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There’s much to see in the US; this is a given. But tourists will (arguably) almost always focus on what they (regularly) see in Hollywood flicks – e.g. Times Square in New York, Rockefeller Center (still in NY), those steps in Philly/Philadelphia where fictional character Rocky supposedly did his exercising, Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory (still in Los Angeles), The Strip in Las Vegas, and so on…

And though there’s this place that may already be well-documented (perhaps particularly by non-Filipinos), I’d argue that – particularly for those who aren’t exactly tourist-y – there’s this place in the US that’s worth checking out because it isn’t necessarily as well-trodden. Yes, it’s also been used for location by films like Point Break, Inception, The Usual Suspects, The Craft and The Karate Kid; but even in these films, the place wasn’t really sold as a standalone “product”. This makes this area… less “abused”, if you will.

So we head to the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

WHERE’S IT AT

PCH starts in Southern California at Interstate 5 south of San Juan Capistrano; ending at US 101 in Leggett in Mendocino County.

If coming from San Francisco and then heading to Los Angeles, the coastal drive is via Highway 1 to San Luis Obispo; and then via 101 to Los Angeles. Visitors can take the PCH/Highway 1 and go to Malibu and Santa Monica.

The coastal drive is around 500 miles. It can take 10-12 hours without stops.

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But – as it is one of the most scenic drives in the world – you may want to drive slow. And if you want to really, really enjoy the trip, spend a night or two along the way.

WHAT’S THERE

There are lots of places worth a stopover.

Muir Woods
Start at the fringe of SF, where – just beyond the city – lies a a forest almost reminiscent of the woods of Lothlórien (yes, where Galadriel resided; in The Lord of the Rings). Here, you can find Redwood trees that are over 500 years old. So – can’t afford to fly to Middle Earth (i.e. New Zealand) but keen to experience something… ethereal? This is a good place to start.

Half Moon Bay
Heading out of SF (I’s say about 30 minutes south of the city) is Half Moon Bay/Spanishtown, one of the oldest settlements in San Mateo County. If you’re fond of small town appeal, this one’s worth a visit, indeed, as the aim here is to preserve its past (beautifully), giving you that rustic sense.

Monterey
Here you can check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, or Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Big Sur
Considered a destination in itself. Big Sur is a designated American National Scenic Byway. When you see it, you’d understand why – e.g. wildlife-watching (say, whales and elephant seals), cliffside waterfall (in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park), and so on.

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To reach Big Sur, travel over the Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world. Measuring 714 feet long and 280 feet high, it is one of the most photographed bridges on the West Coast (and even the world).

Santa Barbara
If you think everything here is… just views of the coast, fear not. We have the likes of Santa Barbara, too, where visitors can shop, wine and dine, and so on. If you happen to be in town when there’s a wine fest, you’re in luck; otherwise, you need not worry, as there are a number of award-winning wineries you can check out here.

Dana Point
Considered as the “Whale Watching Capital of the West”, you’d get your chance to see the marine mammals in their natural habitat here. So even if you don’t intend to swim in Doheny State Beach, the Salt Creek Beach or Baby Beach, this is worth considering.

Venice Beach
Heading closer to LA, you’d see Venice Beach, a somewhat… quirky location if ever there is one. Start the walk there from Santa Monica Pier and then discover this… area full of, well, Bohemian people. Yes, people watching is a must here – e.g. check out the people working out in Muscle Beach, birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US, and where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to train out in the open; the skater boys; the artists selling their crafts; the abundant recreative drug users; the health buffs; the surfers braving the cold waters; and so on…

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This one’s truly a must-visit.

To fully enjoy this trip, remember that it is not a race. So… take it slow, and you’re certain to be rewarded.

WHY HEAD HERE

It is unlikely you will get lost on this trip; there are just two roads all the way down: 1 and 101.

But you may lose network signal in some areas.

But who cares, really, when you can put that gadget down and just enjoy what nature has to offer. And in the end, this is why you ought to head to these parts of the US – to see nature, experience small town living, and basically take it slow before getting swallowed again by the hustle and bustle of city living and, yes, life for that matter.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Travel

LGBTQIA travel guide in Ireland

Due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, here is a list of the best and must-see in Ireland.

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Ireland currently sits up there with the most progressive countries in the world. Having legalized gay marriages in 2015 and generally legalizing homosexuality in 1993, the country has quickly become a mecca for the LGBTQIA community.

Gay Dublin

Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community. For example, simply walking around the famous Stephen’s Green Park will lead you to Oscar Wilde who was not just one of the most famous Irishmen in history, but also an iconic playwright. His statue shows a lot about how highly Ireland regards its LGBTQIA community.

However, due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, I have taken it upon myself to list the ones I believe are the best and must-see.

  • The George Gay Club
    Your visit to the country wouldn’t be complete without a night out at this iconic gay club. The club was opened in 1985, long before homosexuality was legalized in the country. And even then, it was a safe haven for homosexuals. A place they could come to have fun while being themselves.
    In the present day, this hasn’t changed a bit as the club has retained its reputation for being a fun, loud, and raucous place for gays to have fun. You can always check out their social media pages for up to date information.
  • The Panti Bar
    If you are a fan of drag shows, then this is by no mistake the best place for you to be. Some have even proudly called it the best gay bar in Europe and they definitely have their reasons.
    Run by the Irish drag queen and icon, Panti Bliss, it has been the perfect LGBTQIA spot for more than a decade.
    Panti Bliss is well known in the Irish community because of her part in the fight for LGBTQIA equality and rights. The bar opens daily from 2pm and runs till very late.
  • The Dublin Gay Pride Parade
    The parade which was established in 1974 has since evolved from a one-day event into a full-blown 2-week annual festival that takes place in June. The festival rounds up with a huge street celebration which always proves to be massive fun for everyone.
    The party is attended by the whole city and even some Irish leaders like Leo Varadkar, have been known to attend.
No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer.

Other Highlights

Naturally, being gay doesn’t define who we are. Like everyone else, we have a liking for the finer things in life and Ireland will never be found wanting of such great attractions. Apart from the obviously gay activities, there are a lot of other fun things to do in Ireland, and some of them include:

  • Guinness Storehouse
    Located at the Saint James’s Gate Brewery in central Dublin, this exhibition space was where the renowned stout was first brewed back in 1759.
    A visit here will take you through a fun journey of how the iconic stout is created. You will even get to taste some variants. You can finish your trip here with a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor while taking in a spectacular view of the city.
  • Book of Kells/Dublin Castle
    This right here is the embodiment of Irish heritage. A visit to this monument will take you through a journey of discovering some of the most important parts of Irish history.
    It is known for its incredible artistry and its numerous secrets and mysteries which date as far back as 800AD. 
    After this, a trip to explore the Dublin Castle will be the perfect way to round up the trip.
  • Irish Food Walking Tour
    No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer. Eat and drink your way through the various restaurants and cafes, while basking in the ambiance of the Irish hidden gems.
Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community.

Traveling Tips

Deciding to visit Ireland is probably the best vacation decision that is possible to be made. However, as a visitor who is probably visiting for the first time, there are a couple of things that need to be known in order to ensure you have the best possible experience.

  • Mobile Apps
    Being a stranger in a new land, one of the best apps that you can have at your fingertip is Google Maps.
    The app offers you both an offline and online mode. This means that if you are not sure if you will have access to the internet where you are going, you can pre-download a map of the area. And if you have an internet connection, you can easily access the app for up to date information on how to get around in the area.
  • Travel Insurance
    This is not even up for debate. You should have travel insurance as it protects you against travel risks and incidences like loss or theft of valuables, cancellation cover in the event you are unable to travel because of unforeseen medical issues, and even medical expenses while traveling.  To get the best travel insurance quote from different Insurance companies you should visit AA Insurance and find more information about right type of travel cover.
    It is important to keep safe while traveling overseas by always making sure you do not go out alone or stay out late. However, in the event of an accident, your travel insurance can protect you from unexpected costs. 
  • Money
    Although a lot of the businesses accept credit cards, some of the smaller ones prefer getting paid in cash. Therefore, it will be of great advantage to you to come along with some cash to aid in your transactions.
  • Tripadvisor
    This app comes quite handy when you are looking for which hotel to stay or which restaurant to eat around.
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Switzerland votes for law against homophobia

Under the new law, publicly denigrating or discriminating against someone for being gay or inciting hatred against that person in text, speech, images or gestures would be banned. Homophobic comments made in a family setting or among friends would not be criminalized.

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Unsplash.com

Rainbow development in Switzerland, with voters strongly backing a new law against homophobia in a referendum.

Switzerland actually does not yet have laws that specifically protect LGBTQIA people from discrimination, so that the vote – according to Mathias Reynard, a politician from the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland which initiated the reform, in an interview with Swiss channel RTS 1 – is “historical”.

Over 60% voted in favor of widening existing laws against discrimination of incitement to hatred on ethnic or religious grounds to include sexual orientation. The highest approval rate was in Geneva with 76.3%; with the rural cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Schwyz and Uri voting against.

Photo by Morgan Thompson from Unsplash.com

The change was passed by the Swiss parliament in 2018 but critics obtained the 50,000 signatures necessary under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy to put the matter to a vote.

All of Switzerland’s major parties except the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the biggest political force in parliament, support the law.

Under the new law, publicly denigrating or discriminating against someone for being gay or inciting hatred against that person in text, speech, images or gestures would be banned. Homophobic comments made in a family setting or among friends would not be criminalized.

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Nepal to count LGBT population in census for first time

The Himalayan nation is about to count a third gender in its next population census, the first time that counting LGBT people will be done as a minority group that can be allocated government jobs and education.

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Photo by Sanjay Hona from Unsplash.com

Rainbow progress in Nepal.

Beyond the once-a-year now-largely-commercial Pride parade, a more lasting effort involving the LGBT community is happening in Nepal, with the Himalayan nation about to count a third gender in its next population census, the first time that counting LGBT people will be done as a minority group that can be allocated government jobs and education.

The country’s LGBT community has long demanded the census – which is taken every 10 years – to count sexual minorities. This is also largely because Nepal’s laws prescribe special quotas for minorities in workplaces, schools and colleges; as well as access to discounted healthcare. The absence of census data on LGBT people, obviously, omits them from such programs.

According to Dhundi Raj Lamichane, an official at Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the national census is planned for summer of 2021 but a trial will be done next month in selected districts.

Citizens will be able to identify themselves as male, female or other gender.

It is worth noting that the change does not actually specify SOGIESC of LGBT people, as it is specific to gender rather than any person’s sexual identity. But the move is being welcomed particularly by local activists for “increasing the visibility of the LGBT community.”

It is estimated that about 900,000 of Nepal’s 29 million people are LGBT.

This isn’t the only pro-LGBT move occurring in Nepal. In 2015, the constitution that was adopted forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, reaffirming a 2008 Supreme Court ruling. Also, citizenship certificates and passports now offer a “non-male, non-female” option in the gender category.

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Five of the safest places to visit in Asia

To give you a sense of what the safest places in Asia are for travellers, let’s take a look at the top five.

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The unknown is always a bit scary and travel involves a confrontation with the unknown on a regular basis. If you are a travel newbie, then Asia can seem a bit intimidating. You may be wary of travelling to its many diverse and wonderful countries for reasons of personal safety, for example. 

However, the continent is actually home to some of the safest countries and cities on the planet. It would be a shame to avoid seeing their natural and cultural beauty simply because you were misinformed. Travel safety involves taking the time to get travel insurance quotes that are competitive, preparing yourself before you get going and seeking out good information about your destination so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

To give you a sense of what the safest places in Asia are for travellers, let’s take a look at the top five.

Japan

Japanese culture is known for being extremely polite, especially to foreigners. This is just one of the factors that make Japan one of the safest countries to visit in Asia. Japan is a highly developed nation and, though it maintains its unique cultural identity, is highly welcoming to internationals. Many people will be happy to speak English with you and will help you to find your way. You can also be confident that you will not encounter petty crime such as pickpocketing, as this is quite rare. 

South Korea

South Korea is another one of the safest countries to visit in the vastness of Asia, just be sure that your plane ticket reads South Korea! Its rapid industrialisation in the second half of the last century has led to the creation of a highly modern country that has much to offer for tourists. It is so safe that it was even the host to the Winter Olympics in 2018. In fact, the country is also filled with many ex-pats from English-speaking countries around the world, as it is a popular TESL destination. You may love the place so much that you will want to stay for yourself.

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Taiwan

Although the country’s very existence is upset to the mainland Chinese government, you will find that Taiwan is actually very safe once you arrive. The country has a very low crime rate and offers many amenities to make your stay comfortable. Locals are helpful when it comes to interactions with tourists. You can make things even easier on yourself by learning a bit of the language.

Cambodia

Do not let the horrific history of this country steer you away. Modern Cambodia is now one of the safest places to be in Asia. The low crime rate and friendly locals make it a great stop on your backpacking itinerary. While you may think that a country with killing fields is not a place that screams “safety,” you are sure to find serenity while exploring its rich cultural life and ancient religious sites.

Singapore

Singapore is routinely cited as one of the safest cities on the planet. The country is notoriously harsh when it comes to law and order, and even offences such as spitting out gum can carry hefty penalties. While this may seem extreme, this makes the city immensely safe for tourists and visitors. Even during the night, you can stroll through the city streets without feeling uncomfortable. Not only that, but the city is very welcoming to international visitors. There are many things to do throughout the area and even the airport is known for being one of the world’s best.

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Practice Safe Travel Habits

While some places rank higher than others when it comes to safety statistics, the best way to stay safe while travelling is to practice good habits. Be sure to exercise caution regardless of the destination that you choose. Try to avoid trouble and purchase adequate travel insurance coverage before you leave. This will protect you from most contingencies and allow you to have a safe and enjoyable Asian adventure.

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Why a used car could be perfect for a backpacker in Australia

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

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While backpacking around Australia is one of the best ways to see the country, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to sort out transportation. Ridesharing is an option, but it is not always feasible. When you are roughing it and living out of your backpack, you may also not always have the budget for plane flights and more luxurious travel options. 

For these reasons, investing in a used car can make a lot of sense for a backpacker in Australia. If you are a little light on funds, or if you want to use your savings for other purposes during your travels, you can easily find low rates when it comes to financing a used car loan

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

Freedom Of Movement

One of the biggest advantages of having access to a used car as a backpacker in search of adventure is the ability to move freely at your own pace. Used cars will allow you to move around the country where you want and when you want. This makes it ideal for spending more time seeing the things that intrigue you the most and to bypass the areas that are less interesting to you.

Conversely, relying on public transportation or even plane flights places you at the mercy of the schedules set by the companies involved. You are also likely to be more confined to larger urban centres where this type of infrastructure exists. Used cars, on the other hand, will provide you with the ability to venture into areas that are less commonly explored in the country.

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Fits With A Backpacking Budget

The great reason why buying a used car is good for a backpacker is that the price is usually just right for such a travel budget. While a new model may be out of reach for a traveller with a shoestring budget, a used car can be a prudent investment. After ensuring that the used car you are thinking of buying is in good working order and not in need of major repairs, you can be confident that the investment will provide you with affordable transportation for at least the duration of your trip.

Store Your Belongings

While a car is not always the safest place to store valuable possessions, it does represent a reasonable option for keeping your things secure. It can get tiring to constantly have to watch your backpack. Lockers are usually available at hostels and major transportation hubs, but these places are a hassle to travel back and forth to constantly.

When you have a used car at your disposal, you will be able to keep your belongings locked in the vehicle or even hidden from view in the trunk. This provides you with a more flexible means of keeping your possessions close by but does not require you to continually check in on them.

Split The Cost

Travelling with a used car also allows you to fill up the remaining spaces with fellow travellers. Beyond the benefits of meeting new people and making friends along the way, this will also allow you to cut down on the cost of fuel for your trip. By ridesharing with friends or even with trustworthy strangers, your travel budget will be able to take you further down the road.

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Used Car, New Adventures

For the reasons outlined here, consider making the investment in a used car as a backpacker. While it might seem like a bit of an investment, you will be pleasantly surprised at the many benefits that it can bring to your travel experience.

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4 Ways to get around while vacationing in Washington D.C.

Getting around the city is made easy with an abundance of different options available from public transport to bus tours.

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Washington D.C. is the capital of the U.S and a truly amazing place to visit. With its wealth of museums, exhibits, and history, it is a vacation spot that should not be missed. Getting around the city is made easy with an abundance of different options available from public transport to bus tours.

Here are four ways to get around while visiting this beautiful city. 

Car service

Booking a chauffeured car service is a great alternative to hiring a car. Whether it’s a Dulles car service straight from the airport to your accommodation or a trip from your hotel for a night at the theatre, it is an extremely comfortable and luxurious way to get there.

Metrorail

With 91 stations dotted around the city, the Metrorail is D.C.’s underground service. It is open from 5 am and closes at midnight every weekday making it a great way to travel. Although you can buy individual tickets, purchasing a SmarTrip card is a good idea. It’s a travel money card that credit can be added to at any time. It can also be used on the Metrobus, another means of public transport in D.C. Underground maps are available online and at each station. They are easy to follow so you won’t have any trouble finding your way around.

Metrobus

The Metrobus is Washington’s public bus service. There are around 11,500 bus stops within the districts of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Metrobus carries out around 400,000 trips every day making it extremely easy to get from A to B. Boarding with bicycles is permitted and each bus has wheelchair access. As previously mentioned, you can use your SmarTrip card on this service too. You can also use the card to pay for the parking of cars or bikes. Washington has a fabulous public transport system. Using it could save you time as well as money.

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Bicycle hire

If you enjoy cycling, hiring a bike is a great way to get around the city. Whether it be for a whole day or just a few hours, several companies offer this service. Rates can vary, so make some inquiries when you get there and shop around if needs be. Traditional or electric bikes can be rented and if you have young children trailers are also available. This will allow you to easily get around without little feet becoming tired.  Many companies do bike tours which is a brilliant way to explore and find out a bit more from those in the know. Whilst the city hosts many bus tours which is also a great way to see the sights, a bike tour can allow you to get closer to each attraction. If you prefer the idea of a Segway tour then many companies can arrange those too.

Washington D.C. is an amazing city with a host of different attractions for all ages and interests so, regardless of how you choose to get around, you will not be disappointed. 

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