Sunday, December 30, 2012

China Southern Airlines


Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines (code CZ) has operated into Australia for more than 10 years. It now flies 11 times a week between Sydney and Guangzhou and increasing to double daily from June 25, 10 flights a week from Melbourne, four times a week from Brisbane and three times a week from Perth. It also offers daily direct services from Guangzhou to Auckland. In 2012 China Southern launched the Canton Route with new direct flights Guangzhou to London and Europe. China Southern operates the largest airline fleet in Asia and with more than 80 million passengers carried in 2011 it is the third largest carrier in the world.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Image: World Expeditions
Patagonia is a vast and varied territory making up the lowermost portions of South America, straddling both Chile and Argentina. With a landmass comparable in size to the entire eastern seaboard of Australia, the region is rich in scenic and natural wonders.

Many Antarctic Peninsula cruises depart from Ushuaia, the world’s most southerly settlement. Here in the renowned Tierra del Fuego, visitors have the perfect opportunity to explore the breathtaking alpine landscapes. Around the corner in Chile you are at the gateway to an immense, almost polar area that boasts some of the most beautiful fjords anywhere.

The Chileans have three superb national parks on their side of Patagonia; Parque Nacional Puyehue, Laguna San Rafael and Torres del Paine. Each can claim to be amongst the most spectacular in the world incorporating fjords, rich biospheres, glaciers, volcanoes and abundant distinctive wildlife like the curious Patagonian guanaco.

Not to be outdone, Argentina’s easterly regions justifiably flaunt the likes of Peninsula Vald├ęs where visitors can get amongst large numbers of sea lions, seals, rheas, penguins, flamingos and even whales.

Patagonia can be considered a destination in itself, not merely a South American sidedish, so please consider any extensions offered as part of a larger package.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Air Canada

Company Profile

Air Canada is the only airline to fly daily and nonstop between Sydney and Vancouver, continuing onwards to Toronto, same flight number, same plane. Air Canada is the fastest, most convenient and the most comfortable way to travel between Australia and Canada. Air Canada's modern B777-200LR aircraft is the spacious alternative to transpacific travel, complimented by the refreshing Canadian hospitality for which our award winning service is renowned.

Air Canada has major hubs in three Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver). Its extensive global network provides scheduled passenger service directly to 59 Canadian cities, 56 destinations in the United States and 63 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. Air Canada and its regional partners operate approximately 1,530 scheduled flights each day on average. Together with its Star Alliance partner airlines (, Air Canada offers service to 1,290 airports in 189 countries and provides reciprocal top tier frequent flyer benefits.
Discover air Canada's global network with the new interactive route map
View Air Canada's interactive route map

New fleet and on-board features
In July 2009, Air Canada received delivery of its 18th Boeing 777 aircraft concluding the first phase of its international fleet renewal. Deliveries of the first of 37 Boeing 787 aircraft are planned to commence in 2014. In addition, Air Canada completed its fleet-wide refurbishment program to offer a consistent on-board product on every refurbished aircraft. Concurrently, Air Canada became the first North American carrier to introduce lie-flat beds in all business class cabins across its refurbished international fleet.

Air Canada aircraft feature all new seats, industry-leading seat-back personal entertainment systems with hundreds of hours of movies, shorts, documentaries, TV programs and music available on demand, as well as standard 110V electrical outlets and USB ports at arm's reach for all customers. Air Canada operates one of the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleets of any North American legacy carrier.
Visit our cabins

Double the movies at your seat
Our Air Canada enRoute In-flight Entertainment system has been created to make your flight as enjoyable and relaxing as possible. We have doubled the movies and increased our TV content to create one of the best on-board entertainment experiences available anywhere!

Beginning with a touch-screen TV at your seat, choose from over 600 hours of on-demand entertainment including movies, TV shows, music albums, satellite radio, the choice is yours.

As of May 2012, we have doubled our in-flight movie programming bringing our selection at up to 150 movies: from 31 to 63 movies on flights within North America and from 72 to 150 movies on international flights
See what's playing this month

 Mobile services
Air Canada offers a growing array of services for smart phone users from its mobile platform In 2009, Air Canada became the first North American airline to release apps for Apple iPhone and BlackBerry smart phones. Since November 2010, customers can purchase mobile upgrades and pay service fees using the apps mobile+ function. The apps also provide access to Air Canada Vacations and Air Canada Cargo services. Since September 2011, customers can book flights using Air Canada's app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. Stay tuned for an Air Canada Android app, coming soon to
Find out more about our mobile travel tools

In 2011, Air Canada was ranked 'Best International Airline in North America' in a worldwide survey of more than 18 million airline passengers conducted by independent research firm Skytrax for its 2011 World Airline Awards. Also in 2011, readers of Global Traveler magazine voted Air Canada "Best Airline in North America." and readers of Business Traveler voted Air Canada "Best North American Airline for International Travel" and "Best In-Flight Services in North America." In the Ipsos Reid Business Traveller Survey, Air Canada was named "Canada's Favourite Airline for Business Travel." Air Canada was preferred by 73 per cent of Canadian business travellers surveyed for 2011, the third consecutive year of improvement in Air Canada's ratings in the national survey.
Discover our award winning service

Executive First (International)
On your next international trip, relax in the privacy of our Executive First Suites*, with the added comfort of a fully flat bed.
Designed to provide you with your own personal space that's ideal for a good night's sleep, each Executive First Suite* reclines into a fully flat bed at the touch of a button. Armed with a comfy pillow and duvet and fully equipped with all the latest in-flight amenities, you'll arrive at your destination completely refreshed and ready to start your day.

Each Executive First Suite is equipped with enhanced features, amenities and priority services including personal 12 inch touch-screen TV with 600 hours of top rated entertainment, fine dining accompanies by a selection of premium wines, spirits and beers, Maple Leaf Lounge access and Concierge Agent.
Experience our Executive First Suite virtual tour

Economy Class (International)
On your next international trip, experience hours of comfort and entertainment with our new economy seats*, featuring the following enhanced features including personal 8.9 inch touch-screen TV with 600 hours of top rated entertainment and complimentary hot meals accompanied by a selection of wines and spirits.
Explore our Economy Class cabin (international)

Maple Leaf Lounge
Each of our 20 award-winning Maple Leaf Lounges-located at all major airports across Canada and at key international locations-provides a private, serene escape from thebustle of airport activity, offering an unrivalled level of service in a cosy, comfortable setting with clean architectural lines, warm natural colours, and breathtaking views.

Our industry-leading business centres are equipped with all the technological features and amenities to let you hit the ground running, from wireless Internet access and secure PC workstations. Enjoy exclusive access to our Maple Leaf Lounges on your next trip when you purchase a qualifying fare or show proof of a qualifying membership.
Find out more

Concierge Service
Air Canada Super Elite members and Executive First customers can enjoy exclusive dedicated service from the moment you check-in at Sydney and in 20 airports around the world from more than 150 carefully selected Concierge Agents. Our Concierge Agents are available to assist you with travel and airport related matters, special requests, such as hotel or restaurant reservations and additional support if ever your travel plans are disrupted.
Find out more

Loyalty Program
Air Canada's loyalty program, Aeroplan (, is Canada's most popular with more than four million active members who earn Miles and privileges towards reward travel on Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners. Air Canada's Top Tier frequent flyer program entitles qualifying members to receive exclusive benefits such as complimentary upgrades and Maple Leaf Lounge access, priority airport and reservations services, and Star Alliance gold and silver status that are recognized by Air Canada's partner airlines world-wide.

Air Bagan - leading operator of domestic flights within Myanmar

Air Bagan, founded in June 2004 is the leading operator of domestic flights within Myanmar.

With a fleet of 6 aircraft, 2 x Fokker 100, 2 x ATR – 42, 2 x ATR- 72, Air Bagan provides a comprehensive coverage of key routes connecting the main cities and towns in Myanmar.

With Air Bagan serving 19 cities and towns including the key hubs of yangon, bagan, mandalay and the capital nay pyi taw, the tourist can travel effortlessly throughout Myanmar.

(now operating to 19 destinations including main tourist destinations as well as to other commercially important destinations, Air Bagan serves Yangon, Mandalay, Nyaung U, Heho, Kyaing-tong, Tachileik, Myitkyina, Putao, Dawei, Myeik, Kawthaung, Thandwe, Sittwe , Pathein , Nay Pyi Taw, Kalaymyo, Lashio, Homalin and Monywa.)

Following the recent opening of Myanmar to all tourists, Air Bagan is poised to develop further and to play a leading role in the growth of the tourism infrastructure within Myanmar.

For further information, regarding reservations, ticketing and schedules for Air Bagan, please contact :

Aviation & Tourism International

tel: 1300 302 068, tel: 61 (02) 9279 4278


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sapphire Coast’s springtime feast of beasts

Children who like to get up close and personal with the wild, weird and wonderful should be heading for the NSW Sapphire Coast over the spring school holidays. It’s the best time of the year to see whales on the move – and get involved in lots of animal adventures.

National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and Potoroo Palace are all offering a range of activities that will allow kids – and their parents – to find out more about critters with fur, feathers and fins.

The NSW NPWS Discovery activities include rock pool exploring, shore-based whale watching, night bush adventures and tours of the Davidson Whaling Station. Bookings are essential and full details are available from the NPWS office at Merimbula (02 6495 5000) or on the website (check Eurobodalla and Sapphire Coast at

Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre at Eden is offering a range of its most popular activities during the holidays including a 90-minute guided tour of the local rock platforms with a marine biologist and special marine-related creative sessions. Bookings are essential. For more details, phone (02) 6496 1699 or check the website (

Potoroo Palace Native Animal Education Sanctuary at Merimbula looks more like a baby nursery right now, with a new potoroo, three emus and a koala among the recent arrivals. And there is a baby tawny frogmouth due any minute! More information is available on the website ( or by phoning the Sanctuary on (02) 6494 9053.

Eden whale watching
Eden-based whale specialist Cat Balou will be running its popular whale watching cruises every day during the holidays. Learn about Eden’s fascinating whaling history while catching sight of the humpbacks at play. More information is available on the website,

Of course, it’s not just all about animals on the Sapphire Coast. Experienced and would-be mountain bike riders should make sure they bring their gear (or hire some locally at Tathra Beach and Bike) for the Sapphire Coast October Cycle Fest. From September 28 to October 1, there is a range of activities geared from the absolute beginner, to the highly experienced racer. A highlight is the social Wharf to Waterhole Ride to celebrate Tathra Wharf’s 150th birthday. Check all the details on the club website (

Cobargo Farm is having an Open Garden Day and Spring Equinox Celebration on Saturday, September 22. From dawn to dusk, there are demonstrations and activities including permaculture, wood turning, soap making, cheese making, spinning and sustainable gardening. Entry by gold coin donation. More information [(02) 6493 6817 or 0409 033 828] or drop into the farm, corner of Bermagui Road and Avernus Street, Cobargo.

And on September 30, Tathra Wharf celebrates its 150th birthday with food, fun and entertainment from 150 years ago, from around 9am. Come and learn the history of Tathra and its unique wharf. Enjoy delicious local produce. Watch the surf boats race past the Wharf. Be part of the panorama and the history. More information from the Tathra Wharf Celebration Committee on (02) 6494 1689.

Located on the far south coast of NSW, the Sapphire Coast is three hours’ drive from Canberra via Cooma or a six/seven-hour drive from either Melbourne or Sydney. There are also regular daily flights from Melbourne or Sydney via REX Airlines into Merimbula, and regular inter-city bus services.

More information on the area, and accommodation details and bookings, are available by calling toll-free on 1800 150 457 or by visiting the region’s website,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Escorted Vacation or Ocean Cruise?

It All Depends on Why You Want to Travel

It all started with The Love Boat. Americans discovered the romantic world of cruising and they couldn't get enough. But what they didn't realize was that although there were wonderful shipboard activities, they were only seeing a fraction of what these incredible destinations had to offer. Whether choosing an ocean cruise or an escorted tour, what is most important is that you receive everything you are looking for in your perfect vacation. If you are interested in experiencing the culture of your destination, in sampling the local cuisine and meeting the people, if you want to learn the history of a country from local guides, if you want to spend time exploring and discovering off-the-beaten track treasures, then an escorted tour is for you!

While cruises do offer visits to major cities, a majority of Europe's cities and scenic splendors are simply too far inland to visit in a day from a port. Over 90% of Europe's major attractions and culture are miles from the nearest seaport or navigable river, and many of Europe's great cities were built inland as a means of defense - purposely built away from the coast. Mediterranean cruise ports are often industrialized and unattractive, with few cultural attractions, and shore excursions are usually expensive add-ons averaging several hundred dollars, taken on fleets of crowded buses with little personal attention to your interests or needs. Cruising can be an insulated experience, mainly catering to North Americans, and when the cities come alive at night, you are generally back on board eating in the same ship restaurants instead of discovering authentic local cuisine and becoming acquainted with Europe's exciting night life.

Tours and cruises have some things in common: They are both fun, hassle-free travel experiences good for couples, singles and families. On both a tour and a cruise, fares include transportation, accommodations, entertainment, and onboard (or many included) meals. On the ship, there is a staff that caters to your needs. On a tour, you are accompanied every step of the way by a Tour Director who acts as your personal concierge, local historian, and destination expert.

But it's not the similarities that should be a defining reason you choose a tour over a cruise - it's the differences! On an ocean cruise, group size can easily range from 1,500 to over 5,000. Most destinations are only seen during the day, and major sightseeing is at an extra cost. For example, a Rome cruise excursion costs $229 per person to visit the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican. On a typical 10-day cruise these optional shore excursions can cost you thousands of dollars - and you will be traveling with a fleet of 25 or more 54-seat buses, making the experience rushed and crowded. On an escorted tour, the group size is never more than 52, and more often is closer to 36. And all major sightseeing is included in the tour price! For example, the Rome excursion above would be included on an escorted tour at no extra cost to you! On a land tour, you can enjoy mountain excursions, gondola rides, and train trips. You'll visit palaces and castles, tour museums and galleries, sample local delicacies, and dine in local restaurants. And because the tour group is small, you'll make friends with fellow English speakers from around the world.

Perhaps the most surprising difference between a cruise and a tour is the price. While cruises appear to be a great deal when you start out, after you include all the extras, you pay a lot more than you bargained for.

Typical 12-Night Italy Cruise
$2490 Cruise Price
$1200 Air
$80 Transfers
$145 Taxes/Port Charges/Fees
$1200 Major Sightseeing
= Total $5115 per Person

Typical 12-Night Italy Escorted Tour
$2925 Tour Price
$1200 Air
Includes Transfers
Includes Taxes/Fees
Includes Major Sightseeing
= Total $4125 per Person

Whether you are a past cruise passenger ready for your next adventure, or looking for a vacation that really shows you Europe, escorted touring offers a world of sightseeing that cruisers can only dream about. Immerse yourself in the culture of a country, enjoy local cuisine, meet local people, see wonderful sights and step in the path of history. Think about what you really want out of your next vacation, and then make the choice that's best for you!

For more information on Escorted Vacations, contact your local Travel Agent, or go to

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A world of unique, luxurious and cost-free retreats

Global house sitting website enabling Australians a smart way to travel and homeowners peace of mind

As holiday accommodation becomes increasingly expensive, house sitting is the savvy way for Australians to enjoy an affordable retreat either at home or overseas. This travel and lifestyle concept is for those who want to travel outside the traditional box and enjoy new options not to mention all the extra benefits housesitting offers. is a global house sitting website available to Australians offering two options; a great way to luxuriously travel world-wide while saving thousands of dollars on accommodation costs and being free from the confines of hotels and pre-planned itineraries. For Australian homeowners, it allows them to list their homes for free and review the profiles of hundreds of potential house sitters to care for their homes and pets when going away.

This unrivaled service has allowed many to enjoy house sitting opportunities in the United Kingdom and Europe as well as in over 50 other countries, including Australia. Whether looking for long term travel affordability or a week’s holiday, offers many new luxurious retreats, free of charge, around the globe, every day. offers historic mansions in France, thatched cottages in English villages to Georgian London homes, villas in Tuscany, Spain and Portugal, house boats in Amsterdam, and homes close to many ski resorts.

Once registered, a daily update of the latest house sits worldwide are emailed to members. It’s really only one click and you could be on your way to a new adventure and a lifestyle of travel.

For Australians seeking a solution for their home and pet care while they travel, provides comprehensive information about potential sitters. Homeowners can review the detailed profiles of ideal sitters keen to look after homes and pets, free of charge, by viewing online references, specific pet care experience, ratings from past house sitting assignments, police checks, photos and video profiles.

Kristine and Geoff McCarroll from Sydney, NSW, said “We joined and immediately secured one month on the island of Mallorca looking after a very large villa. It was not difficult to secure another in Spain in another beautiful home. We loved everything about our assignment; the country lifestyle with the comfort of the huge villas and with use of the host’s car, we are discovering the local markets and festivals too”.

House sitting is a savvy way to travel. It offers people the opportunity to experience a region living like a local rather than just staying in another hotel. It not only saves on accommodation costs but restaurant bills - and having your own kitchen offers the chance to visit local food markets and cook fresh regional produce. House sitting offers the chance to properly immerse within a local community, learn a language, get off the beaten track, and enjoy far more unique experiences than you’d usually find in any travel guidebook. It also offers the chance to ‘test’ living in another country if you are considering buying or moving overseas, or just to affordably travel the world looking after, and staying in decadent homes.

Australians are renowned travellers with family ties and connections around the world however, it may not always be convenient to stay with relatives therefore can be the perfect solution and a good suggestion to mention if you have friends coming to visit for a longer period of time.

Detailed information for both house sitters and homeowners looking for a sitter is easily navigated via the website at It’s full of tips and answers all questions that may be asked. is offering Australian homeowners free full membership to list their home for house sitting assignments (just enter the promotional code ‘Aus’ during the registration process.)

From just $29 Australians can join as a house sitter and save thousands on accommodation costs either in their own country or anywhere else in the world.

Vivid Sydney 2012 Lights up Australia's Harbour City

International artists and creatives are set to descend on Sydney with the announcement of the fourth annual Vivid Sydney program that will transform the city into a canvas of light, music and ideas from 25 May - 11 June.

The largest creative industries festival in the southern hemisphere, featuring live music performances at Sydney Opera House, creative industry events and large scale light installations around the harbour foreshore, Vivid Sydney was recently ranked as one of the world's top ten ideas festivals by The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Developed by Destination NSW on behalf of the New South Wales Government, Vivid showcases Sydney as the creative industries hub of the Asia Pacific, with over 500,000 visitors and Sydneysiders expected to attend the free and ticketed events this year.

In 2012 award-winning German light collective, URBANSCEEN will design the centrepiece of Vivid Sydney, the lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails.

Announced today, Vivid Sydney 2012 includes 50 interactive and immersive light art sculptures, illuminated skyscrapers and large scale 3D mapping projections around the iconic Sydney Harbour foreshore. From huge 3D projections to giant glowing dandelions, fibre optic sea grass and animatronic dancing lamps, Vivid features light art works from Germany, France, Poland, Hong Kong, Scotland, USA, Brazil, Singapore and New Zealand to display with Australian works.

Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House features an astounding line-up of local and international artists including opening night act - the critically acclaimed English artist Florence + The Machine who will perform with the Ceremonial Orchestra, taking over the Concert Hall.

Vivid Ideas will explore new innovations and foster business connections with more than 100 industry and business events. Key note speakers include Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy and UK fashion talent, Henry Holland, from House of Holland.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said visitors and creative industry practitioners from across the world are invited to come to Sydney to experience Vivid.

"Vivid Sydney is an opportunity to see Australia's harbour city transformed in a new and exciting way through light, music and ideas," she said

The full Vivid Sydney program is available at
Sydney 2012 renders are available at


Shahpura, 65 km from Jaipur, a proposed greenfield airport on the Jaipur-Delhi highway.
New CAPA-SITA report highlights technology and innovation as catalysts to growth in the industry

A new report published today by CAPA – Centre for Aviation and air transport IT specialist SITA forecasts that India will become the world’s third largest aviation market by 2020 and examines whether the country has the right investment, infrastructure and regulatory system to enable this growth. Technology and innovative practices will play a key role in meeting the challenge of growth but the report finds that IT is not always considered a tool of strategic importance.

The joint CAPA-SITA Report on Innovation and Technology: Opportunities for Transformation in Indian Aviation builds on a previous report produced in 2010. It provides an update on the IT landscape in India’s air transport industry, and also highlights some of the challenges in deploying innovative technology across the industry. The report incorporates the perspectives of the key stakeholders in the industry and makes some predictions for the future.

Indian aviation has changed hugely since 2000 when just one carrier flew overseas - today there are seven; passenger traffic has increased from 42 million to 150 million; and the country’s fleet has grown from 119 aircraft to 437. The low cost sector has grown massively and now represents 70 percent of the market. The CAPA-SITA report predicts that by 2020, 452 million passengers will fly each year and there will be 1,030 aircraft in the fleet. This will make India the world’s third largest aviation market.

Indian aviation has seen financial turbulence in recent years, but investment is vital if the industry is to meet the challenges of growth. Total investment in the Indian air transport industry since 2000 is estimated at US$27 billion and is expected to reach US$120 billion by 2020, of which US$80 billion will be spent on new aircraft. To meet the demands of air transport in 2020, up to US$2 billion will need to be spent on air traffic control and more than US$1.5 billion on upgrading security. According to the report, airline IT spend as a percentage of revenue ranges from one to three percent with 70 percent of those surveyed expecting their IT spend to increase. The key drivers for investment are operational efficiency; enhancing the customer experience; and cost reductions. Mobility is a key focus with 90 percent of respondents expecting to increase investment in this area.

Dr. Nasim Zaidi, Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, said: “The huge growth in air traffic presents a number of challenges. To address these, investment in infrastructure and skills will be needed. Perhaps even more importantly, technological innovation will be required to bring efficiency and speed to the sector. The initiative by SITA and CAPA to prepare this report on the state of technology adoption and innovation in Indian aviation today, and the outlook for the future is appreciated and will be helpful for the Indian air transport Industry. “

Maneesh Jaikrishna, Country Director – India and Subcontinent SITA, said: “India is poised to emerge as the world’s third largest aviation market by 2020. This level of growth is inevitably accompanied by significant challenges and innovation will play an important part in addressing these to support the growing demands of India’s aviation. SITA has been a catalyst for innovation in the Indian air transport community for over 60 years. We have been instrumental in bringing new technology to India and today, we are involved in all aspects of air transport in the country. We are once again proud to be working with CAPA to produce this valuable report on the state of the industry. As the world’s leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions, we look forward to continuing to work with the Indian aviation community and the Government to drive innovation during this exciting period of transformation and change.”

Since the 2010 report, deployment of technology has been slow due to financial constraints but there has been increased deployment of key IT solutions including websites for sales; implementation of Common Use Terminal Equipment (CUTE) in airports; Common Use Self Service (CUSS); baggage reconciliation systems; flight information display systems; and others. Over the next few years the report forecasts an increase in mobility solutions including mobile check-in; biometric identification systems; increasing use of the Cloud and social media applications amongst other developments.

Kapil Kaul, CEO CAPA India, said: “Technology today has the potential to become far more pervasive and to transform the operations of airlines, airports, service providers and border control. The aviation industry can leverage technology not only to deliver functionality and cost efficiencies, but to drive enhanced passenger experiences, new commercial revenue streams and improved security. In this report we set out to understand whether India’s aviation industry is positioned to grasp these opportunities, and to present a roadmap for the future.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Phuket continues to attract holidayers

Known as ‘the Pearl of the South’, Phuket is reclaiming its position as Thailand’s key destination for honeymooners and families alike.

Located 860km south of Bangkok, Phuket is known for its sandy beaches, lush forest tumbling waterfalls and ancient shrines as well as its Indo-Portuguese and Chinese architecture that reflect the turn of the century.

As more holiday-makers seek for adventure thrills, it seems Phuket is up-to-date with activities such as bungee jumping, shooting ranges, ATV offroading, go-carting, horse-riding and Muay Thai boxing.

On the other hand, the various white sandy beaches including Bang Tao beach, Kata Noi Beach, Bang Tao Beach, Kamala Beach, Surin Beach, Pansea Beach, Kata beach, Nai Yang beach, and Rawai Beach, provide much incentive for travelers, with scuba diving, sailing, sea canoeing and kayaking available.

Another contributing factor to Phuket’s attractiveness is its nightlife, with Patong Beach recognised as a hot spot for its clubs and dining options.

And with the great exchange rate, Phuket will continue to draw international visitors with its affordable accommodation and wide range of attractions.

Image credit: Tourism authority Thailand

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Mike deGruy, Andrew Wight and James Cameron
Two world-renowned filmmakers were killed in a helicopter crash in Australia on Saturday. Mike deGruy, a biologist and conservationist, and Andrew Wight, a pilot and underwater cave diver, were in Australia working with James Cameron and National Geographic on a documentary film.

James Cameron and National Geographic released this statement:
"The deep-sea community lost two of its finest yesterday when a helicopter carrying Andrew Wight and Mike deGruy crashed shortly after takeoff. Wight was the owner and pilot of the Robinson R-44 helicopter. Both men were world-renowned documentary filmmakers specializing in ocean exploration and conservation.

"Wight was piloting the Robinson R-44 helicopter as it took off from an airstrip in Jasper's Brush, near Nowra, 80 miles south of Sydney, New South Wales police said in a statement.

"Andrew Wight, 52, was the documentary-producing partner of explorer-filmmaker James Cameron. After leading six deep ocean expeditions together, from which the films 'Ghosts of the Abyss,' 'Aliens of the Deep,' 'Expedition: Bismarck,' and 'Last Mysteries of Titanic' were made, the two recently co-produced Andrew's first feature film, 'Sanctum 3D.'

"Mike deGruy, 60, spent 30 years producing and directing documentary films about the ocean. An accomplished diver and sub pilot who spent many hours filming deep beneath the sea, he was the director of undersea photography for Cameron's 'Last Mysteries of the Titanic.'"

Reacting to the deaths of his colleagues today, Cameron said, "Mike and Andrew were like family to me. They were my deep-sea brothers, and both were true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places no human being has been. They died doing exactly what they loved most, heading out to sea on a new and personally challenging expedition, having fun in the way they defined it for themselves, which was hardship and toil to achieve something never done before. They were passionate storytellers who lived by the explorer's code of humor, empathy, optimism, and courage. Their deaths are a tremendous loss for the world of underwater exploration, conservation, and filmmaking."

Cameron added, "Andrew was kind and loyal, full of life and a sense of fun, and above all, a careful planner who stressed safety to everyone on his team every single day. It is cruelly ironic that he died flying a helicopter, which was second nature to him, like driving a car would be to most people."

DeGruy, he said, was "one of the ocean's warriors. A man who spoke for the wonders of the sea as a biologist, filmmaker, and submersible pilot, and who spoke against those who would destroy the sea's web of life. He was a warm, funny, extremely capable man and one of the world's top underwater cinematographers. His passion for exploration and for the wonders beneath the sea was boundless."

"We are grieving over the loss of these two extraordinary friends," said Tim Kelly, president of the National Geographic Society. "Andrew and Mike were part of our extended family at National Geographic, and our hearts, prayers, and thoughts go out to their loved ones. They accomplished so much, but were taken too early, and our world is greatly diminished by their leaving it."

An Australian Adventurer of the Year medal winner and Emmy nominee, Wight produced more than 45 films since 1989, including television documentaries, live television specials, and 3D Imax films. His journey to becoming a filmmaker began in agricultural science, working in scientific research and marketing. He was a respected SCUBA and cave diving instructor, commercial helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, and cattle farmer. Wight was recently announced as the general manager of the Australian office of Cameron Pace Group, responsible for providing 3D cameras and production technology to Australian films and television.

Mike deGruy was an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and television host specializing in natural history and underwater programming in a career that spanned the world's oceans and more than 30 years. His work as cinematographer, producer and host for such projects as "Life in the Freezer," "Trials of Life," "Blue Planet," and "Last Mysteries of the Titanic" won multiple awards and reached global audiences with his infectious love for the oceans and the spirit of adventure. DeGruy founded the Santa Barbara, California-based production company The Film Crew Inc. in 1979.

DeGruy is survived by his wife, Mimi, his son, Max, and his daughter, Frances. Wight is survived by his wife, Monica, and his son, Ted.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Traveling makes Larry Shortell a better teacher

Some teachers teach from virtually the same notes they have used for years, never having sought any experiences outside the classroom. Larry "Jungle" Shortell of Connecticut is not one of them.

"Without a doubt, to travel and learn things firsthand is the best way to understand the world and our place in it," Shortell says. "I hope that others can see the possibilities that open up when one lives life by following his or her dreams, fearing the inability to follow one's passions rather than fearing death."

Travel became a lifelong passion for Shortell about 20 years ago, when a close friend drowned and he nearly did, too. He said it was a "turning point" in the way he lived his life.

In his day job, Shortell teaches special education in Enfield, Conn., USA. But he spends his summers traveling. He has explored all 50 states, all seven continents, all the oceans and more than 80 countries. He has circumnavigated the globe twice and plans to again next year.

Get a copy of his new book, "Summers Off: The Worldwide Adventures of a Schoolteacher"



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