Category Archives: Travel and Leisure

The Seven Wonders of the World

The world around is filled with all kinds of wonders and we can gaze at them only by opening our eyes and our hearts. After all you need to believe in magic to be able to believe it. However, if you’re someone who is a bit on the cynical side, we bring to you a list of the wonders that exist all around the world. If you are a fan of archeology, history or travelling you’re definitely going to enjoy this article. Oh and if you plan to travel after reading this, don’t forget to look into Cathay Asia Airlines.

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
The crown jewel of Egypt and the only surviving architecture from the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, this pyramid is truly a sight to behold. This pyramid is said to be built as a tomb to the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu. The building is approximately 480 feet tall and was the tallest building in the world for more than 3800 years. This pyramid when built was outlined with a limestone casing which with time got destroyed. Now you can only see the casing near the bottom of the pyramid whereas the top exposes us to the inner lining of the pyramid.

2. Petra, Jordan
Petra is often called the city of rose due to the red colored stones that it is made of. This beautiful hidden city is famous for its architectural grace and the water conduit system. Even though the city is located in Jordan, it was actually discovered by a Swiss explorer in the early 19th century. This place is also said to have structures that are more than 2000 years old.

3. Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro
This miracle took a total of nine years to be constructed due to the its location on the top of a cliff. This is the third largest statue of Jesus in the world. The raw materials for this statue were actually imported from Sweden. This beautiful statue was actually constructed as a sign of peace, to show that Christ loves everyone.

4. The Great Wall of China
This wall that stretches over 8000 kilometers was built over a period of 2000 years and renovated over time by many different Chinese dynasties. It is said that millions of people died while building the wall and that they’re buried within the Wall’s foundations. The Wall is also famous because it is the only structure on Earth that can be seen from the moon without any aids. Fascinating right? Go check it out yourself!

5. The Colosseum
This fighting ground of the roman gladiators took 8 years to build and was designed by the Roman Poet Virgil. The Colosseum has more than 80 entrances and can house 50,000 people at one time. It receives millions of visitors every year and is therefore the biggest tourist attraction in Rome.

6. The Leaning Tower
This beautiful tower located in Pisa is famous because of the way it inclines with height. The architecture has been constructed in a way that makes it feel tilted. If you’re ever in Italy, this is a must place to go to.

7. Taj Mahal
Constructed by an emperor in the memory of his beloved wife, this palace is a symbol of love for the entire world. The intricate architecture and carving inside this Mahal will make you fall in love with it. And if you don’t believe us, why don’t you go see it yourself? All you have to do is book your ticket using Cathay Asia Airlines.

8 Essential Travel Tips For Safety

Travelling can be exciting and frightening at the same time. When you are travelling to some destination for the first time, follow these ten essential travel safety tips to make sure that you have the safe and happy journey.

Select Your Ground Transportation Sensibly

When you are travelling in a rickshaw, taxi or bus check with the companies that the mode of transportation is safe, try to avoid travelling in less reliable transportation like a rickshaw. When you are driving yourself, check that the car which you have rent is functioning properly always wear your seatbelt while driving.

Check With The Government Department

You know you can gather all the safety information about any country from the state department. You can visit their website and get accurate details about any country where you are visiting. You can find all kinds of information from types of crime, vaccinations, travel warning. You can register with them so in case if there is any natural disaster or civil unrest you can come back home immediately.

Review The Hotel Escape Route

Let’s be truthful when we check in our hotel room; we are more interested in seeing the facilities and the view from our room, rather than reading the security map placed behind the door. But before you get settled we recommend that you read the emergency escape routes, because in case if there is an emergency then you will be glad to know where to head out from.

Leave An Emergency Contact

Going on a relaxing vacation alone seems to be fun, but that doesn’t mean that you disappear for the world. Leave your contact number, where you are travelling to which hotel you are staying at and when will you be back with a trusted friend or family member; try to contact him or her once every day. That way if something unusual happens with you they will know.

Scan Your Important Documents

Before you head for your travel destination, it is best that you scan your passport, identification card and driving license card you can save it on your smartphone or email it to yourself. This way if you are out and you need to show the passport which is at the hotel then you can show the scanned one.

Confirm Visitors With Hotel Reception

You are in your hotel room, and there is a knock at the door, somebody from the housekeeping is there to clean your room. Before you allow the person in, call the reception and ask them if they have sent anyone from the housekeeping, you never know a thief can enter your room pretending to be from maintenance dept.

Don’t Show Off Your Cash

Keep your valuables like jewellery and cash in your hotel safe or in your purse, while paying off your bills don’t leave huge tips or show off your money. Although when you are travelling there is a strong urge to take pictures with your smartphone, try not to take it out often as there are many thieves around who love to steal cell phones from people.

Keep A Backup Car Gear

When you are driving your car or rent one for a road trip, then make sure that you have packed an emergency car kit. This emergency kit should include flashlights, battery, first aid kit, blankets, bottled water and canned food, the backup battery for phone, a tire gauge and snow shovel.

Private Ephesus Tours – Some Tips

If you are into ancient cities, Ephesus should be one of the top destinations on your list. After more than a century of excavation, Ephesus’ structures have become the most popular tourist attractions in Europe.

This city was established in the 10th century BC. It was the Classical Greek period and saw a lot of development after it was taken over by the Roman Republic. According to estimates, the city had a population of 56,000 residents. For more about private Ephesus tours, follow the tips below.

1. Get Some Travel Advice

First of all, before you head for the city, don’t forget to know the travel warnings. The local authorities will provide you with the required information before you take your next steps.

2. Do Your Homework

According to experts, Ephesus had a population of around 56,000 residents when it was under the rule of the Romans. So far, just 20% of the old city has gone through excavation. On the other hand, the uncovered area consists of 4 sq km. However, it has one of the largest ruins of the world.

If you want to get the most out of your visit, you may want to plan your route prior to your arrival or you may miss out on some great sights. Ideally, you should hire a travel guide so you know what to see.

3. Get There In the Morning

What is the best time to see the great city? Well, you should start in the morning if you don’t want to encounter a lot of other visitors. You also have another option at your disposal: you can choose to go there in the mid afternoon. At this time, visitors start to leave and you can visit the destinations peacefully.

4. Go For The Most Popular Attractions

When you get there, you should go for the primary sites without killing time. The major sites include the Library of Celsus, the harbor street and the Ephesus amphitheatre. So, by visiting the most popular sites, you can avoid the crowds and take as many photos as you want.

5. The Lower Gate

It’s a good idea to start off at the Lower Gate, which is near the Selcuk. This way it will be easier for you to get back and forth. Actually, the Lower Gate is near other sites, such as Ayasoluk Castle, Isa Bey Mosque, the Temple of Artemis and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. If you are on a budget, you should go for the public transport.

6. Take a Lot of Water With You

It’s very hot and dry in Ephesus. Therefore, you may want to take plenty of water with you. However, if you run out of water, you can spend some bucks and buy some water inside the city. You can buy water at juice bars and small cafes located near each entrance close to the toilets.

So, the next time you head for the beautiful city, you may want to consider these 6 tips. Hopefully, you will have a great time in Ephesus.

Top Travel Destinations For Girls

Every girl wants to spend time with her best girls and no man around them. It is a dream comes true for many girls! Girls just love to hang out together as there are many things in which they share the same interest. When you go out with your spouse or partner, you have to compromise on a lot of stuff like your choice of activities and places to visit, etc.

Here we have a collection of the best travel destinations for girls to hang out with their female buddies from around the world.

Bali

If your friends love visiting Asia, then Bali is the right destination for you girls. Bali is an island which has a perfect weather all the year round. It is an ideal holiday destination for those who love the beach, the white sand, warm sunshine and tropical scenery.

Bali is an excellent travel destination for girls and is also a safe destination for females. The crime rate in Bali is low, and the locals of Bali are extremely friendly with the tourists. There are no strict religious laws in Bali, which restrict women in any manner.

The tourist activities at this destination are not costly and can be easily afforded. There are many spas and surfing treat is Bali, which one can get indulged in with friends. The shopping malls and restaurants are all affordable and fun for women to enjoy.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the top tourist destinations for girls in Europe. It has everything in it which a girl wants to holiday. The crime rate in Amsterdam is less, and the destination is overall safe for girls. You and your friends can do absolutely anything in Amsterdam from touring the canals to taking a ride in the free flower shops.

The food of Amsterdam is fantastic, and the visitors love to savour the chocolate delicacies. Pick the best restaurant in Amsterdam and enjoy a broad range of delicious cuisines. Girls who love beer can pay a visit to a local pub and enjoy famous brands like Heineken.

Greece

Greece is the best place in the world for experiencing, sea and the beach. The Greek isles of Rhodes, Santorini, Crete, Kos and Mykonos are the best places for all the kinds of fun that involve warm waters and diving. There are many resorts in Greece where you can get any entertainment you want. You can walk the ancient streets like Goddesses and enjoy the beautiful architectures of the extraordinary Greece.

The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are the best place to visit with your girlfriends. This is the best destination for girls to travel to with their friends as the weather conditions are favourable and the activities are for all the year round.

The warm tropical weather attracts people from around the globe who indulge in different activities like, fishing, diving, snorkelling, bird watching and many inland attractions.

There are many resorts which offer delicious food and exceptional entertainment. When visiting the Canary Islands do visit the LoroParque, which means “Parrots Park” there are many different species of Parrots in this park. You will also come across dolphins, seals, bird shows and chimpanzees, which entertain the visitors with their cute acts.

The Reasons Why We Love the Machu Picchu Trek

There is an unbelievable amount of interesting history that’s readily available to any traveler who decides to explore the beauty of Machu Picchu. Situated in the Cusco region of Peru, Machu Picchu (Lost City of Incas) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

To appreciate the architectural ingenuity of this ancient city that is strategically placed between two mountains – the southern Machu Picchu and the northern Huayna Picchu, you’ll have to take the humbling Machu Picchu trek. Here are some reasons why people cherish the Machu Picchu trek;

To Witness its Archaeological Ruins and Splendid Structures

The ancient ruins of Inca are considered to be some of the most stunning sites in the world. In the north, you’ll find ancient civilizations in the city of Chan Chan, while the south offers the Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines and the city of Puno. Other remarkable structures within the city include the Astronomical Observatory, the Temple of the Sun, and the Intihuatana, which all point to a better understanding of the Sun and its planetary interplays.

To Meet the People and Experience Their Culture

It’s always fascinating to meet new people and to try out new traditions. With the Machu Picchu trek, this is an achievable feat that’s even more attractive. Many Peruvians are still attached to their Inca ancestors and proudly conserve the Quechua culture which is a significant part of their history.

To Appreciate Their Handcrafts

A trek to Machu Picchu is a unique opportunity to see the diversity in the Peruvian handcrafts which portray their stories, art, culture, and outstanding skills. From the textiles (scarves, decorative wall carpets, e.t.c) which are woven by women to other great artisanal crafts (like canvas paintings and wood carvings), the Peruvians have got you covered.

To Indulge in Their Cuisine and Drinks

Peru not only has one of the finest cuisines in America, but also a variety of drinks that make you want more. Dishes like Ceviche Mixto, Lomo Saltado, Empanadas, Butifarra, and Tiradito are some of the must-try dishes in Peru while the Inca Kola, pisco sours, as well as their fine wines and strong beers, could get you addicted.

The “Lost City of Incas” has so many strong natural and cultural influences that have fascinated passionate trekkers for years, and still fascinates them till today.

Introduction to Magnificent Birding at Lake Naivasha

If you are a keen birder, then Lake Naivasha in Kenya is one place to add to your bucket list. This article tells of the birds we have seen there and the activities available that enable you to see different species – boating for water birds, cycling for ground birds, and walking for woodland species.

Birds on the Lake
Given it’s a large lake, the most obvious activity to do when visiting Naivasha is to get out on a boat. The hippos are usually the draw card, but the myriad water bird species impress even those who think they aren’t interested in birds. Here’s what we have seen while out on the lake:

  • Great White Pelican
  • Great Cormorant
  • Long-tailed Cormorant
  • Cattle Egret
  • Common Squacco Heron
  • Little Egret
  • Grey Heron
  • Purple Heron
  • Black-headed Heron
  • Hamerkop
  • Marabou Stork
  • Yellow-billed Stork
  • Sacred Ibis
  • African Spoonbill
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Lesser Flamingo
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • African Fish Eagle
  • Black Crake
  • Red-knobbed Coot
  • African Jacana
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Blacksmith plover
  • Sandpiper
  • Gull
  • Swift
  • Pied Kingfisher

Birds while Walking
There are several Conservancies around Lake Naivasha where you can enjoy a walking safari and see woodland bird species. These include Wileli Conservancy, Green Crater Lake and Hells Gate National Park. In Hells Gate you can also hire bicycles to explore more of the park, and there are also places where you can ride horses. Whether you are on foot, bike or horse, spotting birds is easier than from a vehicle. Here’s what we saw on one walk in Wileli Conservancy:

  • Hadada Ibis
  • Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture
  • Auger Buzzard
  • Long-crested Eagle
  • Crowned Plover
  • Ring-necked Dove
  • Grey Woodpecker
  • Plain-backed Pipit
  • Common Bulbul
  • Cinnamon Bracken Warbler
  • Rattling Cisticola
  • Cuckoo-shrike
  • Common Drongo
  • Black-headed Oriole
  • Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starling
  • Superb Starling
  • Wattled Starling
  • Red-billed Oxpecker
  • Rufous Sparrow
  • Baglafecht (Reichenow’s) Weaver
  • Red-headed Weaver

OTA offers birding trips with an expert bird guide visiting Kenya’s birding hotspots including Lake Naivasha.

How To Get Ready For Your First Hill Country River Tubing Trip

Nothing spells more fun in Texas than hitting the road and heading out for some river tubing in the Texas hill country. Whether it is the Frio, Nueces, or Sabinal River, it gives you a chance to enjoy a crisp, refreshing dip and gently float down the river while hanging out with friends & family. More importantly, it gives you a chance to enjoy the natural splendor of the hill country in an up close, unique, and personal way.

For first timers, though, it can be a little difficult knowing what you need to make the trip a smashing success. Here are a few tips for someone taking on a tubing trip for the first time:

1. Check the Weather – Nothing will spoil a good time on the river than bad weather. Take the time to check local weather reports online. Depending on where you travel, the local chamber of commerce may have a “weather ticker” available for prospective visitors. Even if the weather does look nice & clear, plan your packing to anticipate some adverse weather. After all, as the saying goes, “In Texas, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.”

2. Check River Levels – All too often, people assume that if there is a constant, dedicated flow in a river, and while that is true, remember that your in Texas. Scorching heat waves and a lack of rain can make for very low lake and river levels. Low water levels make for a trickling flow, making a tubing trip down the river take much longer than it should. The U.S. Geological Survey has a site link for some of these levels directly on the Uvalde County website for your convenience.

3. Find Out What is Allowed/Not Allowed – When your tubing down the river, you undoubtedly will have coolers with you containing both food and drinks. You want to be sure you are following the rules on what you can have. Research your trip, and find out about regional & state “dos and don’ts.” You’ll be in areas such as Garner State Park, Utopia Park, and the Lost Maples State Natural Area, so having access to these regulations should be relatively easy.

4. Don’t Travel During Peak Times – It is paramount that you find out when peak times are for visitors. While you cannot completely count on perfect solitude on the river, you don’t want to run into “morning gridlock” while sitting in a rubber tube in your bathing suit. Memorial Day weekend, for example, is the unofficial start to summer, so you can expect very large crowds at the river. Moreover, you may be traveling with your family, and though tubing can a great family activity, peak times can often bring non-family groups that may not suit your fancy.

This is your first time river tubing in Texas hill country, so you want to be sure you have a good time and want to go back again. A vacation of any kind, weekend trip or otherwise, is supposed to be a way to leave the worries of the world behind. By taking some time to do some research while planning out your trip, you increase your chance of having a smoother outing and can ultimately have the most fun possible.

The Secrets of Bukit Nanas

Think Kuala Lumpur, and images of massive shopping centres, fun-filled theme parks, meandering traffic, bustling eateries and street food come to mind. As Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur continues to capture the hearts of locals and tourists alike with abundant opportunities and attractions that it has to offer.

One of the oldest and well-known areas of Kuala Lumpur is Bukit Nanas where the KL Tower, the 5th tallest telecommunication tower in the world, calls home. Although Bukit Nanas is known for its serenity and tranquillity in the midst of the booming modern metropolis, many have yet to discover the hidden gems and attractions that the sprawling verdure have to offer.

Breath of Fresh Air

Throbbing with life in the middle of the bustling city centre is KL Forest Eco-Park, a small patch of greenery known as the only remaining virgin tropical rainforest in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The forest reserve is teeming with wildlife as a plethora of flora and fauna finds refuge within its premises. KL Forest Eco-Park, also known as the ‘Green Lung’ of Kuala Lumpur, boasts paved footpaths for enjoyable nature trails, including an impressive 200-metre canopy walk where visitors can enjoy a light trek with a wonderful aerial view of the treetops and the city beyond.

Reach for the Sky

Forget KLCC, the latest adrenaline-pumping, sightseeing experience is at the Sky Box at KL Towers, which officially opened its doors to the public on 20th May 2016. Located 300 meters from the ground, the Sky Box is an extension from the Sky Deck ledge and is made of glass (not for the faint-hearted!) so that visitors can enjoy an unobstructed panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur.

Since its completion in 1996, the KL Tower (known locally as Menara Kuala Lumpur) has been an icon for Malaysia before the KL Twin Towers took its limelight a year later. Unbeknownst to many, the KL Tower blends Eastern designs with Western architectural technology, and its interior is designed with Islamic motifs to reflect Malaysia’s Islamic heritage. The main lobby is decorated with glass-clad domes designed and arranged in the form of the ‘Murqarnas’ by Iranian craftsmen from Esfahan.

Gastronomic Treasures

Looking to have a nosh after an adventure in the reserve? Relish in local fanfare at Lot 10 Hutong, a ‘gourmet heritage village’ that offers signature Malaysian cuisine from well-known eateries, all clustered under one roof (within the comfort of an air-conditioned food court). For a more authentic experience, the renowned Yut Kee Kopitiam, a stone’s throw away from KL Tower, is where locals rave about their signature Roti Babi (pork bread), and Beef Rendang and Kaya Toast.

Respite in the City

At the foot of Bukit Nanas and nestled in the quiet cul-de-sac of Lorong P. Ramlee, guests looking for a quiet respite in the heart of the bustling city will find comfort at Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur. Redefining and setting new standards to city hospitality experience as the destination of choice for the wellness-conscious, Oasia Suites Kuala Lumpur is a restorative retreat in the city that inspires and empowers guests to Journey Well when travelling through three wellness pillars – Refresh, Refuel, and Recharge.

Explore the treasures of Bukit Nanas that is Kuala Lumpur’s gold mine of nature and adventure for thrill-seekers and visitors alike! An idyllic green sanctuary for all, this is the ideal hideaway to escape from the hustle and bustle of the cityscape and revivify your senses

Suspended in the Delights of Nature

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet,
and the winds long to play with your hair.

~Daniel Boone~

After a day’s drive from Western New York, we cross the Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod and spend a delightful evening with friends in Mashpee. Early the next morning, we board the ferry for Martha’s Vineyard. I stand on deck at the rail the whole trip. During the 45 minute passage, I feel daily civilization slowly sloughing from my body. A gentle breeze wafts from the Vineyard shore across Nantucket Sound as we steam toward port in Vineyard Haven. By the time we dock and drive off the ferry, I sense that we are in a different reality. We are delighted to reunite with our Vineyard friends and relish our stay with them.

Our first destination after breakfast at the Black Dog is Gay Head Beach. Vineyard weather can change without notice but remains steady during our visit. The weather hovers between the seventies and eighties. On our way Up Island, a gentle breeze bathes us with salt air filtered through dense trees and shrubs as well as wafting across occasional meadows.

Wild turkeys and guinea fowl emerge from the woods to greet us. A long-horned steer suspends his grazing to return our gaze as we stop by his meadow. Goats also graze on a hill in the distance, not interested in our presence. Deer are also plentiful on the island but remain hidden in the woods.

Arriving at our usual parking spot, we load up chairs and provisions to carry across the dunes on the way to our spot on Gay Head beach. A gentle breeze faces us as we traverse the last dune. Lillian Hellman’s cabana continues to fade back into being part of the earth. A few other people walk the beach and others sit in the sun, swim or do both. Gulls come by to investigate our appearance on the beach, hoping for a potato chip or more. An osprey glides overhead and a seal pops up from the waves, possibly attracted by a nearby pod of fishing boats circled offshore for the bass and bluefish tournament. The seal keeps an eye on us as we do on him. I wonder if he enjoys our visit as much as we do his.

The dunes, breeze, surf, sky, beach sculptures and sand in our toes do their best to welcome us to beach environment. A couple of visitors enjoy the beach experience fully, with no interference from clothing- one woman sunbathing and one man swimming.

In addition to our two days at the beach, we also climb the lighthouse, recently moved back from the Gay Head cliffs to prevent its crashing into Nantucket Sound. We also spend time at our favorite haunts on the Vineyard, most notably Menemsha, an Up Island fishing village best known for its chowder and seafood. Competing for a place in our hearts are communing with the island itself and our time together recounting the Martha’s Vineyard stories each of us has collected over the years. All of us treasure both.

Step Into History at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In the northwest corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you find a tiny treasure trove of Americana. The heritage carved by the early settlers of this Tennessee valley is preserved. Open your imagination to the traditions of the mountain people. Rustic log cabins still echo the whispers of Elizabethan English. The mills and barns recall a time when man and nature were bound in an ongoing ritual. Their churches still ring with hymns from the past. Drive, walk, or bike the eleven mile loop road to span a century in the lives of Cades Cove.

The historic buildings are only a part of the Cades Cove experience. Hiking the area is an adventure. You are almost certain to encounter a bear or deer. You may also spot some of some of the cove’s other wild residents, wild hogs, river otters, woodchucks, skunks, bobcat, raccoon, gray or red fox, and chipmunk also dwell here. Recently coyotes have moved into the Smokies and you may see one at dusk or dawn.

Cades Cove is not a museum in the sense of something built for that purpose. It is the preserved remnants of the culture that flourished there from 1820 until the park began acquired the land in 1934.

Before the 1820s, the lush valley was disturbed only by wandering bands of Cherokees. Their old trails crisscross the land, coming down from the mountains and arising on the other side. Remains of some trails still exist in the existing roads and trails. They hunted the bear, bison, elk and deer that roamed the valley’s lush forest and grasslands.

The earliest settlers came into the valley from Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. The Olivers built the oldest remaining structure in the cove. The settlers were religious people. Two of their earliest buildings were churches. The first Primitive Baptist Church was erected in 1827 and replaced in 1887 by the one you see today.

John Oliver and his wife, Lorena Frasier Oliver, lie in the cemetery behind the church along with many other early settlers. Another tombstone refers to a parishioner who was “murdered by North Carolina Rebels.” This reflects the strife within the church caused by the Civil War.

Like any community, Cades Cove had its share of misfortune and sad stories. In the 1880s, Matilda Shields Gregory’s husband abandoned her and their young son. Her brothers built her a tiny log cabin. The larger cabin in front adds to the story. Henry Whitehead, a widower with three daughters, courted and married Matilda. He built the larger home for them. It appears to be a frame house at first glance but closer investigation reveals four-inch-square sawed logs. There were once three such “transition” houses but this is the only one remaining. Notice the innovative brick chimney on the larger house. These two buildings represent the roughest and the finest of the log homes in the cove.

Sometimes the sorghum mill is operating. Another attraction about the mill area is the educational displays that offer a glimpse of what life was like in the 19th century for residents of these mountains.

Over two million people visit the cove each year. They are drawn by the overpowering natural beauty, the plentiful wildlife and a chance to step into another culture, another time. Cades Cove is the largest open-air, living-history museum in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It is a fitting tribute to those rugged pioneers who carved a life out of what was then one of the most isolated and beautiful spots on earth.