Chai Digest December 29-January 4: Kim under glass, banana hangover, Mr Travel Guy and more

Kim Jong Il’s Body is Put on Display. When I visited Pyongyang in 2010 my biggest disappointment was the last-minute closing for renovations of the Kumsusan mausoleum, though I was allowed to walk the courtyard. (WSJ)

Don’t Pay 27% More to Convert Dollars to Euros at the Airport! It seems almost unbelievable that people use Travelex for anything, my rule is that Travelex is only useful to find the worst possible deal, yet this is what I saw last night at JFK, missed another couple in line by being too slow on the draw with my camera. (Million Mile Secrets)

Travelex JFK

Why That Banana or Onion Might Feel Like Three Martinis is interesting and I am taking it into account for my irregular travel eating habits. (WSJ)

The Top 10 Chinese Internet Memes of 2012 does not have any kittens. (WSJ)

Is the UAE the most depressing place in the world? is an interesting discussion, including the many comments. My vote for most depressing goes to Bahrain, for many of the same reasons, but worse. (One Mile at a Time)

The American Airlines CEO’s presentation to pilots is worth a look for AA flyers (AAdvantageGeek).

Why a Deity Should Be on ‘India’s Richest’ List  continues this ‘only possible in India’ story. (WSJ)

How to avoid expensive roaming charges while traveling abroad is a great practical help. (Triangle Trip)

Arthur Frommer’s Major Travel Trends in 2012 continue themes he has been discussing the past several years. I took his NYT Travel Show recommendation of North Ireland to heart, visiting in December. (Frommer’s)

Is Bill Clinton responsible for China’s saxophone Santas? explores a puzzle I had noticed but never investigated. (Washington Post)

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is a book excerpt, a choice passage (The Global Mail):

Have you ever seen Mr Travel Guy? He’s the fellow who strides through international airports dressed like he’s flying off to hunt wildebeests — shirt with dozens of pockets, drip-dry pants that zip off into shorts, floppy hat with a cord pulled tight under the chin in case a twister blows through the baggage claim area. All of this describes exactly what I was wearing.

Timor Leste bids farewell to peacekeepers after 13 years, one of the handful of Asian countries I have not visited, I need to make the trip.

Coca Licensing Is a Weapon in Bolivia’s Drug War, Bolivia is not the most functional place but I am fascinated by their political approaches to intransigent problems. (NYT)

Avis is buying Zipcar. With Avis’ many sleazy charges, like now defaulting on foreign rentals to a home currency conversion with 3% fee, I would be worried if I were a Zipcar customer. I have had several rentals recently with Avis with mysterious or incorrect charges, and bonuses not posting, each was resolved, though I wish I did not have to inspect every detail of the bills. (Point Me to the Plane)

Air Asia now has A320s with ‘sharklets.’ I had never heard of sharklets, I like the sound of it. (Ghetto IFE)

Staying in Asia, Kingfisher is no more. (Live from a Lounge)

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