Chai Digest: Midwest Rollercoasters, Western Sahara and more

2013 New Theme Park Attractions for the Midwestern United States (Adventures by Daddy). I recall freezing spring days at empty Valleyfair in Minnesota with friend Rob and annual passes in hand. We sometimes would have to recruit people to get the minimum load on rides. Then Memorial Day hits and the lines are massive.

Best Western may be the most daring U.S. hotel group expanding overseas (Skift). They are opening up in Haiti and Myanmar. Haiti is a great destination desperately in need of open-minded travelers. Best Westerns in Asia can be 3-4 star and quite nice, give them consideration. It was a hard sell a few years ago to get a US executive at my former employer to stay at the Best Western Premier Qingdao Kilin Crown Hotel. The spot on the beach next to the Qindgao International Beer City convinced him.

4,000 mile/hour tube travel? (Skift)

Roam the World and Keep the Cellphone on a Budget (NYT). I need to learn more about this area. I have relied on wi-fi and emergency phone backup from my company phone.

Amid Moroccan Investment in Western Sahara, Tensions Simmer (Bloomberg BusinessWeek). Western Sahara with its great name and sad, disputed modern history, is high on my travel list.

Unlike airlines, hotels failing to cash in on ancillary charges (Travel Weekly). Makes sense, there are so many options outside hotels, the audience is generally only captive when it wants to be.

A look at the rise of colorful, hard-shell luggage (TechSperts).

Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes touts a common Southeast Asia visa (Skift).

SkyTeam to open dedicated lounges in Beijing, Istanbul and Sydney (Future Travel Experience). I have only visited a SkyTeam lounge in London Heathrow, which is quite nice, excellent food after a frosty reception that surprisingly I needed to show credentials because they are not set up to scan Delta boarding passes.

A Lonely Planet Founder Looks Back (NYT). I hope the new owners bring back the old maps, until then, I continue to buy pre-2011 editions.

On traveling to troubled states: They’re never as evil as they’re made out to be. My wife and I arrived in Pakistan last year when that YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” sparked riots in the street. And yet everybody was as nice as can be. They’d say, “What are you doing here? Welcome to Pakistan.” As an individual, you get entirely different treatment. There are a lot of countries that do not get many visitors, and they’re very, very pleased when somebody does make the effort to go there.

Anticipation in China for the first meeting of the China and US First Ladies will continue to build as it will not happen on this US trip of China’s First Couple (Shanghai Daily).

A look back at Nicholas Kristof’s hair-raising dispatch from Beijing, June 4, 1989 (Washington Post).

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  • Stephen, what rides did you like at Valleyfair?

  • @Grant – last row of wooden High Roller, the series of low humps on the back side feel like the back car is flying off, front row of Corkscrew, front and back rows of Excalibur, then some of the older ones, some gone, Antique Cars with my mother, SuperCat and Enterprise with my brother holding me, Bayern Curve, Wild Rails, the 2 mini golf courses of Challenge Park, going through their timeline brings back so many memories.

  • Wow, you have a really good memory. In CA, we have disneyland, knotts berry farm, magic mountain, sea world, etc – but magic mountain is probably my favorite. I’d love to go on a rollercoaster tour around the country, i wish i had the time and money.

  • john

    Thanks for this. I always find Tony’s worldview very down to earth and interesting. The last bit is so true and so difficult to keep in mind.
    Almost any country you go to people will treat you well if you are respectful but the media demonizes so many places. I have been to Pakistan and it was very pleasant. I have been there some years ago, at which time it was also considered very dangerous, but as time passes and I see the demonizing news stories I think ‘damn I went to Pakistan, was I crazy?’ and I feel like I would think twice before going again. its funny

  • @john – you remind me that I meant to pull out that Tony Wheeler quote on Pakistan. I have not been there, but plenty of places I have been get the same reaction yet I found the same welcoming people. I, too, find it hard to drown out the media doomsaying.