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A Deep Dive - Ghislaine Maxwell: Silver Spoons and Hard Times
This story was published in Frank's Report. Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.Frank Reportis one of the internet’s best destinations for true, unfiltered, hard-hitting journalism run by the acclaimed journalist Frank Parlato. Since 2015, articles published onFrank Reporthave exposed major scandals and criminal enterprises (including the NXIVM Cult. Frank Parlato has been cited as a source by hundreds of major media outlets around the world, including the New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Fox News, Albany Times Union, New York Post, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, Oxygen, Hollywood Life, E! News, CBS Inside Edition, Televisa (Mexico, Stern (Germany, Brisbane Times (Australia, Sun (UK, Hamilton Spectator (Canada), Haaretz (Israel), Tibetan Journal (Tibet), Dnevnik (Croatia), New Zealand Herald, Sputnik News (Russia), Voici (France), Blich (Switzerland), Pour Femme (Italy), CM Journal (Portugal) and more. Frank Parlato was the lead investigator and coordinating producer of Investigation Discovery’s 2 hour blockbuster special ‘The Lost Women of NXIVM.’))))) From sex trafficking cults disguised as self-empowerment groups to government cronyism depriving citizens of tax-funded programs, Frank Report doesn’t just turn stones – it outright obliterates them. Welcome to Frank Report, one of the internet’s finest examples of real, unbridled journalism.
Ghislaine Maxwell – Silver Spoons and Hard Times
August 9, 2020 By Paul Serran https://frankreport.com/2020/08/09/ghislaine-maxwell-silver-spoons-and-hard-times/ http://archive.is/by7md Ghislaine Maxwell led much of her life under the world’s fascinated microscopic view, always enthralled by her – famous and infamous – as it watched her fortunes wax and wane. From the celebrated miracle daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell; to the broken young woman who fled scandal in the UK to a small New York apartment, trying to launch a new life; the rebirth Jet-set Ghislaine, who was everywhere at once, longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein, a man even richer and more shady than her father; the sophisticated middle age woman, a runaway alleged criminal trying hard to avoid detection by her pursuers – finally, to the incarcerated, indicted suspected sex trafficker and perjurer. Ghislaine was Robert and Betty Maxwell’s miracle baby, born on Christmas Day, 1961. Two days after that, their eldest son suffered a fatal car accident. In 24 hours, it all had been somehow foretold: joy – and then tragedy. During the Swinging Sixties, Robert Maxwell served two terms as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Buckingham. He led a multimillionaire lifestyle, and was the host of star-studded parties at Headington Hill Hall, his baronial fifty-three-room Oxford mansion. The Maxwells spent a million dollars redecorating the mansion. In a stained glass window scene for the imperial staircase, Israeli sculptor Nehemia Azaz depicted Robert Maxwell as the biblical hero Samson tearing down the gates of Gaza: “a titan of luck, impossible achievement, and unlimited wealth”. They had the use of chauffeured luxury cars. They traveled the world in Robert’s Gulfstream IV Jet and his sleek 180-foot yacht, named Lady Ghislaine. “If Bob Maxwell didn’t exist, no one could invent him,” Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock celebrated the bombastic, demanding mogul who dined with kings and presidents and had a bottomless appetite for family, food, fortune, and fame. The first brush with financial and professional hardship came at a age when young Ghislaine would have been mostly sheltered from it. In the early seventies, after Robert Maxwell tried similar shenanigans in a failed attempt to swindle the American financier Saul Steinberg, who was interested in a strategic acquisition of Pergamon Press. Steinberg claimed that during negotiations, Maxwell falsely stated that a subsidiary responsible for publishing encyclopedias was extremely profitable. At the same time, Pergamon had been forced to reduce its profit forecasts for 1969 during the period of negotiations, leading to a suspension of dealing in Pergamon shares on the London stock markets. It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximize Pergamon’s share price through transactions between his private family companies. This was a criminal practice he would utilize again in the future. Inspectors from Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry declared Maxwell unfit to run a public company: “Notwithstanding Mr. Maxwell’s acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company.” ‘Captain Bob’ established the Maxwell Foundation in tax haven Liechtenstein, in 1970. By the 1980s he come back roaring, prompted by money later said to have originated in the Soviet Union. He bought the Mirror Group built and a massive media conglomerate. The good times were on: Ghislaine was nicknamed “The Shopper” because of her wild spending funded by Robert’s millions. He also bankrolled her failed corporate gifts business. During this period, she reportedly had a VERY close relationship with her father and was widely credited with being her father’s favorite child. In Oxford, Ghislaine led a student life of wealth and privilege. Her father would send Filipino servants to the college house she shared to clean, arrange the table and cook, in the event of a party. Her career piggybacked on her father’s businesses. She was made director of the Oxford United, and later, put in charge of “special projects” of the New York Daily News. With her father’s money, she found her way into society, especially in New York — a haven where she could escape his complete control. But the good times were not to last. Overextended and over-leveraged, Maxwell’s empire was about to crumble. At this time, Maxwell reportedly was a regular at London’s casinos, playing three tables at once, even dropping $2.5 million in a single night. For years, he had been an inveterate gambler, but this was the behavior of a desperate man whose time was running out. “He was a very crude man,” said a female writer for Time magazine. “His polish was not very deep. If you were with him for any length of time, it peeled away. I was in his library in the Maxwell House penthouse—a beautiful apartment with marble and servants all over the place—and while I was admiring his books, his valet said to me, ‘You should see Mr. Maxwell’s collection of pornographic tapes’.” Ghislaine visited her father in his office before he flew off to Gibraltar. “He was looking for an apartment in New York—a sort of pied-à-terre, where he could talk and have meetings—and he wanted me to help him,” she told Vanity Fair. “He asked me to go see a particular apartment. He said, ‘If you like it, I’ll make time to see it and come to New York.’ ” But the next time Ghislaine saw her father, he was dead. ”Ghislaine is the baby of the family and the one who was closest to her father,” her mother Betty told Vanity Press. ”The whole of Ghislaine’s world has collapsed, and it will be very difficult for her to continue.” When she finally appeared before the reporters, she had collected herself. “How did your father die?” a journalist shouted at Ghislaine Maxwell. “He did not commit suicide. That was just not consistent with his character. I think he was murdered. ” Maxwell, it turned out, had debts of nearly $5 billion, and had stolen hundreds of millions from the Mirror Group’s pension funds to shore up his faltering companies. That left 32,000 employees exposed to retirement ruin. The irony was not lost on the hard-hitting British press: Robert Maxwell, a socialist, stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from the Mirror’s pension fund! He swindled money from two of his public companies, transferred millions in and out the secret family trusts in Liechtenstein, to manipulate the share price of his Corporation. Robert was called “rogue,” “crook,” “bully,” “thief,” “megalomaniac,” and “gangster.” The press told lurid tales of his sex orgies with midget Filipino hookers. He was seen as a 310-pound aberration gorging on spoonfuls of caviar. An erratic and cruel tyrant who used Turkish towels for toilet paper. Journalists wrote that he was a spy for the K.G.B. or Mossad or Czech intelligence—or all three. “My daughter Ghislaine has no money, no trusts, no funds anywhere.” her mother Betty told Vanity Fair. “Neither of [my children] had any money. Their father never gave them any money.” Their assets were frozen. His son Kevin’s house was put up for sale, as were the Lady Ghislaine and the Gulfstream IV Jet. Their passports were seized. A friend told TheTimes of London, “[Ghislaine] had always been the life and soul of the party wherever she wanted to go in the world and never had to worry about money.” Now she was the broken child of a monster, his name forever synonymous to scandal. “She was catatonic,” the friend said. Forced to vacate her huge company-provided residence, she moved into a small apartment. When a friend came to visit, Ghislaine told her, “They took everything—everything—even the cutlery.” Little did she know how many more times things in her life would shift from silver spoons to hard times. A woman brought up in luxury, she had everything taken from her, before she came to the United States to begin again. “He wasn’t a crook,” Ghislaine told Vanity Press. “A thief to me is somebody who steals money. (…) Did he put it in his own pocket? Did he run off with the money? No. And that’s my definition of a crook.” “I’m surviving—just,” she said. “But I can’t just die quietly in a comer. I have to believe that something good will come out of this mess. It’s sad for my mother. It’s sad to have lost my dad. It’s sad for my brothers. But I would say we’ll be back. Watch this space.” Ghislaine Maxwell was also being hunted by the tabloids. The Maxwell name was so detested in London that she is said to have had to walk around in a blond wig so people wouldn’t recognize her. Ghislaine Maxwell’s reinvention didn’t take long. Maxwell moved to the United States just after her father’s death. Her photograph boarding a Concorde to cross the Atlantic caused outrage – her father had just defrauded pensioners out of 750 Million Sterling Pounds. According to the Mail on Sunday: “Unnoticed by almost everybody, traveling with her was a greying, plumpish, middle-aged American businessman who managed to avoid the photographers. It is to this man that 30-year-old Ghislaine has turned to ease the heartache of her father’s shame.” “His name is Jeffrey Epstein.” “Whose house is this, Ghislaine?” a friend asked her in the early 1990’s. “Who lives here?” My friend,” Maxwell replied. “Well, is he banging you?” the friend demanded. “What’s the scoop here?” A trust fund is said to have provided her with an income of $145,000 a year. A far cry from her previous seemingly unending wealth. She “never, ever had any cash. Lots of credit, of course, but no cash”, one friend recalled to the press. And yet, she lived the high life. She was known in New York as the “female Gatsby” for her lavish entertaining. Had a “reputation for being charming and funny, and a glittering lifestyle straight out of the pages of a society magazine”. She was now “far from the ever watchful eye of the British press,” Hello! magazine wrote in 1997. “She is proud of the fact that her new life is all down to her own hard work and has her elegant apartment to show for it,” the magazine mistakenly added. One day, she would “get married and have kids. But it has never been a focus: My focus is my business.” Ghislaine’s presence added more fuel to the question: “How did Jeffrey Epstein amass his fortune?” For one of the most propagated theories is that Maxwell’s father Robert bankrolled him with funds hidden from the UK authorities. Jeffrey Epstein built a 21,000-square-foot mansion on a massive ranch in New Mexico, which – he boasted – made his New York townhouse “look like a shack”. He named it the Zorro Ranch. He also acquired a 72-acre island in the Virgin Islands and an 8,600-square-foot home in Paris, with a specially built massage room. She had found a path back to the lifestyle she’d lost when her father died. “She was used to living very well,” says a friend who knew her then. “She didn’t want to go back to where she was.” All she had to do to keep it was to give ‘the monster’ what he wanted. Maxwell was expected to drop everything to serve Epstein. She had to keep everyone in line, because one misstep would unleash the wrath of Epstein, one of the few people who could make Maxwell cry. “He would be screaming over the phone,” recalled an Epstein victim, “and she would burst into tears.” The New York townhouse became a social nexus; guests could have included members of the Kennedy and Rockefeller clans, “along with the requisite sprinkling of countesses and billionaires,” according to The Times of London. She was “a modern-day geisha” in a “domain filled with the richest people in the planet. “It’s a world frequented by young half-naked girls in bikinis, billionaires and lavish lifestyles, but it borders on the grotesque. You are never really sure what is going on behind closed doors.” Royalty was specially prized, which is why her friendship with Prince Andrew became so treasured. In 2000, Maxwell and Epstein attended a Prince Andrew’s party at the Queen’s Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, England. It has been reported that the event was in honor of Maxwell’s 39th birthday. And yet, Ghislaine began trying to distance herself from Epstein long before he went to jail. In the early 2000s, she hooked up in California with a man much richer than Epstein: Ted Waitt. Waitt lived in a seven-bedroom, 14-bath mansion in La Jolla, sailed the world aboard a 240-foot mega-yacht, the Plan B. It was equipped with a helipad, Jacuzzi, elevator, gym, and HAD AN ONBOARD SUBMARINE, which Maxwell soon was licensed to pilot. After Epstein went to prison in Florida for a short period, Maxwell saw the silver spoons turned into hard times again. Acquaintances that crossed her path reported how she was almost unrecognizable. She was not stylish and attention grabbing anymore, seemed determined to go unnoticed. Her face had no makeup. There was a hint of gray in her black hair, she put on some weight. “I was so shocked by her look,” a friend recalled to the British press. “I didn’t recognize her.” She even gave up her once proud name, sometimes introducing herself to new acquaintances only as “G.” “Where are you living, Ghislaine?” the friend asked. “I lost touch with you.” Maxwell suddenly went blank. “Oh,” she replied, “a little bit everywhere.” December 2014: Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida describing Maxwell as Epstein’s “primary coconspirator and participant in his sexual abuse and sex trafficking scheme.” Maxwell made a huge mistake, issuing an “urgent” statement to the media dismissing the claims as “obvious lies.” That allowed Giuffre, to sue Maxwell for defamation in federal court in New York, a lawsuit “widely viewed as a vessel for Epstein’s victims to expose the scope of Epstein’s crimes,” according to the Miami Herald. Maxwell affirmed her innocence with fury, at one point of her testimony banging her fists on the table. She also, according to charges filed by the DOJ SDNY, committed two counts of perjury. 2019: when the SDNY reopened the criminal investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine was far away, living the high life. She met with her friend Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace, and participated in “Cash & Rocket”, an annual charity road rally. Between races of the rally, she joined the super rich in attending a Masquerade Ball in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as a White dinner at La Reserve in Geneva and the Red party at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Those were to be her last reported events. Cash & Rocket scrub Maxwell’s photo from its website once Epstein was arrested and the scandal assaulted the headlines again. On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested by federal agents at Teterboro Airport, arriving from Paris. The FBI raided his mansion, and charged him with sex trafficking of minors. “Epstein’s pimp girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, a very well-connected Brit socialite cannot just walk free,” actress Ellen Barking tweeted the day after Epstein’s arrest. “This woman is his pimp. She pilots planes [sic] to and from the island. I know because she told me.” Maxwell again went into hiding, unreachable during legal proceedings. It surfaced in December 2019 that Maxwell was among the people under FBI investigation for facilitating Epstein’s crimes. She was faced with a tabloid frenzy even bigger than the one that accompanied the death of her father. She again uprooted herself and tried to start over in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a quiet village 30 miles north of Boston, she lived for a time in the $3 million, five-bedroom colonial home of Scott Borgerson, CEO of CargoMetrics, a hedge fund investment company involved in maritime data analytics. Since Epstein was found dead in jail, last August, she is reported to have moved 36 times, out of fear for her safety. Credible Death threats arrived by social media, email, phone, text, and postal service. It began in earnest with Epstein’s arrest, multiplied with his death, and accelerated in the months that followed. They soon became a routine part of her life. She hired a professional security firm, with operatives that are veterans of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This photoshopped photo of Maxwell surfaced last year to mislead the public into thinking she was in Los Angeles. Frank Report was the first to report the photo a fake, a story that went viral.
“Where in the world was Ghislaine Maxwell? Everyone, it seemed, had a theory, each wilder than the last. She was said to be hiding deep beneath the sea in a submarine, which she was licensed to pilot. Or she was lying low in Israel, under the protection of the Mossad, the powerful intelligence agency with whom her late father supposedly tangled. Or she was in the FBI witness protection program, or ensconced in luxury in a villa in the South of France, or sunning herself naked on the coast of Spain, or holed up in a high-security doomsday bunker belonging to rich and powerful friends whose lives might implode should Maxwell ever reveal what she knows—all the dirty secrets of the dirty world that she and Epstein shared.” (Vanity Fair – Jul 3, 2020)
Maxwell remained at large, beyond the reach of attorneys, tabloid reporters, and a 10,000-pound reward from The Sun in London. “It’s a little bit like Elvis—you get lots of reports but they’re hard to verify,” a victim attorney said in May. She was periodically said to have been spotted around the world, usually in places where she was not. Reporters scoured the globe. Some said she was in Russia trying to get a Oligarch to protect her. Others pointed to Israel or Brazil, China, Singapore, the Middle East, England. She was “both everywhere and nowhere,” lamented UK’s The Guardian. On August 2019, she was apparently photographed eating a burger and fries in the Cahuenga Boulevard, in the San Fernando Valley. She held The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Given Ghislaine and her father Robert’s alleged ties to Intelligence Services, this choice does not seem accidental. Papers were running out of incredible stories to account for her disappearance. A bizarre new theory emerged she could be hiding in a submarine which – as we saw – was not downright impossible, since she DID have a license to pilot underground vehicles. On July 2nd 2020, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI and NYPD in the small New England town of Bradford, New Hampshire. It is situated at driving distance of the NYSD. They finally found her in a luxurious four-bedroom, 4,365-square-foot home on a wooded lot, called Tuckedaway. Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with six federal crimes: luring and enticement of minors, sex trafficking of children and perjury. The crimes took place between 1994 and 1997, the years of her “intimate relationship with Epstein,” when she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls.” One of the three unnamed victims was “as young as 14 years old when they were groomed and abused by Maxwell and Epstein, both of whom knew that certain victims were in fact under the age of 18.” FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr. described Maxwell as “one of the villains of this investigation,” who had “slithered away to a gorgeous property” in New Hampshire, where she was “continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago.” “I am optimistic about my future,” she said in 1997, “and believe things will continue to improve for me as time passes.” Now, according to sources close to her, “I don’t think [Ghislaine] sees there is a future,” came the reply. If found guilty of all charges, Maxwell could face a prison sentence of 35 years. She denies the accusations, and has pleaded not guilty to all six charges. She will await trial locked up in the Metropolitan Detention Center, in Brooklyn. A dreadful prison that is as removed from her previous “silver spoon” upbringing as it’s possible in the US. Hard times. She used to be a larger than life character, who once hosted a dinner for NY socialites on ‘the fine art of giving a blow job’. But then, she really blew it. A report from a source familiar with the Metropolitan Detention Center gives a glum picture of Ghislaine Maxwell’s present conditions. She is in the women’s section and believed to be confined to a solitary cell. Because of the past history of the MDC, it is not impossible to suspect that Ghislaine could be having sexual relations with one or more corrections officers, either male or female. Her available wealth would permit her to buy some privileges directly from the corrections officers who could smuggle in items for her. MDC has a history of guards, male and female, enjoying sex with prisoners and smuggling in everything from alcohol to cell phones to drugs. While she is not enjoying what anyone would call a privileged life, and is most likely [because of Covid protocols] confined to her cell, dank and cold [in summer] perhaps as much as 23-24 hours per day and possibly getting only one hot meal per day, our source says, with her wealth and talent to charm, if there is any privilege, any opportunity, any luxury to enjoy at MDC, she is enjoying it. Of course, she is probably under near-constant surveillance, for no guard wants to go to prison for letting her get murdered or commit suicide – as did her former lover Epstein. It is not known how frequently she is meeting with lawyers in special rooms set aside for the purpose. But an MDC source tells Frank Report that prison officials are known to eavesdrop on those conversations with lawyers and defendants and do so on high profile cases. Whether they report to the prosecution what they learn is unknown. In the end, Maxwell has a hard road to hoe and will remain in the brutal and unsanitary MDC until she stands trial or makes a plea deal or dies. The possibility of additional charges other than those currently charged against her – for hebephilia crimes in the last century – remain a possibility. The late Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted hebephile, a person who has urges for post pubescent but under the age of consent children. Is Ghislaine one also? And are there others, famous and prominent men of power who have indulged as Jeffrey and allegedly Ghislaine have done? The ace in the hole for her, obviously, is, if she has info on other prominent hebephiles that the DOJ for its own partisan or PR reasons might like to selectively prosecute, she can trade that info for a lenient sentence and hopefully not be murdered for doing so. Her former lover, Jeffrey Epstein, might have committed suicide, as the Mainstream Media and the US Govt. urges you to believe, but there are some who find the coincidences, cameras being off, bones broken indicating he was strangled, guards happening to fall asleep as they were assigned to watch the most famous prisoner in the world, such that that it just might cause reasonable people to doubt the official narrative a little more than the corporate media and prison officials would wants us to doubt. The same fate might befall Ghislaine and we may never know just what she did. Whether her crimes were confined to herself and Epstein or whether there was a vast network of hebephiles joining in – or – in fairness to her – she is innocent as she claims, something that a trial, if she makes it to trial, might help us determine. stretcher during the funeral service in Jerusalem’s main convention hall on Nov. 10, 1991. The body is laying on a stretcher, draped in a white Jewish prayer shawl with black stripes as is it tradition of Jewish burials in Israel. (AP Photo/Natik Harnik) Ghislaine is fourth from the left. https://preview.redd.it/vnzmapdilrg51.png?width=432&format=png&auto=webp&s=bde723c918da88ce07aa1091b70c77baa76c0562 https://preview.redd.it/6v6qco3llrg51.png?width=509&format=png&auto=webp&s=7531e39667e4ee9f869b6c56ef8c53e118a8909f https://preview.redd.it/xu6z62snlrg51.png?width=574&format=png&auto=webp&s=c96a9decc1af25e8adc0e31b9cdad1d51c67faee
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العنوانPjazza A De Paule, Raħal Ġdid, مالطاعددالهاتف +356 2122 7436النشاطات يعد ذلك المجمع من احسن مناطـق الشراء في مالطا حين يتشكل ذلك المركز من خمس طوابق كما يضم علي مناطـق خاصه للمكوث والانتظار ومناطـق انتظار خاصة بالسيارات بالاضافه الامقاهي والمطاعم .اقرب المطاعم Panormus ، Patakkus ، Eda Kebab Home ، Cafe Rougeاقرب الفنادقPalazzo Leonardo ، Ramplas ، Castille Lodge ، The Phoenicia Maltaاقرب معالم الجذبمعبد هال سافليني هايبوجيم ، Tarxien Temples ، Marsovin ، Chinese language Backyard of Serenity📷 افضل اسواق مالطا 2019 موقعمجمع تسوق الشارع الرئيسي
مجمع امباسي للتسوق
العنوانSt. Lucia’s Road, Il-Belt Valletta VLT 1165، مالطاعددالهاتف +356 2122 2225النشاطات يعد ذلك المجمع من احسن اسواق مالطا علي الرغم من صغر حجمه الا انه يضم علي الكثير من الأسواق كما ان الخدمه رقيقه على نحو كبير ، وتسطيع من هنالك تسوق الهدايا التذكاريه . اقرب المطاعم Yard 32 ، Papannis Italian Restaurant ، The Cage ، Wild Honeyاقرب الفنادقDe Vilhena Boutique Lodge ، The Cumberland ، كازا إلول ، Palazzo Rosaria Boutique Lodgeاقرب معالم الجذبكاتدرائية سان جون التعاونية ، St George Sq. ، Nationwide Library of Malta ، Grandmaster’s Palace📷 مجمع امباسي للتسوق
I had been called to the city of sin for a bi-annual conference that I had taken for the past 24 years. I had sat through it in health, in the cold, rain, and sickness. I was there 10 days after Tupac was murdered, and was walking down Fremont street several months later on the day when they took Christopher Wallace. A year later in 1998, a colleague and I woke up to a phone call from my then wife telling me about what happened to President Clinton, and that was when the words, "For a blowjob?" coming from my companion led me into a similar predicament. For the next several years, a tangled divorce that I've never fully unwinded from, occupied my attention. It wasn't until the morning of September 11th in 2001 that gave me the wakeup call I needed. I scooted the young blonde out of my room and told her to call her dad, since I knew Tom was in New York that day. Mosque bombings, terrorism, market bubble bursting, swine flu, recession, succession, shootings, a shooter, second divorce, new house, new life, and the same old job on the same old beat all meant that Las Vegas and I had been doing this dance through the thick and the thin for over two decades. And I have never seen it like this. My uber driver nodded, "Yeah man. Shit is wild. I only picked up 8 people in the last 9 hours." He was young, the new leather interior in a wide bodied Escalade smelled like an expensive loan. His eyes were twitchy as he tried not stare at me, wondering if I was going to cough from all the dry mouthing I had been doing from the LAS to my hotel. I had grown used to the stares, the selective social distancing for looking Chinese and all of its stereotypes as the weeks leading into March of 2020. The beginning trend of people instinctively coughing whenever they saw me soon became a daily ritual. It was all a part of tribe mentality I convinced myself, chuckling as I remembered the pie scene from the movie Stand By me. That made my uber driver nervous. "Here we are," he finally breathed. I thanked him and proceeded to the service counter with my carry on. "Sorry for the wait," replied the representative, "We laid off 80% of our staff this morning." I was taken aback by her candid greeting. "Looks like you'll be in a private room owned by one of our guests. And as it is not through the hotel, please contact your host for any services that you require. We will need a $500 deposit on a credit card for any incidentals." Several minutes later I found myself riding the elevator up 26 stories and into my rental. I contacted my host through the app to let him know that I had arrived. It was my first time using the app service so if anyone wants to chime in on how necessary or unnecessary that action is, please, enlighten me. I had chose this room because there was a large, deep soak bathtub. I don't have many preferences in life but if there is a chicken fried steak on the menu I must get it at least once, coke over pepsi, and onion rings. Don't ask me why they are all food based, but they are, except for the bathtub. At nearly 6'1 I am always trying to find a decent soak. When I was younger my grandmother owned a Japanese soaking barrel, and ever since then I have been chasing after that nostalgic experience. Instead I often find myself cramming, contorting, and cold above the chest. There was not much for me to do as President Trump had canceled his conference with the Jewish Coalition, which meant that other subsequent CEO's began withdrawing from all the other Vegas conferences. Something that I should have foreseen, which could have otherwise prevented me from traveling during this time. But there was no helping it, and this was definitely not the worst place to be stuck in. I looked into the bathroom mirror and decided to wash the trails of the airport from my face and then made my way down to the casino floors. Everything was closed. All the restaurants anyways. So I hailed a cab and found my way to Gordon Ramsay's Hells Kitchen. The best lobster risotto I ever had, a mediocre bar experience, a change of hands for an 8 ball on the street, and I was on my way into Caesar's Palace. I had reasoned with myself that my foresight was not the best at this time so blackjack and poker were out of the question. I stuck to roulette and craps, winning big at the dice. And if you've ever been to a high roller table then all the movies are true, there you will find willing women to blow on the ivories for you. Somehow we found our way back to my room, a slew of fancy cocktail dresses and Victoria secret's underwear were strewn in a near comical fashion. A rolled Benjamin walked down Abbey road. And there's nothing quite like two young and beautiful women taking pictures of your junk to brag to their friends later to accentuate your high. Everyone loves an anomaly. The two of them were in town for CONEXPO, one of the world's largest construction gatherings. One was 28 and a leading architect for a large firm and the other was a 32 year old forewoman who was sent to accompany her to fill in the job's specifics. "You've got soft hands for a construction worker," I quipped. She raised her drawn in eyebrow at me, "Not as soft as a desk jockey's." We both laughed until our eyes were drawn to the young architect who had begun to slowly undress in front of us. She swayed her hips to the lofi soul of Joji. My champagne glass sparkled in the light as the smells of girl scout cookies lit up the bathroom. "You don't mind if I smoke do you?" "Oh, give it here," came the architect's voice. "I should probably get an ashtray." I got out of the tub and walked into the living area. I pulled open a few drawers, and found nothing. I tugged on the handles of the cabinet underneath the wetbar only to find it locked. That was when I noticed the notice stickied on its door, "Please do not open. These are my private possessions," made with a cheap labeler. "There's probably alcohol in this thing," I said aloud. I turned to look into the bathroom but neither of them seemed to care as I watched the water falling from their hair and down their backs. The rest of the night was well, you can imagine. I woke up around 4:30 A.M. and heard an ungodly rattling. As I stirred in bed, I heard a voice asking sleepily, "What was that?" "I don't know," came another voice. "It's probably the pipes or something." The architect was unsure so she got up and turned on a light. She turned to look at me, "Did you get this on AirBNB?" "Yeah, something like that." We heard the rattle again. I could tell that she was afraid so I decided to get up with her. "Do you know where the light is," she asked? "Nope," I said as I struck a match for dramatic effect. "Oh god," she rolled her eyes. I smiled, "It's more fun this way." She grabbed my arm as we made our way into the larger part of the suite in search of the noise. We looked in the closet, the bathroom, the enclosed toilet, and I even pulled a few drawers open for effect. "What is this," she asked me. She had found the cabinet under the wetbar. "I don't know. It was locked when I got here." I struck another match, "It says not to touch it or something, owner's possessions I think." "Oh god, that is so creepy," she moaned. "I once went to this place in Lake Tahoe and it wasn't until the last day that my boyfriend found a loft that was hidden because the stairs had been removed. When he climbed it, there was a router and a twin sized bed in the corner. Super chills man." "Well, the cabinet is too small for anything weird to be in there," I told her. "You don't know that, have you ever seen those double jointed circus people?" "Well, if there's some more champagne in there, then I wouldn't mind breaking the lock." "It would be warm," she said. "Ah yes, the important things." We laughed, but just as we were going to get back into bed she ran into the bathroom and got a towel and tied an extensive knot around the handles. Several hours later we were woken up with a loud banging. I bolted up in bed. "Sir!" My mind raced to gather itself and assess at least 9 things wrong with my current situation. Cops, someone's boyfriend, my wife? Oh shit, why was I still getting myself into these predicaments? You would think I've learned a thing or two by now. "Sir! This is hotel security. Are you in there sir? We're asking everyone to evacuate the building." I got out of bed and rushed to open the door before they keyed their way in, "Hey what is going on?" A man in an N95 mask and gloves was at the door, "Sir, we've been asked to evacuate everyone out of the building immediately. The hotel will be closing due to SARS-COV-2." "What's going on," one of the girls asked. "Miss, everyone needs to leave. We are evacuating the building. Please gather your belongings." I looked at my companions and subsequently told them, "I can't believe they canceled Vegas." For the next 20 minutes we scrambled to get ready. For a group of strangers it worked decently well. We cut the last lines and split it between the three of us. A smile, a kiss, and a hurried goodbye later meant that we found ourselves rushing for the elevator. "Oh god, I forgot about the towel I tied to the cabinet," the architect said. "It shouldn't be that much of a problem. Someone will just take it off later," I tried assuring her. "What if no one gets back in there for weeks?" She looked at me slightly anxious, as if she was afraid to breathe the words, and a side of me knew what she was going on about. "Alright, I'll go back," I told her. The forewoman looked confused. "I'll got with you," the architect said. "No, you two get downstairs and see what is going on." She looked at me with these doe eyes, the same look that has kept me awake for the past several days as I am laying here in boredom. "I'll be fine I told her." I ran back to the room, slid my keycard and began to untie the knot on the cabinet. And in my paranoia I took a video recording of the place before leaving, just so that I had evidence that the room was left in relatively good order later. The door slammed behind me, I pulled up my app to request an Uber as I made my way to the elevator. My phone vibrated, it must be the app I reasoned as I began shifting through my luggage to make sure I had gotten everything. When I reached the ground floor I searched for my two companions but found hotel personnel were rushing people into open taxis and Ubers to the airport. An entitled prick stood outside the valet desk as a manager profusely apologized for the inconvenience and how the hotel would compensate for one thing or another as he opened the door to a Porsche Panamera. There was nothing for me to do except get into an Uber. I pulled up my phone expecting to see a familiar message that notified me that my driver would be arriving in 3 minutes, but instead it was a message from my host that simply said, "Thank you."
Travelling SEAsia - my massive review. Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand (Shenzhen, Macau). Motorbike & vegan travel tips
Mammoth post incoming..... I read a lot of posts in this thread and others to help me prepare for my first time backpacking in South East Asia, used mostly reddit and youtube to collect information and in return to all the helpful people who advised me, I want to add a bit to the info out there. This was our first time backpacking in Asia but we have both travelled a decent amount, apologies to those seasoned backpackers who might eye roll at the obvious things I point out! And how long this post is! few linked included where possible. I travelled with my boyfriend (both in our mid 20s) for 7 weeks from Nov 2019 to Jan 2020 covering 4 countries; Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We travelled as a couple, not really looking for the typical hostel/partying experience. I had spots/cities we wanted to stop in picked out more so I could check that our return flight back gave us enough time (bf had job to come back for). For those interest I travelled with 40l backpack (Osprey ladies size I recommend for small gals). and 15l day back and boyfriend had 65l backpack. I really reccommend getting up to date on vaccines and/or visiting somewhere like Nomad travel (UK major cities only) for additional shots. We also bought a medical kit from them which came in very handy and I would buy THIS one (works out cheaper than making your own). Our original plan was to buy a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh and then use that as our main mode of transport to bike across Cambodia and then finally go to Bangkok, so there's a section about bikes at the end. I am plant based / have a pretty strong dairy intolerance, so I'll add a section about travelling as a 'vegan' as I found it more difficult to get concrete advice on that before I left. We are from UK so our budget/prices we evaluated against £ GBP Hong Kong - this was the most built up and relatively similar experience to our lives at home and eased us pretty gently into travel. I would compare Hong Kong to a metropolitan place like London. We stayed in the Wan Chai district and would recommend the are for first timers. Not as expensive as the Central District and gives more local flavour with the street markets which you are likely to explore or pass through on the way to the MTR. Stay on Hong Kong Island over the peninsula as a lot of activities are there and though it is more compact you get a good sense of what HK is really like. Prices - cost of restaurants was about the same as home - £8-10+ for a meal. Transport - incredibly cheap, routes often less than £1 or 50p Lots of 7/11 and Circle K with reasonable prices for snacks or eating in Things we did: - Victoria Peak - there are some views more 'within' the city if you take the giant escalator up and walk a bit further as opposed to going straight to the top - Mong Kok area and surrounding markets - Hong Kong museum - quite dated and nothing on history of recent years but it is free - Hong Kong Peninsula night time view of HK island (symphony of lights show) - Temple Street night market - Dragon's Back - this was easy to get to via bus and a nice welcome break from the city. An easy hike. - Ching Chung Koon, Tao temple - really beautiful temple with turtles, easy trip by bus to visit Shenzhen - We went to Shenzhen as we wanted to see what China was like and had some intrigue about it being a Special Economic Zone. My advice to absolutely everyone, unless you know of something on the other side you want to see, is do not go. We read that it was free to enter but you would have to get a short stay visa stamp. We ended up stuck in immigration after getting off the MTR for about 2 hours, first you must go and get a photo and a visa put in your passport which includes filling our a form and being asked a few questions about your stay, then you go downstairs and fill our a landing card, get fingerprinted and then pass through to Shenzhen. There isn't a clear explanation as to where these different rooms are to get the whole process done and you're at the mercy of how busy the waiting rooms are for how quick you get out, no visas would be ready and then they would surge in 10 being ready for collection at once. Shenzhen was a very homogenous city, we couldn't find any historical sites or areas designed for non Chinese to engage with the local fare, though bare in mind Shenzhen is absolutely huge and we were short on time after arriving later. Tube system is cheap and in English and we used cash to pay. When we tried to use bank cards to take out more money I had no luck with Mastercard, Visa and Visa credit card at more than one ATM. The best part of the trip was a small antique shop in the train terminal with genuine trinkets, pottery etc. The guy was quite fair with our haggling too. Macau - Again we visited this as another special zone outside of HK. Again unfortunately I don't recommend going. To us, Macau was missing all the parts of the Vegas strip that would make a high concentration of casinos together worthwhile; no smoking indoors, no open carry on alcohol on the streets, no street vendors or anything to create an interesting people-watching street, not helped by how spread out all the casinos were from one another. We visited the Venetian which brought us away from the casinos on the ferry side of Macau, so that might have made a difference. The Venetian at Macau had the same feeling as The Trafford Centre if UK readers are familiar with it. If you have been there you'll have your own opinion about it and use that to inform going to Macau. Hong Kong Protests - Before leaving for HK I'd been keeping up with the protest news. Though by November the 'peak' of protests seemed to have passed a lot in UK news there were still plenty of reports of violent clashes daily. From digging around online I felt that it was still safe to go but just to be mindful of large groups of people collecting or the university area. Whilst we were in HK we didn't see anything that alarmed us or made us feel unsafe. While I don't think the media outlets were incorrectly reporting protest clashes, the actual volume of them appears to be exaggerated (but that's how news makes money, right..). We saw graffiti at most MTR stations and some bus stations that had english text posters and print outs explaining the situation that were even updated overnight to new developments like Trump's treaty. One mall we tried to go to adjacent to some university buildings was closed and the MTR next to it was all smashed up but other than graffiti we felt very safe when wandering round the city both day and night. I would say the university area probably needs the most caution, but if the MTR is stopping there again then there has probably been improvement. Vietnam - We flew into Ho Chi Minh city, stayed for about 3 days. I'm curious to return to Vietnam in the North of the country, while the South was very interesting to see I was more than ready to move on after about 8 days. Didn't really get a good feeling out of HCMC; extremely loud, sticky, busy place. The best thing we did was go to the War Remnants Museum, things like the old post office were interesting but they don't really take up much of your day. A phone sim for 2 weeks with unlimited data was easy to get and cost less than £10 I think. HCMC is a good place to take advantage of cheap taxis and cheap food. We could get a good meal and a soft drink/smoothie for £2.50/£3, grab taxi was about £1 anywhere and £1.50 in a grab car, Circle K essentials like a sewing kit were about £2. Would recommend the Grab app for getting around - though it wasn't my favourite place we visited, I was really able to appreciate the pace and culture of the city zipping through little side streets on the back of the bike from District 1 down to other places in Chinatown area. There are plenty of markets to visit, but when you've seen the stuff at one the others aren't really much different and people didn't really want to haggle with us. We did a Mekong Delta day trip, though I'm not always a big fan of a guided tour this was fun and worth going on. Have a look on a site like Klook and pick something that sounds interesting and in budget - we visited temples, honey farm, coconut farm, held some snakes, traditional boat on Mekong and lunch for about £18 each for everything. Nha Trang - we visited here as somewhere in South Vietnam by the sea before heading westways for the rest of the trip. It was a much calmer and quieter city than HCMC but I'm not sure I would visit again, very windy in November. An unbelievable amount of Russians here, more built up and developed than I was anticipating too. Long Son Pagoda and Ba Ho waterfalls were good to visit, though Ba Ho seemed to be having a very big touristy development built on it which was a weird contrast to the very difficult to climb and almost untouched waterfalls. We biked to Bai Dai beach - just make sure to take the first turn down to the beach before you hit the strip of resorts being built because it goes on forever and they won't let you through for access to the sand. Beautiful views on the way down but can see the whole area and Vietnam in general being swallowed up by package resort tourism which is a shame. Cambodia - This ended up being my favourite country of the visit. Though there's not really pavements or waste management or sewage and you can't drink the water etc, but there was little rampant tourism, people were kind, the weather was great and we saw some beautiful places. Phone sim will cost you about $5 and you can only top up limited data about $5 for 8GB. Prices - Cambodia has 2 currency system with USD and riel though most of the time you're using USD (4,000 r = $1). I felt like because of USD prices were rounded up a bit more so it was still cheap, but more expensive than Vietnam. Eating out probably about $5-7 or more if you're not holding back. There aren't many chain stores in Cambodia so you're at the mercy of individual places for a good selection of snacks and then hopefully not grossly inflated prices especially on Western imports ($2.50+ for pringles?). I did find that pharmacies were cheap. Make sure you haggle with tuk tuks or use PassApp, but that app needs some work so it's often easier to take one that's in the street. In PP/SKampot getting around we paid no more than $3. In SR to go to the airport $7. We took a bus to Phnom Penh from HCMC which made the border crossing quite easy. We had e-visa already printed out etc but it didn't seem to make our waiting time any shorter but saved us having to fill out any forms at border control. Phnom Penh - felt a lot nicer than HCMC as soon as we got there really. Still hot and dirty and hassled like hell for tuk tuks but I felt more kindness from Cambodians. Compared to HCMC this was a whole lot quieter and more relaxed. Not every building has a formal address so if you're not staying at a hotel (airbnb) bear in mind you might need more visual instructions to find your stay. We stayed near the Royal Palace and the area round there, though more for expats was chilled out and there were local markets, not far to walk to temples and sites etc. There are a few hotels in this area with pools if you need to cool off. The one we tried we just took the lift up to the roof no problem, but I had messaged another nearby that said it was for residents only. Siem Reap - though this city is pretty much here for Angkor Wat tourism I enjoyed being here not just to see the temples. We stayed at THIS airbnb which was very reasonable and probably one of our favourite stays. No pool but there were a few places nearby that were happy to let us use theirs, we just bought drinks and food. There are a few temples in the city near the city where you can see fruit bats all in the trees. The river here is nice, big market, lots of cats. Angkor Wat: we bought a 3 day pass and went on a sunrise tour one morning and then did our own thing on the other days. Doing the tour means you get up and in for sunrise at the right time and it's good to get some history about the places you're seeing. Angkor Wat temple itself wasn't the most interesting to me and there are hundreds if not thousands of people there in the morning that makes it a lot less enjoyable. We also visited: Ta Phrom - temple from Tomb Raider Angkor Thom city gates Bayon Temple - this was a cool 2 storey temple that is merged with depictions of Hinduism and Buddhism Preah Khan You can hire a tuk tuk driver for a day around $15 mark or you can hire electric bikes in SR centre and take those around (tourists not allowed to ride motorbikes in temple complex) $5 for 24hrs. Just make sure to give your electric bike a good charge beforehand as the battery doesn't always read right. There is a restaurant in the complex you can swap your battery at - the whole temple area is an extremely large place, you can be 15mins drive in between spots so plan carefully. Koh Rong Island - we took a flight from SR down to Sihanoukville to then get the ferry across to Koh Rong. Our flight ended up being delayed by 12 hours (welcome to Cambodia) so we had to stay a night in Sihanoukville and go across the following day. Travelling from Sihanouk airport to Sihanouk we had to wear bandanas over our faces to stop breathing in the dust, even though only one window in the car was cracked, it's hella dirty. If you are travelling from the airport to town I highly discourage taking a tuk tuk or rickshaw; the roads are not well surfaced in a more extreme manner than what I saw in PP and SR, there are a lot of freight trucks which will need to be over or undertaken in order for the journey to not take hours. Taxis are unfortunately the most expensive here and the journey cost $20. Sihanoukville - I'm told recent infiltration and development of Sihanouk by the Chinese has completely transformed the city in the last 2/3 years at an incredible rate with no care for the local Khmer population. It was possibly the worst place I've ever visited. Dusty and dirty on another level, open building sites and construction absolutely everywhere. Very young looking boy in a digger pulling up the pavement less than 5ft from a busy restaurant. I had to climb up a 3ft pile of loose rubble to get to an ATM because the whole side of the road had been obliterated. If you are waiting for the ferry on Beach Road and you need an ATM but they're all broken like they were when I was there in December, there is an ATM on the actual pier. I was stressing about taking money out for Koh Rong as I heard there was no way to get cash on the island but when I was there I saw a few places that offered cash out (but I didn't try them). I reccommend reading THIS reddit thread and the LINKED article by a Chinese blogger about Sihanouk. I read THIS travelfish article about Koh Rong which was very helpful too. I had an impression from the article that the island is quite under developed, which in some ways was definitely true, however it was easy to do what we wanted and we didn't struggle for places to eat etc. We stayed on the main pier (though really this is still a small strip of restaurants and shops, no resorts) and spent most of our time on White Sand Beach. Koh Rong could not be any more different than Sihanouk and it was a great place to spend Christmas and unwind. We didn't do much other than swim and lie on the beach and it was great! There were boat tours to take but a lot seemed to end with 'free drink and party' and we weren't interested in that. Prices on the island were the same as PP/SR. The only things that were a lot more expensive were activities - someone had a jetski you could rent for $100.. and there was some tree top zip line you could do for about $20. We visited 4k beach next door which was a lot more remote, beautiful as well but only one option to eat. We came past Coconut Beach when we left on the speedboat and that looked to a bit less than the main pier but still stocked with a good few options. Overall the food we had on Koh Rong was some of the best! Kampot - A small town/city on the river. Very chilled with a nice central part of town with good places to eat. There are hardly any big hotels or buildings over 3 stories - it felt like a more real Khmer place than somewhere like Siem Reap. From Kampot you can visit Bokor Mountain, Kep, salt fields, a lot of natural escapes. Unfortunately we both got very sudden aggressive gastro-bug or food poisoning so we spent 5 days pretty much inside doing nothing (was going to happen at some point). Kampot was a quiet place and we were able to recover well here though. Kampot to Koh Chang - From Kampot we travelled to Koh Chang, Thailand. I'd seen some speculation online that it wasn't possible to do this trip in one day, but having done it I can say yes it is but it is a long day. Almost every bus trip we took on our adventure meant that we lost all of the day (no motorways in Viet/Cambodia) however the quality of transport means it can take even longer. Vietnam was good with sleeper or semi sleeper buses, however in Cambodia our 6.5 hour trip from Kampot to the Thai border at Trat was 16 people in a 12 seater minibus plus a baby.. so bear in mind long distance trips in Cambodia can be testing! From Trat border we got a minibus to the bus station, then a songalew/thai taxi to the ferry and then a minibus took us to our hotel on the other side [12 hour trip]. Thailand - Much more infastructure and felt more modern than Cambodia and Vietnam, but I couldn't really get a vibe for the place and felt like a lot had been lost to the prevalent tourism. I would maybe visit again but staying away from coastal areas - if felt like the Spain of South East Asia. Prices could be a little more on top of Cambodian prices but you could find cheap places to eat. About £5 for a meal. Taxis cost about £3 through Grab. 7/11 and Family Mart very cheap snacks for pennies. Bangkok - as this was our last stop we didn't travel to many temples or big spots outside the city because money haha... we stayed away from the expat areas, the Museum of Art & Culture had a cool free exhibition, the malls Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon are worth visiting for the food halls and just to see. Where we stayed had a pool so we took it pretty easy. Went to Chatachuk but too much tourist and sweat.. Bikes: We bought a bike in HCMC via facebook marketplace - I would suggest if you know anyone Viet to get them to help you get the true price because as a tourist you're probably seeing an inflated price tag. If not that it might be possible to get one from another backpacker, but then you may be at the mercy of any damages or issues with the bike they're not aware of as they aren't familiar with bikes. We took our bike (Honda Cub c 50) to Nha Trang with us stowed in our sleeper bus - we visited a few bus trip/tourist places and one was happy to do it for us. I think for 2 people and the bike was about £23 one way, so not bad at all. You'll have to empty the fuel before it goes in the bus so just remember that at the other end you might have to give your bike a min to run the fuel through it again. We sold it in Nha Trang because it wasn't quite powerful enough to get us around with any bags (i was not in charge of buying bike haha...). Bikes are more than easy to rent in every country we went to for probably £5 a day max. We had a bike in Koh Chang but I know in Thailand there are more rules about tourist rental so I would swerve riding on the mainland. The most hectic place we rode was HCMC so I would just suggest avoiding that if you can, even if you ride in your home country. We sold our bike in Nha Trang via facebook marketplace. We took a loss but it was more about cutting our dead weight before the rest of our trip so to speak. If you really want to ride a lot in SEAsia, Cambodia has no restrictions on tourists having bikes up to 125cc if you want to play the legal legal route (not that I saw any police in Cambodia over 3 weeks!). A bike is also a responsibility and if you're wanting to feel completely free while travelling it might not be right to buy one. Do thorough research! I travelled with a full face helmet and I was grateful for it on windy rides and hectic places likes HCMC. If you're not planning on riding a lot then this is definitely not essential but finding a full face helmet, that fits, that isn't too bootleg to break on you might be some things to consider (bare in mind I was planning on doing long rides when planning this trip initially). Veganism / plant based / special diets: As mentioned I have strong intolerance to all dairy products and am generally vegan; I still eat eggs maybe once a week and might have fish and chips a few times a year. With the exception to intolerances and allergies I think the best approach to eating in South East Asia or travelling in general is be willing to be flexible. I only like to eat plant based, but I'm happy to eat eggs and at a push will eat fish or chicken. This is obviously not what I want to do for every meal but consider that you might be getting places late at night, options that are clearly described in English as not containing your allergens may only have meat in them etc. When I travelled to Japan and also for all these countries, I wrote 'I cannot eat dairy etc' in English on Google translate and then screenshotted the response in the desired language if I needed to show someone to confirm ingredients. For Japan I looked up pre made examples as I know the kanji can sometimes not translate directly, but here I just had the google translate page as a back up. Hong Kong - a lot of English spoken here and a lot of specifically vegan places however they are more expensive. At 7/11 they sell the 'Kind' granola bars which are vegan and yummy! and I also ate the ready made egg and rice sushi balls. Some ingredients were listed in English but I don't remember finding any other easy go-to's. At bakeries, of which there are a lot, almost everything appears to be cream filled, buttered, flaky pastry. I found I could eat walnut and raisin breads without any noticeable issues, but I didn't have an ingredients list to check. Vietnam - in HCMC I was very lucky to be staying down the road from a fully vegan restaurant that had ice cream, vegan banh mi, smoothies etc (Healthy World in District 1, there is another somewhere else in the city). Tofu was on menus and on an English menu in a Viet place I could safely pick something veggie. Asking for a dish to be 'chay' means veggie and that works too. Because everything is so cheap, it seemed to be easy enough to eat here. Desserts were limited with the exception of a vegan shop. They do have Oreos, in general for all these countries, I hope you like Oreos because they're the only dessert option most place ! Cambodia - Sometimes easy and sometimes not. Tofu did appear on menus, I would recommend trying Tofu Lok Lak as a veggie Khmer dish (it will probably come with a fried egg) and I was able to ask for curries just veggie or with tofu. I ate mostly eggs and toast of some kind for breakfast because that was a filling option. Every city I was in there was at least one vegan cafe or restaurant that was not too much more ££ than a normal meal so I knew at least I could get myself something nice and safely vegan every other day while keeping a budget. I was concerned about Koh Rong being a remote island that I would struggle to eat but this was one of the best places! There is a purely veggie/vegan restaurant on the main pier, as well as other restaurants offering vegan pizza, veggie pad thai, tofu curries etc. I also found a second kind of chocolate biscuit that wasn't an Oreo here! Koh Chang/Thailand - though we were back to having access to 7/11 the options seemed more limited and Thailand was my least favourite place to eat. In 7/11 I did find a few different kinds of Almond milk (& oreos!) but ingredients were rarely in English. Some options at the food halls were inari sushi, Subway (hash browns) and a few other (but more pricey) dedicated vegan restaurants in the central district. You deserve a medal if you made it this far - any questions please ask me, thanks :-)
San Francisco, Steel Palace - The Shi Throne RoomReading Music “Ladies and Gentlemen of the new Shi Grand Council! I take it you understand your new roles, so we will get right to the main portion of this meeting. If the Consul approves, that is.” Qiang said, while pacing around the circle of seats. He no longer needed to dance around an issue or go by someone else's schedule. This was his time, and he was among his peers that were fit to rule, not entitled children. The only people who were allowed to stay on the council were the veteran Council Master, renamed Consul, and Xian Li, the rest were now gone from government and no longer had a say in its affairs. The construction and refurbishment of the now heavily protected Shi Palace as well as the inner and outer city had now finished. The Consul nodded and Qiang continued, “I’ll get right to the point, I now see it as the proper time to induce phase two of the three phase plan, unite and stabilize. Let me now read what that will introduce…
I. More political reforms by, A. Forming a Parliament made up of a Senate, the upper house, National People’s Congress, the middle house, and National Assembly, the lower and primary house. B. A general election for Parliament that will take place every 5 years, but of course it can happen sooner if something like a motion of no-confidence is passed. Although the first elected government will only stay in for a total of 6 months before another election is called. Once a party is elected they will choose who will become President, and they in turn will be able to choose their Prime Minister. C. Creating new provinces and territories so that our lands may be governed properly. The Province of San Francisco, the Province of Silicon Valley, the Territory of Maxson, and the Territory of New California shall be created. Each will also have their own legislator based on the pre-war Westminster System. D. We separate state and crown, although the crown will still have control over the government. The Grand Shi Grand Council will no longer have to worry about the small details, and can get on with properly ruling over things like the clans, like it is supposed to. E. Creating a new House of Lords that will be below the Shi Grand Council and will manage lower titles, as well as lower crown and clan duties. They will also elect a Governor General to this council so that they may also be represented. F. Creating two new sub clans, one for the mystical clan for people of Northern European descent, and the other for the old world clan for people of Southern European descent. G. Creating government departments. For example we shall have State, National Defense, Science, Economic Development and Industry, Justice, as well as State Security. There will also be ministries and committees within those departments. H. Introducing stricter laws on things such as gambling and prostitution, so that we may limit the possibility for crime to rise. I. And finally, limiting the power of foreign and non-government invested corporations within our lands. Note that this rule does not apply to most domestic corporations, although they will still have their limits, and foreign corporations can still get around this by offering up a certain amount of their shares to us. II. Redeveloping our lands and equipment by, A. Dedicating Union City as our trading hub, San Jose as our technological and industrial hub, and San Francisco as our cultural and military hub. B. We shall develop our industry more, so that we will be able to not just manufacture more items for our use, but for trade as well. And while on that we shall use our newly created technology to increase the amount of power we produce as well as our agricultural yields. C. Developing San Francisco, with things such as shops and casinos, to the extent it will rival New Reno. We shall also rebuild its infrastructure, such as the cable car system, the Golden Gate Bridge and Emperor Norton Bridge, as well as build a triumphal arch to commemorate the Shi’s journey up to today.Hopefully with all these advances San Francisco can become the new ‘Jewel of New California’. D. Rebuilding old railways within our lands, and those connecting with the NCR. As well as starting on repairing the terminal and television networks that once connected our lands. E. R&D will work on developing new power armour using T-51b, Enclave Advanced MK II, and old Chinese power armor prototype schematics. Finishing our new vertibird project, as well as starting work on new jets, APCs and other vehicles. Creating a new version of the Hei Gui stealth armour, and creating our own version of the NCR’s ‘Black Armour’. Rediscovering old military technology that could be used today, like napalm and artillery. And finally starting a program on reverse engineering post war technologies so that we may start on better versions of them as soon as possible. III. More military advancements by, A. Expanding and re-equipping the Shi Armed Forces into a force that can compare with the NCR and BOS. We will also rename each to the Imperial People's Liberation 'Red' Army, Royal Air Force, and Royal Navy, respectively. B. Extending the rights of mutants and ghouls so that they may now serve in the Shi Armed Forces. With this they will finally stand with the same rights as regular humans. C. Constructing an additional two submarines based on the Shi-Huang-Ti with some improvements. D. Introducing more special forces such as Rangers, Marines, Hazardous Environment Combat Units, the Special Air Service, and Stormtroopers. We will also expand the Shi Guard to become a more effective imperial guard/officers corps. As well as create more divisions within the guard. For example the Samurai, Varangian Guard, Housecarls, and Praetorian Guard. E. Creating an advanced defense network on and near our borders and in the seas, in case of enemy attack, as well as strengthening our border with the NCR into a proper border with checkpoints, passports, and all. We shall also introduce a new Shi currency, backed by gold, but still allow for bottle caps to be used alongside it, to an extent. Organizing an exhibition open to the majority of the wastelands nations to show off, and sometimes allow for states to purchase, our technological and military advancements. As well as a military and civilian parade to take place the following day, which will be named Victory Day after the Goddess Victoria. Creating a program to encourage immaragtion into the Shi, and finally charter our own company to be used for the purposes of trade, exploration, banking, and more.”
Qiang took a long drink before continuing, he was now famous in the Shi for these long lists and speeches. ”And finally, our people have been waiting long enough for a banner to rally behind. So, we shall adopt the red banner as our national flag, as well as The Internationale as our anthem.” The meeting would last another few hours as they debated and asked questions about these changes, but in the end they were all passed with no opposition. The Shi Grand Council would set up everything needed for the elections, and not to long after announce it alongside an information campaign for those who were not used to open elections. (Edit - Formatting)
One of the most underrated bands around and definitely one of the most over looked albums from 1998. Vinyl reissue soon to be announced as well. SLOAN – NAVY BLUES 2019/2010 TOUR Fri 20 September North Bay, ON Capitol Centre Canada Sat 21 September Midland, ON Midland Cultural Centre Canada Fri 4 October Burlington, ON Burlington Living Arts Centre Canada Sat 5 October Milton, ON FirstOntario Arts Centre Canada Tue 8 October Sarnia, ON Imperial Theatre Canada Wed 9 October St. Catharine’s, ON FirstOntario Perf. Arts Centre – Partridge Hall Canada Thu 10 October Brampton, ON Rose Theatre Canada Tue 15 October Sault Ste. Marie, ON The Machine Shop Canada Wed 16 October Thunder Bay Crock’s Canada Fri 18 October Winnipeg, MB The Garrick Centre Canada Sat 19 October Saskatoon, SK Dakota Dunes Casino Canada Sun 20 October Lloydminster, AB Vic Juba Community Theatre Canada Mon 21 October Grand Prairie, AB Better Than Fred’s Canada Tue 22 October Sherwood Park, AB Festival Place Canada Wed 23 October Calgary, AB Palace Theatre Canada Fri 25 October Nelson, BC Spirit Lounge Canada Sat 26 October Penticton, BC Cleland Theatre Canada Sun 27 October Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom Canada Mon 28 October Nanaimo, BC Nanaimo Entertainment Centre Canada Tue 29 October Victoria, BC Distrikt Canada Thu 31 October Courtenay, BC The Avalanche Bar Canada Sat 2 November Seattle, Washington Barboza United States Sun 3 November Portland, OR Holocene United States Wed 6 November San Francisco, CA Rickshaw Stop United States Thu 7 November San Diego, CA Casbah United States Fri 8 November Phoenix, AZ The Rebel Lounge United States Sat 9 November Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room United States Sun 10 November Los Angeles, CA The Echo United States Tue 19 November Cleveland Heights, OH Grog Shop United States Wed 20 November Chicago, IL Bottom Lounge United States Fri 22 November St. Louis, MO Blueberry Hill United States Sat 23 November Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry United States Sun 24 November Kansas City, MO Riot Room United States Wed 19 February Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall United States Thu 20 February New York, NY Bowery Ballroom United States Fri 21 February Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle United States Sat 22 February Washington, DC Union Stage United States Sun 23 February Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle – Back Room United States Tue 25 February Atlanta, GA Vinyl at Center Stage United States Wed 26 February Jacksonville, FL Jackrabbits United States Fri 28 February Austin, TX 3Ten @ ACL Live United States Sat 29 February Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs) United States Sun 1 March Dallas, TX Three Links United States Tue 3 March Nashville, TN The High Watt United States Wed 4 March Columbus, OH A & R Music Bar United States Fri 6 March Indianapolis, IN The Hi-Fi United States Sat 7 March Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall United States Sun 8 March Buffalo, NY Iron Works United States Read More:Sloan announce U.S. ‘Navy Blues’ tour dates | http://www.brooklynvegan.com/sloan-announce-u-s-navy-blues-tour-dates/?trackback=tsmclip http://www.brooklynvegan.com/sloan-announce-u-s-navy-blues-tour-dates/
Hi All, I am heading to Hong Kong in a few weeks with my husband. It is a surprise trip (he doesn't know where we are going) so I have been researching activities etc to do in Hong Kong. Neither of us have visited before! I have compromised an itinerary and would be appreciate if you could give any suggestions or any further recommendations. We are in our early 30’s and enjoy architecture, art and drinking! I should also add we are staying in Central (at the Pottinger). Day 1: - Arrive in Hong Kong at 5.20pm - Have an early night and go wondering to Lan Kwai Fong for some dinner Day 2: - Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram - Lions Pavillion - Victoria Peak Circle Walk - Happy Valley Racecourse in the evening. I read that we can get a spot in the members enclosure – are there any other enclosures available for the general public? Day 3: - Visit Ocean Park theme park - In the evening catch the star ferry to TST o Avenue of the Stars o Symphony of the Lights o Have dinner and drinks o Temple Market Day 4: - Day trip to Lantau Island o Ngong Ping Cable car o Ngong Ping 360 Village o Big Buddha o Tai O Fishing Village o Drinks at the Heritgage Hotel Day 5: - Day trip to Macau o Visit Taipa village o Senado Square o Macau Tower o St Pauls Ruins - In the evening check out some of the casinos o The Venetian o The Wynn Palace o Morpheus - Take a ferry back to Hong Kong Day 6: - During the day: Visit the mid-level escalators - Suggestions???
In the evening visit Lan Kwai Fong
Day 7: - Shopping day at Causeway Bay - Ride the Ding Dong Tram - Try the street food on Houston Street - Visit Times Square
Evening: I did want to go to Savva but I heard they are closed for renovations until September? Do you have any other suggestions?
Day 8: - Maybe High Tea at the Peninsula? - Any other suggestions? Day 9: - Visit the Gagosian Art Gallery in the morning - Depart from Hong Kong at 8.10pm Thanking you in advance.
I love Hitman. It’s the only video game franchise that I’ve played in its entirety, and it’s a series I will keep playing for years to come, regardless of whether or not they ever release Hitman 3. The key to Hitman’s greatness is its replayability. Every level has more than one solution, and the best have seemingly countless. I love sitting down with pretty much any Hitman game, loading up a favourite level, and executing a perfect hit in a way I’ve never done before. Don’t ask me about the overarching story, because I’ve only played most of these games linearly once, but ask me the best way to assassinate both targets at the fashion show and boy do I have tales to tell. So without further ado, here’s my rundown of every level in every main Hitman game with a brief write up and an overall replayability score. It may be a little obsessive, but hey, that’s part of the fun of being a Hitman fan. (If you’re wondering, the best way to kill both targets in at the fashion show is to push Dalia off a balcony onto Victor below. Seriously, it’s the greatest feeling in the world) Hitman: Codename 47 This is where it all began, and it’s absolutely a game Hitman fans should play once. I don’t think it holds up all that well but it’s fascinating to see where a lot of the series’ trademarks came from. As you probably know, the majority of the levels in the game were remade in Hitman: Contracts; I think Contracts improves on them significantly, so I will be leaving them out of my Codename 47 ratings, and discussing them when we get to Hitman: Contracts. 1 - Training - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania Here we go - our intro to Agent 47 (well, “47” here). As far as training levels go, it’s pretty decent, doing a good job of explaining gameplay mechanics, without overstaying its welcome. I’ve only ever played it once, however, and feel like I got everything I need out of it. Replayability: ⅕ 2 - Kowloon Triads in Gang War - Chiu Dai Park, Kowloon, Hong Kong See Slaying a Dragon in Hitman: Contracts 3 - Ambush at the Wang Fou Restaurant - Wang Fou Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong See The Wang Fou Incident in Hitman: Contracts 4 - The Massacre at Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant - Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong See The Seafood Massacre in Hitman: Contracts 5 - The Lee Hong Assassination - Wang Fou Restaurant, Kowloon, Hong Kong See The Lee Hong Assassination in Hitman: Contracts 6 - Find the U'wa Tribe - Colombian Jungle The three missions in Columbia are some of my least favourite in all of Hitman-dom, simply because you have to play all three as third person shooters. Stealth is almost never an option, and it drives me INSANE. Replayability: ⅕ 7 - The Jungle God - Colombian Jungle More of the above, and I feel worse for that little pig than any target in Hitman history. Replayability: ⅕ 8 - Say Hello to My Little Friend - Pablo Ochoa’s Camp, Colombian Jungle Look, I don’t hate Codename 47. It’s just that the levels that weren’t remade mostly aren’t very good. Sorry, Codename 47 - this one’s gonna be a no from me. Replayability: ⅕ 9 - Traditions of the Trade - Hotel Gallàrd, Budapest See Traditions of the Trade in Hitman: Contracts 10 - Gunrunner’s Paradise - Harbor, Rotterdam See Deadly Cargo in Hitman: Contracts 11 - Plutonium Runs Loose - Harbor, Rotterdam See Deadly Cargo in Hitman: Contracts 12 - The Setup - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania I actually like this one! It can, and should, be done stealthily, and even though I don’t care very much about the overall story of Hitman, these last two levels are pretty interesting. I also like bringing patients the items they want. It’s not that replayable, but it’s definitely a cut above the Colombia ones. Replayability: ⅖ 13 - Meet Your Brother - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania After the stealthy fun of The Setup it’s a little disappointing that the game ends with a shooting gallery. That said, killing clones of 47 is fun to do once. Replayability: ⅕ Hitman: Codename 47 Average Replayability: ⅕ Hitman 2: Silent Assassin This was the first game in the series I played, and my god did I love it. It improves on everything that worked about Codename 47, and ditches pretty much everything that didn’t. It doesn’t all work quite as well as I remembered, but it’s still a good game. 1 - The Gontranno Sanctuary - Vittorio’s Church, Sicily We begin in a cute little Sicilian church, and while there isn’t anyone to kill here, I like revisiting this level from time to time because it’s very zen and 47 seems to genuinely enjoy not killing people for a change. Replayability: ⅖ 2 - Anathema - Villa Borghese, Sicily Before we know it 47 is back to his old tricks and Diana sends him to assassinate a mafia don. The setting is certainly limited by the graphics, and there isn’t a ton to do once you get into the compound, but this has the honour of being the first proper Hitman level I ever played, and will always have a special place in my heart. Replayability: ⅗ 3 - St. Petersburg Stakeout - St. Petersburg, Russia This is a great one. The location, the music, the time limit, and the process of elimination game you have to play to identify the general all works together to create a mission that I still enjoy going back to. Replayability: ⅗ 4 - Kirov Park Meeting - St. Petersburg, Russia While not as good as St. Petersburg Stakeout, there’s plenty of fun to be had either sniping or bombing the targets. And that Jesper Kyd score - my god. Replayability: ⅖ 5 - Tubeway Torpedo - St. Petersburg, Russia This one feels a bit like filler, but it’s always nice when Agent Smith pops up. Replayability: ⅕ 6 - Invitation to a Party - St. Petersburg, Russia I love just about any Hitman mission with civilians hanging out at what would otherwise be a fairly ordinary location. Invitation to a Party fits the bill, and I think it’s a wonderful conclusion to the Russia chapter of this game. Replayability: ⅗ 7 - Tracking Hayamoto - Hayamoto’s Mansion, Honshu, Japan Hitman in Japan is fun because Agent 47 is basically a ninja. This level isn’t amazing, but poisoning sushi while dressed up as a chef is extremely satisfying. Replayability: ⅖ 8 - Hidden Valley - Honshu, Japan Definitely filler. Replayability: ⅕ 9 -At the Gates - Honshu, Japan Wait, we still can’t kill Hayamoto?! If I was giving out zero scores, this would be the number one candidate. Replayability: ⅕ 10 - Shogun Showdown - Katsuyama Mansion, Honsu, Japan It isn’t totally worth the two levels of tedium it took to get here, but Shogun Showdown is a cool level. Dressing up as a ninja and sneaking around lasers just feels so right. Replayability: ⅖ 11 - Basement Killing - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia This level is fairly easy, but I absolutely love it. It can be done so smoothly with practice, and I find either of the three basic solutions to be a blast. I’ve completed this level waaay too many times. Replayability: ⅘ 12 - Graveyard Shift - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia This level would feel right at home in a Splinter Cell, which is never a bad thing. Replayability: ⅖ 13 - The Jacuzzi Job - Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Everything about The Jacuzzi Job is goofy fun, from the all-female guards to the rubber duck to the fact that Charlie is totally nude. I most definitely want to make boom boom with Charlie. Replayability: ⅗ 14 - Murder at the Bazaar - Nuristan, Afghanistan The most memorable thing about this section of the game is that 47 looks like Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Replayability: ⅕ 15 - The Motorcade Interception - Nuristan, Afghanistan Not only is this as dull as Hidden Valley it’s incredibly frustrating too. Hard pass. Replayability: ⅕ 16 - Tunnel Rat - Nuristan, Afghanistan Well, at least this is the last mission in Afghanistan. Replayability: ⅕ 17 - Temple City Ambush - Temple City, Punjab, India The layout of this level isn’t anything to write home about, but the surprise of the third assassin appearing never ceases to bring a smile to my face. Replayability: ⅖ 18 - The Death of Hannelore - Temple City Palace, Punjab, India The location is nice, but this mission’s just never done it for me. Replayability: ⅕ 19 - Terminal Hospitality - Hospital Island, Punjab, India Like the previous mission, there’s something about this one that just doesn’t click. The clone showing up at the end is kind of neat though. Replayability: ⅕ 20 - St. Petersburg Revisited - St. Petersburg, Russia I had forgotten how much this game sags at the end. We go BACK to St. Petersburg?! Replayability: ⅕ 21 - Redemption at Gontranno - Vittorio’s Church, Sicily Like Codename 47, we end where we began, and like Codename 47, we unfortunately end with a shooting gallery. It’s not a bad mission, just not a very replayable one. Replayability: ⅕ Hitman 2: Silent Assassin Average Replayability: ⅖ Hitman 2 Christmas Game Yes I’ve played this - no, you should not. Hitman: Contracts Like 2018’s Hitman 2, Contracts doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel. What it does is focus on what made Silent Assassin great and do more of that. There are a few gameplay tweaks, but as far as mechanics go, Contracts mostly stays the course. What’s so special about it is the atmosphere; it’s by far the darkest Hitman game, and every level feels wonderfully seedy and grim. 1 - Asylum Aftermath - Ort-Meyer’s Asylum, Romania We start with the aftermath of 47 killing Ort-Meyer, and it’s a nice introduction to the basic concept of the game - revisiting the past. Replayability: ⅖ 2 - The Meat King’s Party - Slaughterhouse, Romania Everything about this mission is completely disgusting - I love it! Replayability: ⅘ 3 - The Bjarkhov Bomb - Remote Base, Siberia, Russia This mission feels very been-there-done-that, especially after the giddy grotesquery of The Meat King’s Party. Replayability: ⅕ 4 - Beldingford Manor - Beldingford Manor, England Oh HELL yes. One of the best Hitman missions ever, Beldingford Manor is the perfect illustration of what this series can offer. Interesting, but believable location - check. Endless ways to complete the mission - check. Wonderfully evil targets - check. Great score - check. So. Much. Atmosphere - check, check, check. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play Beldingford Manor for the 100th time. Replayability: 5/5 5 - Rendezvous in Rotterdam - Flaming Rotterdam’s Compound, Rotterdam, Netherlands Bikers are kind of the worst. I don’t like their shitty attitudes, shitty music, or shitty decorating choices. I don’t like this level. Replayability: ⅕ 6 - Deadly Cargo This is the first full-on Codename 47 remake in the game, combining Gunrunner’s Paradise with Plutonium Runs Loose. The location isn’t the most exciting, but with a nuclear bomb to diffuse and a treasure trove of different ways to complete the mission, I’m not complaining. Replayability: ⅘ 7 - Traditions of the Trade - Hotel Galar, Budapest, Hungary Another home run, this level is dripping with atmosphere AND features a ghost. Yes please. Replayability: ⅘ 8 - Slaying a Dragon - Chiu Dai Park, Hong Kong This level can be completed so hilariously quickly that I never really feel like putting in the effort to try other solutions. Replayability: ⅕ 9 - The Wang Fou Incident - Wang Fou Restaurant, Hong Kong It wouldn’t work that well story-wise, but these Hong Kong missions should probably have been combined Deadly Cargo-style. They’re just too simple on their own. Replayability: ⅕ 10 - The Seafood Massacre - Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant, Hong Kong This one is quite fun, and framing someone else for murder is always a good time. Replayability: ⅖ 11 - The Lee Hong Assassination - Wang Fou Restaurant, Hong Kong It’s not a bad end to the Lee Hong series of levels, but it’s a bit anticlimactic. Agent Smith raises its pedigree slightly. Replayability: ⅖ 12 - Hunter and Hunted - Hotel, Paris, France 47 goes full Leon: The Professional and it’s glorious. Playing Contracts for the first time, a part of me knew this mission must be coming, but actually playing 47s impossible escape blew my expectations away. A superb end to a very underrated game. Replayability: 5/5 Hitman: Contracts Average Replayability: ⅗ Hitman: Blood Money What more can be said about Blood Money? It’s the game where everything just fell into place. 1 - Death of a Showman - Southland Amusement Park, Baltimore, USA It’s a testament to the greatness of Blood Money that even the training mission is excellent. It’s not as replayable as some of the truly legendary levels this game has to offer, but Death of a Showman is the perfect introduction to everyone’s favourite Hitman game. Replayability: ⅗ 2 - A Vintage Year - Colchagua Valley Vineyard, Chile This is a very good Hitman level, but it hasn’t stuck with me the way some of Blood Money has. Replayability: ⅗ 3 - Curtains Down - Garnier Opera House, Paris, France This is one of those levels that you can point to and say, “THAT’S what Hitman is.” It’s Hitchcockian in its construction, gorgeous, and may feature the most satisfying kill in any Hitman game. And can I mention how fantastic the mission titles are in Blood Money? Replayability: 5/5 4 - Flatline - Pine Cone Rehabilitation Centre, California, USA Three targets AND you get to rescue Agent Smith. Hitman had done medical centres before, but this was the best yet by far. 47 in a robe makes me chuckle every time. Replayability: ⅘ 5 - A New Life - Suburbs, San Diego, USA Dear god this game just keeps knocking it out of the park. This may be my favourite Hitman level of all time, and it all comes down to the simple location. There’s something so twisted about watching 47 stalk his prey in the suburbs; it’s like Michael Myers in Halloween. It’s an inversion of everyday life, and a brilliant examination of the darkness that can lurk just below the surface. Replayability: 5/5 6 - The Murder of Crows - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA The (ahem) hits keep coming. I sometimes forget just how many great levels Blood Money contains. This is the first Hitman level to feature a colossal amount of NPCs and IO Interactive really uses them to their full advantage. Pushing through a raucous crowd while wearing a bird costume - perfection. Replayability: ⅘ 7 - You Better Watch Out… - Rocky Mountains, USA Perhaps it’s due to the quadruple whammy preceding it, but this level doesn’t totally work for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but not quite Blood Money good. Replayability: ⅖ 8 - Death on the Mississippi - Emily, Mississippi, USA This is a damn good mission, and I love how many targets there are. Replayability: ⅗ 9 - Till Death Do Us Part - Mississippi, USA I’m truly torn over whether to give this a 4 or a 5. It’s wonderful, but maybe not quiiiite top tier. Maybe. I dunno - it’s amazing. This is really a 4.5 Replayability: ⅘ 10 - A House of Cards - Shamal Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, USA They really nail the feel of Vegas here, but something about this mission has never totally drawn me in. Replayability: ⅖ 11 - A Dance with the Devil - The Shark Club, Las Vegas, USA The concept for this level alone is mindblowing, but the (ahem) execution is just as flawless. This game is so good it makes me cry. Replayability: 5/5 12 - Amendment XXV - White House, Washington, USA Blood Money takes place mostly in America, so where better to have the final full level than the White House? It doesn’t quite reach the dizzying highs of some of Blood Money’s missions, but this is a supremely satisfying almost-finale. Replayability: ⅘ 13 - Requiem - Unknown, USA Ok, remember when I said I don’t really care about Hitman’s story? Or when I said I don’t like shooting galleries? Somehow all of that melts away in Requiem, and I’m left absolutely floored by this ending. As a mission it’s quick, but as a conclusion to the best Hitman game - flawless. Replayability: 5/5 Hitman: Blood Money Average Replayability: ⅘ Hitman: Vegas Well I thought I played all the Hitman games. There’s a great video review of this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbgKsgKZS8s and it does kind of make me want to give it a shot. Hitman: Sniper Challenge The first of three sniper games, Sniper Challenge is fun. I’m not going to include it in my rankings because it’s so different in concept, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Hitman: Absolution Ok, let’s talk about Hitman: Absolution. It’s...a really good game, and if it wasn’t called Hitman I don’t think many people would complain. Compared to Blood Money, Absolution is indeed a bit of a misstep for the series. There’s less freedom or need to experiment, and those are two of Hitman’s greatest strengths. Here’s the thing though - I will never hold it against an artist for trying something new. That’s what art is all about. Did the changes totally work? No. So they course-corrected, and four years later gave us exactly what we asked for. This game also looks and sounds great. Textures, lighting effects, and NPC dialogue are polished until they gleam. The gameplay is by far the smoothest the series had ever seen, and they even came up with a solid story, told through well produced cut scenes. I’m just gonna say it - I’m a fan of Absolution. Please don’t hate me. 1 - A Personal Contract - Outskirts of Chicago, USA The target’s Diana?! Right off the bat Absolution takes a hard left turn, and I’d put this training mission up right up there with Death of a Showman. It does a fantastic job of explaining how the game works (including the much-maligned but actually really fun point shooting feature), and looks absolutely stunning. Replayability: ⅗ 2 - The King of Chinatown - Chinatown, Chicago, USA I think even Absolution haters would have to admit this level is awesome. There are endless way to kill the King, and having them all be in such a contained space is really impressive. Replayability: ⅘ 3 - Terminus - Terminus Hotel, Chicago, USA This mission is...kind of dull. If all of Absolution were like this I’d definitely be in the “not a fan” camp. I’m giving it an extra point for the scary bear and the really cool way it ends. Replayability: ⅖ 4 - Run for Your Life - Chicago, USA Here is where this game very much announces how different it is from other Hitman games. This feels like a mission from a completely different series and I enjoy it a lot. Replayability: ⅗ 5 - Hunter and Hunted - The Vixen Club, Chicago, USA This mission is great! Going from the stripclub to Chinatown feels like something from 2016’s Hitman, and a quick glance at all the challenges available demonstrates just how much this level has to offer. Replayability: ⅘ 6 - Rosewood - Rosewood Orphanage, Chicago, USA This one’s OK. Starting with carrying Victoria is very tense and atmospheric, but once that part’s over the rest of the mission isn’t that memorable. Replayability: ⅖ 7 - Welcome to Hope - Hope, South Dakota, USA This mission is mostly cutscenes AND features bikers. No thank-you. Replayability: ⅕ 8 - Birdie’s Gift - Hope, South Dakota, USA Even though the mission is very easy to complete, I love this location. They totally nailed the look and feel of this particular kind of place and sneaking through a shooting range is terrifying in all the best ways. This is also a fun location for target practice. Replayability: ⅗ 9 - Shaving Lenny - Hope, South Dakota, USA Having the Hope Cougars be a 1950’s style greaser gang makes me so very happy. Another gorgeous location, with plenty of targets and lots of ways to get the job done. Replayability: ⅗ 10 - End of the Road - Desert, USA This level is a work of genius. It’s a brilliant subversion of everything we expect from a Hitman game, and once you start experimenting there are practically endless ways to complete a level that can technically be beaten in three seconds. Replayability: 5/5 11 - Dexter Industries - Hope, South Dakota, USA This mission has a great opening cutscene, but for the most part it’s pretty bland. Replayability: ⅕ 12 - Death Factory - Hope, South Dakota, USA There’s sooo many ways to complete this mission, but for whatever reason the layout of the level just doesn’t appeal to me so I rarely come back to it. Replayability: ⅖ 13 - Fight Night - Dexter Industries, Hope, USA Dressing up as a luchador and killing Sanchez in the ring is really fun, but there’s not a ton else to do here. Replayability: ⅖ 14 - Attack of the Saints - Waikiki Inn, Hope, USA This is another great location, but let’s face it, there’s only one correct way to do this, and it’s dressed as a scarecrow. But I will happily dress as a scarecrow over and over again. Replayability: ⅗ 15 - Skurky’s Law - Hope, South Dakota, USA Another very solid level, with some fun disguises, and a cameo from Kane! Replayability: ⅗ 16 - Operation Sledgehammer - Hope, South Dakota, USA Operation Sledgehammer is OK, but the best part by far is just walking towards the church at the end; it’s epic. Replayability: ⅖ 17 - One of a Kind - Chicago, USA There’s not much to do here, save for some cool Hitman easter eggs. Replayability: ⅕ 18 - Blackwater Park - Blackwater Park, Chicago, USA The game is definitely dragging at this point and the part with Layla trying to seduce 47 only to have him murder her is really mean-spirited. Replayability: ⅕ 19 - Countdown - Chicago, USA The fog is awesome, the countdown adds a great level of tension, and pushing people off the roof is a blast. Replayability: ⅘ 20 - Absolution - Cornwall, England This mission feels pretty tacked on, especially after Countdown, but 47 saying “You’ll never know” makes the whole thing worth it. Replayability: ⅖ Hitman: Absolution Average Replayability: ⅗ Hitman Go Hitman chilled out for a bit and released a couple more mobile games. I’m not going to include either in my level rankings because they aren’t typical Hitman levels at all, but Hitman Go is a must-play for any Hitman fan. It’s equal parts delightful and challenging, and every level is a minimalist work of art. Hitman: Sniper Hitman: Sniper is also worth checking out. It’s bogged down by the usual mobile game unlockable nonsense, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here, and it’s ridiculously cheap if you don’t fall for any of the microtransactions. Hitman I’m a little bit torn on Hitman. Let’s start with the good: Sapienza and Hokkaido are fantastic locations that I can literally play endlessly. IO has fully embraced the sandbox nature of these games and when it all works it’s as good as Hitman has ever been. But...I really miss the personality of Contracts, Blood Money, and Absolution. It’s easier to create atmosphere when levels are smaller and more contained - that’s why a lot of open world games aren’t very distinctive. The massive levels in Hitman just haven’t stuck with me the way some of the best missions in other Hitman have. That said, all I need to do is load up Sapienza, Hokkaido, or Paris and I’m pretty much guaranteed a great time. This game is a little tough to break into missions since there so many are twists on the six main locations so I’m only going to focus on the story ones. I debated doing a write up for Patient Zero but considering it’s also in existing locations I’ll just say that it’s totally worth playing at least once, especially the final level, which is bananas. And I also want to give IO a shout out for their commitment to players. They were releasing content for Hitman pretty much up until the release of Hitman 2, and they really, really seem to care about everyone who plays this game having something new to do whenever they boot it up. 1 - Freeform Training - ICA Training Facility, Greenland I love the idea of having training be in a simulated ICA environment - it’s a great tongue in cheek nod to the artifice of games themselves, especially training levels. Knowing that everyone in the level is just acting gives every playthrough an added level of enjoyment and the general shittiness of the fake boat is perfect. Replayability: ⅘ 2 - The Final Test - ICA Training Facility, Greenland I could have stood to have only one simulated environment - two seems like overkill. Replayability: ⅖ 3 - The Showstopper - Palais de Walewska, Paris, France This level really feels like IO announcing that they listened to fans’ reaction to Absolution. It has more ways to complete it than any previous Hitman level and really rewards multiple playthroughs. The targets aren’t all that memorable, but this is a welcome return to Agent 47’s roots. Replayability: ⅘ 4 - World of Tomorrow - Sapienza, Italy Sapienza takes everything that makes The Showstopper work and cranks it up to 11. The location is maybe the prettiest in any Hitman game, the layout is perfect, and it’s a blast to walk around in 47’s casual clothes and just hang out in this perfect little Italian town. Replayability: 5/5 5 - A Gilded Cage - Marrakesh, Morocco This one’s a bit of a bummer. It’s competent but just isn’t all that fun. Replayability: ⅖ 6 - Club 27 - Bangkok, Thailand Definitely an improvement over Marrakesh, but not as good as Paris or Sapienza. Replayability: ⅗ 7 - Freedom Fighters - Colorado, USA Oh man - I really dislike this mission. It’s bland and easy and just feels like something from a much worse stealth game. Replayability: ⅕ 8 - Situs Inversus - Hokkaido, Japan Luckily, Hitman totally sticks the landing. Situs Inversus is even better than Flatline. It’s equal parts tranquille and creepily sterile, plus 47 gets to dress up as a ninja and run across rooftops with a samurai sword. It’s a perfect ending. Replayability: 5/5 Hitman Average Replayability: ⅗ Hitman 2 Hitman 2 is to Hitman what Contracts was to Silent Assassin; It’s so similar that you can even play all of Hitman 1 within it, utilizing all of the updated gameplay features. But, like Contracts, Hitman 2 takes everything that worked in Hitman and doubles down on it, creating a truly immersive experience. Each location has a distinct atmosphere and there’s a running theme of how unsustainable wealth and power is. This is the best Hitman game since Blood Money - it might be the best Hitman game ever made. IO, now an independent studio, includes another fun sniper mode called Sniper Assassin, and there’s even multiplayer for the first time. Ghost Mode basically pits you against Agent 47 from an alternate universe and you compete with another player to try and get the best score on a level - it’s fantastic. There’s also plenty of single-player DLC yet to be released. It saddens me that the game isn’t doing super well commercially, and I really, really hope there will someday be a Hitman 3. I’m on board for life, IO, and I know a lot of other people are too. 1 - Nightcall - Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand Nightcall features a nice location and there are quite a few ways to get the job done, but I definitely prefer the training level in Hitman. Replayability: ⅖ 2 - The Finish Line - Miami, USA Oh man - this is one for the ages. There’s so much to do, and it feels like four levels all in one. Every mission story is worth playing, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll be playing this one for years to come. Replayability: 5/5 3 - Three-Headed Serpent - Santa Fortuna, Colombia The only Codename 47 location that had never been revisited was Colombia and Three-Headed Serpent makes the return trip worth the wait. It’s nothing like the Colombia missions in Codename 47, but it’s a great level. I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things to do, and the three distinct elements - the military, the wealth, and the drugs - all play beautifully off one another. Replayability: ⅘ 4 - Chasing a Ghost - Mumbai, India This level really shows off how much better the voice acting is in Hitman 2 compared to Hitman. Mumbai feels truly alive, and the level’s tight, labyrinthian structure is so packed with authentic details I would often stop just to marvel at the sun blazing from behind a skyscraper or to appreciate the all the little elements that were combined to create the laundry foreman’s office building. Trying to find the Maelstrom isn’t quite as fun as I hoped it would be, however, and I think the mission could have done without him. Replayability: ⅘ 5 - Another Life - Whittleton Creek, Vermont, USA As a huge fan of A New Life, this feels like a level created just for me (though I’m sure there are many, many other New Life fans out there). The scale of this compared to the original absolutely blows me away, and like the original, discovering all the darkness hiding beneath the veneer of small-town Americana makes for a wonderful juxtaposition. Whether it’s a creepy basement full of poison and baking or a politician with some truly reprehensible ideas, it’s eminently clear that 47 isn’t the only boogeyman in town. Replayability: 5/5 6 - The Ark Society - Isle of Sgàil, North Atlantic Ocean All the themes of class structure and wealth disparity come to a head in a perfect final mission. This article by Cameron Kunzelman beautifully articulates what makes this level, and Hitman as a whole, so special: https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/4397e3/hitman-2-makes-you-the-catastrophe-everyone-is-dreading I’ll end by saying that I encountered a bug during my first playthrough of this mission and was unable to load any of my saves, forcing me to restart. With most games this would be a chore, but with Hitman I eagerly dove back in, and immediately discovered a completely new way to take out a target. That’s why I love Hitman so much. Replayability: 5/5 Hitman 2 Average Replayability: 4/5
Critique my itinerary! Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan.
I posted a while back with a general plan/allotment of days. We've finally narrowed down our activities list a bit and would love any last minute tips or critiques regarding the way we've planned the days! We're not the type of people who stick to strict itineraries, so the plans are more like guidelines to make sure we hit up the things we care about the most with options to add more depending on how fast or slow we take it. Leaving in a couple weeks. Day 1 (Saturday): Arrive in Singapore around noon. Hotel is in Chinatown. Check in, walk & eat around the neighborhood at the hawker centres. Don't want to exert ourselves too much after the flight so planning to just wrap up the day by Marina Bay/Gardens for the light shows. Day 2 (Sunday): Start in Little India for breakfast. Head to Kampong Glam to see the mosque and for shopping at Haji Lane, then to Old Airport Road Food Centre. If we have time, go to Orchard Road for even more shopping, then finish up the day in the colonial district with a drink at Raffles perhaps. Art Gallery is on the list if we feel like it. Enjoy nightlife in Clarke Quay. Day 3 (Monday): Go to Orchard Road for shopping if we didn't go the day before, followed by a trip to the Botanic Gardens and Adam Road Food Centre. If we feel up for it, head to Treetop Walk and then the Night Safari. If not, chill out around our hotel area again (and hit up Gardens by the Bay if we were too tired to see them the first night.) Day 4 (Tuesday): Very early morning flight to Hong Kong. Hotel is in Mongkok. Check in and rest, then slowly explore Kowloon area on foot (Ladies Market, Street Bird Garden, Tsim Sha Tsui.) Either try for an early dinnedrinks at Ho Lee Fook and the Quinary followed by the Victoria Harbour Light Show, or vice versa if we're not hungry that soon. Day 5 (Wednesday): Take the ferry to Lamma Island for lazy shopping, eating, and hiking. Check out Jumbo Kingdom on the way there or back if it makes sense? Dinner at Juxing Home followed by Cantonese Opera at Ko Shan. Day 6 (Thursday): Potential day trip to Macau. Eat lots of food and walk around everywhere. Seems like we could start in Taipa and make our way North, or go the other way around. We'll eat egg tarts and African chicken for sure. The famous water show isn't showing during our trip so I don't think we'll stay too late. We don't like gambling so won't spend much time at casinos. I was considering doing the AJ Hackett bungy jump though, if that wouldn't crowd the day too much. Day 7 (Friday): Lantau Island - check out the buddha, Tai O fishing village, and Mui Wo beach? Dinner in Sheung Wan (if we can get the reservation we want!) Day 8 (Saturday): Last day in HK so want to see everything we didn't already see on HK island like Hong Kong Park, shopping in Wan Chai (I've got a few places saved), maybe Shek O beach too? We have a dinner reservation in Wan Chai and will likely go out afterwards. Day 9 (Sunday): Flight to Kaohsiung mid-morning. Hotel by Liuhe Night Market. Want to check out the Lotus Pond, Pier 2 Art Center, Xinjuejiang Shopping District, and Ruifeng Night Market. Day 10 (Monday): Train to Tainan (not the HSR.) Hotel close-ish to Tainan Confucious Temple. Don't have much planned here aside from wandering around and eating food. Have considered checking out Taijiang National Park as well. Day 11 (Tuesday): HSR to Taipei. Hotel by Taipei Main. Not sure what time we will get in - depends on whether or not we want to spend more time in Tainan in the morning. Leaving this day without many plans, maybe just the Huashan 1914 Creative Park followed by Raohe Night Market. If we have extra time we can try to hit up a restaurant on our list that's not particularly near anything else we've planned? Day 12 (Wednesday): Start at Xiahai City God Temple. From there, wander and snack down through Ximendeng all the way to Lungshan Temple. Hang out in Gongguan for a bit (we might do this on Day 1 though if we have time.) Hit up Ningxia Night Market later on if we're still hungry. Day 13 (Thursday): Day trip to Shifen & Jiufen Day 14 (Friday): National Palace Museum, Yangmingshan & Thermal Valley (and Yehliu Geopark? Maybe way too ambitious), Shilin Night Market. It seems like this is a doable, if busy, day. If this is too much we might skip Shilin entirely, or leave the National Palace for its own day. Day 15 (Saturday): Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taipei 101 + Din Tai Fung (we're prepared for the wait!), Maokong Gondola, Tonghua Night Market. Day 16 (Sunday): Our last day of the trip! Leaving this morning to either revisit somewhere we enjoyed a lot, or hit up an area we missed due to lack of time. Flight home is at 5:30pm.
The following is a list of 1000 movies that I have compiled by trying to be as objective as possible, which is an obvious lie, it's a very subjective list, but it should be valuable for anyone interested in finding new movies. The majority of these titles are probably familiar to most of you anyway. Let me know your thoughts!
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