If you’ve got a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia on your bucket list, we would highly recommend checking out the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam. “Phu Quoc is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets, and one of Vietnam’s most idyllic island destinations,” explains Piero Bellizzi, general manager at InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach.
The gorgeous beaches of Phu Quoc are characterized by powder white sands and beautiful sparkling waters. Dive in and you’ll find an incredible abundance of marine life living beneath the surface. Or venture into the jungle and explore the evergreen forests and scenic national parks.
In the past several years, the island’s tourism industry has seen tremendous growth. The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism states that the island was home to only 1,500 rooms in 2014. By the end of 2017, this figure reached 10,000. Phu Quoc has seen a 35 percent year-on-year increase, with 1.96 million visitors last year alone. “Phu Quoc is the fastest growing tourism market in Vietnam,” says Bellizzi. “The island is on the fast track to becoming Vietnam’s top tourism destination in the coming years.”
By 2030, the local government expects the island to become one of Vietnam’s largest tourist destinations, with anything from intimate eco-accommodations to massive resorts. “We have seen multiple hotel openings as well tourist attractions over previous months,” explains Ty Collins, general manager of the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, a hotel that opened just last year. “And this has contributed to putting Phu Quoc on the map as one of the hottest destinations in the world.”
Although the island is expecting to see massive growth in the coming years, for the time being, avoiding the crowds of foreigners and finding some peace and quiet is still relatively easy. So if you’re up for an adventure, book your tickets before it’s too late!
A European Invented VLC Player
VLC media player is now one of the most downloaded media players across the world. The software soared to popularity because of how user-friendly it is — and the fact that it’s free, of course.
The French engineer that came up with the software was actually offered tens of millions of euros to place ads in the software. Luckily, he turned down the offer and kept the software free for all users. Thank you, kind sir!
Home to Medieval Castles
This beautiful medieval castle was built in 1509, in Argentan, France. Built to last, it still stands tall and has seen its country undergo a sea of changes — up close and personal. It’s safe to say that the house has a lot of history, and has seen many owners during its lifetime.
Imagine living in a house like this, and waking up feeling like a character from a fairy tale… every single day.
At the Forefront of LGBTQ+ Rights
LGBTQ+ people are still denied their rights in many countries across the world. In many places, they’re not allowed to get married or start a family — not to mention that they’re considered second-rate citizens and people. But, the Netherlands has been always at the forefront of LGBTQ+ rights. Even 20 years ago.
The Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize queer marriage by organizing marriages of four queer couples. How wonderful is that?!
They Have a Wicked Sense of Humor
Europeans have a wicked sense of humor as you can see from this signboard placed near the entrance of a coffee shop. The text on the board reads — ‘All Americans must be accompanied by an adult.’ Ha!
To give you some context, the coffee shop put up this signboard in 2016, after the widely controversial U.S. elections. It was a tongue-in-cheek commentary that infantilized the intellect of Americans when it came to choosing their president.
Young Prime Ministers
Youth are the future of the world. Europeans not only believe this thought, but they back it up with their actions. Meet Sanna Marin, the 34-year-young Prime Minister of Finland. Sanna is almost eight years younger than the median age of her country’s population.
She’s also one of the youngest Prime Ministers in the world. In 2020, Marin was mentioned in the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
City Designs Are Inclusive
Normally, cities are exclusionary when it comes to design — in the sense that they’re not necessarily all that friendly for visually challenged people to navigate on their own. In Wroclow, Poland, however, each cathedral has a tactile model so that the visually challenged people are able to see.
The Braille script on the plaque helps them to read the text — and visualize. This is a great idea to borrow, and we hope that more cities across the world start doing this.
Art Is in Every Corner
Netherland’s charming windmills and colorful tulip bulbs look no less than an expensive art piece. It’s rightly said that art imitates nature, and this holds true especially in the Netherlands where every natural scene resembles a painting come to life.
It’s no exaggeration to remark that nature is at its creative best here. Art is in every corner of this enchanting nation, thanks to all the different elements of nature.
Sensitize Their Shoppers
In Europe, supermarket chains take it upon themselves to sensitize their shoppers towards pressing global issues. Tesco in Slovakia, for instance, opened with empty aisles as they wanted to sensitize their shoppers and patrons on how the world would look like in the absence of bees and butterflies.
To make their point, the supermarket removed all the products from their fruit and veggie sections, to stress the role of these insects as important pollinators.
They Have Some Dope Attractions
Europe, in general, has some dope places of interest. The Devil’s Bridge in Kromlau, Germany is among such places in Europe owing to its unique bend and architecture. The Devil’s Bridge is, however, an umbrella term used to describe several old bridges with a masonry arch.
These bridges are known to give away an optical illusion of a perfect circle with their reflection in the water. The ends of such bridges are decorated with reed-thin spires, which more or less resemble natural rock formation instead of a work of an architect.
The Colors of Fall
Fall season is the best time to visit Europe — as evident in this stunning image. The autumns in Utrecht, Netherlands look like a perfect Instagram shot. The entire color palette of the city looks cozy and comforting and seems as if nature dipped its brush in the warmest shades of brown to paint the entire picture.
This photo is enough to tempt one to pack their bags and move to the Netherlands… at least for the fall!
A Chameleon-esque Statue
As we mentioned before, nature is the biggest artist in Europe and has a knack for filling every nook and corner with its colorful palette — like how the snow totally transformed a historical statue into something totally unimagineable.
The frosty white snow that fell transformed the statue of Jakub Wejher (founder of the Polish town of Wejherowo) into Darth Vader from Star Wars. One can also say that the statue of Darth Vader looks like Jakub Wejher when it’s not snowing.
Traditional Gowns & Braids of Pomak Locals
These traditional gowns and braids of the Pomak village of Startsevo, Bulgaria are quite rich in design. The headpieces are intricate, colorful, and require a lot of time to make. The whole look is one big mood, and we’re on board for it!
These hairstyles present a window into the dressing customs of the local community and their culture in the broader sense. You can look at the image above to get a better idea.
Cities Look Shiny During Xmas
Christmas is celebrated with such fervor in European countries that they end up looking shiny when clicked aerially. This 2019 shot of Christmas Market in Dresden, Germany embodies the spirit of Christmas.
The Christmas Market is one of the oldest markets in the world and was founded as a one-day market in 1434. It’s one of the must-visit places if you’re traveling to Germany during the holiday season.
Castle? Nah, Just a House!
Is this a castle? No, it’s just a neo-gothic apartment home in Budapest, Hungary that was built around 1894. This architectural wonder is one fine piece of architecture and is laden with old-world European charm.
It even has a restaurant in the middle. Generally, we’re not a fan of apartment buildings. But, this one is beyond amazing. We’d like to rent a room here for at least a year.
Unique Way to Fine
You can get a sense of the city’s administrative capabilities by the way it controls and manages road traffic. Speeding motorists are universally pulled over and normally, they are penalized with tickets or asked to pay a monetary fine.
But, Estonia swapped the punishment of fines with time-outs. Those caught breaking the speed limits were given a time-out — or, in other words, were made to wait depending on how fast they were going. Lost time is much more precious than money, as any of the Estonian speeding offenders would tell you.
Teaching Road Safety to Kids
Copenhagen, Denmark has a miniature traffic playground where kids can get acquainted with the rules of the road — and learn to observe road safety. The playground has been in existence since 1974 and caters to schools and kindergartens as well.
These playgrounds are highly effective in educating children about the safety rules they need to follow, owing to the bicycle culture of Denmark. Bicycling is on the academic curriculum in Denmark with Danish kids getting their first bicycle when they reach the third grade.
It’s a known fact that plastic straws are a serious environmental hazard. Over few years, the global conversation around plastic straws has been gaining momentum with eateries across the world replacing plastic straws with sustainable options such as bamboo and metal straws.
In Italy, the bars have found a local solution to the menacing plastic straws. They have replaced them with pasta — and thus found a clever alternative to deal with the pesky problem of single-use plastics.
The Swiss Fans
Swiss sports fans take their teams rather seriously. They love who they idolize. Case in point is a 2018 football game — when one fan cheered up football player Xherdan Shaqiri by throwing in a giant wheel of Swiss cheese onto the field to celebrate Shaqiri’s win against Serbia.
It sure must have tasted that much better to Shaqiri after beating the opposing team. Can our nation’s fans do something like this? We’re kind of feeling left out.
Regard for Wildlife
Nature and infrastructure are mostly at odds with each other. Infrastructure development often comes at the cost of nature, taking control of the forest cover and overlooking the needs of wildlife. In Veluwe, Netherlands, the city planners have taken a different approach. They have tried to maintain the harmony between the wildlife and infrastructure.
They have come up with the wildlife bridge to increase the bio-diversity of the region and reduce the vehicle-animal collisions to a bare minimum.
Billboard Free Streets
Billboards are a nuisance in many ways. They take away from the natural beauty of the streets with their neon lighting — not to mention how much electricity it takes to power them.
Poland is slowly moving away from tacky billboards and advertisement signage, and moving towards being a billboard-free country. Their streets are going ad-free, which is in compliance with their Landscape Act, 2015.
Europeans are quite creative when it comes to organizing protests. The citizens of Belarus reacted to Alexander Lukashenko’s (President of Belarus) prohibition of pro-democratic flags by owning the narrative.
They turned the city into one long stretch of red and white by hanging objects in red and white shades (the color scheme of the Belarus flag). They also dressed up in red and white to express their dissent against the government, in what was known as the biggest civil resistance in the country’s recent history.
The Brave Fire Fighters
Greece has had many mythological heroes. It also has some of the real-life heroes to be proud of. For instance, its firefighters and volunteers worked non-stop to put out one of the most major wildfires to happen in decades.
The fire tested their capabilities in every possible way, but these brave hearts held onto their ground and battled with the fire — not letting it consume their efforts. We salute their spirit.
Annamaria Horvathova’s Win
Running requires appropriate gear — including a proper pair of running shoes. After all, it’s important to protect your feet. But Annamaria Horvathova, a Roma girl surprised everyone by winning a race wearing ballet flats.
She went on to become a local and national sensation. She experienced victory once again by bagging first position in the 1500-meter race. By going almost barefoot, she made use of her leg muscles to score her win.
Fully Intact Roman Mosaic Floor
Last year, a fully preserved Roman mosaic floor was found under a vineyard in Northern Italy. The perfectly preserved floor was found after decades of search. The discovery was dubbed as ‘the discovery of the year.”
The presence of the floor indicated the presence of an ancient Roman villa on the site. The floor is supposed to belong to 3rd Century B.C.E. It looks a lot like Maui’s wand from the movie, Moana.
Voting for a Universal Charger
In mostly all the nations, the members of parliament (MEP) often don’t see eye-to-eye on various issues. But in Europe, MEP largely voted in favor of a universal charger for mobile phones and tablets.
The resolution was passed in 2020 with 582 members voting in favor, and a meager 40 members voting against it. In a press release, they said — in 2009, there were more than 30 charging stations, while today there are three charger types.
Fun With Traffic
In Germany, traffic lights come installed with a Ping-Pong game to reduce instances of jaywalking. In order to make the wait time entertaining for pedestrians, Germany provides entertainment in the form of traffic lights and buttons. So, you can play Ping-Pong with that guy across the street!
Initially known as street pong, this invention was developed by two students from HAWK University of Design. We hope the students received an award of some kind for this ingenious idea.
Eating a Herring
Herring is basically a silverfish. It’s deeply embedded in the culinary and marine history of Europe. A lot of Europeans like to eat their herring raw and have a particular technique in the way they do.
They hold their herring high above their mouth, tilt their head back as they gradually lower it into their mouth. A lot of street stands in Europe specialize in herring and are known as haringhandels.
Repurposing Red Telephone Booths
The iconic red telephone booths are an integral part of London’s identity. These red phone booths have been part of many movies and shows. But now, they have been given a 21st-century appropriate makeover by the city’s authorities.
As a lesser number of people use phone booths these days, these iconic red phone booths have been re-purposed and transformed into ATMs, art installations, and charging stations. Some of these phone boxes have even been turned into compact libraries and defibrillator stations.
The Glamor of French Streets
France and chicness go hand-in-hand. The French are known for their effortless glamor. Take this woman, for instance. She’s not doing anything out of the box but she’s oozing with glamor.
The woman is just walking down in the street in 1945 France holding a baguette as tall as her, and a crate of bottles. C’est tres chic, we say! Wouldn’t you agree?
Fans Take Their Role Seriously
Swedish fans take their roles extremely seriously. In 2020, a sea of Swedish fans took over St. Petersburg decked out in yellow, blue, and white. These fans managed to be the opening visual of the match summary on German television.
The men dressed up in traditional Swedish costumes — with skirts and wigs, and all! They proudly declared their fandom without caring two hoots about what others thought.