Category: Health and Fitness

FaucetSafe Shows You Where The Tap Water Isn’t Safe To Drink On Your Phone

faucetsafe app

FaucetSafe app, available for iOS and Android, is a worldwide guide on where you can and can’t drink the local tap water, that is updated in real-time. Whether or not the local water is potable is one of the most common questions travelers have but a lot of the information online is either inaccurate or out of date. I developed FaucetSafe to be a travel guide in your pocket, that can give you current information on water potability around the world.

faucetsafe    faucetsafe ios app store     faucetsafe google play android
How FaucetSafe Works

The information is compiled from multiple sources – including government and independent tests – plus FaucetSafe also has a comment system where locals and travelers alike can add further detail. Water potability often varies in small geographic areas (e.g. within cities) so FaucetSafe is designed to be a guide to where you can and can’t drink the water – both to save you costs as well as reduce the amount of plastic consumed by every traveler (in the form of water bottles). The information contained in FaucetSafe works offline and is updated with the latest water drinkability information when you have an Internet connection.

faucetsafe iphone

In some parts of the world, local municipalities will say their water is drinkable when it may not be (for political or economic/tourism purposes) so where possible, data is pulled from both official sources and based on the results of independent tests conducted on water supplies.

FaucetSafe Features

FaucetSafe is based on my map of where you can drink the tap water, with several more features and detail.

  • FaucetSafe shows where you can and can’t drink the water when traveling, from general country information to cities and down to the neighborhood level in some areas.
  • FaucetSafe is updated regularly in real-time with new information.
  • FaucetSafe has a user comment system where users can add local knowledge about water drinking habits in any given area, neighborhood, city, country or pretty much anywhere.
  • Users can also post questions in the comment section for other travelers or the administrator.
  • All comments are rated by other users, so the most useful, informative responses are highlighted on top of the others.

Available Now For iOS And Android

You can download FaucetSafe now from the Apple App Store or on Google Play for Android devices. FacuetSafe is $1.99 but if you’ve purchased any of my other travel apps, iOS users can get FaucetSafe at a discount or free as part of either the foXnoMad Water Pack or foXnoMad Air and Water Pack.

faucetsafe ios app store              faucetsafe google play android

Please let me know if you have any questions about FaucetSafe in the comments below or contact me directly. I hope that FaucetSafe can help you travel smarter by helping you avoid dirty tap water, reduce unnecessary use of plastic, save money, and give you more time to travel rather than spending it in shops purchasing bottled water.

A Map Of All The Places You Can And Can’t Drink The Local Tap Water (Updated In Real-time)

tap water drinkability

This map is now available in app form! FaucetSafe is available on the App Store and Google Play.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Whether or not you can drink the local tap water is a question most travelers will ask themselves at some point but finding reliable online is difficult. Most online resources are either inaccurate or out-of-date and local governments, for political reasons, often claim their tap water is cleaner than it might be. When traveling you don’t want to find out on a toilet the local water is dirty – or on the other hand waste time in stores unnecessarily buying bottled water if the tap H2O is potable.

To solve some of these problems, I’ve spent the better part of a year gathering water potability reports from governments, independent third-parties, non-profits, NGOs, and a variety of other relevant sources to create the map below.

  • Last update: November 16, 2018

What’s resulted is a straightforward map of water potability based multiple information sources, that’s updated in real-time. You can bookmark this page or the map to keep up with any future updates and for offline use, there’s the FaucetSafe app available for iOS and Android you can take everywhere.

Adjusting To The Tap

Remember that even clean tap water in a new city can upset your stomach for a short time. Your immune system might have to adjust to variations in sanitizing methods, and local bacteria. This water potability map is an informational resource only and although I’ve done my best to compile the most accurate data possible, always check with your doctor if you have specific medical concerns or questions.

Chances are the local water in many places around the world you’re visiting is good for drinking but without any reliable, practical, or current information you’ve bought bottled water to play it safe. Reducing use of bottled water not only can save you money but also lessen the amount of plastic we use, 8.6 billion kilograms of (19 billion pounds) of which is already in the oceans. Hopefully this map helps solve the problem of not knowing where the water is drinkable so you can travel smarter.

What It’s Like To Get High On Khat

khat market yemen

2013: Somewhere in the middle of nowhere Yemen, my toothless driver turns around to ask if I want to chew as we make our way across mountain roads. It’s become an important ritual by now; every day around 2 in the afternoon, he and most every other Yemeni, jam wads of khat leaves into their mouth to chew on for hours. Entire cities shut down after midday around khat time, not fully starting up again until the next morning.

It took me a few days but eventually friend and fellow blogger Derek and I gave in, here’s what it’s like to get high on khat.

What Is Khat?

Khat or qat refers to the leaves of a tree sold in countless markets around Yemen and east Africa. Khat is illegal in many countries and considered a performance enhancing drug by some athletic bodies, mostly because it’s a stimulant. Research on khat is limited but given that everyone I saw in Yemen was chewing it on a daily basis, it’s probably highly addictive. Khat’s also terrible for your teeth – toothless smiles reveal which side of the mouth people tend to keep their khat on.

Khat Effects

Khat is a big part of the culture in Yemen and east Africa where The Pirates Of Somalia repeats a common local joke: khat will either make you talk a lot or sex crazy. I’m sorry to disappoint you if you’re looking for a fantastic way to get high or an herbal aphrodisiac but khat’s effects are more like drinking one cup of coffee too many.

khat leaves

The khat process though is a cumbersome one. First, you begin by shopping for the khat leaves. Khat’s only good for about a day so you’ll need to buy fresh. Then, you begin to chew the leaves without swallowing. You want to get a buzz and then constipated, eating the leaves only gives you the constipated side effect. As you eagerly or fearfully wait to become a talkative sex maniac, you keep chewing, making sure to keep a large ball of khat clearly visible from your cheeks.

For hours.

khat

Khat takes about 2-4 hours to kick in, so you’ll need to chew diligently. The leaves taste like you might imagine the grass in a field does, bitter and earthy, one of the random things you’ll be very focused on contemplating after an hour of chomping.

Focus On This

Khat gives you a fuzzy focus as amphetamines tend to. Very mild though, after the second or third hour your mouth will start running. Imagine a kid who’s eaten too many cupcakes or your friend who can’t handle a large Starbucks. That’s khat. I’m not sure where the sex crazy rumor comes from, it’s probably a way to make khat seem much more mind-altering than it is.

Khat seemed to me to be much on par with coffee, though with bad side effects. Aside from the long-term dental effects, khat might also cause cancer and depression. Due to limited scientific studies of the plant, nothing conclusive has been determined but it’s probably pretty bad for you. Especially daily consumption.

khat farm

The other side effect is water. Prior to Yemen’s civil war, one local farmer told me the country was selling itself into drought. Yemeni coffee should be world famous (the drink originated in nearby Ethiopia) but corruption, war, and turmoil hurt exports. Khat however, is locally very popular. Unfortunately, khat trees use many more times the amount of water than coffee plants and because khat can’t be (legally) exported to most places that don’t already grow it, ultimately it’s become a major economic burden.

Khat, in Yemen, is a social network nothing digital comes close to. Hours long conversations, daily khat shopping, and open discussions create friendships on the spot, leading to a lifelong side effect of close bonds with individuals who have all since been displaced, or worse, due to the ongoing conflict there – although good Yemeni coffee might have done the same, without the tooth decay.

7 Things That Will Surprise A First-Time Visitor To Petra

petra treasury

Petra in southern Jordan is one of the most iconic tourist sites in the world, made famous by movies like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s familiarity in films has narrowed Petra’s tourism marketing, giving many visitors a nice surprise when they arrive at the 9,000 year old ancient city.

Petra is not what you expect though don’t feel odd about it, you’re not alone. These are 7 things that surprise most first-time visitors to Petra.

1. It’s More Than The Treasury

petra great temple

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) is what you may think Petra is. But Petra is more than a 45 meter (147 foot) tall Treasury; it’s an entire ancient city. Petra’s ancient ruins lie within at least a 60 kilometer (37 mile) hiking area, though you’ll probably only walk 8-16km (5-10 miles) of that to the major sites closest the entrance. Visitors on second and third trips to Petra often spend several days in the area to explore by foot or donkey.

2. The Treasury Is A 2 Kilometer Walk

Based on how movies portray Petra, you might be under the impression that the Treasury is a short walk from the entrance. In reality, the Treasury is 2km (1.24 miles) in through a series of impressive valleys. The valleys are very photogenic and much cooler than the exposed desert air starting at the Treasury and beyond.

indian jones and last crusadeIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Special Edition)

buy from amazon

3. You Can’t Go In The Treasury

Sorry, it’s not like in Indian Jones, the Treasury is only a big photo opportunity from outside with a sufficiently wide angle lens. (I was pretty surprised by this one.) As far as immortal knights, I didn’t hear of any either.

4. Get Your Tickets Before Jordan

jordan pass

I’ll be writing more about the Jordan Pass in the coming weeks, a sightseeing package like the Granada Card well worth the cost. A Jordan Pass, offered by Jordan’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, also waives the tourist visa entry fee. The Jordan Pass is just slightly more expensive than a single entry ticket to Petra but to make the most of it, you’ll need to purchase before you get to Jordan.

5. Lots Of Walking, Little Food

ancient city petra

Just to see the Treasury you’ll have a 4km (2.5 mile) round trip walk to prepare for. To see the Great Temple, Royal Tombs, and simply nature being magic beyond that plan for a full day of walking. Bring liters of water in the summer – add a jacket in the winter, it can be surprisingly chilly.

Meal options are terrible as well in the site, so unless you’re good with potato chips plus an apple or two, bring your own food. People arriving on day trips should stock up the night before (you want to get in as early as possible), otherwise if you have time before the evening buses return to Amman, the nearby restaurants are surprisingly good.

6. Free Horse Rides Are Free But Not Really

petra donkey

Yes, you do get a free horse ride with your Petra entry ticket. You’ll also get intense hassling for a pricey tip resulting in very few people actually using the horses. Donkeys on the other hand are a bit better but be ready to bargain like a traveling pro and wait until you’re past the Treasury to get the most reasonable rates.

7. Crowded But Not

Despite being the most popular tourist attraction in Jordan, over the past few years instability in the greater Middle East region has kept the largest crowds away. To see Petra without people you can get in at 6am, for everyone else, take a look at the video below to see what Petra looks like on an average day.

Many of the people I met and spoke with shared how much more Petra was than they expected, much like the Great Pyramids in Egypt, making it one of the more popular tourist destinations that won’t disappoint you. Unless, of course, you were really hoping to see the Holy Grail.

How Crowded Is Petra During The Day?

The ideal way to visit Petra is to arrive one night before, stay at one of the plentiful hotels, and enter the site as soon as it opens at 6am. Petra enthusiasts generally recommend staying two days to be able to fully explore the entire site but if you’re planning on a day trip from Amman, you’ll likely arrive when Petra is at its busiest during the day.

Large crowds and people in all of your photos might have you worried that not getting to Petra at 6am will ruin what is a bucket list event. Many of the tour buses from other parts of Jordan – mainly Amman – arrive around 10am and in case you’re on one of them, watch the video here or read on for what to expect.

Petra Peak

Late morning is generally the busiest time at Petra when people taking day trips begin to show up. For a day trip to Petra from the Jordanian capital Amman, the JETT Bus leaves at 6am, arrives at 10am, and returns around 5pm (definitely check the times on their site to be certain). JETT’s online booking engine is very unreliable so at least a day before your trip to Petra, visit their offices in Amman to book tickets ($32USD round trip). There are certainly other ways but this is the method I used.

petra crowds

Put On Your Walking Shoes

Petra is a large, large area. The town itself isn’t too big but the historical part is much more than just the famous treasury. The iconic treasury is a 2km (~1.24 miles) walk from the main entrance of Petra and its only the beginning. From there it’s another 6-8 kilometers (~3.7 – 5 miles) to the rest of the sites. Hopefully some of the pictures I’ve taken give you a better idea of how expansive the area is because just reading it doesn’t prepare you.

petra jordan sites

Petra is so large it helps dilute out the average 1,750 daily visitors. Additionally, most people don’t go too far beyond the treasury since it’s a hike in hot desert conditions – the more fit you are the further you can explore and leave the crowds behind. (Keep in mind there’s little food aside from snacks in the Petra site, plan accordingly.)

petra treasury

Photographic Memory In Mind

For those of you who can’t stand people in your pictures standing in front of the treasury for 10 minutes should give you a fairly clear shot. A wide angle lens will make matters easier and if all else fails you can just remove the people digitally. To be honest, even at its peak you won’t feel like it’s crowded at Petra.

petra trails

Plus the people in your photos can also give perspective, showing how big everything actually is.

petra tourism

Remember, around 2pm, the school buses show up. The kids stick to near the treasury and just beyond but while you won’t feel more crowded, the ambient noise will increase by about 5000%.

Best Of The Balkans Few Visit: Photos Of The Belogradchik Rocks In Bulgaria

Outside of Bulgaria, few, even those in the neighboring Balkan countries, know about one of the most visually stunning natural formations in the region: the Belogradchik Rocks. They should be standard viewing for any visitor to the country (it’s a 4 hour drive from the capital Sofia) but less than 1% of the tourists visiting Bulgaria ever make it there.

belogradchik bulgaria

The site of a former sea, the Belogradchik Rocks are about 45 million years old; their formation likely began more than 200 million years prior. The Romans decided to build a fort into the rocks, later taken over by the Ottomans in 1396.

belogradchik fort

Although the 200 meter tall rock formations are reminiscent of Cappadocia in Turkey, Belogradchik’s rocks are the result of water erosion (not volcanic activity).

belogradchik photos

Getting to Belogradchik is fairly easy if you have a car and have downloaded some local offline Google Maps. The roads aren’t the best so you should be gentle on the gas pedal over the 120 kilometer (75 mile) drive.

belogradchik

Belogradchik’s stairs are steep, turn into ladders, though for those who make the climb, the views are impressive. In winters it can be icy though even in good conditions, you’ll probably be the only tourist around.

belogradchik madonna

The Belogradchik Rocks should be on every tourism poster for Bulgaria. What Hollywood has discovered (many movies are filmed across the country) – inexpensive, impressive landscape, lesser known – Belogradchik is only a tiny part of. There are many other cultural contrasts you didn’t know Bulgaria will surprise you with, as well as a big Comic Con annually, you probably didn’t know about either.

belogradchik drone

For those of you looking for off the beaten path, only 17,000 foreign tourists visited the Belogradchik Rocks in 2015. When you’re standing at the very top of the fort, overlooking the valley of rock formations, you’ll wonder how that’s possible. At the same time, feeling happy you’ve got it (mostly) all to yourself.

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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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