Travel Newsletter - 27 November 2020

Visiting Sapa without tourists, the future Bangkok–Nong Khai high-speed railway, Soc Trang boat festival, staff of the Trans-Siberian, mask-free in the Maldives.

Hello from Hoi An. This week I have been in Danang updating the Future Danang guide, and compiling construction reports for the central coast. I’m now staying at a beach near Hoi An, and it is still a mess after the storms that went through this month. There are many hotels that have closed down, and I’m not even contemplating updating my travel guides for the foreseeable future.

If you're new here (welcome!), I am in Vietnam riding out the pandemic, and Vietnam is now close to three months without known local transmission of the virus.

Here I am in Danang seeing what hotel projects are still working through the pandemic.

Latest posts at Nomadic Notes

Notes on Sapa – Visiting a tourist town without tourists (2020 pandemic edition)

Visiting the popular tourist town of Sapa in Vietnam without tourists (2020 pandemic edition).

COVID-19 and travel (or lack thereof)

How I’m spending my downtime during the pandemic

Why the oldest form of travel could be the most popular in a post-COVID world

“Dr. Heather Warfield, pilgrimage researcher, explains the modern-day pilgrimage and how to plan one that's meaningful to you.”

Cruise ship 2.0: setting sail into the new normal – photo essay

Qantas CEO: mandatory COVID vaccination for international flights

Mask-free in the Maldives: what it’s like now in the tourist idyll – as beautiful as ever, and coronavirus-free

Travel news

Scottish leaders mull retrofit drive to turn nation’s castles into hotels

Saving Notre Dame chronicles effort to rebuild France’s famous cathedral

Fugging hell: tired of mockery, Austrian village changes name

If I was on a road trip through Austria I would probably get out of the car for a photo opportunity as well. This reminded me of the time I was in Paris in 2004 and I saw this bus…

[Yours truly in Paris, 2004.]

The bird in the picture is meant to represent the dots of the ü, but either the graphic designer wasn’t familiar with English, or they totally were and had a good lol. In English, the ü umlaut is usually converted to ue. You can’t use umlauts on URLs, so the bus company in question has the more sensible domain of

I remember getting this photo taken because the bus driver was sitting in the parked bus, and when he saw me he just threw his head back and laughed.

Assorted travel reads

Bangkok–Nong Khai high-speed railway

The Bangkok–Nong Khai high-speed railway is a planned railway that will connect Bangkok to Nong Khai in northeast Thailand on the Laos border. When this railway is completed it will be possible to travel by high-speed train from Bangkok to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos, and Kunming in China.

[Photos] get set, row: the aquatic exuberance of Soc Trang's Ooc Om Bok Festival

From Iraq, an intimate glimpse of the religious holiday of Arbaeen

“Every year, millions of pilgrims descend on the central Iraqi city of Karbala to commemorate the Shiite holiday of Arbaeen, one of the largest organized gatherings in the world.”

25 breathtaking photos of Chefchaouen, Morocco’s mysterious blue city

A roadtrip in search of Thailand’s best Khao Soi

Travel listicles

Destinations on the rise for 2021 - [National Geographic]

“25 amazing places to inspire future journeys and remind us why we love to travel.”

Best in Travel 2021 - Awards for regenerative travel - [Lonely Planet]

“In a year unlike any other, Lonely Planet has reimagined its annual Best in Travel list. This year we’re championing the people and places that reinforce our belief that travel is a force for good.”

Travel video

Sleepers’ Beat

“‘It pulls you in’: the staff seduced by the rhythms of the Trans-Siberian railway.”

In memoriam - Jan Morris

Celebrated travel writer Jan Moris died at aged 94 last week. Here is a selection of obituaries.

Jan Morris obituary

“Journalist, travel writer and historian who reported the first ascent of Everest in 1953 and wrote a social history of the British empire.”

A postcard from Jan Morris 1926-2020

“Remembering the last surviving foreign member of the first expedition to climb Mt Everest in 1953.”

Jan Morris & Harry’s Bar by Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications.

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The Travel Newsletter by Nomadic Notes is a weekly newsletter of the best travel reads and interesting travel news, and random ramblings by the editor.

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- James Clark