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Happy Thursday, friends and readers. We do quite a bit of traveling here at R&K, and are always talking to friends and colleagues who are navigating from boat to truck to tuk tuk. I’m constantly writing emails about restaurant recommendations in Lisbon and forwarding advice I received on where to stay in Havana. To simplify this process, I’ve started a new travel advice column over at R&K, which we’re calling Baggage. Get it?? You can email me at advice@roadsandkingdoms.com with all your questions about travel and food, and I’ll answer a selection every couple of weeks. To kick it off, here is an extra special, newsletter only question I received from a reader:
 
Q: My wife and I have a six-hour layover in Shanghai after a month long jaunt through Southeast Asia. Any suggestions for the one thing to see if we get through customs fast enough?
 
A: The layover dash into town is a move I generally discourage, as it often leads to a lot of unnecessary stress for very limited payoff (a brief glance at the pyramids in order to scratch your acknowledgement of their existence off a “bucket list” is not going to change anyone’s life). But if you truly have the time and inclination, who am I to stop you? I’ll assume you’re headed to Pudong airport, the slightly nicer one. From there, take the Maglev into town and then take a taxi to the Bund, Shanghai’s central waterfront area. The stately buildings lining the waterside walkway, and the soaring, Seussian skyline of the Pudong business district across the river, is a scene that can be appreciated in a fairly short amount of time: the effect of the towering buildings is not exactly subtle, and it is beautiful. If you have enough time, stop at one of the rooftop bars that line the Bund to enjoy a sugary cocktail and a merciful breeze. But leave plenty of time to return: traffic snags between the tourist hotspot and the airport.
 
What else you got? Most useful luggage for business trips? Favorite neck pillow? SIM cards in France? Best museum in Istanbul? Ask me anything! If I don’t know, I’ll find out. Let’s chat.
 
If only everyone were open to friendly travel advice. Sometimes, when I hear about a poorly planned upcoming trip, it makes my skin crawl with worry for the person involved. Often, it’s someone whose life is in chaos who thinks that a trip will set everything right. That rarely works for anyone other than Julia Roberts! Imagine what I felt reading this line:
 
“But now his small band of harried advisers—almost all of whom will be crammed together on Air Force One—must try to contain an unfolding domestic crisis while managing a complex five-country tour with skittish allies across two continents and three time zones.”
 
Oh. My. God. I have no words for the fear this strikes in my heart. Key players in the current U.S. administration set off for Saudi Arabia on Friday, where the president will deliver a speech on Islam. Then he’s headed to Israel, where—and I’m just guessing here—there might also be some awkward conversations to be had. Then on to NATO! What could go wrong. FFS, was this entire trip planned as some sort of elaborate dare? It would appear that literally no one wants this trip to happen, but here we go. You know where Obama’s first international trip was? Ottawa. I need to go lie down for a second.
 
That’s pretty much all the news I can handle today, but before we move on: also on Friday, Iran heads to the polls to elect a new president. Here’s a nice primer on why that’s important and what you need to know. And Turkish President Erdogan’s “supporters” attacked protesters in front of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC on Tuesday, which is a story that might have been a huge deal when the very fabric of our republic wasn’t being slowly teased apart.  
 
For the weekend, take a break from the hamster wheel of doom that is the daily news cycle. Instead, get lost in this complex, infuriating, fascinating article on a man who lived for decades with his family’s Filipino slave. And don’t miss the latest installment in our Anthony Bourdain curated Dispatched series. It tries to unravel why people risk jail time and spend fortunes for a tiny South American finch with an infamous birdcall. I hope that one day someone looks at me with the same passion and commitment that those dudes are projecting at that little bird. 
 
That’s it for this week! See you next week for more of the best in travel, food, and politics from around the web. Tweet me stories you want to see here @caraparks.