Book Travel with Wego









Thursday, May 18, 2017

70th Anniversary of first ski lodge built at Falls Creek Alpine Resort


One of the more interesting aspects of how Falls Creek was created is the construction of the alpine resort’s first ski lodge 70 years ago.

It was a humble beginning to what is now a vibrant European-style ski village that attracts thousands of snow enthusiasts of all abilities each winter season.

An intrepid number of like-minded State Electricity Commission (SEC) staff including Ray Meyer, the chief surveyor of the Kiewa Hydro-Electric Scheme, had a common interest that revolved around the skiing potential of the snow-covered high plains that included what is now the 450-hectare resort of Falls Creek.


The six SEC employees Toni St Elmo, Ray Meyer, Jack Minogue, Lloyd Dunn, Adrian Ruffenacht and Dave Gibson (together with their families) banded together to secretly build a 'hut' that was the first ski lodge at Falls Creek.

Using a road built in 1930's to gain access to Falls Creek the hut project was quite a bold move and was carried out in secret owing to earlier efforts by other skiers being stymied by HHC Williams - the engineer in charge of the Hydro Scheme.

Another significant event in the erection of the first ski lodge at Falls Creek was a trip to the Lands Office in Melbourne by Ray Meyer in 1946 (the same year the name of the resort was officially changed from Horseshoe Creek to Falls Creek). It proved to be a masterstroke, he came away with a 99-year lease on three acres that was ideally suited for a hut designed by Lloyd Dunn.

Adrian Ruffenacht (Design Engineer for the KHS) had suggested where the group should build owing to easy access to a spring for water and much of the building material required was scavenged from derelict huts on the high plains.

Owing to the need for the work on the lodge be kept as secret as possible, because H.H.C Williams was not particularly supportive, they toiled away in the evenings and weekends knowing very few SEC staff would be about.



Another significant aspect of this remarkable feat was the decision to rename the hut. During the building period the group had met at Echidna Rock (now known as Eagle Rock) where Skippy St Elmo announced "This is my favorite "Skyline".

Adrian Ruffenacht, agreed, saying it would be an appropriate name for our club. Toni St Elmo suggested it was a time when the name Hut should be dropped and replaced with Lodge.” Hence it became 'Skyline Ski Club Lodge' the first ski lodge at Falls Creek.

All images: Fred Griffith Collection

Website: www.fallscreekmuseum.com.au

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Explore the Okavango Delta.




Named by Lonely Planet as one of the 'Hot Destinations for 2016', Botswana's star is definitely on the rise. So what makes it so special? Well for start, it's hard to go past beautiful landscapes and the quality and abundance of wildlife. Then there's its rare combination of desert and delta. The Kalahari Desert makes up more than 80% of this landlocked country, and the vast sponge into which the swollen Okavango River disappears each year creates the largest inland delta in the world – the Okavango Delta.

Gazetted as UNESCO's thousandth World Heritage Site in 2014, the Okavango Delta, with its vast and diverse wildlife species, is one of Africa's premier safari destinations, providing a truly unique wilderness experience. Forming part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, it covers a staggering 22,000 square kilometres. And while the periphery is semi-arid, the Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands. The result is one of the world's most diverse wildlife habitats, home to over 200,000 large mammals, 400 bird species and 70 species of fish, most spectacularly on display in the dry winter season as vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the surrounding plains.

At the heart of the Okavango Delta lies the world-renowned Moremi Game Reserve, providing a peaceful haven where animals have been protected for decades. Known as the 'predator capital of Africa', the Moremi is famed for its big cat and bird populations, and also for large herds of elephant and buffalo, giraffe and other plains game – and occasionally Africa's rare wild dogs, that roam the savannah.

But no visit to the Okavango Delta is complete without a mokoro ride. One of the most iconic symbols of the Delta, the mokoro was originally the only form of transport for fishing or transporting people and goods around its channels. Still used by the 'river bushmen' or BaYei people, these canoe-like vessels offer up a unique way to explore the Delta's waterways.

For much of each year the Okavango Delta is a labyrinth of lagoons and streams where hippos fight for bathing rights and crocodiles wait for unwary antelope to linger too long over a drink. Poling through the byways created by the floodwaters is an unforgettable, serene experience that allows passengers to get breathtakingly close to big game and to see the world from a totally different angle. It's a chance to sit back and relax as you glide through lily ponds, seeing eye-to-eye with a buffalo as it laps water from the river, watching crocodiles sunbathe on the banks or cruising past a pod of hippos as they lie in a pool.

Specialist safari operates three unique luxury boutique properties in exclusive private concessions in the Okavango Delta – Sanctuary Baines Camp, Sanctuary Stanley's Camp and flagship property, Sanctuary Chief's Camp. All three offer mokoro rides seasonally based on the water levels of the Delta.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Take a trek through British Columbia’s wilderness with Google Maps and BC Journeys



British Columbia Canada is getting put on the map, literally. Through a partnership with Google, stunning imagery from British Columbia’s wild places has been added to Google Maps, complemented with interviews with BC locals, imagery, drone footage, immersive 360° video, and featured businesses on the new BC Journeys platform www.bcexplorer.com/journeys.

Using Google Street View, people from around the globe can now virtually hike in some of the province’s vast wilderness and be inspired by the powerful nature they see around them. 

British Columbia joins a select group of bucket-list Google Street View Trekker destinations such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Grand Canyon and the Galapagos Islands.

There are currently 176 new British Columbia Google Street View Treks now featured on Google Maps, with 14 more to be uploaded by Google. Here is a sample of the Treks:

Sunshine Coast Trail
Kettle Valley Trail (Myra Canyon)
Blackcomb Mountain (Decker Loop)
Lake Magog (Assiniboine Lodge)
108 Lake Accessible Trail
Anthony Island, Gwaii Haanas
Bridge Glacier
Pacific Rim (Schooner Cove Trail)
Windfall Lake (near Tumbler Ridge)

Find treks in British Columbia by reviewing the BC Explorer platform http://www.bcexplorer.com/journeys or through Google Maps, by searching for BC’s Google Street View Treks.

Quotes:

Marsha Walden, CEO, Destination BC
“There are over one billion monthly users of Google Maps. Through these Treks and our new interactive platform, BC Journeys, we can give people a window into our wilderness like never before – creating a connection before people even leave their homes. Combining this powerful, immersive video footage with compelling, authentic stories creates an augmented reality experience that is a pretty potent recipe for driving visitation.”

Nicole Bell, Google Street View Trekker Expert
“We’re incredibly proud to partner with Destination British Columbia in this Trekker project. We’ve worked together for years to bring the world to British Columbia and bring British Columbia to the world. These new Street View images, especially some of the more remote locations in BC, are an important part of Google’s goal to create the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and usable map. More than one billion people around the world use Google Maps every month, and we are thrilled to share some of British Columbia's iconic landscapes.”

Here’s how you can see BC’s Street View Treks:
  • Search for a place in Google Maps. Drag the yellow ‘Pegman’ to a place on the map.
  • The blue areas on the map show where Google has collected ‘Street View’ content.
  • To move around, hover your cursor in the direction you want to go. Your cursor becomes an arrow that shows which direction you're moving. To see where you might go next, look for the “X”; click once to travel to the “X”. To look around, click and drag your mouse. You can also use the arrows to the left and right of the compass. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Winchester Mystery House - a strange obsession



Located in the beautiful Santa Clara Valley in San Jose on Winchester Blvd. and I-280 near the intersection of I-880, this beautiful but bizarre 160-room Victorian mansion was built by Sarah L. Winchester, widow of the famed Winchester rifle manufacturer’s son. Crushed by the untimely deaths of her husband and infant daughter, Mrs. Winchester designed and supervised the construction of this strange $5,500,000 mansion by keeping carpenters busy 24 hours a day for 38 continuous years until her death in 1922, all in the hope of perpetuating her life and consoling (or confusing) the spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. Rambling over 4.5 acres with 40 bedrooms, 40 staircases, 13 bathrooms, 47 fireplaces, 2,000 doors, & 10,000 windows, the house is so complex that even Mrs. Winchester and her servants required maps to find their way around.





Brent Miller, caretaker of the Winchester Mystery House from 1973 to 1981, entered one particular room, and “in the unearthly silence of such a vast, empty place, heard someone breathing. There was no one there.”

On another occasion, Brent heard footsteps and followed the sounds to the room in which Mrs. Winchester died. Again, no one was there.

One night shortly after being hired as caretaker, Brent was awakened by the sounds of someone unscrewing a screw and it hitting the floor and bouncing up onto the carpet runner. When he went to check, he found nothing there.

A friend of Brent’s, Gary Parks, was invited over one New Year’s Eve and was taking pictures with a new camera he had received for Christmas. After developing the film, he found one picture with strange moving lights “and a ghostly figure of what appears to be a man in coveralls in the middle of the room.” The strange images occur only in one negative while the rest of the roll is normal.



Victorian Gardens

A visit to the Winchester Mystery House™ is not complete until you have strolled through the beautiful Victorian gardens that surround it. Great care has been taken to restore the grounds to that time when Sarah Winchester had a full-time staff of eight gardeners, and imported trees, shrubs, and flowers from all parts of the world. Nearly 14,000 miniature boxwood hedges, large flowering Carolina cherry laurels, plants, and flowers have been replanted to provide beautiful color year-round. Numerous handcrafted lead statues and elaborate fountains have been restored.

You will see the original mythological statues including Mother Nature, Cupid, a cherub, hippocampus, American Indian, deer, egret, frogs, and swans. You can help make a wish come true for those in need by tossing a coin in one of the five fountains on the estate; 100% of the proceeds are donated to a local charity each year.

Wheelchaired guests are invited to tour the Gardens and Historic Firearms Museum as our guests at no charge (unfortunately the Mansion and the Behind- the- Scenes Tours are NOT accessible to wheel chairs or infant strollers).

The Winchester Firearms Museum

The “Gun that Won the West” is the main attraction in the Firearms Museum, one of the largest Winchester Rifle collections on the West Coast. See the collection of guns that preceded the famous Winchester Rifle, including B. Tyler Henry’s 1860 repeating rifle that Oliver Winchester adapted and improved upon to produce his first repeating rifle, the Winchester Model 1866. Learn about the Model 1873 which came to be called the “Gun that Won the West.” See a collection of the Limited Edition Winchester Commemorative Rifles including the Centennial ’66, the Theodore Roosevelt, and the renowned John Wayne.

The home became Registered California Historical Landmark #868 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Tours of the mansion interior are given daily from 9am (closed only Christmas Day). Last tour departure varies with the seasons. Included in the admission are the self-guided Garden Tour, Historic Firearms Museum, and the Specialty Gifts and Products Museum.




Winchester Mystery House, LLC
25 S. Winchester Blvd. San Jose CA 95128
T-(408) 247-2000/F-(408) 247-2090
winchestermysteryhouse.com

Friday, March 31, 2017

Phuket Hotels: The Amatara Wellness Resort, Cape Panwa


by Roderick Eime with material supplied by World Hotels


If you've been considering catching up with the increasing trend for cruises in Southeast Asia, you will have noticed Phuket in Thailand appearing more frequently in the itineraries of cruise lines operating in this territory.

The island of Phuket, a short flight south from the capital, Bangkok, is renown for a boisterous night life in the downtown district, but also for a wide range of ultra-luxurious resorts and spa properties catering to those more inclined to a peaceful stay in this attractive destination. Visitors can enjoy any number of seaside resorts offered by all the major brands in international hospitality ranging from secluded private villas to expansive, integrated resorts catering to more than 1000 guests.

The port of Phuket is located at the southern extreme of the island only a few miles from the bustling city, but also near the idyllic Cape Panwa precinct where several high-end resorts enjoy expansive views over the sea while retaining the convenience of proximity to the port.

I recently joined a Silversea cruise from Phuket and was delighted to stay at the recently rebranded Amatara Wellness Resort which enjoys a breezy location overlooking the port where you can keep an eye out for your cruise ship as well as enjoy superior amenities.

Below is a summary of facilities offered at Amatara Wellness Resort

Rooms:

There are 105 pavilions, suites and pool villas, all featuring scenic and expansive views of the Andaman Sea. Rooms start at a spacious 60sqm for pavilions, up to a generous 150sqm for pool villas. All are equipped with at-call butler service, extended sundeck areas and a private balcony.

Wellness and cuisine:

Eight private treatment rooms, all overlooking the seascape, feature the signature Amatara Spa treatments. All Cuisine is specially prepared by Executive Chef Justin Baziuk with each dish made from 100 per cent organic ingredients and is carefully prepared with the aid of a nutritionist to fit each of Amatara's treatment programmes. The all-inclusive programme integrates accommodation, nutritious and organic food, along with personalised leisure and wellness pursuits.

Dining

Recognised as one of Thailand's top restaurants,"The Grill" offers fresh seafood and prime cuts, and serves up an informal fine dining experience. At the "The Restaurant" guests can enjoy international specialities and local cuisine that is incorporated with authentic Asian influences.

Amatara Wellness Resort
84 Moo 8
Sakdidej Road, Vichit
Cape Panwa, PHUKET 83000
Thailand

Website: www.amataraphuket.com

For reservations or information, visit worldhotels.com where toll-free numbers can be found for all the world.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Where to see Africa’s big five


African safaris are usually top of most people's wish list when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its multitude of national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals, ensuring that a wildlife safari will undoubtedly be a major highlight of your trip.

And with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'Big Five' – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo, remains the pinnacle wildlife experience.

Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. 

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

First on the list is the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination and one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighbouring Kenya, Serengeti National Park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera's high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it's these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.

With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October. And one of the very best places to catch all the action is Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp. Located right in the heart of the Park on the crater rim, and offering spectacular views of the crater and surrounds, it's also home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

Covering almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, and offering up superb game viewing.

Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta, providing one of the world's most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The final destination on our list is Kenya's most popular game park, the Masai Mara. The Kenyan extension of the Tanzania's famed Serengeti, the Mara is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations and also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience the Big Five.

The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

www.sanctuaryretreats.com

Where to see Africa’s big five


African safaris are usually top of most people's wish list when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its multitude of national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals, ensuring that a wildlife safari will undoubtedly be a major highlight of your trip.

And with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'Big Five' – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo, remains the pinnacle wildlife experience.

Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. 

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

First on the list is the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination and one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighbouring Kenya, Serengeti National Park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera's high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it's these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.

With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October. And one of the very best places to catch all the action is Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp. Located right in the heart of the Park on the crater rim, and offering spectacular views of the crater and surrounds, it's also home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

Covering almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, and offering up superb game viewing.

Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta, providing one of the world's most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The final destination on our list is Kenya's most popular game park, the Masai Mara. The Kenyan extension of the Tanzania's famed Serengeti, the Mara is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations and also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience the Big Five.

The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

www.sanctuaryretreats.com

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Best of Malaysia Holidays


One of South East Asia's favourite holiday destinations, Malaysia is a country where 'something for everyone' is more of a daily itinerary than a promise.

Packed with attractions, experiences and activities to meet every traveller's needs, it is truly the ideal holiday destination. From its postcard white sandy beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, eclectic cities, adventure activities and rainforests abundant with nature, it is a bubbling melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Throw friendly and welcoming people into the mix, along with some of the best cuisine on the planet, and you'll truly be spoiled for choice!

Choose from popular destinations including Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. Still not sure which is the right one is for you?

Kuala Lumpur

The main arrival point to Malaysia, dynamic, cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur is the ideal place to start. This eclectic city is full of attractions and entertainment options to suit all tastes and budgets. One of the most popular attractions are the Petronas Towers which soar 88-storeys into the sky, making them the world's tallest twin structure. The towering skyscrapers present the optimal photo opportunity – and the KLCC Shopping Centre at their base and home to a fantastic mix of renowned luxury and premium brands, is the place for a retail fix.

As well as modern architecture Kuala Lumpur offers beautiful historical temples. The Batu Caves and Temple Tour provides a unique insight into Malaysia's cultural and historical diversity. Don't forget to visit the night markets. With an array of aromas filling the air, it's impossible to resist the amazing mix of Malaysian street food on offer.

Penang

Known as the ''Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a fascinating fusion of East and West. Heavily influenced by its colonial and oriental past, the Island has its feet firmly planted in the 21st century while still retaining its traditions and old world charm. Venture through lively George Town, which was granted a world heritage status by UNESCO in 2008. View colonial-era homes, private mansions, historical museums and stunning temples, embark on a heritage walking tour, engage with friendly locals and ride a Trishaw.

Feeling hungry? With a unique mix of Chinese, Malay, Portuguese and Indian cuisine, Penang is also known as the 'foodie' capital of Malaysia, offering up some of the tastiest cuisine imaginable from first-class restaurants through to hawker stall delights.

A trip to Penang isn't complete without a visit to the three most popular shopping malls – Gurney Paragon Mall, Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall, for everything from the latest fashion to electronics.

Kota Kinabalu

Situated on the north west coast of Sabah on the tropical island of Borneo facing the beautiful South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia's loveliest cities, famous for its long sandy beaches, paradise islands, virgin coral reefs, and tropical rain forests. Join the locals congregating along the waterfront each night to witness the fiery sunset, with the popular boardwalk also providing an idyllic backdrop for sampling eateries, restaurants and night markets.

Plenty of wild life adventures are close by and Malaysia's first UNESCO Heritage site, the mighty Mount Kinabalu, is only 90 minutes away. The pristine marine water also makes Kota Kinabalu one of the most perfect destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving trips, with Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just a short speedboat ride away. And adrenalin junkies can try their luck on the world's longest island-to-island zip-line – the Coral Flyer, at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

Langkawi

Anyone who adores beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, and duty-free shopping will love Langkawi. Surrounded by turquoise sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. Officially known as the 'Jewel of Kedah', the largest of these, features a range of breathtaking beachside resorts. The island's outstanding geological landscapes have also earned it the geopark title by UNESCO – making it the only geopark in Southeast Asia and one of only 50 worldwide.

With its traditional villages, sandy white beaches and sedated lifestyle, Langkawi offers up an idyllic setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. But thrill-seekers won't be disappointed. Check out Langkawi Wildlife Park, Underwater World Langkawi for a deep-sea experience and the Cable Car in Pantai Kok for a mountain high adventure.

Flights, accommodation and featured package. Sale ends 26 March 2017.

For more information visit: www.expedia.com.au.

Website: www.malaysia.travel

Best of Malaysia Holidays


One of South East Asia's favourite holiday destinations, Malaysia is a country where 'something for everyone' is more of a daily itinerary than a promise.

Packed with attractions, experiences and activities to meet every traveller's needs, it is truly the ideal holiday destination. From its postcard white sandy beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, eclectic cities, adventure activities and rainforests abundant with nature, it is a bubbling melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Throw friendly and welcoming people into the mix, along with some of the best cuisine on the planet, and you'll truly be spoiled for choice!

Choose from popular destinations including Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. Still not sure which is the right one is for you?

Kuala Lumpur

The main arrival point to Malaysia, dynamic, cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur is the ideal place to start. This eclectic city is full of attractions and entertainment options to suit all tastes and budgets. One of the most popular attractions are the Petronas Towers which soar 88-storeys into the sky, making them the world's tallest twin structure. The towering skyscrapers present the optimal photo opportunity – and the KLCC Shopping Centre at their base and home to a fantastic mix of renowned luxury and premium brands, is the place for a retail fix.

As well as modern architecture Kuala Lumpur offers beautiful historical temples. The Batu Caves and Temple Tour provides a unique insight into Malaysia's cultural and historical diversity. Don't forget to visit the night markets. With an array of aromas filling the air, it's impossible to resist the amazing mix of Malaysian street food on offer.

Penang

Known as the ''Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a fascinating fusion of East and West. Heavily influenced by its colonial and oriental past, the Island has its feet firmly planted in the 21st century while still retaining its traditions and old world charm. Venture through lively George Town, which was granted a world heritage status by UNESCO in 2008. View colonial-era homes, private mansions, historical museums and stunning temples, embark on a heritage walking tour, engage with friendly locals and ride a Trishaw.

Feeling hungry? With a unique mix of Chinese, Malay, Portuguese and Indian cuisine, Penang is also known as the 'foodie' capital of Malaysia, offering up some of the tastiest cuisine imaginable from first-class restaurants through to hawker stall delights.

A trip to Penang isn't complete without a visit to the three most popular shopping malls – Gurney Paragon Mall, Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall, for everything from the latest fashion to electronics.

Kota Kinabalu

Situated on the north west coast of Sabah on the tropical island of Borneo facing the beautiful South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia's loveliest cities, famous for its long sandy beaches, paradise islands, virgin coral reefs, and tropical rain forests. Join the locals congregating along the waterfront each night to witness the fiery sunset, with the popular boardwalk also providing an idyllic backdrop for sampling eateries, restaurants and night markets.

Plenty of wild life adventures are close by and Malaysia's first UNESCO Heritage site, the mighty Mount Kinabalu, is only 90 minutes away. The pristine marine water also makes Kota Kinabalu one of the most perfect destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving trips, with Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just a short speedboat ride away. And adrenalin junkies can try their luck on the world's longest island-to-island zip-line – the Coral Flyer, at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

Langkawi

Anyone who adores beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, and duty-free shopping will love Langkawi. Surrounded by turquoise sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. Officially known as the 'Jewel of Kedah', the largest of these, features a range of breathtaking beachside resorts. The island's outstanding geological landscapes have also earned it the geopark title by UNESCO – making it the only geopark in Southeast Asia and one of only 50 worldwide.

With its traditional villages, sandy white beaches and sedated lifestyle, Langkawi offers up an idyllic setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. But thrill-seekers won't be disappointed. Check out Langkawi Wildlife Park, Underwater World Langkawi for a deep-sea experience and the Cable Car in Pantai Kok for a mountain high adventure.

Flights, accommodation and featured package. Sale ends 26 March 2017.

For more information visit: www.expedia.com.au.

Website: www.malaysia.travel

Best of Malaysia Holidays


One of South East Asia's favourite holiday destinations, Malaysia is a country where 'something for everyone' is more of a daily itinerary than a promise.

Packed with attractions, experiences and activities to meet every traveller's needs, it is truly the ideal holiday destination. From its postcard white sandy beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, eclectic cities, adventure activities and rainforests abundant with nature, it is a bubbling melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions. Throw friendly and welcoming people into the mix, along with some of the best cuisine on the planet, and you'll truly be spoiled for choice!

Choose from popular destinations including Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi. Still not sure which is the right one is for you?

Kuala Lumpur

The main arrival point to Malaysia, dynamic, cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur is the ideal place to start. This eclectic city is full of attractions and entertainment options to suit all tastes and budgets. One of the most popular attractions are the Petronas Towers which soar 88-storeys into the sky, making them the world's tallest twin structure. The towering skyscrapers present the optimal photo opportunity – and the KLCC Shopping Centre at their base and home to a fantastic mix of renowned luxury and premium brands, is the place for a retail fix.

As well as modern architecture Kuala Lumpur offers beautiful historical temples. The Batu Caves and Temple Tour provides a unique insight into Malaysia's cultural and historical diversity. Don't forget to visit the night markets. With an array of aromas filling the air, it's impossible to resist the amazing mix of Malaysian street food on offer.

Penang

Known as the ''Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a fascinating fusion of East and West. Heavily influenced by its colonial and oriental past, the Island has its feet firmly planted in the 21st century while still retaining its traditions and old world charm. Venture through lively George Town, which was granted a world heritage status by UNESCO in 2008. View colonial-era homes, private mansions, historical museums and stunning temples, embark on a heritage walking tour, engage with friendly locals and ride a Trishaw.

Feeling hungry? With a unique mix of Chinese, Malay, Portuguese and Indian cuisine, Penang is also known as the 'foodie' capital of Malaysia, offering up some of the tastiest cuisine imaginable from first-class restaurants through to hawker stall delights.

A trip to Penang isn't complete without a visit to the three most popular shopping malls – Gurney Paragon Mall, Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall, for everything from the latest fashion to electronics.

Kota Kinabalu

Situated on the north west coast of Sabah on the tropical island of Borneo facing the beautiful South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia's loveliest cities, famous for its long sandy beaches, paradise islands, virgin coral reefs, and tropical rain forests. Join the locals congregating along the waterfront each night to witness the fiery sunset, with the popular boardwalk also providing an idyllic backdrop for sampling eateries, restaurants and night markets.

Plenty of wild life adventures are close by and Malaysia's first UNESCO Heritage site, the mighty Mount Kinabalu, is only 90 minutes away. The pristine marine water also makes Kota Kinabalu one of the most perfect destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving trips, with Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just a short speedboat ride away. And adrenalin junkies can try their luck on the world's longest island-to-island zip-line – the Coral Flyer, at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

Langkawi

Anyone who adores beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and resorts, and duty-free shopping will love Langkawi. Surrounded by turquoise sea, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. Officially known as the 'Jewel of Kedah', the largest of these, features a range of breathtaking beachside resorts. The island's outstanding geological landscapes have also earned it the geopark title by UNESCO – making it the only geopark in Southeast Asia and one of only 50 worldwide.

With its traditional villages, sandy white beaches and sedated lifestyle, Langkawi offers up an idyllic setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. But thrill-seekers won't be disappointed. Check out Langkawi Wildlife Park, Underwater World Langkawi for a deep-sea experience and the Cable Car in Pantai Kok for a mountain high adventure.

Flights, accommodation and featured package. Sale ends 26 March 2017.

For more information visit: www.expedia.com.au.

Website: www.malaysia.travel

Friday, March 3, 2017

Colour rules in India - Holi Festival March 12


Wego explores the significance of colour in Indian culture in the lead up to the annual Holi Festival on March 12

Wego.com.au, the leading travel site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today reveals the significance of the colours of the country's approaching Holi Festival (March 12), and why many cities have their own colour code.

"India's annual Holi Festival is one of the country's most universally celebrated festivals and an enormous drawcard for international visitors," said Ashwin Jayasankar, General Manager of Wego India.

Holi takes place during spring each year with a variety of religious, cultural and mythological associations attributed to the colourful celebration.

"Holi means so many different things to everyone, but the festival exudes an intense and electric energy that's uniformly contagious," observed Jayasankar. "There are a number of thoughts about how it all began, but Holi is at its basic a celebration of the colours of spring, of life and love. It's a time to make new friends, celebrate family and neighbours and also amend broken relationships. It's a wonderful time to be in India."

The coloured powders, ink or paint each have different meanings. Red symbolises life, festivals and weddings, yellow for prosperity and trade, green celebrates nature, fertility and happiness and blue is the colour of Krishna's skin - peace, love and heaven.

"Each city celebrates Holi a little differently," said Jayasankar. "The most popular cities on Wego are Mathura, for a traditional celebration and Vrindavan for the addition of flowers with your colour. Lathmar Holi is also popular in Barsana where women playfully reenact a Hindu folklore by beating men with sticks, so too are celebrations with children in Shantiniketan, or with the royals in Udaipur. The real community experience with thousands in Delhi or Mumbai are also very popular."

While colourful powder is tossed at all those within throwing distance by revellers during Holi, colour is so significant in India that some cities are known by a certain shade in addition to their official name.

"India has one of the strongest relationships with colour of any country in the world," explained Jayasankar. "From richly coloured spices, six yards of bright saree, robes for holy men representing their beliefs, and wildly artistic delivery trucks - colour is ingrained in Indian culture."

"Many of our cities are colour themed, and each for different reasons," Jayasankar added. "For instance, Nagpur is known as the Orange City due to its large production of oranges, Cuttack (the Silver City) representing its silver industry, and Kolkata gets its Black City moniker from its historical association with the infamous Black Hole prison. Yet others are named for more literal colour associations."

India's cities of colour include:

The Blue City - Jodhpur

Jodhpur is filled with rows and rows of homes painted blue, a shade created by mixing limestone and copper sulphate with water. Beliefs range from the colour selection being attributed to the reflection of heat which sometimes reaches the mid forties, and others say it's representative of the sacred by predominantly Shiva followers. Others say it originated from the dyes created from indigo plantations.

The Pink City - Jaipur

In honour of the British Royal visit (Queen Victoria and Lord Albert, Prince Consort) in 1876, Maharaja Ram Singh painted the entire city terracotta pink - a colour representing hospitality. The Maharaja left no stone (or building) unturned with the pink brush. Lord Albert proclaimed Jaipur 'The Pink City' which remains, and the city regularly receives a fresh coat of paint before Diwali.

The Green City - Gandhinagar

Mother nature has established herself well and truly in Gandhinagar, with an astonishing 53.9 percent green coverage, which is around 416 trees for every 100 people.

The Golden City - Jaisalmer

A relenting sun shines down on the yellow sandstone buildings that fill Jaisalmer giving it an endless golden glow. The city almost disappears into the golden sand dunes of the Thar desert which surrounds it on all sides.

The White City - Udaipur

The nearby marble quarry was the source of the exquisite stone used to construct the majority of this city steeped in history and romance. Countless lakes break up the city's position on the edge of the desert, Udaipur is a glistening white spectacle, also known as the Venice of the East.


Monday, February 6, 2017

There’s More to Explore in the Whitsundays!


The Whitsundays might be home to some of the most iconic destinations in Queensland but a new marketing campaign is hoping to encourage travellers to visit some of the region's 'hidden secrets'.

The 'More to Explore' campaign is being rolled out this week and targets the 'drive' market within a 400km radius of the Whitsundays.

The aims of the campaign are to increase awareness within the region that the Whitsundays is "in everyone's backyard" and remind visitors about the wide variety of activities on offer and introduce them to new attractions they might not have considered.

This is backed up by a raft of special offers from accommodation houses, tours and trips, aimed at increasing visitation to the region in the traditionally quieter period of March through June.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the campaign – which is across digital platforms as well as some 'cheeky' ambush marketing in key markets - would drive bookings to participating operators and bring incremental visitors to the Whitsundays.

"Whether it's snorkelling off the beach in Bowen, wining and dining in Airlie Beach, catching a barramundi in Proserpine, discovering the hinterland around Collinsville, or cruising the islands, the Whitsundays has it all," Mr Turner said.

"We are very well known for our iconic attractions such as Whitehaven Beach and our easy access to the Great Barrier Reef but we also have waterfalls and walking trails, outback cattle stations and inland dams for fishing, waterskiing and picnics, and we have one of the longest stretches of subtropical rainforest in Australia.

"This campaign is about encouraging visitors to 'lift the lid' a little and if they think they have seen it all in the Whitsundays, think again!"

A dedicated landing page has been created to house the special offers – www.moretoexplore.com.au - and marketing activity will run throughout February to March 3.

The Habitat: Penang's natural attraction


One of South East Asia's most popular and enchanting destinations, Penang deserves be high on the list of anyone planning a visit to Malaysia.

The island boasts an enviable range of historical and cultural attractions, not to mention a thriving food scene, beautiful beaches and some excellent shopping for those after a little retail therapy. It's also packed with plenty of must-see attractions guaranteed to appeal to every type of traveller from families and honeymooners to food-lovers and those with a thirst for adventure including its latest – The Habitat.

A unique ecotourism experience, which aims to promote environmental consciousness and conservation awareness among its visitors, The Habitat is located on top of Penang Hill, some 820m above sea level. Offering up views over rolling hills, pristine rainforest, lush flora, enormous granite boulders and stunning views of city, jungle and sea, even better, there's no need for any arduous trekking to the summit, with the first-of-its-kind ecotourism site easily accessible via a 7-minute ride on the Penang Hill Funicular Train.

Promising to offer visitors the most complete, exciting and educational Malaysian rainforest experience, The Habitat does not disappoint. There are various trails for all ages and fitness levels, all of which are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.

The most popular, the 1.6km Nature Trail, starts just a few minutes walk from the Top Station of the Penang Hill Funicular Railway. Meandering below three of the hill's oldest historic bungalows, the trail provides spectacular views of the rolling hills and the Andaman Sea beyond, not to mention a chance to glimpse local wildlife including Paper Kite Butterflies, Giant Black Squirrels and cute-as-a-button Dusky Leaf Langur monkeys. This enchanting realm allows visitors to experience Penang Hill's rainforest at its very best.

Several themed gardens charmingly line the way and include the Colour Garden, Butterfly Bank, Fragrant Garden and Ginger and Palm Grove. But for the ultimate 'selfie' opportunity, head to the Treetop Walk , a 13m high- viewing platform located on top the plateau, which offers mesmerizing 360-degree views of Penang, including George Town, and serves as the highest public viewing point on the island. Look down on historic, Bel Retiro, the Governor of Penang's mansion in all its splendor, and a clear day, you can even make out the islands of Langkawi in the distance.

Signage is positioned unobtrusively along the route to educate visitors about various plants and wildlife in display, but for the most comprehensive understanding of The Habitat and its uninque environment take advantage of one of the complimentary nature guided tours on offer conducted by award-winning naturalists, which run every 30 minutes.

Admission prices are just RM20 (around A$7 for adults) and RM10 (around A$3.50) for students and senior citizens and children aged 3 – 13 years old, is RM10. Children under 3 enter free-of-charge.

Opening hours: 9.30am – 6.00pm daily, closed on Wednesday

For more information about The Habitat visit:

www.thehabitat.my

For information about tours of Malaysia, please contact:

Telephone: +612 9286 3055
Email: malaysia@malaysiatourism.com.au
Website: www.malaysia.travel

Monday, January 23, 2017

Retirement in Malysia

In recent years Malaysia has emerged as an ideal spot for retirees planning to seek their retirement haven abroad.




In the latest Annual Global Retirement Index for 2017 produced by International Living, Malaysia has topped the list of all Asian retirement destinations, ranking sixth in the world after Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica and Columbia, and is the only Asian country to have made it into the top 10.

This year's report analyzed 24 countries, ranking them across a broad variety of categories including the cost of real estate, special benefits offered to retirees, entertainment and amenities, safety and stability, healthcare, climate, infrastructure, and the cost of living.

The report notes that Malaysia's robust economy delivers consistently high standard of living available to locals and expats alike, delivering a quality of life that is both cost-efficient and attractive. It's one of only three countries in Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong are the other two) where it's possible to buy property freehold. And you don't need to be living there to do it. Visitors arriving in the country will be given a three-month visa, and if you decide to buy while you are there, you can. But even if you don't, typical expat locations such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang also offer high-quality real estate at low rental.




According to the report, Malaysian cities are clean and modern, its public transport unrivaled, and its people the friendliest in Asia. And while other Asian countries offer great budget holidays, and some offer first-class vacations, Malaysia manages to cater extraordinarily well to both.

Says IL Malaysia correspondent, Keith Hockton, "In Malaysia, you'll get the best street food, restaurants and cafés in the region, and some interesting architecture that is unlike any other. The food is not just first class; it's world class. And the shopping in Kuala Lumpur and Penang is to die for. From state of the art air-conditioned shopping centers to colorful night markets, Malaysia has it all."

"Consisting of 13 states and three federal territories, there is a lot to see and do here," he adds. "It's just one of the reasons that first time tourists to Malaysia come back again and again, and ultimately end up moving or retiring here."

Indeed Malaysia has no less than four UNESCO world heritage sites  - the Lenggong Valley, the Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park and the cities of George Town and Malacca. Says Keith, "Kinabalu Park is a bird watcher's paradise, and Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia. Sunrise seen from here is something that you will remember for the rest of your life."

Coining Malaysia as 'Great Value for Money in a Cultural Melting Pot', the report indicates that the average retiree can enjoy a life of luxury in the country on a modest budget. It also notes that Malaysia makes a perfect base from which to explore the many natural, historical, and cultural treasures that Southeast Asia has to offer.

Other benefits associated with retirement in Malaysia? The proliferation of low-cost Asian airlines in recent years has made it easier (and more affordable) than ever to explore the rest of Asia. It is also easier for retirees to fit in and socialize with locals by comparison to other countries as English is so widely spoken. Also worthy of mention is the quality of health care in Malaysia, which according to the report, is comparable to that in any First-World nation.

Website: www.malaysia.travel


Sunday, January 22, 2017

World's Top Photographic Destinations

Norway in Winter (Ewen Bell)

Capture stunning images in some of the world's most picturesque locations, hone your wildlife photography skills or simply create Instagram-worthy still shots. No matter where you travel you'll be certain to bring home wonderful pictorial mementos of your trip – of breath-taking landscapes, awe-inspiring wildlife, colourful handicrafts, mouth-watering food and vibrant markets. The subject matter is endless and this bucket list is for novice and expert photographers alike.

Africa

With its breath-taking scenery and unique wildlife, Africa is a photographer's dream. Whether it's the raw, red landscapes of Namibia for still pictures, wildebeest swimming a fast-flowing river or a flock of vivid carmine bee-eaters in flight for action shots, a pride of lion on the savannah for the iconic nature photograph and the tribes of Ethiopia for unique and colourful portraits. No matter where in Africa, there is a photograph to be captured and memories to be cherished.

Antarctica

A voyage to Antarctica is a true trip of a lifetime and you do it in style and comfort on board Ponant's MV Le Boreal. There is no more remote or pristine destination on earth. Its wildlife is abundant and, thanks to the almost total absence of human presence, easy to get close to ensuring exquisite photographic opportunities. Icebound landscapes and rugged scenery also produce dramatic compositions and a dedicated photographic expedition led by wildlife photographer Richard Harker.

The Aussie Outback

Closer to home our own Western Australia presents a wealth of photographic substance. The rich earthy colours of the landscape in contrast with the endless blue sky are a dream through the lens. The soaring red gorges and crystal clear billabongs, the dramatic coastline plus native flora and fauna, all are beautifully captured through the lens. There are galleries of indigenous rock art and sculptural termite mounds, pandanus palms and dazzling sunsets. For action shots, there is horse riding, barramundi fishing and walking trails to follow. Create your next album on an Australian adventure.

Ladakh, Northern India

The remote and rugged landscapes of Ladakh in the high Himalaya of Northern India are a photographer's paradise and on an exclusive hosted journey you are accompanied by award-winning freelance photographer, Palani Mohan. He has travelled to Ladakh a number of times and his passion for the scenery and the beautiful people that live there is contagious. During the trip he shares his experiences and photographic skills with special workshops, lectures and hands-on guidance in the field. The journey reveals a region shaped by staunch Buddhist traditions with a history and culture more closely related to Tibet than India. The dramatic landscapes of high altitude desert, vast valleys and fluttering prayer flags are highlights while centuries old monasteries and temples reveal some of the most gentle and hospitable people on the planet. you to the rich culture and help you create your own magical photographic mementos.

Mexico

Full of colour, culture, fascinating sights and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Mexico is magic for photography enthusiasts. There are ancient Mayan and Aztec archaeological ruins aplenty, charming colonial architecture in all the colours of the rainbow, dense jungles, beautiful haciendas, richly decorated dancers, colourful markets and vibrant festivals. Picture postcard shots present themselves at every turn.

Mongolia

One of the last travel frontiers, Mongolia is vast, remote and strikingly beautiful with no shortage of photographic subject matter.

An exclusive hosted journey to Mongolia focuses on the thrilling Golden Eagle Festival in the far west of the country where Kazakh horsemen demonstrate their skills with the prized golden eagle in fierce competition. The journey is led by award-winning freelance photographer Palani Mohan whose work has been exhibited widely around the globe. He has travelled to Mongolia four times photographing and documenting in detail the golden eagle hunters and their unique customs. An expert photographic instructor he shares his experiences and his photographs as well as giving travellers his tips on capturing landscapes and people in this extraordinary part of the world.

See also:

Photography for Travellers

"Inspiration and information to help you make the most of your travel and photography"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Viking Cruises Overview


The Viking Difference

Designed for discerning travellers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and “collector ports,” appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.



While onboard, guests enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking’s ships elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen’s features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as “Mamsen;” The Chef’s Table celebrate cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an immersive opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.

Interiors and design of Viking Cruises’ ships

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian interiors, Viking’s ships were designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Throughout each ship, details are incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessels in their class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.



Onboard Viking’s ships, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ships, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a real snow room, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway’s Finse Mountain Plateau.

Viking Inclusive Value

Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value onboard Viking Ocean Cruises —with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than USD$200 per person, per day for an average cruise.



About Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises offers destination-centric river and ocean cruising designed for experienced travellers with an interest in geography, culture and history. Featuring onboard cultural enrichment and included shore excursions, Viking’s journeys are competitively priced for genuine value. Debuting its maiden season of ocean cruising in 2015, the sophisticated state-of-the-art Viking Star hosts 930 guests on itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; the Western and Eastern Mediterranean; the British Isles and the Americas. Viking will welcome Viking Sky and Viking Sun, the company’s third and fourth ship, in early and late 2017, respectively. Viking Spirit will be delivered in 2018; the yet-to-be-named sixth ship will be delivered in 2020. As the world’s leading river cruise line, since its 1997 inception the company has grown to a fleet of 64 river vessels (in 2016) offering scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, and Southeast Asia. Viking has been honoured multiple times in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards and Condé Nast Traveller’s “Gold List” as well as recognised by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line,” with the entire VikingLongships® fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. Viking Cruises has recently been awarded as The World's Best Large-Ship Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure, 2016.

For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1300 845 464 (Australia) & 0800 447 913 (New Zealand) or visit www.vikingcruises.com.au . To join the Viking Cruises community online, visit www.facebook.com/vikingcruisesAUNZ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Discover Chiang Mai - Thailand's northern gem



Explore the cuisine and culture more deeply and you'll discover that the different regions of Thailand boast their own distinctive flavours and flare. The Central Plains, Thailand's rice bowl, are characterised by freshwater-fish recipes, sour soups and curries, while the tropical South with its Muslim traditions offers bountiful seafood and dishes enriched with coconut, cardamom and cumin. I-san of course, is influenced by Lao PDR., so here you'll find hot papaya salads, cured and raw meat and simple, tasty soups, perfect for filling the bellies of the region's hardworking farmers.

But it's the food of Thailand's North that attracts the most culinary converts. This region has long been influenced by Myanmar, China and Lao PDR., not to mention the kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. And, as kingdoms have risen and fallen, they've all left their mark on Chiang Mai's cuisine. The countryside and climate too have shaped the region's food. Cooler Northern climes mean hot chili is seldom used to disguise spoiled food – a more warming heat comes from galangal and peppers. Fewer palm trees in the region mean coconut dishes are traditionally rare while many Chiang Mai dishes have a distinctive bitter element, thanks to shoots and leaves collected in the local forests.

You don't have to stay in the city long to understand why the local pork, fermented, fried or cured is so famous. Nearly every Thai visitor to Chiang Mai comes home laden with bags of crispy pork rind to share with friends. Pork fat is also used for frying, though the health-conscious, if not the traditionalists, can usually request that vegetable be used.

Food culture in Chiang Mai is eclectic. The city is a culinary sponge with chefs and foods from around the world finding a home here, and blending in with the region's long-standing traditions. Even the city's most famous dish, Khao Soi, with its rich curry sauce is thought to have originated with Sino-Muslim traders. It's this internationalism in Chiang Mai's food that makes it so approachable to this day. The city boasts sublime international restaurants alongside the family-run snack shops and street stalls selling tasty Northern treats – indeed the food is one of the things that makes a trip to the northern capital so memorable.

Visitors short on time, or seeking specialised knowledge about the city's cuisine should join one of Chiang Mai's food tours. Among the best-known of these is the Chiang Mai Night Food Tour, an off-shoot of the award-winning BangkokFoodTours.com. You're driven around the city's best food eateries and stalls, accompanied by guides who can explain not only the ingredients and cooking methods that of each dish, but also provide a potted history of the city's landmarks. Those who have more time should join one of the cooking classes.

The tours start by the historical Tha Pae Gate and attract a range of participants, from full-on foodies to people seeking a new way to see the city. As you set off past Wat Mahawan, the evening chanting of the monks is heard in the wind; after all, Chiang Mai is a religious as well as culinary city. There are distinctive Burmese elements in the ornate architecture of Chiang Mai's temples, a reminder that the kingdom of Lanna was influenced by the Burmese for over two centuries, a period that has left its mark on the food as much as the buildings.

Padong women and girls in
traditional 'long neck' costume.
Just around the corner of the temple, stop off at the little roti stall of Auntie Dae, a famous Chiang Mai resident of Pakistani origin who, for 30 years has sold freshly-made, sweet and savoury roti with cheese or condensed milk and sugar from her little stall. These tasty snacks are both a treat and an energy boost while touring the city.

The favourites are always the popular. Phat Thai may not have originated in the north of Thailand, but if you're doing a Thai food tour, this much-loved dish can't be missed, and Chiang Mai has stalls that cook Phat Thai to perfection. So don't worry when your guide takes you down a little alley crammed with people. They're all waiting to enjoy delicious noodles served piping hot on banana leaves and covered with a thin layer of egg.

Of course, where food comes from is as important as how it's prepared. This is why the tours visit Chiang Mai's Warorot Market, the oldest in the city. Chefs come here to stock up on ingredients, and you can snack on freshly-made treats, experience the scents and sights of a bustling market, and pick up tips on choosing herbs, spices and fruits.
More: 137 Pillars House Pillars of Tranquility

The tour is great for first-time visitors, as they enjoy a guided expedition of some of the city's best sites including cultural as well as culinary attractions. Most memorable is the amazing Wat Suan Dok, founded in 1370, and home to the cremation urns of Chiang Mai's old royal family. The amazing statues of King Mengrai the Great of the Lanna Kingdom, King Ramkamhaeng the Great of the Sukhothai Kingdom and King Ngam Muang of Phayao Kingdom, pivotal characters in Thailand's history also create an impression.

The highlight of the trip in terms of Chiang Mai's culinary culture is Heun Muan Jai (The Happy House) restaurant, which specialises in traditional Lanna dishes. It is recommended to start the meal with local Hors D'oeuvres – chili dip, crispy pork, fried chicken sausage and vegetables, lightly boiled in the Northern way. Visit in the rainy season, and you can try the tasty local het pho mushroom, abundant in the local hills and here prepared in a delicious soup. Meals are served in the Northern Khantoke style, a platter which people sit around to share dishes – a lovely way to enjoy a communal meal

And the communal feel of the tour is what appeals to visitors. You explore the city knowing you'll learn something, make friends and enjoy some tasty treats along the way. This is why evenings end with a drink in a rooftop bar with a city view. It's a great chance to further friendships with fellow foodies and plan further culinary adventures.

There are several food tours as well as cooking classes on offer in Chiang Mai. Examples are http://chiangmaifoodtours.com/ and www.thaifarmcooking.net/home/ Some hotels also offer exclusive food tours for their guests.

For more information about Chiang Mai and Thailand, visit www.tourismthailand.org/au or follow us on www.facebook.com/HugThailand/

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What’s your #luxurytravel resolution this New Year?

#luxurytravel

Luxury Travel


It’s that time of year again. The Christmas excitement is over, waistlines have expanded and thoughts turn to reinvention, health, self-improvement and the adoption of better habits. The luxury travel experts think that travel delivers on all these fronts.

click for more inspiration
More family time

Nothing is more fulfilling than taking time out with the family and a holiday gives the perfect opportunity to relax, remove yourself from the day to day and focus on those around you. A wildlife safari  delivers unforgettable experiences, educates young and old alike on the wonders of the animal kingdom, allows plenty of activity and adventure and above all unforgettable memories.

Give back

There is always more that can be done to benefit needy communities and respect fragile ecosystems. A&K understood this as far back as 1982 when it established Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP). Many journeys offer opportunities for personal involvement with the projects AKP supports from leopard protection in Sri Lanka to bee-keeping in Tanzania, housing for street kids in Morocco and wells for clean water in Cambodia, and many more.

click for more inspiration
Eat Well

Avoid a drastic diet and instead make healthy choices, like the Italians do. Their respect for fresh produce and simple flavours is to be admired. Adopt these habits when you visit the northeast of Italy where Prosciutto, Venetian bacari and white asparagus are counted amongst the regional specialities. While the focus is fine fresh food, travellers will be equally dazzled by the local art, architecture and atmospheric lodgings.

Drink less

It is said that life’s too short to drink bad wine so if consumption is to be cut choose quality above quantity. Argentinean wines are amongst the best in the world and nestling against the Andes, Mendoza is one of the world’s great wine regions. Most famous for its malbec, there’s no shortage of quality here and on a luxury travel journey, guests explore the terroir, visit leading vineyards and cellar doors, meet winemakers and enjoy ample tasting opportunities.

Perfect a skill

Photography and luxury travel go hand in hand but so often the images we capture disappoint. Try a dedicated photographic expedition to Antarctica where professional photographer Richard Harker is the resident photo coach. Throughout the journey, Richard offers everything from an introduction to taking photographs in polar climes to tips for seasoned experts with on board workshops, technical advice, hands-on tutorials and guidance in the field. Antarctica is alive with incredible subject matter for the photographer from dazzling icebergs and close-up wildlife to breaching whales and seabirds in flight. On a photographic expedition you’re sure to bring home wonderful pictorial mementos of the trip.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...