite after lending his sleeping bag to a sick teammate during a storm. The doctor had to amputate both Xia’s feet, and his legs were amputated above the knee in 1996 as he battled lymphoma.” Sometimes, the difference between persistence and insanity is the time it takes to achieve the goal. The human condition makes us keenly aware that both these attributes exist, but we are often left without the perspective of knowing where we fall on the scale. Is this scale subjective? Are we only a hero when we are the first and not the second? And what are when the world hasn’t determined where we fall? From Quartz: China’s latest hero is a 69-year-old double amputee who conquered Everest

Back to the Future: “You’ve likely heard the phrase “transformative travel,” one of the buzzwords of recent years. As people are exhausted from our always connected lives, they are searching for ways to unplug from their devices and reconnect with friends, nature, and, simply, life. Talk to Indigenous tourism operators, however, and you may find them wondering why it has taken the rest of the world so long to catch on. At the heart of many of these experiences is slowing down, and taking the time to connect with the environment, whether that be on a medicine walk in search of healing plants in Alberta or watching the northern lights fill the night sky above the Northwest Territories.

Fundamental, however, to much of transformative travel is another idea—being exposed to concepts and cultures that are unfamiliar, and being open to having your understanding of the world changed in the process. Brenda Holder, a Cree and Métis guide in Alberta, explains what she thinks makes Indigenous tourism experiences different. “You get to see the forest through our eyes,” she explains. “And to value the land as we do. You’ll leave having a different understanding of our culture after having been immersed in it.” The modern world that we have built was built on the scars of an older, much deeper world. Deeper because of its connection to the land, its connection to its culture and its connection to its community. As people peel back the layers of their lives, the feeling of this connection reemerges, laid dormant for too long by shares and re-tweets. If (and more likely when) you start to get this feeling, check out this article by AFAR: The Future of Indigenous Tourism

The End: “For six days we hiked (slowly) to sites I had visited many times before. I had hoped that I could find some happiness in revisiting wondrous if familiar places, as on a trip to England one might pay yet another tribute to Stonehenge or Avebury. There was indeed happiness, especially in watching Ed see these places for the first time. But there was also deep sadness, as on the hike out from the Citadel, when I could not help saying out loud, “This used to be an easy half-day for me. Then we’d go on another hike. But now it pushes me to my very limit.”

Three nights we car camped in a trio of special sites that newer enthusiasts have yet to discover, with views to the southern and western horizons. And there a sense of the sublime returned, as I woke at 3 a.m. and crawled out of the tent to see the sky declare the glory of the unexplored universe. I reacquainted myself with sixth-magnitude stars that as a kid in Boulder, Colorado, I had befriended in my backyard, but that had since been banished by the light pollution that smothers most of America.” If there’s one story that you should spend the time to read this week, it’s this one: An Explorer Confronts His Last Canyon

Change of Pace: If you have the above article, you might need a bit of a pick me up. Of course, we have that as well: Track the adventures of a tiny pirate ship as it travels from Scotland to America (Am I tiny enough to travel as a pirate on this ship?)

Clash of Civilizations: “Government officials and foreign companies in Tanzania are using ecotourism and conservation laws to displace indigenous Maasai people, evicting them and denying them access to watering holes and vital grazing for their livestock.

A study from the US-based think tank Oakland Institute noted that tens of thousands of Maasai were left homeless in the past year after their homes in the Ngorongoro Crater sightseeing area were burnt to preserve the region’s ecosystem and attract more tourists. The report, based on field research and interviews with local community members, showed that villagers faced increasing violence, arrest, and death even as foreign investors and enterprises sought to profit off their stewardship.” There is an unacknowledged dark side to the tourism industry which often affects the people that made a region a destination in the first place. Throughout this week’s dispatch, we have seen humanity’s capacity for improving situations, for persevering in the face of insurmountable odds, for changing our narrative. But stories like this remind us that we are human after all: Ecotourism is being used to displace one of East Africa’s long-standing indigenous people

Off the Beaten Path: Since she started her blog, Shivya Nath writes with purpose, clarity and self-reflection that is refreshing. Maybe what helps is the nature of her travel, choosing to fully experience a place in a way that leaves us inspired. While P+T doesn’t normally highlight lists or what to do articles, this feels… somehow… different. So, without further ado, The Shooting Star: Offbeat, Incredible and Sustainable – These Travel Companies are Changing the Way You Experience India.


The Business of Travel

Canada’s Conservation Situation: In our feel good story of the week, Canada (specifically the mighty province of Alberta) has protected four new parks. From Smithsonian: Canada Is Now Home to the World’s Largest Stretch of Protected Boreal Forests

Game On: “A gigantic $4 billion retail and entertainment complex won government approval Thursday after years of debate, greenlighting what promises to be the largest mall in North America, just a few miles from the environmentally sensitive Everglades.

Plans call for hundreds of retail shops and restaurants, but the developers don’t want people to call it a mall. They’re pointing to its planned theme-park attractions such as an indoor ski slope, submarine ride, water park and skating rink, along with 2,000 hotel rooms.” Despite pre-existing malls, plenty of cultural and other attractions, Miami feels it needs to compete with Orlando… by building an indoor ski slope

New App Alert: LuggageHero aims to solve an issue that every traveler knows too well: “LuggageHero, which was already on the scene in Copenhagen and London, and has now expanded into New York. Its selling point is that it lets you store your luggage in a local shop, café or hotel, which is often more convenient than having to go to a storage facility at a train station.” Planes + Trains thinks it’s a good idea, so here’s the link to learn more

Quality Assurance: “For travellers who have the means to splash out on luxurious experiences, chances are that you still want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. But for those who don’t have the time to research the best of the best, one man has done the legwork for you. Meet Philippe Kjellgren (or PK as he’s most commonly known), who made his way around the world spending 800 days researching world class hotels for his new luxury travel app PK’s List. The avid traveler is known for having extensive connections with hoteliers. He has over 20 years’ experience, published seven travel books and is the founder of the luxury travel website Kiwi Collection.” From Lonely Planet: Travel writer journeys for 800 days around the world to check every hotel recommendation on his app


Ready. Set. Watch.

3,000 Miles | Sean Wang

Without giving too much away, this short video brings together so many elements that makes travel great. The ability to learn more about yourself as an individual, learn about and learn about the depth of a mother’s love. We hope you enjoy.

If you have stories about 800 day travel journeys, pint-sized pirate ships or epic mountain climbs, feel free to forward them to info@planesplustrains.com. If you are a blogger, vlogger or even a dog walker and you want us to highlight your content in further dispatches, feel free to send us a message as well.

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