Around the World in 80 Days

Most people wager on horse races, boxing matches, and baseball games. Not Phileas Fogg, English gentleman and the main character in Jules Verne's classic Around the World in Eighty Days. For 20,000 GBP, he bet that he could go around the world in 80 days. And that is exactly what he managed to do, via steamer, train, and even elephant; through forest, sea, and rail - one of which completely collapsed into the rapids below after he crossed it. He survived a storm at sea, an attack by savages, and accusations of robbery, and was even able to save a princess from certain death in the process. Here, we revisit some of the sites which were part of his adventure Around the World in 80 Days.

  • Turin, Italy. One of the world’s food capitals, this city promises "Beauty + Passion". Here, the aperitif was born, as was Vermouth, a concoction of white wine, spices, and herbs. Travellers can explore everything from ancient castles to vineyards, ski resorts to mountain sanctuaries, and parks, lots of them, making this one of the "greenest cities in Italy."

  • Suez Canal. A waterway connecting the Mediterranean to the Red sea, the Suez provides a shorter route between Asia and Europe. Phileas Fogg crossed the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, Arabic for "gate of tears", so-called for the perils sailors face when navigating the area. One of the port cities he passed was Aden in Yemen, where steamers stopped for coal and water during the 19th century. Today, it is the country's "Gateway to the World", at the same time a gateway to the country's past. The Old City is brimming with aged fortresses, mosques, and tunnels. It also has a number of great beaches that remain undiscovered by the rest of the world.

  • Uttar Pradesh, India. Phileas Fogg passed through Benares, today Varanasi, known by so many other names including "the Athens of India". It is one of the oldest living cities in the world, and believed to be the dwelling place of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. The old city, Vishwanatha Khanda, is a nucleus for religious activity, where grand temples made of gold and silver can be spotted. Allahabad, Prayag today, is another place Phileas Fogg passed through. "The City of God", it was dubbed "King of All Pilgrimage Centres" by the Hindu god of creation himself, Brahma. The holy waters of the Sangam is a flurry of activity, where Hindus give offerings and prayers to the gods. Allahabad was also the centre of India's fight for independence.

  • Singapore. The "Lion City" welcomes tourists with a roar. This impeccably orderly country is also a colourful one. Here, sightseers can have a peek into Indian, Malay, and Chinese cultures all within a day. A trip to Kampong Glam brings back memories of Malay royalty, where visitors can learn the art of batik painting, watch a silat martial arts performance, or listen to angklung music. Walk the streets of Little India and inhale the scent of spices, look at the lovely saris, and have your fortune told. Go to Chinatown and bite into hawkers' delights, glimpse at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, or explore at the Chinese Heritage Centre.

  • Hong Kong. Utterly Asian yet influenced by over a hundred years of British rule, Hong Kong offers an experience that keeps tourists on their toes: from jade markets to a wax museum, hawker stands to Disneyland, tea-drinking to tai chi. Go Western and spot the Flagstaff House, once home to the Commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong; Western Market, which now houses a number of stores; and Government House, influenced by the British and Japanese. Go Eastern and tour around the Chi Lin Nunnery, done in the style of the Tang dynasty; Yuen Yuen Institute, where Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism thrive; and Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb, probably dating back to 25 to 220 AD.

  • Yokohama, Japan. A port city, Yokohama was one of the first places that opened to outsiders after Japan's isolationist period. Highly urbanised, it is home to many foreigners who are perfectly comfortable amid the skyscrapers and shopping malls. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village, Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History, and Yokohama Zoological Gardens Zoorasia are must-visits.

  • San Francisco, USA. A lot of things catch the eye in San Francisco... like the Golden Gate Bridge, bold red and often enveloped in fog; Fisherman's Wharf, filled with seafood restaurants and museums; and Alcatraz, the most notorious prison for the most notorious criminals during the 1930s. Its neighbourhoods are emblazoned with rainbow flags and murals, and while its roads are traversed by the famed cable cars. The "Sodom by the Sea" during the 19th century Gold Rush, it is today the "World's Gay and Lesbian Capital", with a vibrant arts, culture, and party scene.

  • Liverpool, UK. The Beatles made this city famous, but frenetic football, an animated arts scene, and a captivating countryside keep it so. Dive into 2008's European Capital of Culture; visit Tate Liverpool for modern and contemporary artwork, head to the impressive St George’s Hall to see the concert halls and law courts, or take the Yellow Duckmarine for a land and water tour of the sights. Of course, The Beatles Story museum is a must-see too.

As Passepartout, Phileas Fogg's servant, said, "I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new."

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