Category: Travel

Scenic Lijiang China

Not only does the name Lijiang prefer to the city, it is also in the name given to the whole county, which is blessed with high mountains, pastures and natural preserves. Lijiang is about 200 kilometers from Tibet and 150 kilometers from Myanmar.

Lijiang is the home of the Naxi people who have built rich the Dongba Culture for hundreds of years. One highlight of your visit here is undeniably the Ancient City District (central Dayan District), famous for its centuries-old buildings, bridges, cobbled streets and canals which collectively allow you to step back in time, and makes you want to stay here for a couple of blissful days.

This Old District captivates you with its marvelous Old Naxi architecture that reflects the blending of cultures over several centuries. Each house in Dayan is surrounded by willow trees and built by the stream. This is why people dubbed the town “Oriental Venice”. While in this ancient district, do not miss the chance to visit Sifang Street (Four Square), which is not only the central street but also a trading and distributing center. Another landmark in the Old Town worth your time is the famous Mu’s Palace (Mufu).

After exploring the district, you can head out to the neighboring area of Nanmen. Although it is a modern spot, this is where you can dine, shop and be entertained. Aside from the Ancient City District the Shuhe Town and the Baisha Quarter are part of the three districts of Lijiang that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated on the first bend of the Yangtze River, Lijiang is also gifted with beautiful natural surroundings. This is the reason the town has become the favored gateway for attractions like Yuguan Park, Lugu Lake, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Hiking excursions are very popular and are usually organized by tour operators in Lijiang. The hordes of adventure-seeking visitors are well accommodated by the town’s wide range of inns, hostels and hotels.

Yuguan Park is a hiking haven that encompasses the scenic Black Dragon Pool and a gorgeous hill overlooking the city. Lugu Lake is home to the unique Mosuo people, who until now, observed a matriarchal society, which is why it is famously called the last “Kingdom of Women” in the world.

The (Yulong) Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, just 35 kilometers north of Lijiang is known for its very picturesque scenery. Check the postcards made for the town and region, and you will find a number that feature this spectacular mountain. During good winter weather, part of the mountain becomes a ski area ideal of beginners. This is the only ski area in the whole province of Yunnan. Take note the Jade Dragon is not a full-fledged resort but is an ideal destination for a day trip.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Aside from traveling with utmost luxury, this journey is all about going back in time as you will travel on a beautifully restored vintage train while exploring the famous American wine country. Most of the cars were built in 1915 by the renowned Pullman Standard Company and were intended to be first class coaches for the Northern Pacific Railway. These days, the refurbished cars have retained their steel structure and come with modern features such as steam heat and electric lights. They are also furnished with velveteen fabric armchairs, Honduran mahogany paneling and brass accents to achieve a high degree of luxury and comfort.

But what makes Napa Valley Wine Train even more exciting is the fantastic dining experience that comes with the train ride. You can enjoy this experience in the form of a multiple course gourmet lunch or dinner. Meals are freshly prepared in the three on board kitchens on the train. Dining arrangements for lunch packages usually follow traditional rail seating. This means that you will share a table with another party. Although it is possible to book a table all for yourself and your companion, the option is limited to when you book the Gourmet Express Package.

If you are willing to pay more, you can have your meal in the Vista Dome, where all the tables are private. Dinner on board the Napa Valley Wine Train is an entirely different experience as the tables are private, the ambiance is more formal and the dishes are complemented with glasses of fine wine. If you want a romantic date night, then there’s no other ideal package than the Moonlight Escape excursion.

Meals can be enjoyed in the first or second seating section. In the first seating section, meals are served when the train goes to St Helena. You can choose between soup or salad which accompanies the main course of your choice. Your dining experience is completed with coffee and dessert, which you can enjoy in one of the lounges while train is heading back to Napa. If you choose the second seating section, you will have appetizers on the way to St. Helena, and then have your main course on the return trip. Some examples of main course meals include roasted beef tenderloin, coriander chicken breast and grilled salmon with potatoes.

Vacations of a Lifetime

The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, a well-informed and socially responsible group of people born between the years 1980 and 2000, are transforming the travel industry, which is currently striving to respond to the changing market conditions.

The new trend among this social segment, whose members constitute the spearhead of economic activity and thus can afford to travel to foreign countries, is “reaching out to local communities, learning the local customs, and fully experiencing with all senses what each place has to offer.”

Of course, realizing how some of our supposedly innocent personal decisions may affect other people’s lives and our planet in general has also played a key role in shaping new attitudes and creating new perspectives in vacation planning, especially when travelling abroad.

As early as 1990, a number of joint initiatives aiming to strategically promote ecotourism were launched by government agencies and organizations active in tourism, and have been supported since by companies and individuals around the world.

For example, the International Ecotourism Society has been providing for decades the guidelines, setting the standards and advancing the principles of ecotourism in more than 120 countries. However, ecotourism does not always mean eco-friendly tourism. Guests could spend their vacations close to nature but at the same time leave their footprint in a way that has a negative impact in the environment and the native population.

Therefore, it comes without saying that we should all significantly contribute in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and untreatable waste by discouraging uncontrollable pollution in places we travel.

We could actively repudiate overexploitation of the environment, and hopefully avoid global warming and other undesirable or irreversible effects, if only we were more sensitive to eco-friendly vacation offers. Instead of blindly selecting one of the package deals that are usually advertised online, we should rather ask for more information about environmentally inspired trips and search on our own for the true facts.

Check out the destinations in terms of the methods they use in agriculture, transportation, energy production and recycling. You will be surprised to see that some of the most unspoiled places in our planet face unaddressed challenges because of wrongful practices in the expansion of tourism.

As far as concerns my home country, Greece, a country that almost doubles its population in summertime thanks to tourism, it is worth noting that travelers seek to have all options available. In the morning they may desire to walk alone their way discovering pathways or sail routes that usually lead to a remote beach, but also like to spend the evening tasting extraordinary food recipes of fresh “tsipoura” and “lavraki” fish, accompanied with green salad enriched with local herbs and extra virgin olive oil pressed on the olive mill of the area.

Cuban Connectivity

So getting my escape-to-Medellin, Columbia ticket – where they have free wi-fi-everywhere – rivaled a Charlie Chaplin movie. It took two days to find a site to book the ticket. The reservation was confirmed, but for some reason they couldn’t process the credit card details. Damn good thing, too, as I had managed to book another ticket. I didn’t confirm the first one within 24-hours so it was cancelled.

The confirmation was sent to my email address to I had to go to the hotel to have it printed. Fine. The address was the longest I have ever seen and I made a mistake so I had to get the woman who worked there to type it in for me.

With my confirmed ticket in my hot-little hand I felt safer and more secure. But this was Cuba and one can never take anything for granted.

For example, when I arrived on Cubana de Aviacion (CDA) – after a 24-hour delay in Madird -neither of my bags showed up on the conveyor belt. There was a group of about 25 people all yelling and pushing and shoving at some poor official cowering behind a glass wall who was trying to sort out claims. I wonder if he got danger pay as the Latinos weren’t pulling any punches.

A European woman who spoke Spanish told me that as the flight had doubled they had arranged another plane that went via Caracas. As it was a longer flight, the CDA people had convinced a number of passengers – she and her partner included – to go that route as it was “safer.” The bags didn’t make the connecting flight so they were in Venezuela.

Late the next morning the casa particular where I was staying received a call saying my bags were at the airport. They were filthy and covered in some sort of white powder. But at least they were in Havana. It took three hours and a taxi fare of $30 to retrieve them.

The next task was finding an Air B&B type of accommodation in Medellin. After waiting an hour – there are only four computers available and one has to wait – I gave up as it was so slow. I Decided to just find a hotel near the airport for the first night and organize something in the city center via wi-fi.

Cuba is a delightful country, which oozes old world charm. In 1978 I was there on a holiday – on my Canadian passport – and so much has stayed the same. The villas, however, are in even more need of repair, the old cars are still running, being stuck together with snare wire and a bit of chewing gum.

International Travel Security

When traveling internationally do not wear clothes that scream “tourist”. Try to fit in with your clothing and your behavior. Do not put cash or your wallet in your back pocket. If you bring a purse carry it across your body. Make color copies of your passports and carry those instead of your actual passport. Store it in the hotel safe. If your passport is lost or stolen go to the U.S. Embassy, they will help you get another one.

If you have to get cash it is better to go to a bank or the hotel front desk. Use ATM’s as your very last resort. Do not use debit cards, you are much safer using credit cards. Always try to keep your credit card in your sight when using it to pay for things. Before you leave make sure that your credit card has the new chip in it. In Europe and many Asian countries they do not accept cards without the chip. You should keep all your credit card numbers either in your locked cell phone or locked up in a safe. If your cards are lost or stolen those numbers make it much easier to get things sorted out.

When checking into your hotel, you should ask for a room on the 3-5 floors. Also ask the front desk clerk for a hotel business card with the hotel contact information in the language of the country you are in. This helps when you need to get a cab to get back to your hotel. Above all the hotel should give you a feeling of safety, if not find another hotel.

The most important safety items that you have is you. You should be aware of your surroundings and if your “gut” tells you something listen to it and respond. Awareness will be your most important tool for international travel security.

George Uliano is a security professional with years of law enforcement and security experience. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Business graduating with honors. George holds three U.S. patents on different locking principles. This combination gives George and His Company Locking Systems International Inc the unique ability to provide its customers with the correct security at an affordable price.

EID Travel To The Maldives

  • Jumeirah Dhevanafushi – It is a luxurious Indian Ocean escape that will make your EID experience memorable. It offers spectacular azure water view villas and delicious cuisine. You can choose to have romantic strolls along the beach or engage in fun water activities for you and your family as you enjoy the great marine life found here. You can also invigorate your senses by enjoying a spa treatment at the Talise Spa located in the resort or get your adrenaline rushing by taking part in the thrilling activities such as snorkeling. The villas here have everything you could need on a holiday including complimentary WIFI internet, mood lighting, plunge pool, butler services, walk-in wardrobes, refrigerators, and tea and coffee makers, hair dryers, security safe and deluxe king size bed among others.
  • Anantara Kihavah – The villas are nothing short of luxury with their spacious pools and underwater restaurant that completes your holiday experience. The resort is amazing for those looking for romantic EID vacations or those looking for some solitude as they enjoy the natural wonders making up the surroundings. The resort has 79 villas with sun loungers, sunken baths for two, oversized beds, wine chillers, espresso machines and iPod docking among others. You will particularly find the underwater restaurant amazing as you dine with the sea animals swimming around you. There is so much to enjoy from the resort to give you the best EID holiday experience.
  • Conrad Maldives Rangali – This is a five star hotel with friendly staff and comfortable settings to make your stay most amazing. You will love the glass walled living spaces opening to private gardens complete with secluded open air tropical bathrooms, bath pavilions, fountained courtyards and private sun decks just for you. The villas are family friendly and you get to enjoy fine dining and wining experiences from the bars and restaurants found here as well as a relaxing spa treatment. Fun activities you can enjoy here during the EID holidays include swimming, cruising, fishing and diving and a variety of other beach and water sports. The villas are well equipped with features including sofa beds, AC systems, bathrobes, housekeeping services, fridge, hairdryers, hand held showers and high speed internet.

Having A Beach Vacation

Finding the perfect beach in your area is the key. If you’re inclined to think that’s it’s just like any other seaside escape, you’re greatly mistaken; this place has a charm uniquely its own. The local vibe is most certainly not similar to other beach towns in the country, and if you intend to bring your entire family with you for a holiday, you will find that it has more delightful provisions to ensure convenience for you and your company. Check out the advantage you can get from having a beach vacation.

  • You can have a choice of room accommodation. There is an impressive selection of villas, apartments, and rental homes to suit all budgets. All these boast of breathtaking views of the landscape and seascape.
  • You can enjoy the amenities provided. There are various amenities that enhance the natural charm of the location. In fact, many of the holiday rental provisions have their own tropical swimming pools if you don’t feel like heading to the beach, as well as tennis courts.
  • You can eat fresh seafood. Local flavours are delightful. If you wish to try the freshest seafood, many of the locally owned dining establishments here specialise in dishes that highlight the catches of the day.
  • You can shop at local shops. Colourful shops are aplenty and they dominate chain retail stores. You can easily find delightful buys in various spots throughout the area. If you wish to include retail therapy to your itinerary, for sure, you will not be disappointed with the wares produced by local entrepreneurs.
  • You can choose from a variety of water activities. There’s no shortage of activities here-surfing, hiking, scuba diving, biking, kayaking, golf, motocross, skydiving and so much more. It’s important to mention as well that there are artsy offerings in town and you can check local artists at work or displaying their creations.

Divine Tetiaroa in French Polynesia

Not long after, Tetiaroa, which was once the retreat spot for Tahitian royalty, became the private getaway and sanctuary for the Hollywood actor, known for his eccentricity and monk-like attitude. He built a simple eco-friendly village, which consists of palm-thatched shacks. The village was carefully built so it does not take away from the beauty and innocence of the atoll. Brando renamed the island “The Brando” and entertained various guests, mostly archaeologists and ecologists.

10 years after Brando’s passed away, a Tahitian hotel chain decided to open up Tetiaroa to the world. Guests from around the world can now enjoy the beauty and solitude, which Brando discovered and cherished for many decades. These days, visitors are housed in 32 villas managed by exclusive resort also called “The Brando”. The villas are strategically located near the shore of the beaches around the Onetahi islet.

The resort is certainly more polished than Brando’s village, but it is sustainable in many ways. The breeze coming from the ocean remains as the cooling agent for guests sleeping in their “shacks”. Solar power and coconut oil are the main sources for energy. The villas are made of local timber and are equipped with indoor-outdoor bathrooms, small pools and terraces with a view.

“The Brando” is a versatile spot, in which you can decide to do as little as you like. You can spend the entire day lounging on the beach and enjoy the raw beauty of French Polynesia. But there are also facilities that pull you out of boredom if it arrives. Instead of motorized vehicles like jet skis and yachts, the resort offers kayaks, paddle boards, Polynesian canoes and snorkeling equipment. Since the whole atoll is surrounded by protected coral reefs, the snorkeling experience here promises to be nothing short of spectacular.

Although Tetiaroa exudes a castaway feel, staying here is not exactly like living at a bare minimum. There are two gourmet restaurants and two hotel bars that will keep you full and entertained every night. The atoll also maintains an organic fruit and vegetable garden, a boutique, a pearl shop and a luxurious over water spa. If you want to sweat it out, you may also use the resort’s tennis courts or ride bicycles through the woods. And if you just want to rest your tired body, avail of the daily spa treatments, which are included in the all-inclusive package you handsomely paid for.

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