Program 289a: Underground Zanzibar; Rugged Abruzzo Italy; Southeast Asia Overview

Release Date: 10-19-2013

On Air Description

Spice up your travel dreams with stories of exotic locales in Africa, Europe, and Asia on this week's Travel with Rick Steves. Adventure traveler and author Richard Grant describes the craziness he encountered on the island of Zanzibar. A native of small town Italy explains the uncrowded appeal of Abruzzo, in the rugged Apennine mountains. And a tour guide to southeast Asia outlines the visitor scene from Vietnam to Burma. 

Find yourself in a different world, on Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

  • If your station pre-empted Travel with Rick Steves Program #341 last weekend (Oct. 12) for fundraising, you should air it this weekend instead of program #289a. 
  • If you'd like to insert additional time for local fundraising into a regular weekly show, you can contact producer Tim Tattan at (425) 608-4234 for additional cutaway cues during any week's edition of Travel with Rick Steves.
  • Program #289a is a re-edit of a program that first aired June 9, 2012. 


  • Adventure traveler Richard Grant, author of "Crazy River:  Exploration and Folly in East Africa"  (Free Press/Simon and Schuster)
  • Virginia Agostinelli, tour guide, originally from Abruzzo, Italy
  • Julian Brown, tour guide to France and to Southeast Asia, based in Paris

Related Links

  • Richard Grant's website
  • The publisher's website for Richard Grant's book "Crazy River."
  • Contributors to Google Books discuss Richard Grant's "Crazy River."
  • provides a useful overview, and links to tourism-related features in Stone Town and elsewhere on the island. 
  • Virginia Agostinelli's hometown in Abruzzo is Pacentro, and the main city in the region is L'Aquila
  • Abruzzo Tours has information and photos about the rugged village of Scanno.
  • Farra San Martino is the town in Abruzzo which Virginia says is famous for its pasta, and the Life in Abruzzo website has tips for finding the famous saffron grown in the Navelli area.
  • Photos of the April 2009 earthquake damage in Abruzzo, and damage to the village of Onna, are posted on the website.
  • Lonely Planet has extensive entries and reader forums on Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Burma  (aka Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.
  • There is a website for "James Bond Island" in Phuket, Thailand. 
  • Wikipedia and WikiTravel have detailed entries about Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.


  • "We travel to Italy often, but we have never been to the Abruzzo region.  On our next visit we want to drive east from Tuscany down the Adriatic Coast.  Is this possible?"    (Renee in New Westminster, British Columbia)
  • "My family is saving up for a two-month stay in Italy and would love to hunker in at one location and tour the area. Abruzzo sounds perfect for all the exploring we envision doing. We'd love to stay at a farm, help out and then stretch our legs by exploring local hiking, beaches, eating, etc. How would we find a place to stay for an extended stay?  What would be the best way to get around?"     (e-mail from Heather in Tolland, Connecticut)   
  • Caller once took a side trip from Rome to L'Aquila, the "city of 99 fountains."  Also visited Onna, "a village where my wife has relatives and where her grandparents came from," before the 2009 earthquake.  "Has the earthquake resulted in permanent damage to this area?"  Also discusses medieval castles to visit in Abruzzo.   (Dale in Blacklick, Ohio)
  • Interested in visiting the Sapa region in northern Vietnam.  "What is a good time of year to visit, and how long do you recommend to stay in order to visit the tribal area and the local markets?"   (Esther in Chicago)
  • Caller is on a cruise to Thailand and asks advice on going ashore at Phuket, Laem Chabang and Phu My.   (Gus from  Nashville, Tennessee)

Incidental Music

  • Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club, "Ukichungua," Taarab 2:  The Music of Zanzibar / Ace Records
  • Robbie Robertson, "Somewhere Down The Crazy River,"  Robbie Robertson / Geffen
  • Zanzibar-based singer Zuhura Swaleh with Maulidi Musical Party,  "Jino La Pembe," Africa Never Stand Still (collection) / Ellipsis Arts
  • Vittorio Fraja and Giada Monteleone, "Hakuna Matata," MadagascarMi Piace Si Ti Muovi (collection) /  Azzurra Music (Italy)
  • * Culture Musical Club, "Yangu Haikuhusu," Shime! / World Village
  • Cincinnati Pops, Erich Kunzel, cond., Paul Patterson, mandolin, "'Allegro' from 'Mandolin Concerto' (Vivaldi)," Bella Tuscany (collection) / Telarc
  • Ennio Morricone, "Anima Mia," Ciao Amore  (collection) / Warner Special Products
  • Paolo Conte, "Alle prese con una verde milonga," Ciao Amore  (collection) / Warner Special Products
  • * Modern Mandolin Quartet, "Canzonetta (Mendelssohn)," Modern Mandolin Quartet / Lost Lake Arts-Windham Hill Records (1988)
  • Zbigniew Preisner, "Saigon," The Beautiful Country (soundtrack) / Mellowdrama Records
  • Bruce Gaston and Takako Nishizaki, "Cambodian Rowing Song," Thailand:  Nishizaki and Gaston:  Indra's Paradise / Marco-Polo
  • Unspecified musicians from Vietnam, "T'rung Music," Vietnam:  Songs of Liberation (collection) / Paredon Records
  • Jean-Pierre Limborg, "Phnom Penh," Les Larmes d'Angkor / Origins
  • Robbie Robertson, "Somewhere Down The Crazy River,"  Robbie Robertson / Geffen
  • Dragon Lounge, "Saigon Sundown," Buddha Deluxe Lounge (collection) / Mainfold Records

Dated References

  • Rick asks Virginia, at 25:45 in segment B, about the "recent" earthquake in Abruzzo.  She elaborates on damage that still hasn't been repaired since the April 2009 quake in the L'Aquila region.  She adds that last year friends in Abruzzo confirmed the lack of repairs there to her, and around 32:00 notes not seeing much in the way of earthquake repairs in Onna when she visited there "last year."
  • In segment C, at 44:02, Julian says that parts of Siem Reap, Cambodia have "exploded" as tourism destinations in the past ten years. 
  • Julian explains that the boycott against travel to Burma "is being lifted" at 44:50, and that its regime is slowly opening the country up to outsiders.
  • At 50:12, Julian tells caller Esther that the best weather in northern Vietnam is generally in November-December, although the altitude makes it difficult to predict the weather there.  He adds that Hanoi often gets fog and rain in January. 
  • At 51:24, Julian explains that most people travel north from Hanoi to Sapa by bus or train, including an overnight train and bus connection from Hanoi, and the trip usually takes more than ten hours.
  • Rick notes at 51:54 that 4-million people live in Hanoi, and Julian confirms that every street in the city's old quarter feels crowded.  Julian compares the character of Hanoi to Paris and Aix-en-Provence in France.