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Travel destinations for the "Hacker Tourist"

By jfernie in Culture
Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:34:32 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

After reading an article Neal Stephenson wrote for Wired, I realized why normal tourist attractions always suck: I'm not a normal tourist. What cool spots are there for the technically inclined to visit around the world? I'm headed to London myself, and the only thing on my list right now is Bletchley Park, but I'd like to find out what should be on my list for the future.


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Travel destinations for the "Hacker Tourist" | 70 comments (57 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
'geek' tourism now? (3.66 / 12) (#1)
by Delirium on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 10:49:54 PM EST

Despite the fact that I like computers, I don't see vacations as a way to find out about technology. Personally I'd rather go on a hike through some beatiful scenery than visit a computer museum. There are things other than computers out there...

Well, not a 'vacation'. (none / 0) (#6)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 12:51:01 AM EST

I probably wouldn't call most 'computer vacations' or whatever, an actual vacation. Maybe a... field-trip or something?

Personally, I'm not interested in taking vacations, so it would take a really cool technology related thing to get me out of my office. There are probably a lot of other people like myself who are so bogged-down with work that they never take vacations, never take weekends off, never go anywhere. What they really need to do is unwind or find something to do outside of the office and away from the computer that is still interesting and exciting to them. For many of us, something like this would be the answer.

Still, it would take something really unique to make me interested. I'm not going to go on a tour of Xerox Park or stare at a few old computers with vaccume tubes for a whole day. Throw in a tour of the old computers by a well-known expert that I can relate to and learn from and you might perk an ear or both up, though.

At this time of my life, it will probably take nothing short of a trip on the Space Shuttle to talk me into taking a vacation anyway.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

hmm (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:59:06 AM EST

Well, a tour of some interesting old computers with a knowledgeable expert would certainly be interesting, but I can't imagine myself going out of my way to find such a thing. If I was going to take time off and travel to go so something touristy, I'd much rather go hiking in the Rocky Mountains or raft through the Grand Canyon or something.

[ Parent ]
Depends on what your idea of "vacation" (none / 0) (#10)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:08:34 AM EST

Since a vacation is usually what we consider something we do "away from work, away from home" and is "fun, entertaining, enjoyable", the ideal vacation would change from person to person. Since I have few interests outside of computers and various sciences (astronomy, etc) I may find such an oriented vacation vastly more intriguing than a hike in the mountains. Likewise, someone (yourself perhaps) who just wants to get away from the blasted computer for a short time and get some excercise would find the beach, a mountain or other expiditian infinitely more rewarding.

I probably see both as potentially rewarding and would consider either an interesting time -- if I actually had time/interest for vacations at this point of my life. Perhaps when I get in shape and have more energy, the time I do have to spend will suddenly seem to expand and allow more into it (hard to do a lot when you're always tired and groggy, right?).

That being said, I know that what the typical American considers a vacation (trip to Vegas, trip to the Grand Canyon, trip to DisneyLand, trip to the place Elvis lived, etc) wouldn't even pique my interest if I were paid to go.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

hmm part 2 (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:54:56 AM EST

Yeah I suppose I've committed the common error of projecting my interests to everyone else. =)

But I do agree that what the typical American considers a vacation generally is uninteresting. I don't see why I would want to take time out and spend money to travel to Las Vegas, DisneyLand, the place Elvis lived, etc. The Grand Canyon is nice though. =)

[ Parent ]

Well, there's the answer... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:36:40 AM EST

You bring old computer junk (the bigger the hardware, the better) and go visit the Grand Canyon. You can probably envision the resulting excitement that would certainly satisfy all involved!
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Nice Idea! (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by deefer on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:44:06 PM EST

But already done...

Read "Round Ireland with a fridge" by Tony Hawks. It's written by a bloke who hitches all the way around Ireland for a bet. With a fridge with him at all times.

If you don't laugh out loud at least once, you're probably dead!!! :)

Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

[ Parent ]
Disney (2.00 / 1) (#58)
by chroma on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:32:23 PM EST

The Disneys are wonderful places for hackers to visit. Once, at Disney World, they let a group in to the offices where much of the computer animation was done; racks and racks of SGI machines and a preview of an Aladdin VR ride.

I've also heard that it's possible to get a 'behind the scenes' tour, where they show you how all the magic is controlled.

[ Parent ]
Lebanon (2.62 / 8) (#2)
by cameldrv on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 10:52:12 PM EST

I have always wanted to visit Beirut. Something about the whole "devastated city" thing, kind of like visiting East Berlin right after the wall came down.

If you really want an experience... (3.75 / 4) (#12)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:14:30 AM EST

If you really want an experience to enjoy, don't just go visit a place like that -- bring help.

There are a lot of projects, including some that are specifically oriented toward people in this industry, that allow you to travel to other countries and use your time to help other people. Be it building a hospital, shelters and agricultural systems or hooking remote to regional networks and the internet or training people to use them, there are a lot of disadvantaged people out there for whom the idea of a "vacation" doesn't even exist and the word is only a remote device of their vocabulary.

I think this is why so many of these projects draw a lot of interested people. When you ponder the value of your day's work -- coding a few lines for a mailserver, building a box for a webserver, troubleshooting some loser's desktop in the sales department or whatever else, the idea of using what you know to empower the life of another person to whom your material posessions and living-standards are quite incomprehensible is very gratifying.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

What?! Go /outside/?! Are you fscking /nuts/?! (3.33 / 6) (#4)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 12:37:02 AM EST

On the surface, I like your idea. I'm one of those people that loved the Triumph of the Nerds series on PBS and wish I had Pirates of Silicon Valley on DVD and absolutely love reading about pioneering computerists -- specifically those in the very late 1960's through the late 1980's. I find the people and the issues they deal with during that time far more interesting than the very earliest computer-related history.

I've had the fortune to have brief conversations with many of those people that have been the subject of my historical curiosity and I would pay a large amount of money to, instead of having a tour, have some sort of a 'vacation' where I and a very small group (at the most, ten and preferably only half that number) of interested individuals like myself could engage these individuals in luncheons or something. I'm not sure how you would draw their interest and make it worth their while (although for people like Wozniack, who are such fun and friendly guys, there might be little arm twisting, if any). Still, if there were a way to get a group of these interesting people together (perhaps a rotation of them so that they could make themselves available a few times a year each) in a nice setting with intelligent 'tourists' to discuss things with, you could probably do pretty well.

I'd consider paying perhaps $5,000 for a day and night with a group like Woz, Bill Joy, the guy who really invented MS-DOS, Linus, RMS, ESR and any number of others. Get a group of five people together every three months, charge $5,000 and you've raised $100,000/year, at least. Perhaps you could even work together with them to donate it to charities of their choosing (FSF, EFF, disease research... whatever).
I just read K5 for the articles.

An interesting short vacation. (4.28 / 7) (#5)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 12:46:28 AM EST

Remember Sealand? The WWII oil-rig or whatever it was that a man had rebuilt and turned into a recognized nation unto itself after fighting off the Brittish (man, that sounds familiar *cough*)? They were working on making it a safe haven for data storage and have the place fairly well armed. They are mostly a facade for rich guys around the world to declare 'home' on their passports and become 'diplomats of Sealand' when they travel the globe, but it is still pretty interesting none-the-less.

It would be pretty cool to visit the place, especially if they provided any sort of tours of the hardware bunker. And if I recall, they actually would like to encourage visits (it's pretty large and they do have a lot of full-time residents of the place).


I just read K5 for the articles.

I wouldn't say they welcome visitors... (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by Johnath on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:53:54 PM EST

They seem like a very cool place, and if they read this message, I hope they realise the number of geeks that would wash floors and work for room & board just to be a part of it, but it may be a little misstated to say that they encourage visits: From the HavenCo FAQ:
2. Can I visit the colocation facilities or the Sealand fortress? As a rule, no. Access to the HavenCo secure colocation facilities, which comprises nearly all of the Principality of Sealand, is restricted to authorized staff, investors and members of the Royal Family. The remainder of the fortress is dedicated to Sealand Security and staff housing. Occasionally, we invite members of the press to our facilities under close supervision and with proper background investigation.
Which is a shame too, because I agree, this would sort of be one of the 7 wonders of the geek world, otherwise. :)

[ Parent ]
Crayon Factories (4.50 / 6) (#7)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:03:45 AM EST

Am I the only one who doesn't love a good factory? I'm twenty-three years old and I still love to watch tours of Crayon factories on Mr. Rogers. And I wish instead of the Laverne & Shirley show, they'd have just extended the footage of the bottling plant they worked at for another 29.5 minutes.

Seeing stuff made is just damn cool.

You could compile a huge list of factories that are techie-related that would be fun to visit. And there are even more that have nothing to do with technology (other than the technology itself that is used to manufacture whatever the plant manufactures).

Add a chance to actually do something like work the assembly line machines for a few minutes after some quick training and you would have a unique proposition.

Another cool idea would be if there were some game companies (id, EA, Blizzard, etc) that would give day-long tours of their facilities where you can check out pending games, play them for awhile, give feedback, meet some developers, check out each step of the process and go home (perhaps with a freebie to pop into the computer when you get back!). Sure, a lot of us make video games for a living (my cousin does, for example), but there are a lot more of us who are stuck in stupid projects that we can't stand and would enjoy a day of watching the next Doom or Diablo in action.
I just read K5 for the articles.

"Hacker Tourist" bad choice of words (4.00 / 6) (#8)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:07:59 AM EST

If you want to be taken seriously when working with travel agencies or other companies in putting together such a vacation (or setting them up for other people), I would strongly heed the ignorance of the average person and use the phrase "computer enthusiast" over "hacker tourist".

Part of my engineering position requires that I work hand-in-hand with system administrators and systems engineers quite often and I'm surprised how often one of them gets angry (or even writes a disgusted letter to my management!) over the use of a phrase like "Well, this didn't work the way it was intended, so I hacked a solution that should do the trick for you", suggesting that hacking is a bad image for a company to put forward.

I just read K5 for the articles.

If a travel agency wants to be ignorant... (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by elenchos on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:09:36 PM EST

...why should you feel obliged to do business with them?

What if an Elvis Presley fanatic wanted to go tour Graceland, and wasn't taken seriously, but was treated like a hayseed rube? They'd take their money elswhere. The whole point of the hospitality industry is to learn what the needs of the client are and (so long as it doesn't lead to a murder) to cater to those needs. The term "hacker" isn't chosen to please the masses, it is there for the pleasure and approval of the ones laying down the cash: hackers.

[ Parent ]

liability (none / 0) (#36)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:42:31 PM EST

First, you may have trouble booking arrangements with companies or other places you'd like to visit if you label yourself a 'hacker'. There's a right time and place for everything, and the use of the is best avoided in situations that the other person(s) is not likely to understand it -- unless you care to explain the underlying meaning each and every time. Labeling yourself a "computer enthusiast" is simply a way to avoid trouble for yourself. Much like if I attend a wedding in a church, I don't make a point of yelling out "Hey, I'm an agnostic so I don't really have a religious belief system -- just thought you all should know!"

You may also find that if you use the services of one or more agencies in making your arrangements, they may be unwilling to deal with questionable groups for whom they may become responsible should problems arise. That has nothing to do with ignorance of the word's usage or prejudice against it, but is simply something a person keeping the best interest of their company in mind would consider.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Are you making this up as you go? (none / 0) (#43)
by elenchos on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:23:10 PM EST

Here's what our friends at Google have on the subject of specialty arrangements for the gay, lesbian, & bi community. Here's a bunch of supernatural specialty travel companies, to visit graveyards or UFO crash sites or other such harmless fun. This is a "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" vacation. Fun for the whole family! Murder Mysteries here, and the Phuket Vegetarian Festival of self-torture, mutiliation and assorted other touristy stuff there.

So just based on five minutes research, I think a few "hackers" in Hawaian shirts with digital cameras are just a little to tame to alarm anybody. Maybe if they wanted to perform a human sacrifice or something, then discretion might be in order, but otherwise I think hackers have been way outdone in the "questionable" department.

OTOH, maybe a "Hacker Vacation" that pretended there was some sinister need for secrecy and high security would really sell well. Kind of a James Bond thing, acting like the ignorant masses feared your facinating and subtle self for all your terrible wicked knowledge of the Dark Arts. The travel agents could act really snotty and give you a lot of shit, like they were trying to weed out the lamers or something. I bet the 37337 crowd would really eat that up.

[ Parent ]

Good points. (none / 0) (#44)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:56:37 PM EST

You make a couple very good points. The media, however, spends more time and energy making every geek with a computer and an internet connection out to be the next great terrorist, while murderers are people to be intrigued by and adores (thinking of all the people that write fan letters, visit and even marry convicted serial killers).

I still think the idea of a specialty travel group catering to just technophiles would be sweet. We probably would find them more capable of delivering exciting and interesting experiences than a company that specializes in gambling cruises and visits to the statue of liberty. ; )
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

in rebutle. (2.00 / 1) (#67)
by dr3 on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:14:59 AM EST

First off my rebuttal to the following comment.

while murderers are people to be intrigued by and adores (thinking of all the people that write fan letters, visit and even marry convicted serial killers).


Face it he was convicted so technically he is and was a criminal.(all thought his conviction in my opinion is complete bs as he should have gotten off easier as his true crimes weren't as large as said) also take a look on Amazon for books with the title hacker in it.

424 total matches for "hacker"

(some are names of authors but still)

and as for the media proclaiming any geek with a puter and a net con is the next terrorist. think about this.

what is the common mans first emotion when he sees something new? Most commonly it is fear, if after a while he cannot seem to fathom it he will alienate it and demonize it to an extent where anyone else (including his subconscious) will ultimately want to do one of the following.

declare holy war


Write it off as a waste of time

and if I had money I would put together a 7337 h4x0rz tr1p. With such destinations as FBI and NSA buildings, Tours of CISCO and Bell companies corp. HQ's, find some sort of Tesla and Bell shrines or Museums. Not to mention possibly caffeine and beer hazed nightlong gaming parties? man o man the possibilities are endless.

old Wiseman once said
don't run windows you jack ass it's the devils tool.

As Confused as a toddler in a topless bar.
[ Parent ]
Tsk, Tsk on them. (none / 0) (#61)
by broody on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:55:07 PM EST

While there may be other factors that may compensate you for the hassel regarding the word hack/hacker; it is not normal in my experience. If you are working as a field engineer, I can see it the visits are short and people don't get that "warm and fuzzy" trust thing going on. That said if that kind of paranoia was present on a core site then I would pack it up and head out for a more tolerant environment.

~~ Whatever it takes
[ Parent ]
Akihabara. (4.33 / 6) (#11)
by nicksand on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:09:33 AM EST

If you can squeeze up the cash, be sure to check out Akihabara electric town in Tokyo, Japan. Tons of cool electronic shops, including "junk" shops which sell old hardware (including sun boxen) for cool prices. I picked up a 300mb harddisk for 500 yen ($4.90). Be sure to check out this area after the sun sets . . . the crowds are insane and the lights make it look awesome.

Sim Lim square in Singapore is a pretty fun place to be as well. At least, it was when I lived in Singapore four and a half years ago. - N

Quite. (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by static on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 07:56:01 PM EST

And if you hadn't suggested it: I would have! :-) Seriously, yes, you can probably spend a week exploring Akihabara. You will need to have some basic shopping Japanese, though.

Actually, Japan is probably quite a good destination for the "geek". Do some of the normal, low-profile tourist-y things at least once, but once you have, provided you have some Japanese language skills (it doesn't take that much), it is not hard to wander around more-or-less as you like. Outside the cities it can get harder, but it is possible. Wonderful things to see range from the temples and shrines, to Japan's amazing rail system (up to and including the Shinkansen).


[ Parent ]

First Saturday in Dallas (none / 0) (#65)
by b1t r0t on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:39:29 PM EST

Not quite Akihabara, and only once a month, but for anyone in Texas, this makes for a cheap, fun weekend trip. For maximum effect, go at oh-dark-hundred when you have to take a flashlight.

That's where I plan on going tomorrow night.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
[ Parent ]

Hong Kong (4.50 / 6) (#13)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:36:33 AM EST

You want to go to Hong Kong. Nothing but coolness there. There's plenty of culture (great museums and concert halls, not to mention being in, well, Hong Kong), a LOT of fun shopping (try to find the various anime and bootleg malls; I spent LOTS of time in those when I was there for a few weeks, and I normally hate shopping), and great food. Even the everyday tech which pervades there is just plain cool. Once upon a time I was going to write an article for Kuro5hin entitled "The Technology Culture of Hong Kong" but then I got busy. I really should write it someday. It's a fun place for a geek.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

I second that! (none / 0) (#24)
by FunkyChild on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:24:43 AM EST

I agree. When I was in Hong Kong, I loved it, and it seems very well suited to 'geek' personality types. You can buy most new technology gear there, at a similar time as it comes out in Japan, at a much lower price. I'm planning on going back there for a week in June/July, to explore a bit more, and do a lot of shopping :). I'd love to see that article if you ever get around to it.

-- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
[ Parent ]
And the food! (none / 0) (#45)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:30:39 PM EST

Shopping's great, but the experience of eating shrimp and sea cucumber fried dumplings in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and frequently eating good (and cheap) eel sushi, and getting all sorts of other food which are nearly impossible to find in America ("You want to eat eel?! Eww!" "Sea cucumbers? Sounds disgusting." etc.) and just getting to try out all sorts of different things is great. I mean, it's basically the nexus of every culture in the world there - okay, the ethnicity of the people is more of a melting pot in America, but the ethnicity of the food in Hong Kong is just so diverse. It's nice to try new things. :)

I am quite regretful that one time I did actually eat at a McDonalds while I was there, but I was desparate for food, hungry, and almost out of cash, and there weren't any US$4-for-a-whole-mess-of-Sushi restaurants nearby (I was in one of Hong Kong's many wonderful public parks).

Oh, and where else can you get a high-quality bootleg Hello Kitty headset phone for US$5? Not to mention Sonic the Hedgehog - for the Gameboy. (Yeah, I know, Sega's going to put StH on Gameboy Advance, but I'm talking about the original Gameboy. Which Sega didn't support at all. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Hong Kong as a techie place. (none / 0) (#46)
by odaiwai on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:50:29 AM EST

I live in Hong Kong. The kewl places to visit for a techie would be:

- The Golden Arcade in Sham Shui Po (near the MTR station). one mega city of computer bits, software and misc tech.
- transit system (MTR and KCR) as it works just so bloody well.
- the Peak, just to see the skyline. go just before sundown (before 6pm) and stay until all the lights have come on.
- Shenzen, get a China Visa, go to Lowu city for cheap knockoffs of everything. Also sufficiently different from Hong Kong to convince you that you're in China.
- The islands, just to wind down. Also, Stephenson mentions Lantau and Mui Wo in that wired article. The islands are also good for seeing the simple fishing lifestyle.
- Kowloon Walled City - unfortunately it's been knocked down for a while, but the original site is now a museum of sorts.

You could always take the 4.5 hour flight to beijing to catch the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Tiannemen Square (which is absolutely enormous).

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
Been there, done that ;) (none / 0) (#52)
by fluffy grue on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 03:29:36 PM EST

Golden Arcade rules, yeah. Transit system kicks ass. The Peak is quite beautiful (too bad the trams are always so crowded). I went to Lamma, and was going to go to Lantau and Shenzen but didn't have time for either... didn't even hear of the Kowloon Walled City, tho.

Of course, I hope to go to Hong Kong again. It's such a neat place, and I didn't come even close to seeing even a tiny fraction of everything there in the 2.5 weeks I was there...
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Lebanon (2.00 / 4) (#18)
by cameldrv on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:14:03 AM EST

I have always wanted to visit Beirut. Something about the whole "devastated city" thing, kind of like visiting East Berlin right after the wall came down.

Whoops (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by cameldrv on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:16:11 AM EST

sorry about that. Feel free to mod down.

[ Parent ]
German Museum (4.83 / 6) (#20)
by YesNoCancel on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:36:58 AM EST

If you visit Europe, you must visit the German Museum in Munich. It's the world's largest museum of science and technology (you can spend days or weeks there) and one of the most fascinating and interesting places I've ever been to.

I second that. (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by i on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:50:38 AM EST

My daughter liked La Vilette in Paris more, but I really don't know why. Also, while in Munich, don't forget Flugwerft Schleißheim (airfield, a branch of the German museum) just outside the city.

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
travelling in India (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by danny on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:08:37 AM EST

I spent three weeks in India in 1998, and one of the things I was interested in was the spread of computers and networks and the possibilities for their use (I was there on a "community leadership program" studying community development).

I was surprised at how many shops selling Net access there were in Pune; it was actually much easier to find access there (near the college) than in Mumbai's CBD. Jaipur seemed to have one server with far fewer modems than were needed.

Can anyone tell me if the deregulation of the ISP industry has improved things?

If you're interested, my web site has my trip report, including some notes on information technology.

[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Go to Arecibo (4.87 / 8) (#22)
by uweber on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:26:59 AM EST

Visit the worlds largest radiotelescope its build into a valley at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. This telescope recorded most of the data your seti clients crunch and it is on an island which also has a lot of nice beaches, thus when you are done with geek tourism you can lie on the beach :-).
However I think Puerto Rico is a bit expensive unless you have special connections (my aunt lives there so the flight from Germany was the most expensive part of the vacation).

Arecibo Observatory

Seoul (4.33 / 6) (#25)
by FunkyChild on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:39:14 AM EST

Although it's not really a place you can just drop in on - you really need to be aiming to go there - I found Seoul really great when I went there about a year ago. Unfortunately you will probably need to know Korea or have Korean guides. Quite a few people understand some English, but I certainly wouldn't go there only knowing English.

In my experiences, technology and computers are very pervasive and much much more mainstream than in my culture (Australian). There are 'PC rooms' *everywhere* where you can go in, surf the net on fast connections, or play LAN games. I actually spent a whole night in there once playing Starcraft when I was stuck for accomodation :P. While I was staying in Seoul, the Korean national Starcraft Battle.net champion was appearing in a series of TV commercials. That's what I mean by getting mainstream.

There is a great place (that I can't remember the name of :( - picture: here) which is Seoul's answer to Akihabara. Great outdoor computer markets and discounted electronics gear.

On top of that, the culture and food is great, and quite interesting. There are many museums/palaces/temples to visit too. I know it may not be for everyone, but I really loved it there.

-- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
Racoon Mountain, TN (5.00 / 3) (#31)
by shook on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:07:17 PM EST

The Racoon Mountain Pumped Storage Facility near Chattanooga, Tennesee, USA is a very cool technical marvel I happened upon pretty much by accident. It's not computer technology, but I think most geeks would find it interesting (it's also free).

It is basically a GIGANTIC battery. They use turbines to pump water into a manmade lake at the top of a mountain during the fall and spring, when electricty is cheaper. That puts all that water higher up in the gravitational field, storing potential energy. Then in the summer and winter, when energy demand goes up, the water is allowed to drain past turbines, releasing the stored energy.

Tourists get to descend down a 1000 foot (305 meter) elevator shaft through solid rock to see the turbines. In addition, there are also parks and nature trails. I was most impressed with all cool old-school, large-scale civil engineering, just to build a storage battery. It's not exactly something to leave your native country in order to see, but worth checking out if you are in the area.

Hoover Dam (none / 0) (#35)
by kbob on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:09:17 PM EST

In a similar vein, the tours at Hoover Dam are interesting. It's probably the most interesting thing in greater Las Vegas.

Other hydroelectric plants also give tours; I toured Glen Canyon dam when I was eight.


[ Parent ]

Several good destinations (5.00 / 1) (#38)
by wowbagger on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:14:01 PM EST

1) The Very Large Array, near Soccoro, NM. You can walk around the facility, see the dishes, and the visitor's center has some interesting displays of the electronics each dish has.
2) Experimental Breeder Reactor #1, near Arco, Idaho. (about 20 minutes outside of Idaho Falls, Idaho, or right next to Craters of the Moon National Park). The first breeder reactor in the US, and is open for tours during the spring and summer months.
3) The Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS. The largest collection of Soviet space hardware outside of Russia, as well as a large collection of US gear.
4) Berkeley college. See where much of "it" started.

What's Berkeley? (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by ocrow on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:03:41 PM EST

> Berkeley college. See where much of "it" started.

Do you mean the University of California at Berkeley, where the Berkeley Standard Distribution of UNIX originated?

It's a beautiful campus, and there's lots of cool tech stuff still going on at Berkeley. Also the CS department is really quite impressive -- both the building and the research. Unfortunately almost all of the staff and researchers who originally worked on BSD are no longer there to be found, although I heard that Eric Allman (author of sendmail) pokes his head in occasionally.

[ Parent ]
Bill Joy, BSD, Berkeley, & the 4th floor of Evans (none / 0) (#62)
by brainwane on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:02:28 PM EST

No one I've met can tell me exactly what room Bill Joy worked in back when he was creating BSD. I know that it was on the fourth floor of Evans Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. The computing science research group used to work there. Does anyone know?
Your chicken, your egg, your problem.
[ Parent ]
FFTF (4.50 / 2) (#42)
by Bobort on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:21:19 PM EST

I recently got to go on an awesome tour of the Fast Flux Test Facility in Hanford, WA. It is a more-or-less decommisioned liquid sodium cooled fast flux reactor that was originally designed as a sort of engineering testbed for the (long since doomed) Clinch River breeder reactor project. They took us all through the containment building, the control room, and inside a 1/3 scale mockup of the core. Very cool. The tour guide said they'd love to have more people visit the place, although you have to be a US citizen.
Also, if you're in or around Portland, OR, you can come visit the Reed College Reactor Facility, where I work. It's the only nuclear reactor in the US (probably the world) run primarily by liberal arts undergrads. Everyone needs to see Cerenkov radiation once in their life.

If you're in England (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by PenguinWrangler on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:16:39 AM EST

Another great site is Jodrell Bank, home of the Lovell Radio Telescope. It's a groovy place and well worth a visit.
"Information wants to be paid"
Other places in England ... (none / 0) (#49)
by drhyde on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:07:35 AM EST

Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. The visitor centre sucks galaxies through micropore, but if you get a bunch of people together, they'll do tours of the site, which are considerably more interesting. We did one during the Linuxbierwanderung 2000. If you're not a British citizen they'll need several weeks notice to do all the security clearance shit, and that applies to other EU nationals too. Tours are *free* and last several hours.

Breweries are always good places to visit, and almost all do tours. Stay away from the big factory-brewers though. Brewery tours I've particularly enjoyed were the Theakstons and Black Sheep breweries in Masham, Yorkshire, and the Sam Smiths brewery in Tadcaster. At all three, the guides are very knowledgeable and do a good job of explaining what's gonig on. Mines can be interesting too. Try the Llechwedd slate mines in Ffestioniog, Wales.

If Big Iron is your thing, then the Railway Museum in York is a good one, as is pretty nearly any of the preserved steam railways.

Places to avoid - do not under any circumstances visit the earth station at Goonhilly Downs. They only have a dummies' tour, and the tech they show you is out of date anyway.

[ Parent ]
Geek Cruises (4.50 / 2) (#50)
by Nodecam on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:23:56 PM EST

Check out GeekCruises - they may have exactly what you're looking for.


Some places to go... (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by Maniac on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:42:32 PM EST

In London, check out the Science Museum. I wished I had more time looking at exhibits when I went there. It was several years ago, but I remember exhibits on Babbage, plastic injection molding, airplanes, etc.

A few other places that you might find interesting...

  • In eastern Washington state (US) you can find a "stonehenge" replica and the Maryhill Museum of Art about five miles away from each other. This is hours from any large city - plan on a day trip.
  • In Boston, MA - the duck boats. A comfortable way to see the city.
  • If you have small kids (say <12), Legoland California is good. Now that I think of it, there's one in England too. Make sure you go right as you come in and sign up for a robot building competition.

The Ducks... (none / 0) (#57)
by ragabr on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:32:56 PM EST

the Duck tour is definitely an awesome experience. I've been on it twice (once with you silly USians tax dollars paying for it, thank you :) and I recommend it to anyone.

And my tongue would be made of chocolate. Mmmmm. Chocolate.
[ Parent ]
Heavy industry tours... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by slambo on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:56:19 PM EST

I've always been a fan of railroads and heavy industry. We (as a family) always try to arrange visits to the local railroad museums and tourist lines.

However, a little more off the beaten track are the various mining museums around the world. On our honeymoon we visited and toured an unused (but not abandoned) zinc mine north of Vancouver, the British Columbia Museum of Mining. Since we did that, we've recognized the mine in a couple episodes of the X Files (for the show they moved the mine from British Columbia to West Virginia!).

Along a similar vein (groan...) are caves and caverns. Check out the guidebooks for the smaller caves, or even look into getting a tour with a local spelunking group (like maybe the Indiana University Spelunking Club; they require that you pay dues to go on a tour, but for $10, you can't go too wrong). You get to see a side of nature that few people see.
Sean Lamb
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." -- Groucho Marx

Hacker Travels Last Year... (3.50 / 2) (#56)
by concept on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:13:13 PM EST

- Makati, Phillipines SMS capital of the world. LMDS (high speed wireless) networks being deployed. Funky. - Delhi, India Just laying a couple of cables around the central area, otherwise (appears) pretty damn i'net-desolate... - Hanoi, Vietnam Government tightly monitors 'net access, but it's still about... - Siem Reap, Cambodia Kick arse engineering feats -> Temples in the jungle! (see photos/commentary @ http://roofless - ANTIGOOGLE - .shacknet.nu:7901/ ). Also saw a landmine museum there ... really really interesting! - Singapore Broadband (and assoc. surveillance) everywhere. IP is god. ISDN is dead. Yay. - Taipei, Taiwan FANTASTIC. Greenish for a city (like Singapore), but more real. Less controlled. Tasty and fun. Friendly people. To see how the products we use every day come in to being, you have to visit offices and factories here.. 'tis great! Pretty much everywhere I went last year had some hacker-interest element. Travel is unpredictable, that's what makes it fun. My 2c is just pick a country/area, go there, see what there is to see. You're sure to find something that tickles your fancy.

I can't believe these haven't been mentioned (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by chroma on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:41:34 PM EST

1. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. It houses an amazing number of airplanes, rockets, and the like. The original model of the Enterprise from the TV show is there. Washington and especially the Smithsonian museums are worth a whole vacation to see.

2. The Exploratorium in San Francisco is good if you happen to be in that area. Lots of fun exhibits, almost all of which are hands-on in some way.

3. The Kennedy Space Center in central Florida! I grew up about 70 miles from it and visited many times. There's not too many places where you can see a real Saturn V up close. The tours and museum give you a good look at space hardware from the past and present. If you time it right, you can watch a real space shuttle launch or landing!

MIT Media Lab (none / 0) (#66)
by b1t r0t on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:47:53 PM EST

When I was in Boston, I made a point of seeing the Media Lab. I didn't do much of anything once I got there other than walk around the MIT campus a bit (I think it was a Saturday, too), but it was just cool to be there.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
[ Parent ]
Akihabara (3.00 / 2) (#60)
by oleandrin on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:12:52 AM EST

In Tokyo, try Akihabara, specifically "Electric Town" (it's labeled in the subway; it's on the Ginza line). Block after block of computers, random miscellaneous electronic hardware shops, used stuff, audio...basically, if there is some kind of electronic device, it will be there.

Sometimes at nights vendors set up packed in all along the smaller alleys...that's where you can find the interesting stuff...

St. Petersburg, Russia - suggestions? (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by brainwane on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:07:39 PM EST

I plan on going to Russia this summer -- in particular, Leningrad|Petrograd|St. Petersburg. I've heard that this is the hacker capital of Russia, but I don't know how true that is, nor how the term 'hacker' was meant. Any suggestions or further info? I'd love suggestions. Is there a LUG in St. Petersburg, for example?
Your chicken, your egg, your problem.
While on this subject... (none / 0) (#64)
by NtG on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:05:55 AM EST

I am going to be leaving for Holland in April, and I will be away for a month. I am from Australia and know very little about europe, the sights and the culture.
I have no formal travel plans, but with quite a bit of time and some money, I am planning on travelling around europe a lot.
I will be taking my vaio along because I can't be without it for that long.. I have my modem and a couple of phone adaptors so I feel pretty confident that I will be able to keep up to date with k5 and email around my photos, but would be interested if anyone could give me some hints as to places I can visit and even things like internet access in europe (how I will get it, primarily!), etc etc.

hacker tourims + riot tourism (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by kellan on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 10:49:30 AM EST

i know a number of geeks who participate in "riot tourism", which is moving from major political convergence to major political convergence. (they are all down in Port Alegre, Brazil right now because Davos switzerland is cold and expensive, next stop? Barcelona!)

there are special challenges, and excitements for geeks in riots, especially w/ indymedia, roll into town, and start building lans, wireless lans, communication networks (most places in the world you can get cell phones by the month!), satellite uplinks, on a budget out of scrounged parts.

and for the most part you get to see as little, or as much, of the cops as you want, while still hanging out with cool edgy people, and lots of adrenaline. (you get to hang out with 2600 kids!)

ok, i admit it, i haven't had my cup of coffee this morning, so i'll stop trying to pitch the imc, before i come off sounding even more like an army recruiter :)


Alaska.. (none / 0) (#69)
by fredbox on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 12:31:03 AM EST

Excellent (summertime) destination for geeks who have HAD THE HELL ENOUGH of technology for awhile, at least a couple of weeks. Because like all true geeks, you likely wish to be HELL and GONE from PEOPLE for awhile, and this is THE place! You may even get EATEN by BEARS! Suggested trips: Dalton Highway camping adventure (a mere 800-mile bike trip from Deadhorse to Valdez sound like fun? ) Surfing the beaches northwest of Yakutat Drug-drenched lunacy at a music festival Attending the Iditarod-finish-party for a week in downtown Nome Visiting the official "tourist destinations" ie the Howling Dog, Red Dog Saloon, Elbow Room, Great Alaska Bush Company, Skinny Dick's Halfway Inn, etc.

When I'm on vacation (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by kaitian on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 02:57:26 AM EST

When I'm on vacation the only "geeky" places that I go are museams. That's only when I go to a large city that had good ones. Most of my planned vacations are to National Parks, resorts, etc.

My normal day is filled with computers. I don't want to see that many of them on vacation.

Travel destinations for the "Hacker Tourist" | 70 comments (57 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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