Category: Travel Unravel

Why India’s Time Zone Is 30 Minutes Off From (Most Of) The Rest Of The World

two time zone watch

You might be under the impression that time zones are one hour increments around the world, created so clocks can, more or less, represent the same time of day globally. Travelers and ever-worrying mothers with children visiting India soon learn that the time in India is 30 minutes off its greater time zone.

It’s a peculiarity many visitors are curious about, which like time zones in general, aren’t quite a logical but make just enough sense for nobody to get too confused. Here’s why the clocks in India are offset by 30 minutes to most of the other time zones in the world.

Time Zones Are Relatively New

Time zones as we know them today were devised in the late 1800s in the United States. In the 1750s, the chronometer was invented, allowing for relatively accurate time keeping. Most cities in the world then gradually began setting their clocks based on the time of day when the sun was highest in the the sky. Noon was established since it was easy to calculate but that meant most cities had different clocks from on another. Time differences weren’t noticeable though until mechanical transportation was invented. Once the railroad system was established in the United States over much of the country, travel became fast enough over large enough distances when a better method had to be created.

porto train station

The first four time zones were established in America in 1883. One year later, England, Scotland, and Wales established their own time zone. According to Time And Date,

“Various meridians were used for longitudinal references among different countries before the late 1800s, and the Greenwich Meridian was the most popular of these. The Greenwich Observatory’s reputation for the reliability and accuracy in publications of its navigational data was one factor that contributed to the Greenwich Meridian’s popularity. Sir Sandford Fleming was one of the key players in developing a satisfactory worldwide system of keeping time. He advocated the adoption of a standard or mean time and hourly variations from that following established time zones.”

In 1884, International Meridian Conference was held, putting into place the structure of time zones many of us are now familiar with.

Anomalies In Time

When the meridians for the Indian subcontinent were created, New Delhi was in between the two. Naturally, India decided to be 30 minutes between the two time zones, which is why the country is only 30 minutes ahead of nearby Pakistan, for example. Ironically, India is also two and a half hours behind anywhere in China, because the People’s Republic decided they wanted the entire country to be one time zone.

Politics, mixed with a little logic, is why India is only 30 minutes ahead or behind the neighboring time zones. But India isn’t the only country with an unusual time zone setup – some Australian states, Sri Lanka, St John’s in Canada, and Nepal is 45 minutes offset from its adjacent time zones, as just a few examples.

Time zones can still be confusing but desktop or laptop Firefox users can check out FoxClocks for simple time keeping, travelmath is great for calculating time differences, and don’t forget your mobile phone makes for an excellent clock, as well as fitness tracker.

How Long Does It Really Take For A Quick-Dry Towel To Dry?

What might seem like a silly question at first can be an important one for your time management when traveling. Microfiber, or quick-dry, towels are designed for campers and frequent travelers when they’re not likely to find a drying machine. Although they’re called “quick-dry” – and do dry faster than cotton, for example – the amount of time it takes varies widely depending if they’re hanging in a hotel room or by the beach.

Knowing the amount of time it takes to the average microfiber towel to dry in a variety of conditions can help you plan prior to packing. (A towel that’s even slightly damp can make your entire backpack smell of feet by the time you reach your destination.) As you can watch in the video above, I ran several experiments in order to determine average dry times indoors and out so you have a good idea of how many hours before prior to packing to hang your towel.

The Test Conditions

I ran four basic drying experiments with the REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite Large I’ve been traveling with for years in several common travel conditions.

  • Test 1: Indoors on a clothesline.
  • Test 2: Indoors hanging from a hook.
  • Test 3: Outdoors in the shade.
  • Test 4: Outdoors in direct sunlight.

rei quick dry towel

The ambient temperature in all the tests was between 20-22C (68F-72F). The Multi Towel Lite was completely dry at the beginning of each test; I took a shower, then used the quick-dry towel. I then hung the towel, set a stopwatch, and checked in occasionally to see the progress of water evaporation. These were the results:

  • Test 1: Indoors on a clothesline: 8 hours 5 minutes.
  • Test 2: Indoors hanging from a hook: 7 hours 58 minutes.
  • Test 3: Outdoors in the shade: 2 hours 43 minutes.
  • Test 4: Outdoors in direct sunlight: 36 minutes.

Indoor Versus Out

It’s probably not surprising that drying the towel outdoors was less time consuming. Though the difference in drying time – nearly 6 hours – might be a bit unexpected. How the towel was hung didn’t make much difference but it’s clear outdoors is preferable; even if the outdoor temperature is the same or less than indoors.

The Over-Under

Add more time obviously if you’re got longer hair needing more water absorption from the towel. Of course, you can shave even more time off by wringing the towel, or placing it near or (carefully) on a heater. Indoor drying times though are going to be 8 hours, in ideal conditions like I had during these small experiments. I suspect I greatly underestimated dry times in general, which has probably cost me a few extra laundry washes on several trips.

So, if you’re going to be using a quick-dry towel, keep in mind to schedule your shower a bit earlier on travel days when you might not have access to a balcony or backyard. Don’t pack more than two weeks of stuff, even for longer trips, and following the 80% rule might give your clothes just enough air not to stink for times you’re feeling a little less patient.

How Difficult Is It To Travel If You’re Vegan?

vegan lufthansa

Recently, after posting photos of the vegan meals being served in business class flights on various flights, a reader asked how difficult it would be to travel after switching to a vegan diet. It’s a big question with a lot depending on where you go, how you travel, and your personal preferences.

How Strict Are You?

There are a group of very strict vegans and those who don’t mind eating an egg or honey on occasion. (Up to a third of vegetarians eat meat when drunk, for example.) People “go vegan” for a variety of reasons – health, animal rights, lactose intolerance – so you may decide on shorter trips to just do your best. If you do, it’s better to accept the decision completely; stressing about finding suitable food options can easily ruin a vacation. On the other hand, if you’re committed to sticking to a strict vegan diet, you’ll need to prepare.

Planning Ahead Is Crucial

You hardly ever need to show up to an airport 3 hours before a flight but if you’re going to fly as a vegan, at the very least you need to arrange your meals well in advance. Ideally, you’ll need to specify at booking that you want a vegan meal. Practically, you’ll need to call the airline as well because in most cases if you don’t, expect a vegetarian meal with cheese.

shephards salad with cheese

Also, you better get to a grocery store first as well, since vegan meals on flights are rarely completely vegan, not to mention mostly salads or vegetables. (Lacking the beans, nuts, and soy many vegans use to supplement their diet with appetite-satisfying protein.) Apps like HappyCow can help you find vegan restaurants but remember that grocery store shopping is going to be a regular part of any trip you take.

More Developed Doesn’t Always Mean More Choices

Many people often assume that more developed countries have more vegan options. Scandinavians use a lot of dairy in their dishes for instance and the Japanese tend to have a diet rich in fish. Conversely, nations with meat-heavy traditional cuisines like Serbia and Kosovo are excellent for vegans. Much of Turkish cuisine too, is unintentionally vegan. India, famous for its vegetarian cuisine, can be hard for vegans due to the common use of clarified butter (ghee).

food chandni chowk

Vegan options actually vary much more between cities than nations. Germany, for example, isn’t the most vegan-friendly country but Berlin is one of the best cities for vegans. Larger cities tend to have more vegan options simply due to size, though it doesn’t always mean the restaurants will be close to your accommodation. Again, plan accordingly and get used to grocery store visits.

On the surface, it might not seem like a big jump to go from vegetarian to vegan because the world is getting close to being caught up on what a vegetarian is. Keep in mind that the concept of vegetarianism is still be confusing to many around the world, even though vegetarians make up about 20% the world population. There are far, far less vegans; therefore much less understanding of what vegan is.

To travel as a vegan you’ll not only need to get used to planning, shopping, and arranging your travels around the food you eat, but become very used to explaining as well. The summarized version of no-meat-no-dairy usually isn’t sufficient so study menus well, list ingredients, and accept that not every restaurant or waiter will be sensitive to your dietary restrictions.

Are you a traveling vegan? What would you add and what have your experiences been? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Why Do People Travel To Star Trek Conventions?

People travel for many reasons and for 10-20,000 every August in Las Vegas, that reason is Star Trek. Although I’ve been to the Creation Entertainment Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas several times, I still have trouble answering the question I’m asked most about it: why do people go to Star Trek conventions?

As you can see in the video above, as I spoke with other Trekkies at the convention this year, people attend Star Trek conventions for a very human reason – one that won’t feel alien to any traveler or person. Plus, you’ll get to see a glimpse of what goes on at the largest Star Trek convention in the world.

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2017.

When You Travel In A Plane, Time Slows Down For You: Here’s How To Calculate By How Much

andorra dali clock

We all know that our clocks change as we cross time zones in an airplane. Did you know however that you are actually traveling a bit further into the future, relative to your friends on the ground when flying? This effect is called time dilation, predicted and later proven by Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity.

Let’s quickly start by clearing up the title of this post since there are a few details which couldn’t so easily be summarized in a few words. The first thing to know is that whenever you move through space, by walking, running, driving, etc. relative to people who aren’t in motion, you are traveling just a bit slower through time. This effect has been confirmed by atomic clocks placed in airplanes as well as orbiting satellites and compared to those on the ground.

Additionally, according to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, time moves faster in the absence of a gravitational field. (Relative to others who are in stronger gravitational fields; in other words, closer to ground, for example.) The higher up you are, the further you are from Earth’s mass, which means slightly less gravity for you and a slightly faster clock. While standing, even your head is ever so slightly moving a bit faster through time, since it’s a meter or two higher above the ground than your feet.

How noticeable is this effect? Well, not very as gravity is weak force, but using what’s known as a gravitational time dilation formula (originally discovered by the Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz) we can calculate it.

time dilation formula

Assume you’re flying at 10,668 meters for 8 hours at roughly 1,007 kph, from true south to true north, where your friend is sitting at sea level; when you arrive, your watch will be running about 0.00504 seconds faster than theirs.

What’s all that north-south business? Well, since the Earth rotates and planes usually fly across this rotation, that would change the calculation a bit as you and your friend are moving in directions relative to each other.

Let me help you figure out how much in the “future” you are on your next 8 hour flight.

t1 = time elapsed (for person not moving)

t = time in seconds spent traveling
v^2 = speed, kilometers per second squared
c^2 = speed of light, 299792.458 km/second squared

So, t1 is what we’re looking for. t is time we’ve spent flying: 8 hours, or 28800 seconds. Let’s say our plane is flying at 920km/hour, that’s .25km/second. And c (the speed of light) is a constant in the universe. After inserting those numbers in the time dilation formula, t=28800.0000003. For the lazier, here’s an online time dilation calculator that does the number crunching for you. That means your friends, asleep (not moving), on the ground have experienced .0000003 extra seconds relative to you.

There are numerous time dilation formulas accounting for various scenarios, with gravity in mind, used to keep GPS satellite clocks in sync with those on Earth, among other things. So the next time a friend picking you up at the airport complains about your flight being late, tell them if they hadn’t been stuck in the past, they might have arrived at the right time.

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2017.

Is It Still Possible To Visit Socotra Island?

socotra dragon blood tree

The Socotra archipelago, particularly its main island, is one of the most neglected tourism destinations in the world. A big part of the reason, in addition to Socotra’s remote location in the Arabian Sea, is that it’s Yemeni territory. Despite being 380 kilometers (236 miles) off Yemen’s southern coast, visas, not to mention a precarious security situation on the mainland had kept most people away.

A frequent question I’m asked is whether or not it is still possible to visit Socotra, as Yemen’s civil war continues, bypassing the mainland altogether. The answer is technically yes; but you’re not going to like the details.

Flights To Socotra, Sounds Nice

I visited Socotra and the Yemeni mainland several months before war made it too dangerous for travel – obviously, a lot has changed since then. For a while, flights from Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates near Dubai on Felix Airways to Socotra’s capital Hadibu were infrequent, but flying occasionally. Those flights have stopped completely, despite the claims by a few tour operators in the UAE. I reached out to several of the tour operators in the UAE and Yemen, as well as some airlines who all floated the sentiment they were hopeful regular service would resume soon, despite there being no change for many months.

socotra island beach

Believe In Ferries

Some tour operators based out of the UAE sign people up to tours, claiming to arrange Socotra trips by ferry. Practically all are canceled, so be very weary before booking or giving money to any tour operator. All of the other options are fairly unofficial, such as traveler Johnny Ward coaxing his way on to a cement shipping boat, with a lot of local help.

“One whole week of phone calls, paperwork, cash, documents, visas etc. went by… to ensure my visa to Yemen wasn’t canceled… to ensure that immigration in Socotra would accept me via the cement boat.”

Clearly, not a travel plan possible, or desirable, by most of you.

Situation Determination

You really have to be persistent, determined, and adventurous to even attempt a trip to Socotra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are substantial costs, not to mention risks, right now in doing so. Travel to Socotra is likely to be practically infeasible as the situation in mainland Yemen continues to deteriorate with more than 70% of the population – most of these peopleneeding humanitarian assistance.

Those of you still wondering why you might want to visit Yemen can take a look to what was and hopefully what may be again one day.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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