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Exclusives | Ask the Travel Expert, February 2008

Exclusives | Ask the Travel Expert, February 2008

Southeast Asia; Pacific Northwest; Morocco; Birthday in Buenos Aires

Ed Salvato, who's responsible for Gay.com/Travel, PlanetOut.com/Travel, is the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Out Traveler magazine. Ed speaks often as a gay-travel expert and is frequently quoted in the press. He writes a monthly syndicated travel column and appears regularly on radio and TV. Ed and his team know gay travel, and they prove it by answering your questions.

Going gay in Southeast Asia
Do you know of any gay tours to Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia?

Try Out and About Travel. They've got a fabulous-sounding trip to Cambodia for November 2008. Check their calendar for trips to Vietnam and Thailand -- they offer an amazing choice!
Make sure to check our Gay Asia travel guide for extra trip-planning info before you go. There's also an interesting feature on Vietnam that ran in The Out Traveler.

Off-season in the Pacific Northwest
I am traveling to the Olympic Peninsula, the Oregon Coast and Vancouver Island in March. I know it's a lousy time, but I like peace and quiet but yet a gay-friendly lodging. Can you suggest some places outside the large metro areas for lodging and any other activities, from leisurely get-together bars to outdoor activities? I am single and an athletic 57, and I enjoy outdoor activities.

Actually, this is one of my favorite seasons to spend time in the Pacific Northwest. It's perfect for staking out a cozy spot along the coast for a weekend of storm watching. Some recommended gay-friendly spots to consider include Kalaloch Lodge on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, the Ocean Lodge in Oregon's Cannon Beach and the gorgeous Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino on Vancouver Island. The blustery low season is one of the best times to take in this area's flavor, as the hordes of straight camcorder-toting troopers won't be disgorged from their RVs and coaches till July.

For more on Kalaloch Lodge, click here.

For more on Cannon Beach's gorgeous Ocean Lodge, click here.

If you want to check out Vancouver Island gay (social) life, stop at Victoria. The city's sole gay bar, Prism, is frequented by people age 19 to 90. For more on Victoria, see our Gay.com port guide.

If you have enough time, consider taking the ferry over to Salt Spring Island, a bohemian haven with a population of 10,000, including large numbers of gay men and lesbians. Salt Spring is featured in this recent article from The Out Traveler.

Morocco-bound
Just wanting to know if it's safe to be openly gay in Marrakech and if there are any openly gay venues for likeminded guys to meet, chat and expand their knowledge and understanding of a country and its people.

Is Morocco gay in the typically Western sense of a destination with an out community, political activism and gay and lesbian venues? In a word, no. But the Moroccan culture is warm and welcoming to all visitors. As in Egypt and other Islamic cultures, the genders are traditionally almost completely segregated from puberty till marriage -- which is often arranged. These separate-sex cultures encourage close bonds to form naturally among men and among women.

Men publicly embrace, kiss fondly and often hold hands. Except in the most modern areas, women are confined largely to home and the markets. Unlike in most of the West, men return your gaze and look deeply, seemingly searchingly back. To the untrained Western eye, you'd think you've found gay paradise, but most of this reflects the comfort men feel expressing affection towards one another. It can also spill beyond the boundaries of platonic friendship, though visitors are advised to proceed cautiously.

For more on Morocco, check out my recent blog.

Birthday in Buenos Aires
I saw the map on South America in The Out Traveler and was wondering if you have more info on Buenos Aires and Mendoza. We plan to travel there for my birthday in December and want to be as informed as possible before we go.

The "Paris of South America" is coming into its own, with a vibrant gay nightlife, after so many years of repression. You'll find all sorts of enticing info on Buenos Aires in our Travel Guide.

As for Mendoza, the Gay Guide describes it as "the center of Argentine wine country" and a "year-round favorite destination for climbing, hiking, skiing, rafting, biking, paragliding and trekking."
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