When I started to think about writing this book it felt a bit overwhelming. I run a travel media business at www.Travalliance.com, and as you can see from the book, I travel quite a bit as well:-)
All it took was a bit of reminiscing about the many quirky things that happened to get my off my #ss and start typiing...and one timely trip.
That trip was to meet with Butch Stewart, the owner of Sandals & Beaches Resorts. That trip resulted in the chapter "First Class Germs".
I love telling the story of the guy in the seat next to me and the medical emergency he nearly created...I actually laugh out loud whenever I think of the number of bathroom trips I took that flight and whether the flight attendant thought I might have a prostrate problem! LMAO. That, coupled with the contortionist display at the end of the flight can't seem to leave my mind!
Even after writing a book about my travels, and putting most of it out there, I never seem to run out of new material. Here's the latest from a May 24th flight on Delta Airlines from Minneapolis to Philadelphia.
After almost 12 straight days of travel that included four flights and 16 hours on the previous day, I jumped aboard my Delta flight to head home for a much needed three-day weekend. We had already been delayed by ninety minutes and had suffered through the constant "updates" that were provided by Delta...this amounted to changing the scheduled departure time every 20 minutes as you gained hope that the last posting would become the actual time...NOT.
I was seated in 4A and had dropped $1,100 on a one way ticket home. It was first class, but even coach was $900. The lack of service on this route meant skyway robbery for people like me. As I settled into my seat and said hello to the guy in the aisle seat next to me I noticed a mother and her young diaper clad son ease into seat 3A directly in front of me. Ugh, I thouht. Are you kidding me?
The kid was bouncing around like a Mexican jumping bean and making a ton of noise as we pushed back from the gate and ultimately made it into the air. At 10,000 feet I threw on my Bose headsets, tilted my head back, and closed my eyes. Finally, I was on the verge of a bit of rest.
That ended quickly as a series of events impacted my peaceful sleep. While the crew was serving a meal, the jumping seemed to get the best of the kid and he reacted by hurling whatever one year old babies eat all over the seat in front of him, as well as his own mother and her seat. I didn’t hear or notice anything until the guy next to me recoiled back on his seat and said “Oh, Jesus, what the hell!” As I turned my head in his direction I noticed a look of absolute disgust on his face. With a direct view of the scene, he scrunched up his nose and asked “can you smell that?”.
It took me a second to understand what was going on. Maybe the airline crew responding as if there was some kind of toxic spill gave me the first real clue, but something indeed was awry. A flurry of activity between the galley and the location of the “spill” took place over the next few minutes as air fresheners were sprayed, wipes were deployed and battle hardened flight attendants took it in stride.
My seatmate never seemed to take it in stride and spoke openly, and loudly, about how disgusting the whole scene was. Chalk it up to exhaustion, but I could only think, “two more hours and I’ll be home…” The smell of vomit dissipated, and I was able to get back to my reading. It didn’t take long before I found myself recoiling in utter disgust as well.
My legs were stretched out in front of me and under the seat, revealing my bare skin. I suddenly jumped as I felt a liquid hit my bare ankle and run towards my shoe. In one action I dropped my shoe and lifted my leg into the air. WTF is that, I thought. Something had dripped from between the backrest and the bottom cushion of the seat in front of me to land squarely on my ankle. My sudden movement had my seatmate on high alert as he looked at me to see what brought about the sudden twitch.
“Dude, something just leaked all over my ankle”, I told him. “Disgusting!” he exclaimed as he yelled for a flight attendant to “bring a hot towel, NOW!”
I quickly applied the towel to my exposed leg and removed the offending liquid. I whisked the inside of my shoe in case any had made its way there.
A long and tiring trip that covered Las Vegas, Philadelphia, the Bahamas and now Minneapolis was about to be over…and not a minute too soon.
To read some in depth adventures of my travels, and what can go wrong along the way, read my book Travel Unscripted…and especially the chapter “First Class Germs”. You’ll get a behind the scenes look into what happens when we go waaaay off script.
I'm constantly asked what my favorite place to travel to is. The answer for the past couple of years has consistently been Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia.
The reason for that answer, in the case of Vietnam, is the combination of a yet to be commercialized experience and the warmth of the people. Oh, yeah, and that crazy night I wrote about on my first ever night in Saigon! Take beautiful women, flowing drinks and the deep bass of a rocking club...and you get an interesting experience, to say the least.
The experience began in Taipei as we awaited our connecting flight. As I Skyped my family from the business class lounge, a beautiful woman entered the club. Heads turned and eyes followed as she grabbed the attention of virtually everyone there, including me.
Later, as I went to board my flight I saw her sitting next to my camera man, Nick. I walked right up, asked her if she was stalking us, and the trip changed forever.
Vietnam Unscripted, and my love affair with the destination, was about to begin.
The day started out quite nicely at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, with room service delivering my breakfast at exactly 6:10am, as requested. The waiter poured my French pressed coffee into my cup and I caught up on the morning news via CNN.
Alert from my coffee and with a full belly I finalized my packing, grabbed a taxi and headed to the airport for my long day ahead. Indeed, my day will ultimately end twenty eight hours later, if all runs smoothly, I’ll walk through my front door to two sleepy Labradors that I haven’t seen in almost two weeks.
The Singapore airport is less than twenty minutes by taxi so before I knew it I was at the curb and grabbing one of those luggage carts for my bags. In the five seconds it took to pull the cart free and turn back to the taxi it happened; the car was gone. I mean it was literally one hundred yards away and getting further away by the seconds.
A full on panic set in as I thought, “are you f#@king kidding me? NO WAY this is happening right now.” Well, indeed it was happening much to my chagrin. Shouting was useless so I turned and ran up to the nearest counter inside. The British Airways agent pointed me towards the Information Desk in the center and I was off to the races.
I breathlessly explained, in rapid fire English, what happened. The representative understood the general idea and snapped into action when I handed her the receipt. Luckily, the receipt includes the drivers taxi number and the name fo the company he drives for. After the longest ten minutes of my life she made contact and told me the drive was on his way back.
It turns out that Mr. Chan, the driver, is a bit like the absent-minded professor. He has been known to drive off to places unknown in the past, but seemingly comes to his senses and ultimately returns. Lucky for me that the time lapse was limited to a total of thirty minutes and my return to the States wasn’t sidetracked hunting down my bags.
I’m not sure what the mandatory retirement age for taxi drivers are in Singapore, but Mr. Chan should think about taking up golf. First, he only has to take care of his own bag. Second, if the bag is attached to his cart he probably won’t risk losing it. That will save others and me the potential of a heart attack on their next visit to Singapore and beyond.
If you’re thinking about reading my book Travel Unscripted…thanks! But first things first…understand that my book is not a travel guide. It’s not about where to go and what to do in the traditional sense of travel books. Indeed, it has almost nothing to do with where to go or what to do at all.
The book is a look “behind the scenes” at places my crew and I have traveled to over the past several years. We travel the world and shoot video without a script. Most of the time it’s pretty straightforward, but many times things go awry. That’s where most of the material comes from.
There’s nothing better than arriving in a foreign land, connecting with some locals, and experiencing it all first hand. Most importantly, seeing the desitnation through their eyes and what they do in their daily lives. It can lead to some funny or downright embarrassing moments. The stories revolve around me, my crew and the many different people and cultures we come across.
If you want to sit back, have a laugh, and even cringe a bit…then maybe Travel Unscripted is for you.
Although I can’t sing, I was really feeling it earlier this month. I was in Hong Kong and hanging out with some locals who I had met at a wedding in Mexico a year and a half earlier. We had initially met and partied at a great property, Barcelo Palace, in Los Cabos, Mexico.
When in Mexico at an all inclusive resort you can certainly over imbibe. Since we were celebrating the wedding of Nick (my producer and a guy prominently featured in my book, Travel Unscripted) and his wife Michelle we were even more revved up than usual….and the drinks flowed.
It was a great time and I was able to enjoy developing some new friendships with friends of the family who came from all over the world, including Hong Kong, to celebrate. There was no singing at this affair, but at one point I found myself with a microphone in my hand. I became emotional as I spoke to the small group and described how I felt about Nick and Michelle. I guess you could say I got pretty choked up.
Fast-forward to this July and you could say I got choked off during my visit to Hong Kong. I met up with two familiar faces from the wedding and one new one, grabbed a couple of cocktails, and ultimately found myself in a private karaoke room at a place where you will only find locals. The song choices were consistently Chinese ballads that lamented the loss of love, putting me completely out of my element. I had no idea what words were being sung, but I could understand the meaning in the melody and the mood of those around me.
I decided something needed to change and offered to mix it up by offering to sing one of the limited English songs on the menu; Billy Idol’s White Wedding. As the whiskey flowed the music revved up and I started to belt out the tune. It didn’t take long for those around me in the small room to glance between me singing and the words on the screen.
Suddenly, one of the girls said “What is this?” I replied during a gap in the lyrics “it’s Billy Idol!”. She responded, “Who is Billy Idol?” A few seconds later she followed up with “White Wedding? What the heck is that about?”
In an almost slow motion move her eyes shifted between me and the console, or what is basically the command center that controlled everything music in our room, and then it happened. Her hand extended, the music stopped, and we were back to the sad Chinese ballads. My friends in Hong Kong had enough and effectively ended my very brief karaoke career.
As the music stopped momentarily there was a brief awkward silence as I looked around and shrugged sheepishly. The microphone made it to another reveler who immediately began singing the next song up. I was effectively removed from the singing lineup and decided my talents were best served in helping the rest of my new friends make a dent in the open bottles of whiskey that littered the table.
Am I willing to sing again? You bet. Will they let me? I’ll let you know in September when I make it back to Hong Kong!
Earlier this week I went on Chicago’s hot morning show, Windy City Live (http://windycitylive.com/index ) , sharing some ideas on local gems that viewers could easily experience. What was different about this show is the live audience. My typical interview is in a studio setting with camera operators, sound technicians, producers and the host(s). It’s certainly electrifying in it’s own right, as you’re on live TV, but is very different than appearing in front of a group of people.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about Windy City Live was the added dimension of a live audience of 70 people whooping it up and enjoying the show. The audience created an added element of energy that guests and hosts can feed off of, leading to even better interactions, at least in my case. It was just plain fun.
The audience was mostly women, and mostly Chicagoans, and they made me feel welcome and at home. For indeed, Chicago is my birthplace! As part of my appearance on the show each of the audience members received a copy of my book to take home with them.
It's always interesting to get a completely different opinion from the exact same situation. How can one person see it one way while another sees it completely differently? It comes down to individual perceptions and history, in my opinion.
Take my guide in Moscow, a woman who was on her third career since she retired from her original career. Good for her, I guess, but not so good for those of us who have to sit down and listen to the merits of socialism. Was she old? Damn right, she was old. Is poking fun at her age, her cigarette habit and her quirks evil or not right? Not in my world. In other words, get over it.
In our politically correct world I do the opposite. Why? Because I laugh at the absurdity of a situation that I'm propelled into. Case in point: the woman from Moscow lecturing me about American diet habits, that include hamburgers and soda, when she's pulling on her 75th cigarette of the day!
"It's going to kill you," she states, just as she inhales...
...and that's just one small example. I see and write about situations just like this elderly woman in Moscow. If that offends you, steer clear of Travel Unscripted.
Beyond the book, I travel quite often for work and for pleasure. Here I'll share the experiences I have while on the road - consider it an extended version of Travel Unscripted. A lot of it you will nBeyond the book, I travel quite often for work and for pleasure. Here I'll share the experiences I have while on the road - consider it an extended version of Travel Unscripted. A lot of it you will not want to miss...and some of it will simply be my musings and thoughts on the places I've been or where I might be heading next....more