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ATW

This tag is associated with 15 posts

Mad, Mad Marrakech #RTW

A man sells spices in the medina of Marrakech, Morocco

A man sells spices in the medina of Marrakech. Instagram photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, writes in from Morocco, the final stop in the Around the World by Private Jet trip from National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

It takes nearly six hours to fly across the Sahara Desert —

—about the same distance it takes to fly across the United States.

Indeed, the biggest desert in the world is as wide as the continental U.S., and from high up in the sky, I was able to take in the sea of sand from one end to the other. Hour after hour, I watched the tan sea of sand below us, interrupted only by the rippled dunes left by long tracks of hot wind. We left Egypt behind us and then passed Libya, then Tunisia and Algeria, landing after dark in the great and ancient city of Marrakech.

Upon arrival, I found Morocco’s most-visited city surprisingly dark and devoid of streetlights. I have been here before, stayed in a tumbledown room in the medina (old city) and wandered the labyrinthine stone streets as if lost in the most frenetic dreamland.

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Thoughts on Thebes #RTW

An ancient Egyptian figure

Surrounded by hieroglyphics, an ancient Egyptian figure decorates the tomb of Ramses VI. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, visits the sights of Luxor, Egypt and compares them to his home of Washington, D.C. Andrew is traveling Around the World by Private Jet with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

I am relieved to discover that King Tut’s tomb is smaller than my apartment back home.

Now, when I return from this transcendent circumnavigation, I am less likely to suffer from any serious bouts of post-travel claustrophobia. After freely roaming around the gargantuan sphere of Earth, I expect my home in the city will seem small, but not as small and confining as the eternal home of poor undignified King Tut, laid to rest in a windowless underground studio apartment with the unromantic address KV62, dishonored daily by the noisy parade of uninvited sunburned guests.

As mummified humans go, King Tutenkhamen is quite small. Archeologists estimate that in life, Tut was 5’11” and standing next to him, my ballpark guess is that over the millennia, he’s shrunken at least a foot. I stare at his black raisin of a body, shriveled up and cloaked in a shroud, as if lying on a table, waiting for a massage.

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Serengeti Safari #RTW

Lion, Serengeti, Tanzania

A young male lion moves stealthily through the yellow grass of the Serengeti. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, goes on safari in the Serengeti in Tanzania while traveling Around the World by Private Jet with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

We speak of the blue planet, and praise the beauty of our living green Earth, but I am swiftly discovering that much of our world is simply brown.

This is not a bad thing.

Brown can be beautiful when it goes on forever, as it does on the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania. The dry brown land is an endless ocean here, a rippled landscape that disappears into the single blue horizon in every direction.

Hippopotamus

A hippopotamus hovers in the muddy pools of Serengeti National Park. Photo by Andrew Evans.

This sea of dirt is brown, the dying grass is brown, the dead trees are brown, as are the ominous vultures that roost in the branches. Brown is the color of elephant dung; the color of my khaki clothes and the color of so many different antelope that pop up from the grass—the gazelle, impala, topi, dik-dik, waterbucks and wildebeests. I watch the smaller antelopes as they twitch about in the knee-high grass like self-conscious teenagers, always unsure, never relaxing, ready to spring away if needed.

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The Clouds of Kilimanjaro #RTW

Flying over the crater and peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft; 5,895 m), Africa's tallest mountain. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, describes the experience of “exploring the world” by private jet with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

This voyage feels like I’m flying through the pages of the National Geographic Atlas. I love it.

Every other day we move many inches across the map, jetting away from one intricate landscape of the Earth, soaring high overhead, taking in the scenes of mountains and rivers and sea below and then coming back down to another page of planet Earth.

I realize that we are not simply traveling around the world by private jet—we are exploring the world from the air. Every amazing stop along the way may be highlights of this expedition, but it’s the way we connect the dots that contributes to the stupendous travel experience that this is.

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Honk If You Love India #RTW

A woman smiling in a village outside Agra, India

A welcome smile in a village outside Agra, India. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, takes in the sights, sounds, and smells while visiting the India as part of the Around the World by Private Jet trip with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

From the air, India is an immense puzzle—

–a hazy puzzle of dusted field and clustered village, with broken beige roads like sun-bleached branches on a dead tree.

Down below, pixelated city blocks resemble the square doodles I draw and fill in mindlessly when I am back at home, sitting on hold and waiting for some customer service agent, the anonymous accented telephone voice who is likely speaking to me from one of these same concrete blocks—here, in India.

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Panda Love #RTW

Kissing a baby panda

Kissing baby panda Shuang Xing at the Chengdu Panda Base. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, recounts the extraordinary experience of cuddling and kissing a baby panda while visiting the Chengdu Panda Base as part of the Around the World by Private Jet trip with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

How do you get a panda to sit still?

With lots of honey. This is what I learned while visiting the Chengdu Panda Base during a morning layover on this, my extraordinary expedition around-the-world by private jet.

That’s right. I got to cuddle a baby panda on my private-jet layover in southern China. Let me tell you, that sure beats gnawing a pretzel dog at JFK. In fact, after this, I’m not sure I’ll ever be content with any other kind of travel than an all-first-class private jet around the world that stops for pandas. The freedom to jump from one stupendous destination to another is extraordinary, especially when it allows you direct access to one of the most important conservation stories in the world.

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Real Chinese Food #RTW

A chef makes noodles in Xi'an, China

In Xi'an, a Chinese chef whips a length of dough into shape before pulling it into long noodles. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, reports on “real Chinese food” while in Xi’an, China on National Geographic ExpeditionsAround the World by Private Jet trip.

By Andrew Evans

Not once while I was in China did I eat rice.

Perhaps I was ordering wrong but I also don’t remember seeing it on any menus. Instead, I was fed a steady diet of delicate dumplings and noodles so long it took me ten seconds to slurp a single spoonful.

Chinese food may have already conquered the world, but in China (particularly this part of China), the real spectrum of cuisine includes a much wider and colorful palate of flavors. There is no General Tso’s doughnut-fried chicken around here, but barbecued squid on a stick? Why, yes.

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Two Tombs #RTW

Terra Cotta Warriors

Morning light casts a shaft of sun upon life-size terra cotta warriors. Photo by Andrew Evans.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, Andrew Evans, remarks on his stop at Xi’an, China to visit the famous 7,000-strong army of life-size terra-cotta warriors. Andrew is traveling Around the World by Private Jet with National Geographic Expeditions.

 

By Andrew Evans

In China, it’s all about the gift shop.

Since arriving in the Middle Kingdom, nearly every destination we visit comes equipped with a well-stocked gift shop manned by an English-speaking staff all ready to grant us, their new friends, at least a twenty percent discount.

Even a callused traveler as myself is susceptible to the material charms of jade, silk scarves, smiling panda teacups, silver-tipped chopsticks and semi-precious to less-than-precious Buddha statues. Although I arrived in China on a private jet from Cambodia, I have discovered a new solidarity with Marco Polo, who marched some 15,000 miles overland to and from Beijing, returning home with the most remarkable Chinese souvenirs.

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A Day in Cambodia #RTW

Receiving a blessing from a Buddhist monk in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Receiving a blessing from a Buddhist monk in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Photo by Andrew Lorence.

National Geographic Traveler’s Digital Nomad, makes the most of one day in Cambodia while traveling Around the World by Private Jet with National Geographic Expeditions.

By Andrew Evans

I enjoy being a tourist.

Too often, the word tourist becomes an unfavorable accusation—perhaps understandably but not always fairly. Frankly, I find the whole tourist/traveler debate to be tiresome, and I am the first to admit that in most cases, I am nothing more than a tourist.

Tourism demands different priorities than mere traveling. Instead of searching for the closest Laundromat, Wi-Fi hotspot or gas station, true tourists want to be enriched—they seek meaningful contact with whatever defines a place as unique and separate from the home they know.

In Cambodia, I was definitely and wholeheartedly a tourist. When you just have a single day in a country, there is really no other option than to pull on your tourist cap and embrace every opportunity that presents itself. Maximizing experience in minimal time is a classic tourist trait for which I plead guilty.

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How to Shoot the Milky Way…On Easter Island

Moai at Easter Island

Massimo Bassano's masterful time lapse shot of the moai at Ahu Tongariki. Photo by Massimo Bassano.

A little over a week ago, I left National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. on the Society’s Around the World by Private Jet expedition. Before I took off, my good friends at Intelligent Travel asked a favor: As an amateur photographer (at best), would I test Nat Geo photographer Jim Richardson’s purportedly can’t-miss formula for shooting the Milky Way?

After all, I would be visiting the world’s most remote inhabited island — Rapa Nui, a.k.a. Easter Island – so light pollution wouldn’t be an issue. Plus, it seemed like a fitting tribute to the Polynesian wayfarers who used the stars to get there in the first place.

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