Friday, 30 September 2016

Domestic Tourism ‘Tembera U Rwanda’

Rwanda Development Board today announced the launch of the 'Tembera U Rwanda' campaign, aimed at motivating Rwandans to explore their own country and put the spotlight on domestic travel. The launch will take place today, Friday, 30th September and the activities will run up to 01st October with a tour through the cultural heritage corridor with stop overs at different sites from Kigali to Huye District.

On the itinerary of the launch, several activities will be organized along the cultural corridor to give participants a glimpse into Rwanda’s rich cultural history. These include storytelling at Ijuru rya Kamonyi in Kamonyi District, Kankazi site, Urutare rwa Kamegeri in Ruhango District, historic tours of Nyagakecuru and Ibisi bya Huye. The tour will conclude with live cultural entertainment by the renowned all-female drumming troupe Ingoma Nshya atop Mount Huye.

Speaking at the press conference, the Chief Tourism Officer of RDB, Belise Kariza said: 'The domestic tourism campaign is our call to residents to be active participants in the growth of the tourism sector by consuming local products and most importantly by contributing to the country’s brand. I appeal to the private sector to provide both tour packages and special accommodation rates for the domestic market especially at this time'.

Tembera U Rwanda phase 2 will then roll out over a period of 3 months from October to December 2016. This campaign will characterized by bus trips for lucky trivia winners who will have a chance to travel free of charge to attraction sites around Rwanda. For the general public, participation will be on a first come, first served basis and registration will be done through the tourism reservations and sales offices around the country.

Kariza added that: 'Rwanda is one of the most acclaimed destinations in Africa and it should be appreciated by its residents. With reduced rates for Rwandans and road access to every tourism destination, we invite Rwandans to bear witness to the remarkable experience we sell to the international market'.

She concluded that domestic tourism is a worthwhile investment without regret and the opportunity to discover the country as a tourist is one that should be accessible to all. This supports the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day ‘Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility’; a day observed annually on 27th September in recognition of tourism’s contribution towards economic growth. Rwanda will commemorate the holiday in tandem with the launch of the domestic tourism campaign.

The Rwanda Development Board acknowledged support from partners namely the Southern Province, Kamonyi, Ruhango, Muhanga, Nyanza and Huye Districts; the Mountain Climbers Club, the Tourism Chamber, the Guides Association, local tour operators and transport companies that are partnering in this initiative.

PERU: Largest Recovery Of Antiquities Returns To Peru

More than four thousand archaeological and historical pieces were exhibited last week at the Ministry of Culture, to celebrate the success by the Ministry of Foreign Relations in recovering the artifacts from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Spain and the United States.

The pieces include prehispanic pots and textiles, Colonial Cusco-school paintings, prehistoric bones, and Colonial hand-hammered macuquina coins (cobs).

The recovery is the result of several years of work, based on agreements signed by Peru with different countries on the protection and return of historical artifacts. The agreements served to build 22 different legal cases to reclaim pieces that had been found or stolen and smuggled out of the country for the lucrative antiquities market. One of the most famous processes was the Janeir Aude case in Argentina, which took 14 years to recover 4,136 artifacts, including a mummy bundle.

In total, 4,174 pieces were recovered from Argentina, 88 from the United States, 79 from Chile, two from Canada and one from Spain. It was the largest collection of recovered pieces handed over at the same time to the Ministry of Culture.

According to the Ministry of Culture, it has worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Relations over the past five years in the recovery of antiquities throughout the world. More than 8,000 artifacts have been returned also from Germany, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Peru Superfoods At Expoalimentaria 2016

Peru Natura, a space fully dedicated to natural products —also known as ‘superfoods’— was inaugurated on Wednesday within the framework of Expoalimentaria 2016 food fair.

The event saw the presence of Ministers Eduardo Ferreyros (Foreign Trade and Tourism), Jose Manuel Hernandez (Agriculture and Irrigation) and Bruno Giuffra (Production).

"The event constitutes the main platform for promotion of products derived from Peruvian biodiversity under environmental, social and economic sustainability principles," Peru’s Exports and Tourism Promotion Board (PromPeru) announced.

Taking place on September 28-30, products promoted at the fair rely on natural, organic, fair trade seals.

On this occasion, Superfoods are in the spotlight. They get such name from nutritional values that turn them into more beneficial for health.

Demand has been increasing worldwide given consumers’ interest in safeguarding their well-being.

Thus, uña de gato (cat’s claw), cañihua, carobs, dragon’s blood, copaiba oil, among others are offered to attendees.

40 Peruvian companies present their products to potential buyers from world’s five continents: Germany, Canada, USA, France, Italy and Japan. All of them are interested in quinoa, maca, sancha inchi, aguaymanto (Inca berry), lucuma (eggfruit), amaranth and chestnuts.

Likewise, novelty products —such as pre-cooked quinoa and organic vegetables— will be on display.

This way, added-value exports are expected to increase, thus contributing to the sustainable development of Peru’s rural areas.

On this edition, small and medium producers gather to ease their entry into international markets featuring competitive products and added value.

Peru Sound Tourist Destination

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum's Summit taking place this November in Lima is an opportunity to present Peru as a tourist, cultural and environmental destination, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski highlighted today.

On occasion of World Tourism Day, the Head of State reaffirmed his administration's goal to double Peru's receptive tourism from current 3.5 million to 7 million by 2021.

"It is an ambitious target, but if we measure it year by year, we will get there," he expressed at the Government Palace.

To illustrate his point, Mr. Kuczynski referred to Iceland, a country that welcomes as many tourists as the Inca nation despite hosting merely 1% of Peru's population.

"We can learn a thing or two from Icelanders," he said.

Thus, the APEC Summit will contribute to "reaching said objective."

In this respect, the top official proposed a number tourism measures, such as improving airport and hotel infrastructure, establishing tourist circuits in different areas and enhancing street cleaning and trash collection.

Regarding airports, he stressed the need to unblock Jorge Chavez International Airport's expansion works so they can be completed in less than five years.

The Head of State noted the government is also supporting Cusco's Chinchero Airport, but warned many others still remain unattended.

Likewise, he referred to Peru's several airports and aerodromes lacking lighting or signaling to operate night flights. Said facilities should be identified and listed in order to take corresponding measures.

Mr. Kuczynski also recalled his recent meeting with China Eastern airline executives to assess the possibility of a direct route to South America, including Peru.

As for the second measure, Peru's leader suggested creating tourist circuits to the north of the country. Said routes may cover, for instance, archaeological sites: Huaca del Sol y de La Luna (Temple of the Sun and the Moon, La Libertad region), Chan Chan (seat of ancient Chimu civilization, La Libertad region) and the Fortress of Kuelap (Amazonas region).

He extended the suggestion to connecting Peru's southern Arequipa, Cusco and Puno regions by train.

The top official also considered promoting tourism among Chilean citizens who visit southern Tacna region every year, so they will also visit nearby Moquegua and Arequipa regions.

"Hotels are wonderful here, but we need to offer benefits regarding permits, planning and all of that. Now that APEC economies are coming here, I think it is also an opportunity to present Peru to the world," he said.

Mr. Kuczynski was joined by First Lady Nancy Lange, as well as State Ministers and other authorities.

As is known, Peru hosts APEC Forum meetings in 2016 to be also attended by U.S. President Barack Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

PERU: Inca ruins near Choquequirao

The Quispe family has lived here since it was a colonial encomienda held from rights of conquest by Hernando Pizarro in the mid-16th century. It is Adrián’s extensive knowledge of the region that has brought us to this remote, high mountain slope with a reasonable probability of locating undocumented Inca sites. It has been an exciting morning! Earlier, a dark colored Jergón, a small, lance-headed Andean viper noted for terrifying the Machu Picchu trekking hoards, scurried off the path into the bush.

A screeching, circling, squadron of brightly colored Andean Parakeets loudly protests invasion of their home turf. Magnificent glacier-crowned peaks mystically appear out of a swirling cloud mass in full retreat as the intense equatorial sun methodically illuminates a line of unclimbed summits of the nearly forgotten Vilcabamba range. Now, we may have found what we came for, the mountainside ruins called Incaracay, predictably named ‘place of the Inca’, just below timberline at 11,800 feet.

We are camped nearby on a small, cleared bench some six thousand feet above the sacred Inca Apurimac River raging below through a deep gorge. The name Apurimac itself suggests adventure. In Quechua, traditional language of the Andes and once official lingua of the Inca state, Apu means a powerful force, spirit or God. Rimac is to speak, or in this case, perhaps to roar – The river of the voice of God. Wow, it could be the title for yet another Clive Cussler thriller or Harrison Ford film.

I have often thought that the Inca must have had works and cultivations on the other side of the Apurimac opposite Inca Topa Yupanki’s royal estate and ceremonial complex at Choquequirao. Finally, we are now here where I have only distantly been before with binoculars and recently, with the new age, arm chair explorer’s tool, Google Earth.

With the exception of Choquequirao and the well-known last Inca cities northward in the Vilcabamba, there has been little interest in regional archaeological studies.

As with many similar places in the Andean highlands, numbers of smaller, less interesting ruins remain unknown except to local herders and farmers.

The upper Apurimac has a long, rich, cultural history dating before the 15th century expansion of the Inca kingdom into the area. Actually, the Incas may have been here a bit earlier. During National Geographic Society sponsored excavations at an Inca site north of Choquequirao in 2001, Corihuayrachina, we collected samples of early Kllke, Inca transitional pottery which indicate probably earlier occupation. Anyway, there is lots to ponder and discuss around the evening happy hour.

Human cultural evolution in South America goes back some fifteen thousand years if one accepts the most credible dating. The Andes have seen waves of cultural horizons expanding, then lapsing into inter-horizon decay and cultural dark ages.

Before the Inca, the region was incorporated within the advanced Huari state which flourished around six hundred to eleven hundred AD. During following centuries, a smaller, less sophisticated polity, the Chanca, dominated the region. Remains of round, stone foundations of wood-sided houses and barrel shaped, stone-lined burial holes proliferate the regional lower summits and inhabitable ridges. When exactly the Sun God-inspired Inca arrived to reorganize the Chanca farmers into the collective Inca state remains a topic for debate.

Not debatable is that the first recorded scientific expedition to the area was organized by Yale’s Hiram Bingham in 1910. It was his second visit to Choquequirao, the year before his exploratory probe down the Urubamba river in 1911 produced the remarkable discovery of Peru’s golden tourism goose, Machu Picchu.

Bingham and crew came down the valley to the west of our present exploration from nearby Abancay, not by the modern route used today starting at Cachora. They probably went lower down, then traversed the same mountain side missing the higher sites. They would have crossed the Apurimac about where the new foot bridge is today as the only possible way down through the cliffs near the river. It is unlikely that our newly found sites had been studied or documented.

April weather in the high Andes is never completely predictable. Intensity of the rainy season usually slacks by late March allowing reasonably comfortable, landslide-free travel. Anomalies like El Niño contribute an uncertainty to an already uncertain science.

The result is we find ourselves fogged in and soaked by a persistent drizzle while attempting to measure the alignments and sight lines to something out there in the mist that may have had significance.

The pressure is on. We have only today to complete our survey. High stone walls with multiple niches and windows appear out of the undergrowth. Could this be some important Inca shrine or ceremonial complex that missed historical reference?

How might it fit with ceremonially important Choquequirao across the river? We are determined to find out. We plunge into the project, clearing out the thorny, dense growth that has claimed the structures sufficiently enough to take photos and collect the needed data.

Several intense hours later, badly damaged but still standing remains of three, nearly identical, long, rectangular, coursed stone buildings emerge from the undergrowth and fog appearing mystically like a scene out of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

Three-story high gables stand starkly upright above the ridge line, once having supported long log beams and cross members covered with high puna ichu grass.

Headed by Mark Johnson, one-time student of architecture, tape measurements of walls, entrances, windows and interior niches are carefully taken and noted in his waterlogged note book.

Wayne Ross, a fellow Coloradan and survivor of wild RF-4 surveillance flights over North Vietnam in the bad old days of that forgotten war, strings out the tape with Mark’s brother Jim, another good friend and rancher from near home Pikes Peak. Jim’s talented, fit, daughter Loren is eagerly poking about looking for what we may be missing with Carrie Howard, a recent graduate in forestry and natural resources.

Veteran Choquequirao explorers, Beth DeSilva and Jack Vetter, search the perimeters for additional walls and features. Beth has previously been to Choquequirao with me. Jack has been there twice before. He was on our Royal Geographical Society sponsored team that rediscovered and studied Machu Picchu’s extensive neighboring ceremonial complex, Llactapata in 2003.

Peter Packard, professional photographer, one time rancher, horseman and brother member of my home Colorado, Pikes Peak Range Riders group, is documenting it all with a seemingly huge, for the digital age, camera with massive lens.

Whew – I have seldom seen such enthusiasm, good work and concentrated activity from a group of archaeological amateurs. While I direct the team, long time research partner and Cusco-based educational tour guide, Edwin Dueñas, works with our Quechua-speaking local crew. By midday we have accomplished all that is needed.

The site is measured, features documented, alignments, sight lines, azimuths recorded and ample photos captured.

The unbelievable happens. Pablo and Humberto, our camp cooks, appear out of the diminishing drizzle with a hot lunch on a mule. The big dining tent is set up. We sip tea from a thermos eagerly devouring plates of causa, mashed yellow potatoes stuffed with tuna, olives, onions and vegetables.

Refreshed, energy restored, we break up into scouting teams. Some climb higher up the ridge to look for additional sites, I head down. We find a nice leveled stone-walled platform and remains of a stone-lined water canal running down the ridge. It has been a long day, time to head for camp. Where this goes can be saved for another trip.

The next morning breaks bright and clear, despejado as we say in the Andes. Tendrils of clouds hang over Choquequirao and distant Vilcabamba, revealing the stark beauty and special, spiritual nature of the site. Choquequirao’s magnificent location rivals sister Machu Picchu without the desecration of trains, buses and runaway tourism.

Fueled by an admittedly American coffee, eggs and bacon breakfast, we start downhill following ancient, seldom-used trails with saddle mounts and pack mules in tow. It will be too steep and dangerous to ride most of the route today. The objective is to find and document another probable Inca site lower down then join the regular trail coming from Cachora to set camp at the river near the new bridge.

The following day, crossing the river, we will head up some five thousand feet for three nights at Choquequirao then back on the long trail for Cachora, Cusco and eventually, home.

The temperature has climbed as we descend lower on the mountainside along with numbers of annoying, biting, tiny gnats. It will reach a sweltering 96°F later when we pass through the river camp on the return from Choquequirao. Someone says this is an El Niño created anomaly. Anyway, it is much hotter than I have experienced previously in the canyon.

With the Cachora to Choquequirao trail in view a steep thousand feet or so below, we stop at a large, level area, a pampa, situated below an imposing cliff outcrop at 8,150 feet. The base rock formation here, as in much of the Vilcabamba west of Machu Picchu, is an ancient sedimentary deposit compressed by heat and pressure into a complex metamorphic formation during the early Paleozoic era some four hundred thousand years ago. The occasional, later intrusive granite or basalt pluton coupled with faulting and folding, created an interesting, colorful geological mosaic. Here, the exposed rock above seems to be one of these more erosion-resistant plutons forming a distinctive cliff outcrop.

The pampa appears to have been planted in corn or beans in recent times. The few cultivable areas here are owned and worked by the Quispes along with several other extended families from Cachora. A few fat, grazing cows wander around indicating a water source nearby.

Adrián leads us to a long narrow rock, some ten feet high, forming a side of the pampa containing an imposing raised hill of dense vegetation. “Aqui está la ruina — adentro del bosque,” he proudly exclaims. “Here there are ruins — inside the trees.”

With wranglers watching after the mules below, we set about clearing away the thorny entanglement eager to see what is hidden inside. We wade in, wildly swinging machetes now, wearing gloves; a lesson learned from the scratches and punctures acquired during yesterday’s clearings. Slowly, walls and shaped-stone niches appear out of the decreasing vegetational snarl.

It’s a Cancha; two nicely made stone buildings enclosed by a surrounding wall, constructed pirca style of coursed field stone. The entranceways are framed by worked, rounded, corner stones capped by heavy, large, stone lintels. Square niches and windows line the interior, similar to many structures at Choquequirao. These generally taper inward at the top, trapezoidal-like as at Machu Picchu and other classic imperial Inca sites. This squarish architectural design at Choquequirao is one of the features that suggest the site’s later construction.

Adrián recalls that years ago, a tall, stone entranceway gave access from the outer wall into the compound but it is now crumbled into a pile of rubble. The two rectangular buildings in alignment is common, but placement parallel to the elongated, stone outcrop is not. Another unique aspect is a tall, tapered boulder included in the perimeter wall running perpendicular to the stone outcrop wall.

The entire outlying level area is enclosed by the remains of a low wall forming a surrounding plaza. Several small boulders in the plaza appear to have been placed. I suspect that they may be spiritually charged huaca stones, perhaps shaped and placed to replicate surrounding mountains, incorporating the process of camay, bringing the power of the mountain Apu to the resident’s front yard.

I cannot identify anything in particular suggesting a ceremonial purpose for the site. It does appear located in association and alignment with the stone outcrop and upright boulder which must have been of importance for the builder and occupants.

We find many Andean Inca sites built either with a solstice orientation or cardinal placed; east-west, north-south. The long axis alignment of the buildings here is about 48 degrees, nothing that I can give significance to. This northeast looking view does not seem to offer a sight line to anything prominent on the horizon. There is no waterfall or cave to suggest a dedicated roadside shrine. The access seems to have been a minor secondary trail and not a major Inca road. We will have ample time to reflect upon what Raqrama was while camped above at Choquequirao.

As John Wayne may have said, “Daylight’s a burning.” We are nearing physical/mental burnout. The comfort of camp is beckoning. The site deserves a better, intensive investigation. This will have to wait until a future trip. We head down to a deserved cold shower, eagerly anticipating happy hour at the riverside camp two thousand feet and a short hour below. It has been a successful and exciting exploration.

The site called Incaracay by local herders was probably a group of well-made storage buildings, colcas, built for storing potatoes, corn and other products grown on the encompassing mountainside. We could not locate any ceremonial aspects, features or alignments so conclude that the group was likely utilitarian in purpose.

The design is similar to a group we identified as colas at Choquequirao. The several entranceways face west capturing afternoon sun and warm breeze coming upriver from the deep canyon below. Choquequirao had extensive coca cultivation as a result of warming created by the canyon microclimate. Storage structures here could take advantage of this as well.

Remnants of a tan colored plaster can be seen on several of the walls and niches here at both sites. At Choquequirao, Machu Picchu and other regional Inca sites, all of the pirca style walls seem to have been plastered over, inside and out.

A feature unique to Choquequirao and the high, mountain sun temple Inca Wasi, above the Neo-Inca capital of Vitcos in the Pucuyoc range , is a curious, round stone inside corner connector. We have not seen these anywhere else.

The buildings here have these unique features indicating that they probably were built at the same time by the same administration.

Like the colca buildings at Choquequirao, the structures had two levels, multiple inside niches, and high open windows at each end which could allow upper story ventilation. Excavations revealed raised, partial floors at Choquequirao. It is possible that these structures might have had the same.

Another possibility is that the buildings were high status residences, which the well-made entrances and general design could suggest. Several factors weigh against this: At almost 12,000 feet of altitude, they are located above the comfortable living zone. Few sites, other than mountain ceremonial structures, are found at this altitude. No main Inca road is close by to establish a need for a resident compound or tambo way station.

The site has no apparent water source other than rain, which would have been necessary for permanent residency. The water canal we found was some distance away and down slope going somewhere else.

Located on a level pampa at a comfortable altitude of 8,150 feet, this aesthetically placed solitary site with a spectacular view of the Apurimac canyon was probably the residence compound for the overseer, kuraka, of the local families, ayllu, who worked the mountainside fields. The families would have lived in small adobe or wood structures of which the archeological evidence is now gone. A more detailed investigation would likely reveal remnants of foundations and other items. We did pass by several groups of round depressions that may date from an earlier time.

Piracy In The Gulf of Guinea

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly the resurgence of violent marine kidnapping for ransom, will continue to plague the waters off of West Africa until local governments commit to ending corruption and building their nations.

Around the globe piracy is in decline – but for merchant seafarers, the Gulf of Guinea, off West Africa, is a dangerous exception. Following a five-year period as the epicentre of hijacking for cargo theft, marine kidnapping for ransom is now the saveur du jour in the Gulf of Guinea – particularly in the Bight of Benin and Bight of Bonny. At least 44 seafarers were kidnapped for ransom in the first six months of 2016, most of them seized in Nigerian waters.

Pirates have always preyed on ships trading in and around African waters, but the current level of violent crime against seafarers is unprecedented. It is all but certain that many assaults are going unreported.

Theories abound as to the renaissance of piratical activity and the transition from one form of crime to another. However, the resurgence in marine kidnap for ransom has coincided with a deteriorating security situation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. There has been a wave of attacks on oil and gas facilities. So serious has been the unrest that Nigeria, once Africa’s top crude oil producer, has now fallen behind Angola in terms of crude oil output.

Piracy, wherever it occurs, is first and foremost a land-based problem. The fact of this was most readily observed in the Somalia-based piracy epidemic between 2005 and 2012. Although it is easy to pronounce on the shortcomings of Somalia – a failed state – spelling out the root causes of piracy to the governments of West African countries is a difficult message to deliver diplomatically.

The nature and prevalence of maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea is a function of many interrelated and interacting factors. Strategically, the endemic corruption and political permissiveness of criminal activity in the region is difficult to address because West African governments are reluctant to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

Tactically, the inadequacy of security forces and law enforcement agencies as well as attitudes within the shipping industry toward security, will take more time to turn around. But progress is being made.

Much of the instability ashore that gives rise to the criminality at sea is politically driven and government officials like to draw a distinction between criminality, militancy and piracy. For the individuals at the receiving end of an attack, the distinction is irrelevant.

Last year, at least 23 people were believed to have died at the hands of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea and the treatment of crew that have survived has frequently been appalling. Many have faced routine beatings and some, mock executions.

There is no quick fix to piracy, especially where it manifests itself today and the scope for effective near-term solutions to address what is happening at sea is narrow. Security management is becoming part of day-to-day operational discipline. It is also becoming increasingly obvious to owners that the security of their ships is their responsibility and theirs alone.

Piracy, unlike land-based insecurity, is probably doing little direct harm to West African economies. Economic drivers that would normally induce a reduction in the supply of tonnage willing to trade in areas of significant hostility – or stimulate a hike in freight rates for vessels prepared to trade in such areas – are absent.

Given the size of West African economies – with Nigeria dominating as a major oil producer – and the parlous state of shipping markets internationally, ships will continue to sail the Gulf of Guinea on their way to and from the region’s ports.

In the long term, only regional stability and better government will sustainably deliver an antidote to piracy. The case of Somalia, where piracy has been contained – thus far – despite continuing conflict onshore, is likely to prove an exception.

Regional co-operation in the fight against piracy, such as the joint naval patrols between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, is welcome, but will have limited impact.

What is needed is for the region’s governments to focus on good governance; resolving conflict, ending corruption and pursuing nation-building. It is not a new concept, but it is a fact nonetheless that in order to develop a sustainable solution to piracy, it is necessary to address issues on shore.

As U.S. President Thomas Jefferson observed more than 200 years ago, when American merchant ships were being attacked by pirates from the ‘Barbary States’ and their crews held to ransom, “The surest way to create peace at sea,” was to “impose rule of law on the land where pirates hid.”

PERU: Peru To Expand Trade,Tourism, Investment With China

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's recent visit to China helped lay the groundwork for expanding ties in trade, tourism and investment, a senior official has said.

His trip boosts trust between the two countries, and promotes Peru among China's business community, Peru's Minister of Foreign Commerce and Tourism Eduardo Ferreyros, who accompanied the president to Beijing, said.

"The message we gave China and Chinese business leaders is that they come to Peru, which is an attractive country for investment," Ferreyros said.

Peru has a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, providing it with a privileged platform for deepening ties, the minister said.

Kuczynski paid his first foreign visit to China from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16. The visit shows the Peruvian people's admiration toward China for its achievements in independent development, Kuczynski said during the visit.

Kuczynski's first trip abroad since taking office also served to acknowledge China's importance as Peru's leading trade partner, and one of its biggest investors, especially in mining and energy.

In Beijing, Peru's trade chief met with his Chinese counterpart to discuss expanding a Customs Cooperation Agreement designed to prevent smuggling, and proposed holding a meeting in December on a free trade agreement.

The two also discussed Chinese investment in agriculture, agroindustry and tourism in Peru, and the possibility of expanding air links between the two countries to boost tourism.

"We are encouraging Chinese hotel chains to establish themselves in Peru, to invest in hotels that have the particular features to attend to their citizens," said Ferreyros.

"We are also going to focus and redirect certain events promoting Peru as a destination in Chinese cities, above all in Beijing, Shanghai and in Guangdong province, in order to promote flights from China to Peru," he added.

To attract more Chinese tourism, Peru has changed its visa restrictions to allow Chinese leisure and business travelers to stay in the country for up to 150 days, he said.

In trade, China Eastern Airlines will likely be the carrier in charge of transporting Peru's first shipment of cranberries and prawns destined for the Chinese market, as well as other non-traditional exports, said the minister.

In October, officials from both countries expect to conclude a phytosanitary agreement to be signed in November at an upcoming summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

In a bid to boost Peru's exports, Ferreyros said he is meeting in Lima with the heads of the 31 Export Trade Offices the country maintains around the world to put together an aggressive trade strategy in conjunction with the private sector.

JAPAN: Not Checking Phones When Driving, Japanese Drivers Earn Free Coffee

In a bid to convince drivers in Aichi Prefecture to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, a new Japanese smartphone app offers free coffee coupons to drivers who don’t check their phones for at least 100 km.

For the last 13 years, Aichi Prefecture has recorded the highest rate of traffic fatalities in Japan. Last year, there were 443,691 accidents that resulted in injuries or deaths, and 50,101 arrests involving the use of smartphones while driving. With handhelds becoming such a big part of people’s lives, there appears to be an increase in violations of this nature, and authorities have yet to come up with an effective plan to combat the problem.

Interestingly, a trio of Japanese company seem to think that an ingenious new app could incentivize drivers to restrain themselves from checking their phones at the wheel and reduce the number of traffic accidents. Toyota Motor Corporation, Komeda Co Ltd and KDDI Corporation have teamed up to create Driving Barista, an app that uses the phone’s gyro sensor to sense the tilt of the device, and the GPS to determine the distance driven. This allows it to calculate the number of kilometers a driver has traveled with the smartphone facing down.

When Driving Barista determines that the smartphone has not been tampered with for at least 100 kilometers, it will reward the driver with a coupon for a cup of blended or iced coffee at a Komeda Coffee Shop. The reward is earned after every 100 kilometers driven without checking the phone. If you tinker with it before reaching the mandatory 100km, the app will reset back at 0km.

Toyota claims that this is the first smartphone app that attempts to tackle traffic safety issues. “In line with contributing to the ultimate goal of achieving zero traffic fatalities and zero traffic accidents, Toyota has implemented automobile safety measures as one of its top priority management concerns,” said Shuichi Murakami, managing officer at Toyota. “By carrying out a new traffic safety education initiative together with Komeda and KDDI, we hope to further reduce traffic accidents.”

Driver Barista launched on September 20th and is available for both iOS and Android devices. For now, it only works in Aichi Pefecture.

Spicy Tortilla Chips

Using extract from the hottest chilli pepper on the planet, American company Paqui Chips has created the world’s spiciest tortilla chip – the Carolina Reaper Madness. It’s apparently so hot that it only comes in packs of one.

Usually, when you open a bag of tortilla chips, you never stop at one, but when it comes to Carolina Reaper Madness chips, Jeff Day, Brand Manager for Paqui Chips, says that one is all you need. “It’s the hottest chip you’ll ever have, I can guarantee you that. After you eat that one chip, trust me, you’re not looking to dig back into the bag and have a second one. So, one chip is what we created to have the experience,” he says.

Paqui chips claims that they’re always looking to push the limits to find fun ways to engage their fans and consumers, and this time, creating the world’s hottest tortilla chip was their main goal. To do that, they need to find the world’s hottest pepper. That quest led them to the Puckerbutt Pepper Company, in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Their Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper Collection holds the Guinness record for the hottest chilli on Earth, so the two companies worked together for several months to create the perfect tongue-numbing seasoning for the chip. To make it shockingly spicy, they mixed the Carolina Reaper pepper with some Ghost peppers and chipoltle seasoning.

The Carolina Reaper Madness chips turned out so hot that Paqui is no selling just one of them per pack, which happens to be shaped as a bright red coffin with a Grim reaper on it. That should serve as a fair warning to anyone attempting to munch on this devilish snack. “The reason that we’re selling this as one chip is because quite honestly, that’s all that you need. That’s all that anyone needs,” Day said.

He also advised washing down the Carolina Reaper Madness chip with milk, ice cream, yogurt or honey to make its spiciness more tolerable. Don’t use water, as that will only spread the spiciness around, making the whole experience even harder to bear.

Carolina Reaper Madness chips will be available online in a limited batch at the end of September, with nationwide sales beginning on October 1st. Each pack of one will cost you $4.99 and probably the temporary loss of your senses.

AUSTRALIA: Tattoos Are For Life, Why Not Burgers Free For Life?

Cafe 51, a popular burger joint in Melbourne, Australia, is offering anyone the chance to receive a free burger per day, for the rest of their lives, if they get a scale tattoo of one of their delicious burgers, anywhere on their bodies.

“Tattoos are for life, so why shouldn’t burgers be free for life too, right?” the #freeburgersforlife campaign page on the Cafe 51 website states. “It’s simple, pick a burger, any burger from our current menu and get it tattooed anywhere on your body. You are then forever part of our #burgerfamily and you qualify to get this burger absolutely free everyday for the rest of your life. Coz we reckon that since you love us enough to join our #burgerfamily by getting a tattoo of one of our burgers, we love you enough to give you a free burger every day for the rest of your life!”

The controversial promotional stunt had been teased for about a month and finally launched on Sunday night. By Monday, over 450 people had registered, and at the time of this writing, over 3,000 Cafe 51 are waiting to get their favorite burger tattooed. Considering all the media attention the campaign is getting and the fact that Cafe 51 plans to take registrations all through October, the number of applicants will probably reach into the tens of thousands.

“Never expected such a massive response but I guess it’s testament to how passionate people are for our burgers,” Cafe 31 co-founder Steve Agi said. Obviously, offering free burgers to everyone who registers for the promotion is a bad idea, from a business perspective, so Cafe 51 originally decided to randomly pick 10 winners. But the unexpected positive feedback has made them rethink their plans.

“We were talking about limiting it to 10 but given that it only went live last night and we are planning to take registrations for all of October, it may blow out to a little bit more,” Steve said. “We will see how things go.”

Agi claims they came up with the idea for the promotion after a number of patrons got their burgers tattooed without them having to ask. “We’ve already got half a dozen people who have had burgers tattooed on themselves. They sort of did it and that was what triggered it,” he said. “They come in and roll up their sleeve or lift up their shorts leg. They already did it without us having to ask.”

The rules set up by Cafe 51 are fairly simple. All applicants have to do is agree to get a scale tattoo of their favorite burger anywhere on their body and be willing to to get photographed and filmed for promotional purposes to be used online and in print by the organizer. Also, in order to receive their free burger every day, the winners have to agree to show the tattoo on demand to store staff.

Steve Agi mentioned that the offer is limited to one burger a day, and that the burger depicted by the tattoo will be the one the winners will receive for free. So they have the option to choose from a variety of different size burgers to permanently stamp on their bodies, from the simple mini burger, which measures about seven centimeters in diameter and four centimeters tall, to the giant Hulk burger, which is about 34 centimetres tall and can “feed a small village”. It all depends on how hungry people reckon they’ll be every day and how much space they have available for the tattoo.

If you’re over 18 and love Cafe 51 burgers, you can register for the campaign here.

Aji Charapita Most Expensive Chili Peppers Cost $25,000 Per Kilo

You should never judge a pepper by its size, especially when it comes to price. The Aji Charapita chili pepper grows is roughly the size of a pea, but there’s nothing small about its price. A kilogram of this stuff will set you back a whopping $35,000.

Native to the jungles of norther Peru, the Aji Charapita is known as a wild pepper, and has only recently recently being cultivated for commercial use. Used fresh, this tiny pepper is said to have a strong fruity flavor that gives salsas and sauces a tropical taste, but it is mostly used in powdered form to a bit of spiciness to various dishes.

Although still fairly unknown in most Western countries, the Aji Charapita is a highly sought-after treat among chili pepper connoisseurs and five-star restaurant chefs.

Getting your hands on a few Aji Charapita peppers is a daunting task, for two very simple reasons. First of all, it is very difficult to source outside of Peru, unless you’re willing to buy some seeds online and plant them yourself, and even if you manage to find a seller, the price is probably going to curb your enthusiasm.

Nicknamed “the mother of all chilli” Aji Charapita reportedly costs a minimum of $25,000 per kilo, making it the most expensive chili pepper in the world, and one of the most expensive spices, along with vanilla and saffron.

With a Scolville hotness rating of between 30,000 – 50,000 heat units, the Aji Charapita will burn a hole through your tongue as well as your wallet. This rating makes it about as hot as a cayenne pepper and four to twenty times hotter than the jalapeno.

JAPAN: First Hedgehog Cafe Opens In Japan

Tokyo is now home to the world’s first hedgehog cafe, the latest in a long list of animal-themed establishments in the city. Located in the Roppongi entertainment district, the cafe is named ‘Harry’ – a play on the Japanese word for hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren’t native to Japan, but they’ve long since been sold as pets in the nation that’s crazy for all things cute. At Harry, 1,000 yen ($9) can buy animal lovers an hour in the company of the prickly yet adorable creatures. The cafe is home to 20 to 30 friendly hedgehogs of different breeds that you can spend time with and even take home. A chalk-written blackboard lists all the available hedgehog breeds available for purchase and their prices by sex. So if customers find it hard to part with the adorable rodents once their hour is up, they have the option to give them a forever home.

According to Mizuki Murata, a staff member who also works at a rabbit cafe in the same building, Harry has been packed ever since it opened in February, with people sometimes lining up at the door for a chance to spend time with a hedgehog. “We wanted to show people the charm of hedgehogs, which give the impression of being hard to handle,” she said. “We wanted to get rid of that image by letting people touch them.”“The cutest thing about hedgehogs is getting them to finally open up and show you their face,” she added.

“All of these hedgehogs are friendly even though some of them might spike you,” said Anna Cheung, a 11-year-old visitor from England. It’s because of their sharp spikes that Harry always has staff instruct patrons on how to handle the hedgehogs to avoid injuring themselves or the animals.

Animal cafes have been a staple of Japanese urban entertainment for years. From the now-common cat cafes and dog cafes to the niche owl cafes and reptile cafes, you’re bound to find a favorite creature to cuddle with while enjoying a nice cup of green tea.

MEXICO: Butterfly Forest A Sanctuary Protected By Law,Yet Under Threat

Every year, hundreds of millions of Monarch Butterflies from Canada and the United States journey as far as 2,500 miles to the forests of Michoacan, Mexico in what is known as the world’s largest insect migration. Countless butterflies cluster together both on the trees and on the ground, covering large areas into carpets of orange and black. It’s a breathtaking sight to behold, but as always, human greed is threatening to destroy it.

The great monarch migration is one of nature’s most fascinating mysteries. Tiny butterflies from places like Toronto, Winnipeg or Detroit embark on this epic transcontinental journey and somehow make it all the way to central Mexico. Nobody knows exactly how they do it, but some experts believe they are guided by celestial navigation and magnetic fields.

The Monarch butterflies start to arrive in Michoacan in late October to make their winter home in the trees high up in the mountains of the natural reserve. Once here, they will spend the next five months clustering together in large masses made up of thousands of tiny bodies that often look like colorful beehives. Often times, these clusters become so heavy that they cause tree branches to bend or even snap. But there’s a purpose to all these clustering – it allows the monarchs to survive in the low nighttime temperatures at these high altitudes.

The Michoacan Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary is most impressive during the months of February and March, just before the winged insects begin their long journey home. Temperatures are still chilly at night, but during the day, the sun’s warmth causes the living clusters to break apart as the butterflies begin their mating rituals. In the cool of the morning, they dry their wings, turning the entire landscape black and orange, and as the dew dries, they take to the air, the sound of millions of fluttering wings more powerful that you’d ever thought possible. Then, as the sun begin to set, the monarchs take to the ground, covering virtually every available surface.

Mexico’s Butterfly Forest is a sanctuary protected by law, and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, but that hasn’t stopped people from slowly but steadily destroying it in the name of greed.

CHINA: Boeing 737 Airplane Made A Restaurant

China’s very first airplane restaurant was recently unveiled in Wuhan. Named “Lilly Airways”, the unique eatery is located in the cabin area of an old Boeing 737.

Businessman Li Liang acquired the aircraft from Indonesian airline Batavia Air, in May 2015, but then had to go through six months of exhausting custom procedures in order to get the aircraft into China. “Demounting, port, shipping, business license, trade declaration,all these procedures were never done by anybody before, which means I had to go through them one by one,” Li said, adding that the Boeing 737 had to be disassembled a total of eight times in its four-month journey from Indonesia to Wuhan, China. Getting the plane split into parts that then had to be packed in around 70 containers and shipped multiple times apparently cost the eccentric businessman a whopping 3 million yuan ($452,325). Add that to the 5 million yuan ($5.28 million) he paid for the plane itself and you have one of the most expensive restaurants in the world.

After finally setting up the airplane restaurant on the Optics Valley Pedestrian Street, one of the busiest shopping areas of Wuhan, Li is ready to welcome curious diners and airplane enthusiasts. The restaurant is located in the cabin area of the airplane, and the cockpit has been converted into a flying simulator where patrons will be able to experience what it’s like to fly a passenger jet.

Li said that a dinner at Lilly Airways is priced between 200 to 300 yuan ($30 – $45) per person, while the cockpit plying simulation will set flight enthusiasts back 300 to 400 yuan ($45 – $60). Pretty steep, but I suspect it will be a while before this place turns a profit.

Giant Ball Pit Works As Seats And Tables In A Bar In Japan

If you ever feel like connecting with your inner child while sipping on your favorite alcoholic drink, the Ball Pool Bar Dive in Osaka, Japan, is probably the best place to do it.

Kids love ball pits, and the masterminds behind Ball Pool Bar Dive seem to think adults do too, so they got rid of the usual bar furniture and instead turned the place into a giant ball pit filled with over 20,000 colorful plastic balls. But there’s nothing remotely childish about the drinks menu, as you can order pretty much any alcoholic drink served at a regular bar, only instead of drinking yourself unconscious at a table, you get to do it buried up to your neck in balls, while other intoxicated patrons dive in all around you. What’s not to like?

A similar ball pit pop-up bar opened in San Francisco for two days last March and left visitors with some awesome memories, but luckily Ball Pool Bar Dive is a permanent venue, so you can swim in plastic balls and alcohol every day if you like. In fact, the bar all-you-can-drink alcohol for 60- and 90-minute rates, and if you think drinking alcohol in a ball pit is a bad idea, you should know the owners thought that too, so they decided to serve the drinks in air-tight sealed containers to avoid spillage.

If you’rethinking of hitting the ball Pool Bar Dive the next time you’re in Osaka, you should know that the 90-minute all-you-can-drink plan costs 3,000 yen ($20) for women and 3,000 yen ($30) for men. But if you’re thinking of bringing the kids, don’t. Access to this grown-up ball pit bar is restricted to people under 20.

Seedlip, The World’s First Alcohol-free Spirit.

Until recently, having an alcohol-free night at the local bar left you with only a few bland options – water, a sweetened soft drink or a non-alcoholic cocktail. But that was before someone had the brilliant idea to create Seedlip, the world’s first alcohol-free spirit.

Ben Branson, the mastermind behind Seedlip, claims he came up with the formula for his unique spirit while reading John French’s 1651 book, “The Art of Distillation.” In it he found a large number of remedies for various ailments, and while some included alcohol, a lot of them didn’t. “It’s easy to forget that alcohol had its origins in medicine. That quickly moved to drinking for pleasure, and it seems we forgot about the non-alcoholic side,” Seedlip Ben the name he usually goes by says. “I’m not a distiller and I’m not scientific, but I thought that was interesting. So I bought a little still and starting playing around in my kitchen.”

Using various herbs he was growing in his backyard, a copper still, water and steam, Ben started experimenting, and eventually realized he could make a liquid that smelled and tasted like whatever plant he put in the still. He calls it his “eureka” moment because it got him wondering if he could make a drink like this and, if anyone else had done it before. It turns out they hadn’t, at least not commercially, so he ended up marketing his final formula for Seedlip as the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit.

SWEDEN: Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge Hotel

Modern life has its perks, but if you feel like taking a break from it all and going back in time for a few days, there’s a unique tourist facility in Sweden that offers you the opportunity to live in a wooden charcoal-burner hut located in the middle of a forest, cook your own food over an open fire, chop wood and clean your dishes in a nearby spring.

The Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge Hotel is not for everyone. If you can’t even fathom the idea of living without electricity, running water, or a modern toilet, then the rustic charm of this place will probably not appeal to you. But for anyone trying to escape the pressure and busy life of the big city or take a break from the internet and other modern gadgets, this place is paradise. Located 1 km south of Skärsjön Beach, in the middle of a pristine Swedish forest, Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge consists of 12 charcoal-burner huts with nothing but two sheepskin-covered wooden beds, and a wood stove that uses wood chopped by the guests themselves.

Self-catering breakfast, lunch and dinner can be booked on site, and consists of items like spaghetti, tomato-sauce, bread, fruits and eggs that tourists have to cook themselves over an outside fire. There are no showers, only a nearby spring and as for toilets, visitors are encouraged to go behind a tree, or visit one of two sheds, where the toilets flush with soil.

Adding to the charm of this place is the long coal-making tradition of Kolarbyn. Locals have been building these rustic huts from wood and mud for over 400 years, and a few of them came up with the idea of recreating a few of them in the woods as an eco-lodge to keep tradition alive in the area.

“People visit Kolarbyn lodges because they want to experience the nature and to test sleeping in the historical charcoal huts. They want to come away from the normal day life,” owner Andreas Ahlsen said. “The huts themselves are relatively small; as if they are too big it will destroy the nature experience.”

Stay at Sweden´s most primitive hostel. In Kolarbyn there is no electricity or running water. You sleep well in front of the crackling fireplace and wake up to beautiful birdsong. Silence, wilderness and exciting forest experiences are only a couple hours away from the big city.

The hostel is a collection of charcoal huts in the middle of the spruce forest. Here are twelve huts with two bunks with inflatable mattress and sheepskin rugs to sleep on. All the huts have a fireplace and you chop your own wood and can pick blueberries directly on the roof.

BANGLADESH: Hospitality Training In Bangladesh

Regency Hospitality Training Institute (RHTi) is rewriting the era of industry skills development program in Bangladesh by initiating various training programs supported and collaborated with international skill development agencies and awarding bodies and organizations in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Regency Hospitality Training Institute focuses on providing professional training and education to ensure students are “job ready”. It provides the professional training in the “real world” of the 5-star Dhaka Regency Hotel and Resort as an integrated and fundamental part of the offered courses. Whether on the front desk, in the kitchens or in the restaurants, students of RHTi are getting the necessary professional training that will be the basis of their qualifications. This ensures they possess the expertise to take up positions anywhere in the world to demonstrate their learning.

The Institute has been established under the direct initiative and patronisation of Shahid Hamid, FIH the Executive Director of Dhaka Regency Hotel & Resort. Shahid is an highly regarded hospitality expert in Bangladesh who is always helpful for providing training to youths and job placement in the sector. The inclusion of RHTi is a step forward in the skill development program in hospitality sector.

Within a very short span of time after formal inauguration in February 2016, RHTi now becomes Registered Training Organization (RTO) of Bangladesh Technical Educational Board (BTEB) and thus qualifies as an approved hospitality training provider by international bodies like ILO, ADB, etc. RHTi is on the verge of providing hospitality training to the underprivileged youths of the country through B-SEP project under ILO governance.

eHotelier has been directly involved in assisting the development of the new institute with the Dean of the e-Hotelier Academy Prof. Peter A. Jones advising on the design and content of the curriculum along with eHotelier Vice President Matthew Stephens, who has directly helped with training resources and provided professional liaison references with the hospitality industry around the globe, especially in MENA and Southeast Asia and Pacific region. Currently approximately 3.4 million Bangladeshis are working in the hospitality industry in the MENA region. The references for placement by Matthew and eHotelier will enable RHTi to meet the needs of both local and international industry and eHotelier will continue to support the Institute through the Academy and its international network.

RHTi is the ace approved center of prestigious City & Guilds to offer Certificate and Diploma program and it is already enlisted to be an approved training provider through SEIP (Skill for Employment Investment Program) project funded by Asian Development Bank through the Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh. It is worth mentioning here that huge high school dropouts (about 55% after twelve grade) are there who are seeking employment or like to add themselves to the labour force of the country, but unfortunately could not do so as they lack skills to transfer in jobs. RHTi aims at converting these dropouts to hospitality workers ready to place in upcoming hotels locally as well as globally.

Moreover, RHTi is the local access point (LAP) of North Chiang Mai International College under the North Chiang Mai University where our students can transfer their full credit towards their Bachelor program in Hospitality Management (from 2017 Post-graduate program will be offered) with two lucrative paid internship in Singapore and Australia as well as guaranteed global job placement after successful completion.

Further, RHTi is the practical training provider for the Bachelor students of Tourism and Hospitality department of the country’s most prestigious University of Dhaka for their future career needs.

RHTi not limited itself in eduction and training. It expands its’ services to corporate and other service industries who require development in any manner of their organizations, such as; Bangladesh Army officers mess staffs, boutique hotels, multinational companies, government organizations like DESCO, Bangladesh Police, Ansar and VDP and so on.

The courses offered by the Regency Hospitality Training Institute are internationally recognized and endorsed by the Institute of Hospitality (IoH), UK, City & Guilds, UK – the international professional body for managers in the hospitality and tourism industry. This endorsement ensures that the programs are meeting international benchmarks and are considered to support and promote continuing professional development. All of the programs are delivered in English which supports the students’ aspirations and ensures they are fully equipped to be able to take positions at the highest level of the industry.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

FRANCE: Tourists Be Aware Of Scams in France

For over twenty years, France has been the #1 most visited country in the world!

In this gem of a country, we have the most romantic city in the world, Atlantic beaches, modern winter resorts on the French Alps and medieval castles of Normandy and the likes. Coupled with world class gastronomy, fashion and culture, it is little wonder why France is one of the most loved countries in the world.

However, such unrivalled numbers of tourists have since engendered numerous opportunities for shrewd scammers to thrive. Check out this list of 17 travel scams to protect yourself and have the best holiday you deserve in this marvel of a country.

Gold Ring Trick - A very old and common trick in and around France, especially Paris.

A gypsy will coincidentally find a gold ring on the floor, point at the “18k” hallmark on the ring and offer it to you. Trust me, there ARE people who take it. It can be very convincing. It goes something like this:

Scammer: “Sir, did you drop this ring?”
You: “No, I did not”
Scammer: “Well, you can give it to your wife, why not? It will make her happy. They might also insist that their religion (or some cock and bull reason) prevents them from keeping the ring.

If you accept, the gypsy will demand your money in return. He will simply say:

Scammer: “Sir, I am hungry, could you give me some money/change for a croissant?”

When you give, they will ask for more. Most people tend to give as they have accepted/taken something from the scammer. Reciprocity is a very powerful thing.

Sometimes, the scammer might walk away and reappear 5 minutes later to demand your money. Whatever it is, they will stop at nothing to get money from you.

The most scheming ones will have an accomplice pickpocket you while you are protesting. So don’t even engage them. If it is not yours, don’t’ take it. Keep a lookout for suspicious people and gold stuff on the ground! It is mere useless polished brass.

Louvre Pickpockets - I know, we are all here to see Mona Lisa and that’s the area where pickpockets operate. There are usually huge masses of people at the cordoned off area trying to snap pictures of the painting. It is squeezy and most people are unaware of their surroundings, the perfect scenario for pickpockets.

Reports have found that in one day in July alone, 56 stolen wallets were found in the museum! And the thing was that these were just the discovered ones, imagine how many more went undiscovered..

Do be careful outside the Louvre as well! Queues are snakingly long and this presents a great opportunity for pickpockets too.

Stay alert and secure your valuables in hidden or hard to reach areas.

String/Bracelet Scam - Very common in France (especially the sacre Coeur/Montmartre area, Seine River, Louvre, Gare du Nord) and around Europe as well. They can even be found on metro lines leading to the Montmartre area! They are easy to spot as they carry long, colored string, yarn or other items.

What they do (normally Africans) is they will ask if you want a “friendship bracelet” or “friendship ring”. If you say yes, they will tie it so tight around your wrist or finger that makes it impossible to remove. They will then demand money from you. The more ruthless ones will gather some of his accomplices, bring you to the nearest ATM and threaten you to withdraw everything inside.

Another variation is that these scammers will first engage you in a conversation. They might then ask if you want to see a magic trick and before you know it, they would have skilfully tied a band around your wrist or fingers.

They will justify it by saying it is from the church, a gift, or a local Paris souvenir and then demand €20. Refuse to pay and you find them sticking to you like cockroaches and bugging you every second. Some of them will even try to intimidate you. Most tourist just suck it up and pay to get rid of them.

More creative scammers will approach couples and offer the woman for free. Should the woman accept, another will pop out to offer the man. Since it is assumed to be free, the man tends to accept. But once you do, good luck as they will begin hounding you for payment.

The most ruthless ones will tie the friendship band and while distracting you, an accomplice will appear from the shadows to pickpocket your stuff.

This is so common and yet many still fall for the scam. What to do when they approach is to say no and keep walking away. Do NOT stop as a moment of hesitation is all they need to tie the string on your hand. However, be careful of walking yourself into a corner. If you are alert and have spotted them from a distance. Keep your hands well hidden in your jacket or somewhere.

What I did was that I shouted no and some vulgarities when I was approached. This gave me a real kick haha but on hindsight is a very stupid thing to do. There is no need to offend them as they would surely have more accomplices in the area and it is not possible to outfight a bunch of them.

I have also observed that they tend to target females travelling alone so please be extra careful if you are.

Rose Scam - A pretty stupid scam, but people do still fall for it.

It is very simple, a scammer offers you a rose as a token of friendship in the city of love. When you accept it, payment will be demanded. Even if you return the rose, you will be constantly hounded till it would be better to pay the scammer off.

Another version is where the scammer targets couples, by offering the girl the rose and asking the guy to pay.

Unscrupulous Taxi Drivers - There are unscrupulous drivers who purposely take a longer route. There are also those who do not have a meter.

Firstly, to protect yourself, at least have an idea of which direction/route you should be on. That’s the least you can do, else you put yourself vulnerable to such unscrupulous people.

Next, do NOT take any taxi without a meter – those are not taxis.

There are those at the Charles de Gaulle Airport as well who are extremely aggressive. They will probably demand €20-30 more than legit taxis.

Helpful People at Metros - this is one of the most difficult scams to prevent/protect yourself from. There are also so many variations and you just have to be alert. Below is a scenarios at metro stations.

Do NOT let someone help you buy your metro pass. There are people who dress like train officials which makes it more difficult to spot. Commonly, they are observed to work in groups of 3-4 so as to pressure you.

Unknowing to you, the “official” buys child fare and exchange for adult fare from you. If you are really unlucky, you might be caught by the real train official and made to pay an obscene amount of fine.

Another variation is that these scammers standing around the metro station would have already bought metro tickets and would try selling them to you if you have not already bought them. These tickets which they peddle are likely used and useless.

By the way, the metro machines do not take notes, credit cards and debit cards, so that’s a huge warning sign should they ask for those from you.

“Charities” and Beggars - Normally perpetrated by gypsies, Africans or small girls, they will appeal to your emotion and seek money for accident victims, orphanages, or simply their personal woes. When you are distracted, their accomplices spring into action to pickpocket you.

Some beggars also have motionless pets lying next to them so as to enhance the “pitiful” sight and make you sympathise with them. Note that these pets are drugged.

Best action is to ignore them as most of them work in packs. Give in to one or engage one and you might find yourself pickpocketed by their accomplices unknowingly.

The smarter beggars “hunt” for their prey at restaurants. They are equipped with a piece of paper detailing their sad story and their plea for some donations, and they stuff it in your face so that you cannot see what is below. Then that’s it, whatever valuables you have on the table will be gone.

These beggars tend to loiter around the restaurant to observe the situation before moving in for the “kill”, so do keep your valuables secure with you. Never leave it on the table or in plain sight.

Lost Soul Scam - A bunch of people carrying a large map walks up to you and ask you for help. If you are like most people, you would have said yes, since you most probably have been in that situation before. While you are checking out the map and/or pointing directions to them, your wallet would have been gone by then.

This can easily happen in restaurants/cafes/picnics as well, where the scammers lay out the map over your valuables and take them with the map when they go.

Of course, there are genuine people who ask for help but to be safe, ignore.

Magic Tricks or Gambling - There is no free lunch in the world and such gambling games are meant to tap on the greed of tourists.

One such game is betting if one of three cups contain a pea or a ball, which is quite common at the Champs-de-Mars park behind Eiffel Tower. The set-up is that someone would have betted a lot to entice you to join. It becomes more enticing when you see him winning double the amount!

This guy is obviously one of their accomplices. The people surrounding watching the game are also accomplices!

When you get in on the game, they will try to distract you so that the pea can be removed when you are not aware. You might win initially, but is meant to tempt you into betting bigger amounts!

Another version is where you see this stupid guy who keeps losing money even though it’s painfully obvious where the ball or pea is. This makes it tempting for you to step forward to play the game. You might win at first, but suddenly, the scammer would move the cups at such an impossibly fast speed that you would eventually lose your money.

Do not be a spectator too, as you leave yourself open to pickpocketing since your attention is fully on the game.

Clumsy Jogger/Person - Beware! They will knock into you, bump into you and in the next second, you find that something has gone missing from your pocket or backpack! By then, the jogger would have sprinted off already.

It could be a jogger, someone in the crowded market or even a passenger on the train. Another variation is the stain routine, where the scammer stains your shirt and apologize profusely. At that moment, the accomplice springs into action.

Petitions - Normally out in full force at the Eiffel Tower, this scam is perpetuated by young girls working in groups. It usually starts with an innocent question: “do you speak English”?

There are a few variations of this scam. Firstly, someone will try to hold your attention as they get you to understand the petition and to sign it. Next moment, your wallet is gone. It could be done stealthily, or a bunch of people could simply mob you.

Ignore them. If they get aggressive, shout at them and push them away. Another trick to try is to simply say that you know their scam.

Another scam would be young girls approaching you to sign a petition to help save the world/help the deaf/the mute etc. They might pretend to be deaf/mute themselves. A clipboard is shoved in your face, and you see several signatures and some French words.

These words basically mean that if you sign it, you have to give 1,000 euros or something bad will happen. If you don’t pay, suddenly more kids will appear out of nowhere to pressure you to pay. In the midst of distraction, pickpocketing your wallet is as easy as ABC.

Finally, be wary of the creative ones who place the clipboard on your table (assuming you are at a restaurant/cafe). When you chase them away, you will suddenly realise that the phone, camera or wallet which lay under the clipboard has disappeared.

Never sign anything you don’t understand, no matter how credible it looks or how helpful a person seems.

Did You Drop Something? - Have observed this at Sacre Coeur and believe this scam to be pretty common around the world. So what happens is that you will hear something drop nearby. Suddenly, someone would ask if you have dropped something. The aim is to distract you from your wallet so that it can be easily pickpocketed. This becomes even easier should you bend over to check.

Another variation is that of asking if you have dropped your wallet. Natural reflex action means that you would check your pocket for your wallet, and this reveals the location of your wallet to the scammer.

Child Pickpockets - There are reports that 75% of pickpockets on the Paris Metro are by an organised gang using girls from 12-16. These girls are trained in theft and to tell police that they are 12 years old when caught.

This is because criminal prosecution is difficult for this age. It has been reported that these girls are given a target of at least 300 euros a day, or they would be punished with beatings, attacked by knives and cigarettes and might even be subjected to rape.

The face of scammers is ever changing so instead of being wary of certain groups of people, just aim to be alert especially in crowded spaces. Secure your valuables in a hidden or hard to reach area and use your hands and body movement to deter potential pickpockets.

Street Vendors - It can be any item, as long as street vendors are the ones selling it. What they do is to let you try out whatever items (e.g. bracelets) they have. Before you have time to say no, they will demand quick payment.

Some of the more irritating ones will keep pestering you. For instance, if you have bought something, they will hound you to buy more. If you have more, they will cry after you with offers of lower prices.

These vendors don’t talk logic, so if you are not prepared to pay for any item, do not even ask to try them. Simply put on a grumpy face and DON’T look interested.

ATM Machines - It is essential to be aware of this scam, as it can be especially painful.

One situation is where the scammer stands real close behind you to see your PIN number. Once he knows your PIN number, he swipes your card.

Another situation is where your card is eaten up by the ATM machine. Coincidentally, the bank is closed at that time. This is because there are criminal gangs who use a device that memorises PIN numbers and prevent your ATM card from being ejected. They then download the PIN number and withdraw cash from your account.

So what you should do is besides shielding your PIN and watching out for anybody behind you, only use your ATM during business hours if possible. Also examine ATM machines for any unusually devices, though it is not an easy task. Also, keep a list of 24 hour hotline for your credit cards so that you can enquire and/or cancel your card at any time.

Finally, you might meet with a situation where when you are withdrawing money, someone taps you to ask an innocent question in a language you do not understand. As you are distracted, the scammer will walk closer to you and grab the money when it comes out from the ATM and run off. The more brazen ones will simply grab your money and run.

Avoid ATMs in dimly lit areas or where it’s more secluded and not easy to get help.

Unethical Cafes and Restaurants - This happens around the world, not just in France.

For instance, a café might serve you larger and more expensive drinks if you do not specify the size you want. Restaurants might also serve you an inflated bill.

Always be specific and always check.

Sleeping Thieves - These sleeping thieves are extremely dangerous as you tend to let your guard down against them. They are simply observing your movement and waiting for the perfect time to strike.

Watch out for them especially on the metro or in restaurants. To keep your belongings safe, consider locking your backpack, placing it down while on the train or simply spreading your valuables around in secure areas.

VIETNAM: Scams Tourists Must Be Ready For

Vietnam was the place where I encountered my first travel scam and it will always be etched in my memory. In fact, it has even inspired the creation of this site!

A place of breath-taking natural beauty, Vietnam is also home to a sizeable bunch of shrewd scammers. Almost everyone who has been here has met one!

Here is a list of 24 common scams in Vietnam, categorised by the sections “tourist activities”, “transport”, “accommodation”, and “misc”.

Those three wheel bicycles/trishaws you see lining the streets at tourist attractions? Avoid them at all costs. What they do is they will approach you and offer a ride where you can pay as much as you want, or not at all! Now, alarm bells would have begun ringing for anyone with half a brain.

However, what they do next is brilliant. They will take out a notebook and show you all the positive reviews in it. You will find extremely detailed reviews praising the driver and the trip in different languages and in different handwriting. As someone who knows a few languages, I was able to verify a number of them.

The cyclo operator is also an extremely glib speaker. He is able to build rapport (this is easy, for instance, enquiry about your country and sharing some knowledge of it) and address any of your fears (such as allowing you to stop halfway if you wish). Once you get onto the cyclo, the driver will then attempt to build trust with you bit by bit.

End of the day, once all trust has been built, he will bring you somewhere secluded, fish out a list of prices based on hours of service and demand payment. You pretty much have no choice but to pay.

However, it must be said that a cyclo experience can be an interesting one. To protect yourself, agree a clear price before hiring one and make sure that you stop at a place you know.

This is common around the world, but it is much more easily implemented here due to the large note denomination.

Overcharging can occur in many different forms, such as over conversion of currency, giving less change by rounding up/down, not giving any change by insisting on a tip, or even changing the fare once the service is completed!

Many places also quote in USD to make overcharging easier for them – either by rounding up to USD (which is higher than the value in Vietnamese Dong) or by demanding payment in Dong while using an unacceptable exchange rate.

Also beware when a vendor tells you 10, it could mean 10 USD, 10,000 Dong or even something else! Besides this, always ensure that the fee is for everyone in the group and not for each individual.

For popular tourist markets such as Ben Thanh market, prices are also marked up a few HUNDRED times, more if you are a Caucasian. Be ready to haggle or not buy!

Finally, be extremely careful with the cash in your wallet, keep them out of sight from the public and from the shopkeepers.

There are some vendors who sell books in boxes at cheap prices. But alas, those books are photocopies! You would not know as these “books” are wrapped up. Some of those are also of low quality – errors in pages, etc.

Then, there are other vendors who will invite you to take a photo with them. Once taken, they will demand a fee, a tip, or a purchase of their products. Ignore, and you will be hounded until you pay.

For instance, we have the fruit ladies of Hanoi. They will offer to lend you a fruit basket and to take a photo of you. It’s difficult to escape if you have taken the bait as they work in large groups. Something worse that might happen is that you get pickpocketed in the process.

Also, you might come across fake beggars. Some examples are fake cripples, hungry babies are actually asleep due to alcohol and people fake sickness and weakness. Do not donate or you will be hounded as well.

Moving on to Sapa, we have the textile women who tries to guilt trip you. They accompany you on trips, share their life stories, build trust and rapport and at the end of it all, ask that you buy handicrafts from them while crying.

Finally, avoid those pesky photographers who offer to take photos of you. Firstly, they will take multiple photos and demand a much higher payment. Secondly, they will not deliver the photos to you as promised.

Unscrupulous Tour Companies, there are many of such black sheep in the industry.

For instance, some of them claim to provide snorkelling, island trips etc which they do, but only allow for a meagre amount of time for them. There are also many grey areas they could capitalise on such as allowing for overbooking of trips.

As mentioned earlier, also ensure that the price paid is for everyone in the group!

For boat trips, it is also important to buy return tickets rather than one way ones, as you might be exploited when you find no other means of return.

Thus, it is recommended to check out online reviews of the tour companies before committing.

Restaurants that Do Not Display Prices,avoid them, but if you must try, do ask about the prices before ordering. If all you get are vague replies, that’s the sign to leave.

Be careful of those that list prices in USD as well – they might demand payment in Vietnamese Dong and use some unreasonably expensive exchange rate

Overcharging by Restaurants,those nuts or fruits they serve you before the start of the meal? Reject them, as they cost an exorbitant amount.

For those who tend to stay long at restaurants, try to keep whatever you’ve ordered at your table be it empty plates or bottles. This is to collect evidence and prevent restaurants from overcharging you by asking you to pay for something that you did not order.

Always inspect your goods after purchase, especially those that are wrapped, as they might be swapped. The same goes for your change or if you were to change money at a money changer.

Also, note that a very common scam in Vietnam is that vendors will claim that something is free. Once you have used it (service, food, etc), payment will be demanded and you will be hounded until you pay.

Besides street vendors who peddle fake ware, there are many shops which sell fake stuff as well, such as silk and even war relics! So do know what you’re buying and make sure to verify them before buying.

Place is closed,a popular scam in Asia (Thailand especially), someone or anyone might approach you and inform you that a place is closed.

They will then offer to bring you somewhere else where they can get commission. Never trust anyone who tells you that, especially one who can speak good English.

Karaoke/Prostitution,Illegal in Vietnam,is a simple scam, yet one that many inexperienced male tourists fall for.

At the karoke, a male tourist might be approached by a hooker. Money is given to book a room but the hooker disappears. Next, the bill comes and the tourist is charged an obscene amount! If you refuse to pay, you will simply be beaten up by the mafia there.

As shared by a reader in the comments section below, even hookers a scam in themselves – pretty girls are advertised on flyers, but when push comes to shove, they do not turn out to be as advertised.

Massage scam,as generously shared by another reader, massage places in Hanoi are a big scam. They advertise a low price for their services, but when the bill comes, you will find that you are charged for a ton of ancillary products, such as water!

Motorbike rentals can get pretty tricky in Vietnam (especially in Nha Trang and Mui Ne). There are the common scams (common as in common globally), where the owner follows you and “steal” your rented bike back and demand compensation. Another common one would be mechanical problems in the bike which the owner will demand compensation by you.

Also, there are many fake Honda motorbikes around. It would be good to know your bike or to research the specs on the web before booking.

In Vietnam, you also require a Vietnamese driving permit. If you are caught without one, the motorbike can be impounded for a month and you would have to continue paying for the bike.

Some motorbike “taxis” might approach you with an offer, which they claim is cheaper than normal taxis. Or they might say don’t worry about the fee, just go first and if you’re happy, you pay how much you want.

They might even say that there is no bus to the place that you want to go! That is pretty much BS. Some others use the “cyclos scam”, where they claim to bring you around for free but in actual fact, bring you to a secluded spot and demand huge sums of money.

Do note that these people have no training or certification. This means that not only is your wallet at risk, but your life is at risk as well.

Speaking of taxis, there are taxis with tampered meters – do watch out for that at first instead of simply relaxing in your seat. Taxi meters are based on distances, not time, so if you see one jumping wildly even when you are stationary, you know it is a scam!

There are also some who demand tips and some who claim to take shortcuts but are in fact longer routes (good to know the location). In fact, there are even fake Taxis in Vietnam!

To prevent yourself from falling prey to those, only take cabs from Mai Linh (green taxi), Vinasun (white taxi) or Taxi Group. Also, never agree to a fixed fee.

For those who arrange for taxi transport from the airports through your hotel, do be wary as well! There are operators who learn the details of these arranged pick ups and pose as the assigned driver from the hotel. They pick you up, call their accomplice and then claim that the hotel is full. They will then bring you to another hotel which they get commissions from.

The rough cost: 10,000 Dong to exit airport; 150,000 Dong to get to the main tourist area. If you realise that you are scammed, do not pay. Instead, take a photo of his ID and meter and threaten that you will report it to his taxi company.

Purchase of Train Tickets from Private Travel Agents,These touts will approach you and claim that the mode of transport you taking is delayed and offer to help you get a new ticket. They tend to buy for you a cheaper ticket than the one you requested.

As most people do not know Vietnamese, they are unlikely to spot the difference. It is also pretty much impossible to demand a refund as by the time you realise the scam, you would have been on the train already.

There are also some who might offer to carry your luggage as the distance to the platform is rather far. Just ignore.

Purchase of Train Tickets Online, Would you believe it.. There are even fake train websites in Vietnam! A good resource for train planning is Seat 61 (

If possible, only get your tickets from your hotel or reputable travel agents.

This is a very common transport option taken by backpackers wishing to travel from the North to South or vice versa. However, there are also many scams associated and it is important to only buy from reputable companies!

Besides booking a lower quality bus than you had paid for, some buses might even stop unexpectedly at night and force you to stay elsewhere. Lo and behold, there is only one hotel in the vicinity and the owner is more than ready to accept you.

Another version is that they stop at a petrol station and force you off. So coincidentally, someone at the petrol station will extort you to pay an amount to take a cab to somewhere to transfer to another bus.

Luggage Fee,sometimes, you might be asked to pay more because you have a larger or heavier bag by bus or train staff. It is pure nonsense, there is no such rule.

When any company in the travel industry becomes popular/famous in Vietnam, there will be new companies popping up with similar sounding names and many have been scammed in the process.

For instance, ODC Travel, Handspan, Kangaroo Café. The most notorious of the lot would be the dozens of Sinh Cafes around the country – the real one is now called the Sinh Tourist (!

Fake Hotel Scam,today’s online world, it is easy for unscrupulous hotels to create fake reviews. Some hotels also advertise low room fees online, but when you arrive, they will claim that the low fees were for the standard rooms which have been fully booked. To book the higher end rooms, you will have to pay a lot more.

Finally, as mentioned earlier, there are many copycats hotels which trade on popular names. Thus, to verify a hotel, check its location in addition to its name.

Hotel Fee Scam,some hotels also demand that you pay more (usually double) as the fee advertised was for one person and not for one room (usually double rooms). If your passport is held at the reception, your bargaining power is further reduced. To prevent this, always confirm your rates upon arrival.

Besides this, some hotels might advertise certain facilities online, such as a fireplace or air conditioning. However, to use them in your room, they will demand additional fees!

Pickpockets and Snatch Theft,as with places with crowds, pickpockets and snatch theft are common and one must always be alert and careful.

This is more common in Ho Chi Minh City, where the bag snatchers even have a name for themselves, which is the Saigon Cowboys. Watch out for child pickpockets as well!

Sometimes, pickpockets work with street touts. A street tout talks to and distracts you, while the pickpocket swipes your valuables. Be wary in such situations and check your bag if you feel someone brush against you.

Do note that other cities such as Hanoi and Nha Trang face situations too.

Hanoi Shoe Repair,This is a less common scam, though watch out if you are wearing worn out shoes!

For this scam, some guy approaches you out of nowhere and applies glue to your shoes. Next, he would take out a thread and tell you that your shoes are about to fall apart, which he can repair for $1.

If you didn’t realise, that glue is actually a solvent that dissolves stitches! Should you say yes, he would then proceed. However, the trouble does not end when the job is completed, as he will be demanding $10 or more!

Drugs in Hue, if you are offered drugs, do NOT take them. You will be reported to the police and the “reporters” will be rewarded for tipping the police off.

Invitation to a Card Game,this is a pretty common scam around the world, such as in Europe and have personally encountered this in Morocco.

Anyhow, the script is similar. Firstly, a friendly man approaches you, asks where you’re from and remarks that his sister/daughter will be going there either to work or study!

In this context, rapport is easily built as it feels that you have found someone close in a land of strangers. There will be also be this urge to share more about your home country, which the scammer will tap on. He will invite you over to his house where you could share helpful advice over a meal. But upon reaching the house, lo and behold, the man’s sister/daughter is not there!

Instead, you find the man’s brother/uncle who will get you to play some card game such as blackjack or Poker. You might also be taught some tricks so as to work together to cheat other visitors who will be coming soon. Regardless of the situation, you will lose. Here’s a fascinating recount of an experience with this scam.

Internet Cafes,keyboard loggers, viruses, spywares and what have you are common in Internet cafes. Do not do anything in there that can potentially expose your personal or financial data.

Paying Excessively More when Buying through Agents,as kindly shared by one of our readers, Frank, he paid 290k VND for a SIM card through an agent at the airport. It was supposed to provide 30 days unlimited 3G access, but died after 5 days. When he went down to the official store, that was when he realized that the plan he had purchased was a 90k VND plan.

Getting help, Emergency numbers:
Police: 113

Fire: 114

Ambulance: 115