Darren Merchant


Darren Merchant


Former TravelPod Member: oddfellow

Joined: February 3rd, 2009
From: Bridgend, Wales lives in Cairns,Australia
Hobbies: Food, other cultures
Languages: English
Profession: Maker of things

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku September 7th 2017

There is a certain loss of privacy around performing your daily ablutions when you travel. Not only are you away from your own home and facilities you are also in much closer proximity to others, some of whom you may not even know. These are unavoidable tasks and we make allowances for those that we share our space with in normal daily life, we put up with the sounds and smells that go along with that person, and even if we dont find that easy at least we feel we can make comment on them and ask that something be done about the impact that they are having on others. When you travel this all goes out the window, you hear people you dont know or cant see make noises, you encounter smells that leave you ... read more

Europe » Portugal October 30th 2013

Geo: 38.7072, -9.13552... read more

Europe » Spain October 20th 2013

Geo: 40.4167, -3.70327... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona October 13th 2013

Geo: 41.3879, 2.16992... read more

Asia » China » Shanxi » Pingyao April 19th 2013

Geo: 37.21, 112.17I knew that this trip to China would be an interesting one. After all they have a culture that has developed independent of the west and can be easily traced back over 5000 years. So I expected to come across a few things that could never be imagined. Take the language for instance, I speak no Mandarin and most Chinese speak no English, there are 1.35 billion people here it was inevitable that some one was going to attempt to talk to us or we to them. I expected it to be incredibly difficult, we bought our picture book (that was given to us by a Korean man Mr Wo while we were in India) that allows us to have basic conversations or ask questions when words fail you.We have hardly needed to use ... read more
View from my hotel Riverview ;)
National Memorial Chorten

Asia » China » Beijing April 17th 2013

Geo: 39.9165, 116.391I woke up this morning not to the sound of birds singing or the beams of sunlight through the window but to a haze of greyness and the smell of exhaust fumes in the air. Beijing is choking itself. Not like Micheal Hutchins did in the pursuit of pleasure but more like a junky who is in denial about the effect their behaviour has on themselves and other people. Its filthy outside. You cant see more than a 1 KM from the window of our room which is on the 5th floor and higher than nearly all the buildings around it. Its like thick fog but with a real heaviness about it. It burns the back of your throat when you breath. The smell sticks to your clothing and it gives your snot a ... read more

Asia » China » Shaanxi April 14th 2013

Geo: 34.27, 108.9I don't think you have truly experienced a country until you have undertaken a few long distance train trips when traveling in it. I wrote about this while travelling in India and while nothing I have experienced since then comes close to the horror that is Indian train travel the Chinese have put their own unique spin on the encounter. In China there are about 7 classes of train. There is the D,Z,G & C class trains which are super express the C , D &G class trains fly along at a staggering 380 km/h, these are highly modern comfortable trains that move between major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai in a mere 4 hours. The Z class trains are express but run at a dawdle of around 250km \h. The T and ... read more

Asia » China » Henan » Kaifeng April 12th 2013

Geo: 34.8533, 114.353... read more

Asia » China » Shanghai April 9th 2013

Geo: 31.23, 121.47When I visit another country what sticks out is how familiar some things can be. I'm not sure if this is because we are all human and we all have the same basic needs or that a common thread runs through all of us or maybe its because in today's world another culture is just a click away, you can get an insight into another countries psyche via the vast array of information available to us. There is also the viewpoint that I come from a country of immigrants and because of that have been exposed to many cultures and customs that would have eluded folks who live in a predominantly monoculture society. So there is an element of familiarity and acceptance when it comes to other cultures and beliefs. Putting that aside though ... read more

Asia » China » Shanghai April 4th 2013

Geo: 31.23, 121.47Things rarely go to plan and as if to reinforce this adage our plans on getting to Shanghai were nothing like the reality. We got to the airport on time, booked ourselves in and that was when our months of planning running parallel to our reality ceased. At the airport We go to the customs counter and were informed we all needed to fill out a departure card, why the 2 people standing at the entrance to the customs area don't inform you of this before you get near the counter is beyond me but it probably has something to do with how important their conversation was because it appeared nothing or nobody was going to interfere with that. So we head out to the back of the room to the naughty counter where ... read more

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