Thank you for Alec Mapa?s ?Odyssey to Cambodia? [Summer 2008]. My partner and I visited Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in December 2007. While Mapa is quite correct in stating that over 50% of the population is under the age of 20, the lives of almost everyone we met, regardless of age, had been affected by the Khmer Rouge regime. Our guide saw his father and grandfather assassinated; he had to lie about his occupation and change his name in order to survive. An educator, he was put to work for 12 or more hours in the rice fields, and to this day he will not reveal his real family name, preferring to keep the name that helped save his life. In spite of what the population has experienced, we have seldom anywhere in the world seen happier, smiling faces on people who would do anything for you to ensure that your stay in their country would be a pleasurable and memorable one. Thanks, Alec, for a diary of your travels. Well done! Olen J. Earnest, Orlando, Fla.
Thank you for including metro Detroit not once but twice in the Summer 2008 edition. In spite of an occasional bad rap and a local economy that feels downturns first and recoveries last, some few million call the region home. Since global warming, the climate?s become rather enjoyable! Come see us. Brian Drumm, Rochester Hills, Mich.
Can I believe what just dropped into my mailbox? I have always enjoyed Out Traveler for its global perspective. This issue [?Summer Road Trips,? Summer 2008] is too local: an America-centric, car-centric lifestyle. At a time that carbon footprints and mega?oil industry profits are at record highs, why encourage more of this environmentally limiting behavior? I have taken all these trips, alternatively relaxing by train or ship, and they were less environmentally and physically harmful than by car. Jeff Cacy, Seattle
YOUR QUESTIONS | OUR ANSWERS I?m a 24-year-old professional who loves to dance and go out at night, lie on the beach during the day, and eat great food. I like to shop and experience a city?s sights and culture in the meantime. Last July, I visited Lisbon and absolutely loved it! Now I?m looking at destinations for later this year (July, August) and can?t decide -- can you help? Derrick, via e-mail
JUSTIN SAYS: Although Barcelona and nearby Sitges is the usual choice, down near the famed Costa Blanca, Valencia packs a lot of queer fun into its small, Lisbon-like frame. Spend days exploring the romantic byways and caf?s of the Old Quarter, a heady and beautiful mix of Moorish, Baroque, and Gothic buildings surrounded by Roman walls, before stockpiling cultural capital at the massive Santiago Calatrava?designed Ciutat de les Arts i les Ci?ncies (a.k.a. City of Arts and Sciences). Spend your nights flirting with rowdy Spanish boys amongst the eclectic gay bars and clubs of the Barrio del Carmen. If a daylong dip into the Mediterranean at gay-friendly Playa de la Devesa isn?t enough beach for you -- and you?ve managed to avoid ruining your summer bod with ubiquitous and beyond-tasty regional paella -- Ibiza is just a three-hour ferry ride away.
I?m a lesbian, and my best friend is a gay male. We?re both from New York City, and we want to take a road trip this summer. Do you know any cities that?ll be equally fun and eventful for us both? Mimi, via e-mail
LOANN AND JUSTIN SAY: Save on gas and head south two hours to Philadelphia, where you?ll find the City of Brotherly Love is equally welcoming to gay sisters. Check into gay-owned Alexander Inn, located in Center City?s rainbow sign?adorned gayborhood, where you can stroll among more than a dozen bars, including male-dominated hot spot Woody?s and Sisters, where gay men mingle easily in the sapphic-centric crowd. From there, it?s only another two hours south for boardwalk strolls and sunbathing in Rehoboth Beach, Del., a lively resort community that?s home to more than 200 LGBT-run businesses, including the friendly Victorian-style Rehoboth Guest House.
Or if you?re more intrepid road warriors, take a slightly circuitous northern route, starting with the gay resort town of Provincetown, Mass. After a day of gallery hopping down Commercial Street and dune exploring on the tip of the Cape Cod National Seashore, relax over vino at Bacchanal wine bar above the Vixen nightclub before letting the waves outside your window lull you to sleep at the over 200-year-old Red Inn. For more brine-soaked fun, head next to Ogunquit, Maine. Whether you?re in the historic main house or the more modern addition at The Admiral?s Inn, this idyllic outpost will make your P-Town stay seem positively frenetic by comparison. Sun between the rocks, nosh lobster rolls, and meet arty locals drinking sundowners at the Front Porch Caf?. Sufficiently unwound, skip over the border (don?t forget your passport!) and say bonjour to the sexually progressive, cosmopolitan vibe of Montreal. The design-rich W Montr?al is the perfect home base to explore the bohemian shops of Le Plateau by day and the raucous and vibrant gay village along Rue St. Catherine, particularly the massive Sky bar rooftop, at night.
I am giving a Hawaii vacation as a present to my family, and while I will enjoy some time with them, I?m hoping to go gay a few days on my own. We will be on Oahu and Maui. Can you make some recommendations as to a few do-not-miss gay destinations for my to-do list? Ari, via e-mail
LOANN SAYS: Don?t miss Hula?s Bar and Lei Stand, the most famous gay bar in the Pacific, located on the second story of Oahu?s Waikiki Grand Hotel. It?s a great daytime stop after sunbathing at gay-popular Queen?s Surf Beach nearby. To really get away from the family, sign up for GayTravelHawaii.com's Sunday gay group luau and 1.5-hour catamaran cruise around Diamond Head. On Maui the top gay sunning spot is peaceful Little Beach (nudity is the norm, although technically illegal). You?ll find it about one mile south of the Maui Prince Hotel in Makena on the island?s southwest coast. Take all valuables out of your car and hike north up the rocky trail from 3,000-foot Big Beach to find its smaller sidekick; gay sunbathers congregate at Little Beach?s north end.
For more tips pick up a copy of our new guide The Out Traveler: Hawaii. An adapted historical section appears on p. 26 in this issue.
Got a great travel question for our editor, Justin Ocean, or associate editor, LoAnn Halden? Send to Letters@OutTraveler.com
I would like to suggest a great gay-friendly spot in brazil for the holidays: the island of Florianopolis. It has hosted people from all over the world, especially from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Europe during its summers. It has also attracted people like Liza Minnelli, Francis Ford Coppola, and Paris Hilton. via e-mail