18 posts by Tiffany Em

Six Weeks in South Africa, Six To Go: Fun Facts & Reflections

Today marks my official halfway point into my time here in SA. Crazy how time flies. I hardly feel like the same person who emerged from the throes of my first year in grad school; heavy, tired, uncertain, and sad that I was going to miss the best weather of the year. What did I trade in summer for? To be in the southern hemisphere being confused daily by my belief that I was entitled to summer, yet brutalized by a winter that feels more like autumn in the shade, spring in the sunlight, and an ... Continue Reading

If You’ve Visited Zanzibar, You Got A Taste of Oman: A Brief History Lesson on Oman’s Former Capital

The ubiquitous kuma headdress worn by nearly every male in Oman is said to come from Zanzibar.     I've never been to Oman, but I did visit Zanzibar exactly two years ago to the day (June 2015) and was struck by what seemed to be vast Arab influence throughout the capital of Stone Town. It took writing this article to learn that Zanzibar was colonized by the Omani Empire not very long ago. The word Zanzibar itself is said to be derived from the Persian words for ‘black coast’ ... Continue Reading

Tunneling ancient trees a good idea for tourism?

Cutting tunnels into trees as a tourism strategy. Photo Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/dollar_bin/513908000/in/photolist-oVAfc6-m1Yeww-MpUVE-MpUWL
I think a lot about tourism. It's practically the impetus for this blog. It drives my desire to see the world and now, my graduate studies in urban economic development. That said, I came across this pretty unfortunate NPR story (and this National Geographic one) on a 1000 year old sequoia tree meeting its demise after a rough storm.     To "inspire tourism" to national parks in the 19th century, tunnels were carved into the trunks of a few of these natural beauties to ... Continue Reading

A Tour of the East Wing of the White House

  What happens when friends from out of town visit and want to do lots of touristy things? You get them tickets for a White House tour...for the day after they left :/ I still went and rallied my sister and close friend to accompany me on my first White House tour. It dawned on me while waiting in line that this was a big deal for many of the other visitors. They were buzzing with excitement and curiosity. As a native Washingtonian (born in DC), going inside the White House didn't ... Continue Reading

A Tale of Being Unprepared For a 20km+ Hike in The Philippines

I hopped off a 12 hour night bus from Manila to Banaue (pronounced Bah-now-way) -- a city in the Northern mountainous region of the Philippines known for its acclaimed natural wonders -- with no plans. It was the part of the trip I anticipated the most, next to the part where I got to meet distant relatives on my maternal grandma's side. I only had a couple days to lay my eyes on these UNESCO World Heritage beauties and I was determined to not allow my lack of advance planning to get in the ... Continue Reading

Selfies & passport stamps: is travel the new stunt?

  Hashtags, selfies, turn ups, glamour: is that all there is to travel anymore? Introducing #BeyondSelfies I got my first passport ever in life while in college for Study Abroad. In 2008, I was plopped down in the middle of Salvador, Brazil. The port city serving as the initial point of entry for all Portuguese cargo ships, which for centuries were sailing a direct route west from Angola with the most precious cargo of its time -- slaves. But for the cultivation of sugarcane and other ... Continue Reading

The Chinese are saving Africa’?

When casually chatting about the pace of Nairobi's rapid development, my new friend (the brother of a former colleague) exclaimed "the Chinese are saving Africa yo!" He explained to me that Chinese development companies and engineers had taken a business interest in the 'developing world'. They constructed multiple major highways and thoroughfares around Nairobi and completed the work in a remarkably fast time frame (~3 years or so). They brought the managers with them and now that the job is ... Continue Reading

Freddie Gray’s city: is it still so charming?

Charm City, why do they call you this? And where is all the post-'riot' destruction? Those were the big questions I had as I made my way from where I grew up (just outside of your arch nemesis city Washington DC) to your downtown. I'm guessing charm city is an old name they used to call you; is it still true? Maybe I'm a misguided visitor, but I'm kinda looking for historical charm in a contemporary time; if it's too strange to pit the present-day realities against selective memories of the ... Continue Reading

Are signs really that interesting? – A photo essay

I. Love. Signs. I thought it was a strange fascination at first until I learned more about the art and science of way finding. Many jurisdictions have full time staff, sometimes teams, dedicated to figuring out how best to make their cities more navigable. Yes, navigable is a word. I heard it at a smart people conference once and was like *record scratch*. I applied for a job once to work on New York City's roll out of a new way-finding system and in learning about the job opportunity, I ... Continue Reading

Would you ride a bamboo bike to and from work?

Ghana's Eco-Friendly Bamboo Bikes

Meet the Ghanaian entrepreneur who's building bikes out of bamboo.

Posted by AJ+ on Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Do you use a bike to get around? I'd love to travel to Ghana to spend time with the amazing entrepreneur who started this small business. I would check out the factory where the bikes are made and dig deeper into the impact these bikes might be having on the community. The scientist in me wants to conduct a small study on the difference bicycles are making for the community members who now have one. Who is buying these bikes? Where are they using them to go to and from? What did they use to ... Continue Reading