Which Foreign Currency Has the Most Bacteria and Fecal Matter On It?

With all the talk on the declining value of the Euro and the British Pound and U.S. travelers taking advantage on the low currency exchange, we have to acknowledge that money can be disgusting. I’m not talking about its destructive nature and metaphorical ideals, I’m taking there’s gross stuff embedded in it fibers — like bacteria, feces and urine. We don’t know where that note has been.

I got on this discussion over the weekend about how the polls and straps on New York subways are pretty much the dirtiest thing on earth. I’m amazed that New Yorkers haven’t been turned into C.H.U.D.s by now.

After a few drinks, we talked about money and if banks do some sort of sanitation process with U.S. and foreign currency. Doubtful. Then which is dirtier, paper money or coins? I say paper because the fiber has more absorbent qualities where bad shit can get in. Coins are solid and can block bacteria … OR CAN IT?

Then we speculated about which country would have the dirtiest and cleanest money. We can’t prove that Americans have the most disgusting money and a proper international study would be to costly. Off the top of my head, I say Swedes have clean money because they are beautiful and efficient people and the worst is the Chinese due to air pollution and lacks industrial regulation.

To add you your list of things to  freak out over, let’s look at some articles about shit-smeared money:

Cash Carries Lots of Bacteria (ABC News): Researchers from the Wright Patterson Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, asked people standing in line at a grocery store checkout and at a high school concession stand to trade a $1 bill from their pocket for a new one … Five of the bills contained bacteria that can cause an infection in perfectly healthy people, and 59 of them (that’s 87 percent) were contaminated with bacteria that could cause an infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, such as people with HIV or cancer.

NYU’s Dirty Money Project: Scientists have also found that each banknote carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface as well as DNA from drug-resistant microbes. And, since a banknote is home to thousands of microbes – bacteria, fungi and pathogens, this situation can cause such illnesses as skin infections, stomach ulcers and food poisoning etc., scientists believe.

Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (WSJ): In a study of the public-health effect of new currency materials, researchers at Australia’s University of Ballarat recently tested bills taken in change from supermarkets, coffee shops and cafeterias in 10 countries.  While levels of bacteria varied widely from place to place, they usually found fewer on polymer bills than on cotton-based ones, according to their 2010 study in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease.

Dirty Money: A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet (NPR): The most common microbes on the bills, by far, are ones that cause acne … Other money dwellers included mouth microbes — because people lick their fingers when they count bills, Carlton says — and bacteria that thrive in the vagina.

Let’s stop right there, who’s putting money in their vaginas? Please don’t answer that.

Lesson we can learn here, please don’t make it rain at the club. That’s just biological warfare.

Learning About Hector Pieterson in Soweto

The more I travel, the more I learn I don’t know shit. You can put that on your inspiration photo, post it on your Instagram and show your friends how blessed and inspired you are about knowing nothing.

I say this because while I biked through Soweto, I was lead to the Hector Pieterson Museum. The guide explained his significance and the story about the photo. “As we all know in this iconic photo taken after he was killed…,” he said while I nodded my head. Only problem, I never heard of him or have seen the photo by Sam Nzima.

To boil down the complex story of Hector, he was a 13-year South African schoolboy who was murdered by police during peaceful student protests on June 16, 1976 that started the Soweto Uprising. It is believed that he could have been the first person killed that day. Over 175 ended up dying during the uprising. Apartheid, yes I know about that. The Uprising, not so much.

In the photo, he is carried by his sister Antoinette and schoolmate Mbuyisa Makhubo. The photo circulated around the world, causing anger, on both sides of the issues. “How could this happen?” vs. “This is what happens when (fill in racist idea)…” Nzima had to go into hiding after publishing the photo.

At the site of the uprising stands Hector’s memorial and the museum. Antoinette became a tour guide and curator of the museum.

“When the shooting began, I went into hiding. When the shooting stopped, I came out of hiding when others came out. I saw [my brother] Hector [Pieterson] across the street, and I called him and waved at him. He came over and I spoke to him, but more shots rang out and I went into hiding again. I thought he followed me, but he did not come. I came out again and waited at the spot where I just saw him. He did not come. When Mbuyiso came past me a group of children were gathering nearby. He walked towards the group and picked up a body … And then I saw Hector’s shoes.”

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How Will Brexit Affect Travel? One Word: Thunderdome

Here’s a sample of the headlines I’ve come across since Thursday’s vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European union:

  • How Will Brexit Effect U.S.-U.K. Relations?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Imports?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Exports?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Euro 2016?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Global Markets?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Glastonbury?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Game of Thrones? (not joke, here’s an article from Deadline)
  • How Will Brexit Effect your 401K? (answer, no bueno)
  • How Will Brexit Effect You Personally?
  • How Will Brexit Effect Food?
  • How Will Brexit Effect the Weather?

I’m joking about that last one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody looked it up.

The big question for us travelers is how it will affect us going to the U.K. and Europe. The answer is that bordertowns will spring up throughout London and mainland Europe. In order to pass border control, you must enter a round, globe-like arena. The rule is simple: two men enter, one man leaves. While other tourists shout and spit at you, you will do battle with U.K. separatists using battle axes, wooden logs, chainsaws, chains and maces. You survive, you get a passport stamp. You lose — well, you will be missed.

I kid, but it’s too early to tell if there will be an impact, if any. We do know that the pound is at it’s lowest in 31 years at 1.33 against the U.S. dollar. As I’ve said repeatedly, buy currency now even if you’re not going to the U.K. anytime soon. As for the Euro, that’s also at a reasonable rate to stock up at 1.10. When I stocked up early last year, it was at 1.06 during the Greece bailout crisis. Pull the trigger now.

In no way you should alter your plans. It’s silly to think that you’d be in danger or singled out in Britain if you’re a tourist no matter where you come from. If anything, I think it would be an interesting time to hear from Brits what they think, or if they care at all. Thirty million voted overall. That’s 72% of the eligible voting population, meaning 28% said “bollocks”.

In the next year, there could be a revote (“Opps, we made a huge mistake.”) or Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could leave to join the E.U.

huge-mistakeIf this stands, the one aspect I have been talking about is London not being the center of European cool. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and if companies don’t want to do business there, they’ll go someplace else.

I can see Berlin becoming the epicenter of European cool where artists, thinkers, entrepreneurs and the jetset go to be seen and make a name for themselves. It was fun while it lasted, London. Amiright?

Beer Voyage — SAB World of Beer in Johannesburg

Until we get a working version of Duff Gardens, the SAB World of Beer is as close as we’ll get to a beer theme park. The elaborate attraction in the Newtown section of Johannesburg traces the history of beer in South Africa as well as the brewing process.

If you been to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin or Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, the SAB World of Beer is similar in scope, but just not as fun. Let’s face it, you don’t crave any of the South African Breweries’s line-up. The difference is the that the World of Beer is a ticketed guided tour.

To get you caught up on the economics, SAB merged with Miller in 2002 to become SABMiller. It is now the second largest brewing company in the world behind Anheuser-Busch InBev. Currently, those two will merge to create (deep breathe) Anheuser-Busch InBev-SABMiller. They will control 30% of the world’s beer, which seems completely fair and not a monopoly whatsoever.

Most of the beer that SAB makes isn’t widely distributed in North America, which is fine by me because we’ve got 2K+ craft breweries here so we’ve good with beer. These beers include Carling Black Label, Castle Lager, Castle Lite, Castle Milk Stout and Hansa Pilsener. At the end of the tour, if you spring for the premium package, you can sample their whole line of mass produced beers. Of course, I got the premium package. They did have a rare beer that’s hard to come by, the Castle Milk Stout Chocolate Infused Stout. That was tasty. The others were interesting to put it kindly.

Before you get buzzed, you go through an hour tour where you see awkwardly corny promo videos, animatronic workers making beer the old fashion way, a recreation of turn of the century Joberg, how beer is made and drank in the bush and the brewing process. I’ve been on about a dozen brewery tours so I know the business.

I’m a sucker for fake historical recreation with the robots and canned audio. The Hall of Presidents at Disney World is my spirit animal. The fake old timey South African pub was choice. You’ll get a beer here midway through the tour.

Before I post the photos, I have to tell you what was going on during the tour. There was a family of eight from India, who were causing a little disruption during our tour. You see, they hired their own photographer to take pictures of their every move. At points during the tour, they had to pose with everything and in different configuration — mom and dad, dad with sons, mom with daughters, the whole family, dad pointing at something. The friendly guide was like “Okay, we must be going, we don’t want to hold the group up.”

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Weird Photos from Inside the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg

I bring you Sad Dutch Santa Terrorizes Sleeping Child With Creepy Teddy Bear

After you grab coffee in Braamfontein, head up Juta Street towards the Nelson Mandela Bridge to the Wits Art Museum. It’s a contemporary African arts and education space that shows the advancement of Johannesburg as a design and arts destination.

First off, it took me while to figure out how to get in. Just find the front desk, sign your name. e-mail and they were open up a giant door for you. It’s a pay what you like space, so throw them some bills or coins as you please.

On the ground floor, you’ll see such things as a music room where you wave your hand around to make noise and a tweeting African mask. The Komo Society Mask tweeted to not laugh at your brother and asked “Am I being elevated or diminished?” Both deep thoughts.

Upstairs is where I saw some truly odd things — a bunch of pop culture artifacts. It seemed like the museum went to somebody’s garage sale and decided to put them on display.

Let’s see what we got here:

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You have Popular Music’s Golden Hit Parade Volume 1, 2 and 3. Although, I’m trying to figure out why there are pictures of women on the cassette tapes.

Wits-Art-Museum-3Here’s sexy, sexy leopard print bikini lady.

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Who knew Young Love was so cheap? 55 cents! They look so adorable and happy, but that nurse in the background looks displeased. She might know that their STD test turned up positive.

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Here’s the world’s lamest Indiana Jones ripoff. This couple, Pornstashe and Beret Girl, is ready for action.

Google translates this as:

Rocco de wet grensvegter = Rocco the law border vegter

‘N veeraaier is ‘n lafaard. Dit Het Die Boosaardige Richard Wolpen Opnuut Bewys = ‘N veeraaier ‘s a coward. This The Who Malicious Richard Wolpen Opnuut Bewys

Exactly!

Inside the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom to others.” — Nelson Mandela

While you get to walk among history at Robbin Island in Cape Town, you can learn about the names and their struggle for freedom and justice in Johannesburg. The Apartheid Museum works as a sobering lesson on a dark period in South Africa’s history.

When you enter the grounds, you’ll see the Seven Pillars of the South African Constitution, which was drafted at the end of apartheid. They include these values displayed on the pillars — democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect and freedom.

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The entrance replicates the race classification system where whites and non-whites were separated. When you buy your ticket, you’ll be told which entrance to go to — you don’t have a choice. Inside, you’re confronted with a series of I.D. cards and photos of the committees that determined who you were.

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You then find yourself back outside where you’ll see walls made of rock and rubble. This represents the country’s history of mining for gold and diamonds. Along the way, you see photos of the immigrants who came to South Africa to work in the industry.

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Before you head into the main museum, you can take in the Johannesburg skyline. This is where I have to point out the odd location of the museum and who owns it. Next to it is Gold Reef City, an amusement park with a gold rush theme. In the same complex is Gold Reef Casino, who owns the Apartheid Museum. As you would think, this is controversial. Gold Reef was founded by twin brothers Abe and Solly Krok, who made their fortune selling skin-whitening creams to black people. After a few court cases, the museum is classified as a not-for-profit.

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Inside the main building (where photography isn’t permitted), you’ll get a step-by-step account of how apartheid came to be after the gold rush and the white miner strikes in the 1910s. The museum is informative as well as artistic in its layout. You’ll see nooses hanging from the ceiling, multi-media installations of hundreds of black prisoners and photographs of police breaking up protests. It was a violent, angry century for South Africa. What I learned the most, when apartheid was abolished and Nelson Mandela was freed, the violence continued for years led by the white  supremacist movement. There’s a room where you are bombarded with violent news footage from the mid-90s.

There are hundreds of individual stories from this time — those like Steven Biko (the subject of the film Cry Freedom), Ahmed Kathrada and Walter Sisulu. The museum is a must for history lovers and for those who want delve deep into the country’s struggle.

Trump’s Muslim Tourist Ban Could Cost $18 Billion in Revenue for the U.S.

My first thought about hearing a ban on Muslim’s entering the U.S. was a sarcastic, “Good luck with that”. Beyond the racism, practicality and utter stupidity, let’s look at it from a financial standpoint. That’s something potential Asshole-in-Chief Trump can understand.

In 2013, 1.2 million visitors came from the Middle East according to U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office. The survey is not based on religious statistics. The Middle East is a predominantly Muslim area. Think about it — where in your life have had to fill out a form and state your religion? If I had to do that, I would write, “Your mama”. Marketplace estimates that they spend $6.7 billion that year. As we know, global tourism has been rising steadily since.

That’s just a conservative number. CNN estimates that 10.2 million visitors could be banned from visiting America. That’s one way to cut down TSA lines.

Fortune thinks it could cost the U.S. economy $18 billion. You don’t need to be a financial analyst or economics professor to figure this out.

Those visitors, which includes tourists, business people and students, come to spend money in America. We’re talking hotels, U.S.-based airlines, bars, restaurants, shopping centers and golf courses.

Hmmmm, which of the two presidential candidates owns golf courses? Trump leads in that category with 12 over Clinton, who owns zero. For a man who boasts how successful a businessman he is, banning people who want to spend money at properties he owns is not good business.

Here’s what I picture during the Presidential debates:

Moderator: “Mr. Trump, your ban on Muslim tourists would personally cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in business at the properties you own.”

Trump: “Yeah, but…”