I just watched the sunrise from the highest platform of my super fun cat tower. A few minutes ago, I devoured a plate of white ocean fish mixed with salmon flakes! Can you believe it? Salmon flakes!
Seriously, what a wild ride my life has been. And I’m only 4 months old.
My name is Matcha, by the way. I’m this little domestic short haired cat from Bali and boy do I have a story to tell!
The First Day: Hungry and Scared
It all began when I was born I guess. It’s a bit fuzzy but I was born and suddenly, when I was only 5 days old, someone left me in the jungle in Bali. I could barely move and I was soon covered in grass, without food and trying to survive an intense rainstorm. It was rough. The storm eventually ended but I wasn’t feeling well at all. I was drenched, sooooo hungry and some bugs started crawling all over me.
All I could do was cry because I was really scared.
I don’t know how long I was crying but out of nowhere, I started to hear two voices nearby. I started crying more loudly, hoping they would hear me and maybe help somehow.
And they sure did. It’s still a blur but a very, very nice girl just scooped me up out of the jungle and put me in a little box. Then, this boy appeared with a cloth and put that in the box, which felt so soft on my belly. They started walking with me. I didn’t really care where we were going as I was just happy to be out of that jungle.
I was taken to a house for about an hour and then to some place called a ‘vet’. People were touching me, pulling bugs off of my skin, giving me milk and, honestly, I don’t really know what they were doing but it sure made me feel better so I just went with it.
Later on, we arrived back at that same house. And the same girl and boy started to take care of me. I learned that they were called Georgiana and Derek.
The First Month: A New Life
Georgiana and Derek didn’t seem too experienced, especially the boy, but somehow they managed to feed me with a bottle and even made a cozy place for me to sleep. They watched over me and made sure I was comfortable all the time. Even in the middle of the night they would wake up if I needed anything at all.
The days passed and I started feeling so much better. I did have something called ringworm but this girl and boy spent a lot of time on their phones figuring out how to get rid of that. They were determined! I even enjoyed the warm baths they gave me with that special shampoo.
At that age, I couldn’t go to the bathroom or eat on my own yet. So Georgiana or Derek would help me out. But sometimes I just didn’t need to pee or I just wasn’t hungry. The funny thing is that they always thought they were doing something wrong if I didn’t pee or eat. I found it quite amusing that they wanted me to pee so bad all the time! I don’t know how much they pee but I just didn’t need to go that much.
So, I was really tiny during that time. I was trying to figure out how to walk steadily and I couldn’t see very well. I did try to play with these cool toys they bought me and I started to stumble around on the grass. Although, I was quite content to simply let these two people rub my head and neck all the time. That was a feeling I had never experienced before and I must say, I loved it!
Georgiana and Derek were always doing something on these devices that had a screen and a keyboard. So the only way I could get them to stop and come back to rubbing my head was to cry a little. They fell for it every single time! It was such a simple trick.
Anyway, the next month was incredible!
The Second Month: Like a Dream
One day, we moved to this beautiful house in a different part of Bali. While there, I started to understand how to walk fast and even jump up on the bed and sofa. I could roam all over the place. Of course, Georgiana and Derek were always nearby and they wouldn’t let me out of their sight. I don’t know what they thought could happen…I mean, was some big cat going to attack me? Silly people.
They even started feeding me real food. I think it was tuna and it was so yummy! I also figured out that the box they kept filling up with these weird pieces of soy sticks was the place I was supposed to go to the bathroom on my own. First, soy sticks? Such hipsters! Second, I really don’t understand why they were so excited when I started using this tray. It’s just pee and poop but these two people were jumping up and down as if I had won an Olympic event. Am I supposed to cheer every time they go to the bathroom?
I guess I can understand their concern though when these little worms started to appear near my bum. Apparently, that’s not supposed to happen and before I knew it, I was whisked away to the vet again. I will tell you this…I am not a fan of the ‘vet’. It seems to be a place they take me whenever they don’t want me to be happy. But why don’t they want me to be happy all the time?
I don’t know. I just want to be happy!
Luckily, this visit to the vet was quick. However, and I can’t say for certain, I think my parents started slipping drugs into my food shortly after. I would taste this weird bitter flavor and the texture of the tuna was a little off. I’m not really sure what they were doing but they seemed to be quite secretive about it. At least those worms went away eventually.
Life continued and I became more and more attached to my family. They became more and more attached to me too. I learned how to do this thing called ‘purr’ and every time I did it, my family stopped whatever they were doing and showered me with attention and love. It’s another cool trick!
And when we all sat on the sofa, enjoying each other’s company, they would order dinner and I would try to eat it off their plate. That was such a fun game they played with me. It looked so real when they tried to shove me away from their food over and over again!
Then we would watch a movie sometimes. Georgiana really liked these scary movies and Derek really liked these dumb comedies. I would have been happy to watch a nice animal movie but they just weren’t interested.
Life was really great and I started to get the idea that I was going to be taken care of forever. Every time they moved to a different house, they took me with them. And every day, it seemed that their routine was built around making sure I had everything I needed to be comfortable and happy. While in that jungle at 5 days old, I never could have imagined that things would turn out this way!
Oh, did I tell you? They even bought me this awesome cat house thing. Wow! Three floors, rooms to sleep in, scratch posts to scratch and even a hammock! A HAMMOCK!!!
The Third Month: I’m a Princess
I was in that comfy hammock when, one day, Derek lifted me up, put me in my pet carrier and took me back to that damn vet again. I was pretty chill about it because, I don’t know, it seemed harmless enough overall. But this time, holy crap. They jammed some needle in the back of my neck and called it a ‘vaccine’. I was pissed off and quickly discovered that I can hiss and spit and make some serious noise that make these people afraid to do things like that again. Believe me, I used these new found skills because I ended up at the vet two more times for these vaccine injections!
They kept saying it was for some vaccine passport book and that I would need it to leave the country, but why would I leave the country? I’m a Bali cat. It didn’t make any sense to me.
Well, about a week later, they really surprised me good. I did have to sit in a car for about 3 hours but when I was allowed out again, ohhhhhhhhhhh. We were at some house right on the beach in a small town called Amed. It was surreal. I could hear the waves all day and listen to birds. I could run all over the place and jump around and have so much fun. They even let me outside every now and then. I would eat some grass, try to climb trees and just run through the bushes, free as those birds!
In the evenings, I would hang out in my cat house and relax. Right before bedtime, I would always play this crazy game with Derek. He would hide his hand under the sheets and I would try to find it every time he poked his finger out. It was wild! I could play that game for hours and hours. I don’t know what Derek’s problem was because he got tired quickly from this game but no way I was going to let him stop!
By this point, these two people were treating me like I was a princess. They even called me ‘princess’ all the time. But I guess they were just confused because I don’t really have any royalty in my blood. I wasn’t going to tell them that though!
This went on for 1 more incredible month!
A Week at the Vet
Eventually, our time in Amed did come to an end. And every time I try to think about the 3 weeks that followed, I have such a mix of emotions. It was an intense period.
Let me tell you about it.
One day, I didn’t feel very well and all I wanted to do was sleep. A couple of times, I tried to walk around but my legs weren’t stable at all. My family looked very concerned as I just curled up on a chair unable to move much.
Before I knew it, I was back at Sunset Vet, but this time was very different. Derek was there at first but suddenly, he was gone and I was in a cage in a strange room with strange people and a few other animals too. I thought maybe it would last a few minutes but I ended up in this place for 6 long days. During that time, I had to receive injections and an IV and these friendly but unfamiliar vets would check my condition every few hours. They said I had an infection and a muscle sprain, whatever that is.
The good news is that I started to feel better each day. The bad news was that I really, really missed Georgiana and Derek and I had no idea if I would see them again. By the 6th day, I was quite sad. I felt better physically but my life had changed so much, from a beautiful house on the beach with a loving family to this stale room where I wasn’t able to be free at all.
And then…I almost peed myself when I saw Georgiana and Derek walk into the room! I tried to play it real cool, occasionally sniffing their fingers through the cage to make sure it wasn’t a dream. I thought they had abandoned me. I don’t know why they were gone for so long. I suppose it might have something to do with the vets and the fact that my illness was cured but I don’t really know how this stuff works so I’m a little unsure.
Either way, they came back for me! And they took me to another house with palm trees and grass and flowers and plenty of space for me to be myself again. At this point, I knew for certain that I had a family forever!
The Fourth Month: I’m a Traveler
We spent 2 weeks at this sweet new place. Georgiana and Derek never seemed too thrilled when I would climb high into the thorny tree in the corner of the yard and refuse to come down for an hour, but I didn’t care. I was so happy again and I knew they would get over it every single time and still feed me my favorite food.
That’s why I didn’t get too stressed when suddenly, one morning, I was put back into my travel carrier and placed into a van, next to a cage that had a small dog in it. I was a little concerned that Georgiana and Derek were saying goodbye to me but I tried not to worry too much. A very nice man seemed to be in charge now and I could tell by the way they were talking that whatever was about to happen, it wasn’t going to last long.
I’m not really great with time but I’ll guess it was around two days or so when, just as I had expected, Derek appeared and we were together again. It seemed that we had left Bali though, so that was bizarre. It was my first time off the island and we were now in a place called Jakarta, staying at what Derek kept referring to as a ‘pet-friendly hotel‘. Anyway, we stayed at this hotel for 3 days and pretty much played the entire time!
Derek seemed a little stressed during this period but I tried to use my purring ability to calm him down. He also wanted to put this harness thing on me but I wasn’t happy about that and didn’t let him. I feel a little bad about it but I’m a cat after all and a harness just doesn’t work for me. I did let him put a small collar on as a compromise though.
On the third day in Jakarta, it was time to leave again as Derek started packing up. At this point, I was even excited. Where would we end up next? What a crazy life I was leading! I always seemed to end up somewhere fun and comfortable, as long as it wasn’t the vet.
So let me tell you about the next 40 hours!! 40 HOURS!
I was in this smaller travel case and we ended up at an airport. I was in disbelief, thinking to myself, “Now I’m going to fly? I’m a Bali cat and I’m getting to travel the world!!”
But I don’t know. If traveling the world always involves being on an airplane for 12 hours, then a 10 hour layover in another airport and then another 12 hour flight, I don’t need to do it all the time. There were also security checks and so many strangers around. I needed to go to the bathroom in odd, unfamiliar places as well and my system was all messed up because of the time changes. Oh, and I really didn’t enjoy being in that travel case for so many hours.
Then it ended. I don’t know what happened. Our second flight landed in a place called Miami, which I think is in a country called the USA. We then walked through the airport and then we were in a car. Nobody even asked me for my paperwork or why I wanted to come to this new country. I was shocked!
About 1.5 hours later we were in an apartment and I was free to move around again, just like that.
In one room, I had a new cat tower waiting for me, which is bigger than any cat tower I’ve ever seen! I had some great food waiting for me too. The space seemed comfortable to run around and play in and it really didn’t take me long at all to adjust. Derek is here as well of course! I must say, I like it.
Everyone seems to be talking about the ‘shitshow’ and some major problems with a virus in the area and lots of talk about politics but I don’t know, from my perspective everything seems quite calm and I’m having a ton of fun! I just want to play with my favorite piece of rope, eat some more salmon flakes and observe the world from my tower. Is that too much to ask?
And who knows what the future will bring? Will I travel more? Will we move to another house again? As long as I don’t need to visit the vet too often, I’ll take whatever comes my way.
I still can’t believe that only four short months ago I was crying in the Bali jungle, so hungry and scared.
I’ve been living the dream ever since, all because these two people happened to walk by at the right time and save me. Now I’m a world traveler and a princess and I have the best family on the planet!
VIDEO: Here’s a super cool video Georgiana made about my entire journey so far!
Delta Air Lines is trialling mandatory Covid-19 testing in place of quarantines on select flights to Amsterdam and Rome. Courtesy of Delta Air Lines / Delta Air Lines
Skift Take: U.S. airlines support a CDC recommendation to mandate negative Covid-19 tests for all arriving international travelers. It’s a bet many think will allow the industry to restart grounded flights and boost their moribund businesses.
A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER, shown in 2011. Qatar Airways
Skift Take: The promised deal would benefit Qatar as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2022. Iran will lose, though. Qatar had rerouted some planes over Iran and paid that country for the use of its airspace.
If you’re dreaming of your first post-covid getaway, the Philippines may well be at the top of your list. The archipelago of more than 7,000 islands offers paradisiacal beaches and natural beauty spots where you can really get away from it all.
One of the first things to consider as you plan your trip to the Philippines is when to visit. The best time of year for your adventure depends very much on your priorities. Weather conditions may be optimal during the high season but you’ll most likely end up spending more on flights and accommodation.
This post explains the pros and cons of visiting the Philippines in each season to help you decide when’s best for you. Once you’ve made up your mind, if you’re American, you’ll need to check out the Philippine visa for US citizens. Depending on the length of your stay you might need to apply for a visa before you go.
Winter in the Philippines: December to February
The first 2 months of the year are generally considered the best for visiting the Philippines. With cooler temperatures, conditions are perfect for exploring the capital city Manila and taking part in outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the mountains.
With temperatures rarely dropping below 60 ºF, it’s the ideal choice if you’re seeking warmer climes in wintertime. Levels of rainfall are low so you can expect plenty of sunshine.
The only downside to visiting the Philippines from December to February is that lots of people will have had the same idea. The top tourist attractions can get busy and prices may be higher. Having said that, this shouldn’t make your stay any less enjoyable, just be sure to book your accommodation and flights in advance.
Spring in the Philippines: March to May
Once Spring arrives temperatures start to rise. If you’d like to visit the Philippines in Spring then March is a great time before it gets too hot.
During April and May, daytime temperatures can reach 95 ºF so you might want to stay cool in the water and take advantage of the excellent diving opportunities in the Philippines. Take the plunge and you’ll be treated to a vast array of marine life including colorful coral, tropical fish, and pygmy seahorses.
You’re unlikely to get much rain if you’re there in March, one of the driest months of the year. Precipitation increases in April and May though so be sure to pack a proper jacket!
Summer in the Philippines: June to August
Summer is the rainy season in the Philippines and many tourists stay away. That’s not to say, however, that you can’t have an enjoyable vacation. You can expect around 20 days of rainfall each month during the wet season so you’ll need to be well prepared.
The average high drops to around 90 ºF but the humidity keeps nighttime temperatures close to 80 ºF. Thunderstorms are commonplace throughout the summer.
These conditions do, however, make great conditions for surfing. If you’re an experienced surfer seeking crashing waves, summer could be a great option for you. And, when it’s not raining, you’ll be able to enjoy this beautiful Asian travel destination at its finest as the scenery is green and lush. You also won’t have to share it with too many other tourists given that most opt to visit during the drier months.
The rainy season is the best time of year to get some great deals on flights and accommodation. Just be warned, you will get wet!
Autumn in the Philippines: September to November
There’s little change in the weather during September and into October. Typhoons are not uncommon in September, and if you are thinking about visiting then be sure to check out the weather warnings before making any plans.
The rain starts to die down towards the end of October. There are several public holidays offering a fascinating insight into Filipino culture and traditions, just be aware that most shops and services will remain closed on these days. The Lanzones and MassKara festivals are not to be missed if visiting the islands in the Autumn.
There’s a marked improvement in the weather by November. With an average of 9 days of rain during the month you can enjoy more sunshine and time at the beach. Average temperatures peak at around 88 ºF in November so, like most of the year, it’s pretty hot.
November offers a window of opportunity to enjoy some lovely weather just before the start of the high season.
What to Pack for a Trip to the Philippines
Exactly what you take with you will depend on the season in which you decide to visit. Nevertheless here are some essentials that you shouldn’t leave out of your luggage regardless of the time of year:
T-shirts and shorts
Loose, long trousers and long-sleeved tops
Walking shoes or sneakers
Rain jacket (especially in the rainy season but a good idea all year round)
Lightweight jacket (for cooler evenings)
Dry bags (to keep valuables safe when it rains or when doing water sports)
Don’t forget high-factor sunscreen which you’ll need even during the cooler months and insect repellent.
Pack well for the Philippines and you can have a trip of a lifetime, whatever the weather!
Whether you love it or hate it, for plenty of visitors to New Orleans Bourbon Street is the ultimate embodiment of this hard-partying, good times-loving city. Noisy, raucous, and exciting all night long – it is a remarkable avenue that doesn’t really have an equal anywhere else in the world.
Whatever your feelings about beads, hurricane cocktails, and dancing on tables, it would be unthinkable to depart on a cruise from New Orleans without experiencing Bourbon Street at least once. Here’s a quick guide with everything you need to know before you go.
Despite its booze-fuelled rep, Bourbon Street’s name has nothing to do with the brown liquor. The street was laid out in 1721 by Adrian de Pauger and named after the French royal house of Bourbon, who controlled the city at the time. Bourbon Street was a quiet residential thoroughfare until the late 19th century when the Storyville red-light district was founded a few blocks away. Ever since then its been a place for debauchery, decadence, good times, and nocturnal entertainment.
Bourbon Street is lined with bars and clubs, but there are a few which are of particular note.
Pat O’Brien’s Home of the famous Hurricane cocktail, Pat O’Brien’s boasts a wonderful patio and the unique dueling piano spectacle.
Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop This old Creole cottage is packed to the rafters with history. Shrouded in mystery, it was built at some point before the founding of Bourbon Street, and was supposedly the base of the Lafitte brothers’ piratical escapades. These days it is a moodily atmospheric spot to have a drink, and well worth experiencing.
The Cat’s Meow An astonishingly popular karaoke bar, the Cat’s Meow embraced the art form way before singing in public was seen as part of a great night out.
Geaux cups Did you know drinking on the street is legal in New Orleans, as long as it is from a plastic cup? This adds an extra dimension to bar-hopping on Bourbon Street, as you don’t even have to wait to finish your drink before heading to the next venue! Just decant it into a ‘geaux’ cup, and head to the next bar, drink in hand!
Despite its decadent reputation, Bourbon Street also boasts some of the finest music venues in New Orleans. Preservation Hall was founded in the 60s to celebrate the city’s jazz culture, and is a showcase for the best artists in the area. Fritzel’s European Jazz Club offers a wonderfully old-fashioned experience, while the Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel is as swanky a live venue as you are likely to find anywhere!
Bourbon Street’s vibrant, excessive, 24-hour vibe is a vital part of what makes New Orleans such an amazing city, and should be a part of any NOLA itinerary!
An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max jet in an earlier photo. American Airlines
Skift Take: A huge media spectacle on Tuesday for the return of the Boeing 737 Max to U.S. skies, which the manufacturer and the airline industry hope goes a long way to reassuring the public that the jet is safe to fly.
Skift Take: Airlines face a myriad of challenges in 2021. But above them all is the question: when will travelers return in significant numbers? Once flyers do, the industry can exit crisis mode and look forward again.
Bisate Lodge in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the elimination of plastic in innovative ways is a priority: first, the table stakes: the lodge uses a water filtration system and does not serve any plastic bottled water to guests or staff. Bisate Lodge
Skift Take: Many innovations have been born from constraints. In the case of safari lodges in Africa, the remote settings and lack of infrastructure forces architects and teams to get creative. Here are examples from the bleeding edge of innovation in sustainability, along with some hints about what is to come in developed markets around the world.