From A to B Safely: A Transportation Travel Blog

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The Other Side of the Fence

10 05 2011
A hundred years ago, Beijing was a divided city -- the urban area and the royal enclave, called the Forbidden City. Today, Beijing remains divided, although the division is more discreet and porous: the financially successful and the vulnerable; those shopping in expensive stores and those shopping in markets; those leaping forward and those falling behind. It is telling that the city’s prominent landmark is the Great Wall: you are on one side or the other.

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The Omani Drive

07 20 2011
Muscat is capitol in character and in function. From the old fort ruins to the Arabic, white buildings to the warm hospitality in ample display, there is no mistaking your location for anywhere else. As Oman's capital city, Muscat has a distinct Middle East feel and reverence for regional history permeating the charming city.

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Let's Make a Deal

06 10 2011
I never bribed anyone. I once considered it in order to enter a country without the proper paperwork, but the bored border guard let me pass unquestioned. I suspect if someone hinted for a bride, I would not know what they were suggesting. So it is probably for the best that, when police stopped Adam, me and some friends as we drove through Delhi late at night, I was not the one to handle negotiations.

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The Universal Language

05 10 2011
Adam and I have traveled to many interesting, exotic locales in the past few months, each with own unique sound. In Sri Lanka, the tolls of the Buddhist temple bells fill the air on a regular basis, while in Ethiopia, ululations from the radio meld with the donkey and goat brays. In Kenya, the occasional muezzin’s call mixes with the yells of the taxi and bus drivers. But one sound is universal, heard and understood everywhere: the honking of the car horn.

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Auto-rickshaws: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em

04 01 2011
Despite its great diversity, certain images dominate the national face of India: in food it is curry, within religion it is Hinduism, and for clothes it is the sari for women, the kurta pajama for men. In transportation, the predominant Indian image is that of the 3-wheeler or auto-rickshaw. The auto-rickshaw is not unique to India, or even Asia. But they are the most common form of public transit in urban areas (3). You can take a plane, or train, or bus, but a rickshaw is usually needed to begin or end the trip, to travel from the station to the hotel.

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India: from Amritsar to Zirakpur

02 24 2011
Two features distinguish Indian geography: 1. It is a very large country, seventh in the world in terms of square miles; and 2. its most interesting locales are spread out across the country. Like socialites at a charity ball, the tourist meccas keep their distance from each other while airing new attractions and competing fiercely for foreign attention and dollars.

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About the Authors

Bobby Gondola
Debra Bokur

Globe Tripper
At Grand Central Station when she was 9 years old, Debra Bokur decided that a different train from the one her parents were boarding looked as though it might be going someplace more interesting, so she took that one instead. She still loves trains, and has since traveled the world as an award-winning journalist, magazine editor and filmmaker. A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Debra contributes regularly to Global Traveler Magazine, and serves as the magazine website’s daily feature writer.

Debra is a contributing author to Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry (The Bench Press, 2001). She holds degrees in both Theater and English Literature, and has been the poetry editor of the nationally acclaimed literary journal Many Mountains Moving since 2002. She has also been the travel editor at national publications including Healing Lifestyles & Spas Magazine, American Cowboy Magazine, and Fit Yoga Magazine, and has been a frequent guest on Wine Country Network’s national radio program discussing the topic of international travel.

Debra once lived a double life training horses professionally in the disciplines of dressage and three-day eventing while serving as an editor and writer at several equestrian-themed publications. Her current favorite places to wander are Iceland, Switzerland, the U.K., Israel and Italy. In her new blog, Globe Tripper, Debra will bring us along on her adventures.

Bobby Gondola
Bobby Gondola

World Wanderings
Bobby Gondola serves as Director of Operations & Development at Year Up, a nationally recognized workforce development and higher education program for urban young adults. He leads both the internal operations and external relations. Previously, he was Director of External Relations at Opus 118 Harlem School of Music in New York City, the Harlem-based violin program made famous by Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart. He also worked as a community development consultant in the townships of Cape Town, South Africa.  

Bobby earned a B.A. in painting and politics from Salve Regina University and studied abroad in Rome, Italy. He also holds an M.P.P. in Political Advocacy and Leadership from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Public Service Fellow. Bobby lives in Providence, Rhode Island and serves on theWaterFire Providence Board, College Leadership Rhode Island Program Committee, and the Providence Public School Board. He has traveled to all continents, except Antarctica and Australia, which he’ll get to. Eventually.

Aaron Shapiro
Aaron Shapiro

My Driver Project
Aaron Shapiro is a 2011 alumnus of University of Maryland, College Park, where he received a B.S. in Global Health and completed a minor in International Development and Conflict Management. After graduating, he joined the Global Health Corps as a program manager for Gardens for Health International in Kigali, Rwanda. Aaron has interned for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Food Security, the Social Justice Coalition in Cape Town, South Africa, and volunteered at St. Lucia Hospice and Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania. Aaron has also traveled in Congo, Burundi, Uganda, and Zambia. He is currently working in Washington, D.C. and applying to medical school.

Photo of Natalia Jaffee
Natalia Jaffee

Traffic Lights are Optional in Hanoi
Natalia Jaffee is a 10th grade student at the United Nations International School of Hanoi. She grew up in Potomac, MD and attended Cold Spring Elementary School and Cabin John Middle School. While visiting Maryland in the summer of 2011, she interned at ASIRT and published a personal account of the road situations in Vietnam. Natalia enjoys traveling and has traveled throughout East Asia. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing soccer, cooking, and reading.

Photo of Laura Blanar
Laura Blanar

From A to B Safely: A Transportation Travel Blog
Laura Blanar traveled through Asia, Africa and Oceania with her husband, Adam, for 14 months. Prior to her travels, she worked at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as a research scientist, and in injury and violence at PAHO/WHO as a contractor. Laura holds a Masters of Health Science from the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, with a specialization in health systems, and also obtained the B.A. in public health from the Johns Hopkins University. She has been published in several professional journals relating to injury and public health. In September 2011, Laura entered a PhD program at the University of Washington in public health, with a focus on injury. When not traveling, Laura enjoys running, wood carving and reading non-fiction and mystery books.