One of the wonderful aspects about overseas countries is that they all have their own little quirks. Various histories, experiences and available resources have shaped their cultures in fascinating ways, and sometimes the differences can be pretty big.
For example, rather than pop on a run-of-the-mill bus to get from A to B overseas, you may actually find yourself taking an unusual form of transportation. Don’t panic – sit back and enjoy the ride (although you might just want to review your travel insurance policy details before you do! Check out Virgin Travel Insurance cover options here).
Here is a brief rundown of some of the exciting, weird transportation methods outside of Australia.
Dog sleds, Alaska
You know those adorable huskies you occasionally see around the country panting in the summer? Well in places such as Alaska they are more than just the family pet. In fact, husky dogs and their canine companions have been a valuable resource throughout history, and still to this day they are utilised for their dog sledding potential.
Though you’re unlikely to see an Alaskan businessperson dog sledding to work in their best fur-lined suit, this form of transport is still a popular tourist attraction. There are numerous operators around the state that take visitors on excursions through glaciers, ice fields and even dirt tracks (though the sled would have wheels in this instance).
Hovercrafts aren’t as popular nowadays as the future thinkers of yesteryear perhaps thought they would be. No matter, you can still jump on one and experience the thrill of hovering when you visit England!
The Portsmouth (on the country’s southern coast) to Isle of White (just off the southern coast, if that wasn’t apparent already) Hover Travel ferry is the world’s longest lasting commercial hover ferry operator. It’s also the only commercial hovercraft company in the entire continent. When you’ve travelled by London’s famous black taxi cab and ridden your fair share of red double decker buses, make sure to add a hovercraft to your list of unique UK travel options.
Maglev train, China
Unlike the hovercraft’s fade into relative obscurity, Shanghai’s fascinating Maglev train is still considered technology of the future. You’ll believe it yourself too, when you see this sleek-looking tube racing along its tracks without wheels. For those who don’t know, China’s billion-dollar high-speed train doesn’t use wheels as your standard subway would, but instead a system of opposing magnetic forces to keep it off the ground, combined with an electromagnetic pull.
You can get on the train from Pudong International Airport and take it to an outlying part of the financial district, a trip which can see the Maglev train clock up to a speed of 430 kilometres per hour. By comparison, a Formula 1 car is pushing it to reach 400 kilometres per hour.
Long-tail boat, Thailand
Bangkok is famous for its canals, and has been frequently touted as the ‘Venice of the east’. Though many ‘klongs’ (canals) have been filled in to create roads, there are still plenty around the city where boats and ferries are simply a part of life.
Hang yao (long-tail boats) are defined by their elongated shape and large outboard motor, and are a staple of classic Thai river travel. What makes these all the more authentic is the fact that it’s largely not big tour operators who run these curious boats, but regular, normal people. Though their English might not be fantastic, they generally know everything there is to know about the canals they travel, and can take you to a variety of destinations. Bangkok’s tourism website advises that you agree on a price in advance, with 400 to 500 baht per hour (check the AU$ conversion) being considered acceptable.
Which country’s curious transportation would you most like to travel on?