1.The Great Wall of China is not visible from the moon, nor even from low orbit. At a maximum width of 9.1 metres wide, the chance of seeing the Great Wall from the moon is equal to seeing a single human hair 3km away.
2.A town you read about in a book and always would ‘get around to visiting it some day’ may not be there any more. The Sahara Desert is expanding southwards at a rate of 30km per year. Towns such as Chinguetti in Mauritania, once a prosperous and lush oasis between the 13th to 17th centuries for desert caravans carrying ivory, gold, slaves and dates, are being swallowed whole by the sand. An old saying goes that ‘a desert is a place without expectation’. Other threatened destinations include the Galapagos Islands, the Swiss Alps and Venice.
3.Driving during a holiday is not a hardship. Nor is it difficult, unless you are in Naples. Driving a sub-par car on the other hand, is. Invest in a special rental car for your holiday, and journeys are transformed from time wasted to fun. Wear the fabulous clothes you’ve always dreamt of, but for the weather in Singapore you couldn’t. Be a child with toys for every minute of your holiday. Make-believe every step of the way. Now that is value for money.
4.An American tourist is picked up by the police while waiting for her husband along the street. She is charged for illegal prostitution despite her protestations, but manages to avoid going to jail by buying a licence to practice prostitution, which is cheaper than a fine. The famous tale is usually ascribed to France or Mexico, but it is probably apocryphal. Still, it does remind one that cultural differences can be quite startling and the resulting adventure can produce interesting souvenirs.
5.Mobile phones are not proven to interfere with equipment onboard an aircraft. Aeroplane manufacturer Boeing has performed extensive tests with various Personal Electronic Devices but has not succeeded in creating interference with aircraft controls and instrumentation. What a user who has accidentally left a mobile phone switched on will notice is a rapid draining of the battery as the mobile continually tries and fails to contact a network cell using its maximum power. This is due to the mobile phone being out of range.
6.Air in an aircraft is not a bacterial breeding ground continually recirculated in the cabin. Air in an aeroplane is constantly being introduced from outside the aircraft. In fact the cool temperature inside an aircraft is slightly heated as it is compressed and distributed around the cabin. Due to this process, the air in an aircraft is changed up to 30 times per hour.
7.You don’t have to see the Louvre to get the finest of Paris. If you are anything like most people, you will fail to appreciate the transition from Mannerist paintings to the Baroque styles. Which means that you will be bored stiff in the Louvre after about 20 minutes, hours before you manage to get anywhere near to the Mona Lisa who doesn’t really follow you with her beady eyes. Spend time instead at Hevin for their wonderful artisan chocolates or get wasted at Bar Hemingway the Hotel Ritz. Art is also in the making of food and drink. If you must do the art, read the history of the art. Contrary to popular perception, history is often more interesting than the juiciest fiction. Take the founding of the Red Cross or the antics of Caravaggio for instance.
8.There is no such thing as a boring place. It really is the people who make it. It doesn’t matter where on the Silk Road you are, if you have staid companions, they will still be stagnant on the borders of Tajikistan and stale on the beaches of Alexandria. Adventure follows the adventurous, and fun follows the fun-loving. But there is also a fine line between fun-loving and wildly irresponsible. Choose your companions carefully.