Travel Tips

Hiking the natural wonders of Pakistan

What to Do in Europe

Buckingham Palace in London, UK

What to Do in Asia

Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan

Tag: Asia Travels

Asian travel destinations, including Pakistan, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

What You Need – Backpacking Around South East Asia

What You Need – Backpacking Around South East Asia

No doubt you’re getting excited about your trip to South East Asia already and there is such a lot to consider. After all the things you need to do, from passport to visa, shots to dollars, perhaps you’re beginning to think about what kind of things you should take. The most important thing to always remember is that you will be able to buy most of the things that you need when you arrive and that they will cost a lot less than if you buy them before you leave. However there are a couple of things that would be useful to take with you backpacking around south east Asia.

Get a really good backpack! One that is made from high quality materials, that is lightweight and with lots of useful pockets to allow you to store different items. You should also ensure it has padded shoulders and is very comfortable to carry. This is the basis of your trip and everything will go in that backpack, so it is not really comfortable it will affect your trip every day. Add to that backpack your own sleeping bag- not because you will be cold, but so that you always have personal sheets that you know are reasonably clean.

A good quality pair of boots can be useful for walking out of the city and will protect your feet, although they are also going to be quite heavy, so if they are not going to be that useful to you just buy flip flops when you arrive; they are what everyone wears. One good thing you can get from home will be a microfiber towel. They are light, rinse out in a sink and dry in a half hour; just buy one that is big enough to wrap around you.

A few light clothes and a couple of bits to start you off will be more than enough to get you going. Now forget about the packing and focus on having a great time! Just forget those hairdryers and hair straighteners – the boho look is in!

Ten Reasons to Visit Guam

Ten Reasons to Visit Guam

Guam is rare in today’s world in that it is still a bit off the well beaten tourist trail. For most of the world, with the exception of the Japanese who flock here, it isn’t the first place you think of when considering an island vacation. Guam being the biggest island that forms Micronesia has more than its fair share of pristine beaches and year round perfect temperatures, but those aren’t the only reasons to visit this relatively undiscovered paradise.

Food

Guam’s culinary experience is one of its best features. The climate makes for the ideal environment to grow a variety of the tastiest fruits, such as mango, papaya, and bananas. It’s location close to Japan and Spanish influence – it was once a Spanish colony – combined with the ethnic features of the local population make for some wonderful twists to traditional dishes from these countries. You’ll even find some of the best jerk burgers at the Jamaican Grill, thousands of miles from its Caribbean origins. The heavy Japanese influence means that you’ll find plenty of high quality restaurants serving sushi and other fish dishes. One local specialty every visitor should try is bubble tea, a wonderful, sweet, refreshing drink that combines tapioca in tea, frozen coffee, or smoothie form.

Shopping

If you love shopping until you drop, then Guam won’t disappoint. You’ll find a mixture of major international brands you recognize from home and plenty of unique boutiques. To top it all off international visitors can shop duty free. There is even a shuttle bus that is hop-on hop-off that takes you to all of the main shopping areas. For high fashion, including Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and popular cosmetic brands, such as Urban Decay, Clinique, and MAC head to the DFS Galleria. Another shopping center featuring luxury names is Tumon Sands Plaza, not as big as DFS, but also excellent. Not far from these shopping centers is a 24-hour K-Mart, said to the world’s biggest, where you will find a massive selection of clothes, household items, and toys, at much more reasonable prices than its luxury neighbours. Another top bargain hunting place to shop is Guam Premier Outlets.

Underwater World

Located in the shopping area of Tumon is the amazing Underwater World aquarium. It is home to over 2,000 sea creatures, including many native species. The major attraction at the aquarium is its tunnel-aquarium, which is 319-feet long, one of the longest in the world. The tunnel-aquarium holds an incredible 3-million gallons of salt water where you can see sharks, stingrays, and giant groupers. Visitors can witness live shark feedings where divers enter the tank and hand feed the sharks, protected is three layers of special gloves, one being kevlar.

Chamarro Village

To experience local culture and find unique souvenirs make sure to check out Chamarro Village. It is open every day, but the best time to go is on Wednesday night, when the night market is held. All of the restaurants and shops here are operated by the local people who are called Chamorros. On Wednesday night there are over 100 vendors selling their locally made items and food. The market attracts thousands of people and is a great way to mix with the people that live in Guam. It’s the perfect place to try eating a local specialty, such as eggplant grilled with coconut milk and lime, people watch, and soak up the culture of the island.

Carabao

The carabao is a massive but gentle giant. These animals are Guam’s national symbol and native to the Philippines. They are a domesticated water buffalo that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and grow large, curved horns. They are well suited to the hot, humid climate of Guam and enjoy wallowing in mud holes when they are not being used on farms. They were first brought to Guam in the 17th century by Spanish settlers. While there are much fewer carabaos in Guam today they still play an important role in the culture where they are often present at festivals. It is possible to ride a carabao, something children in particular love to do and something you won’t get to experience in pretty much any other place in the world.

Ship Wrecks

If you enjoy diving Guam offers some of the most unique diving experiences in the world. Just off the coast in Apra Harbor you’ll find two ship wrecks that rest on the sea floor, side-by-side. What makes this dive site so unique is that the ships are from both world wars and from two different countries. One is a German ship from World War I, the SMS Cormoran and the second is the Tokai Maru, a cargo ship from Japan that was sunk in World War II. The ships are so close together that you can touch both of them at the same time.

Lina’la Chamorro Cultural Park

To learn about the ancient Chamorro people of Guam a visit to the Lina’la Chamorro Cultural Park provides wonderful, interesting, and educational experience for visitors who can learn about a culture they haven’t encountered before. The main attraction of the park is the recreation of a village as it would have been 500-years ago before any non-native people arrived in Guam. The recreated village is on the same site as an actual village that stood there at least 1,000-years ago. The village features authentic clothing, tools, and homes with costumed people carrying out daily activities like they would have hundreds of years ago. In addition to the ancient village, the park is also home to an animal zone, complete with carabao rides for children, lessons in traditional Chamorro crafts, food, and dancing, and a pretty nature walk.

Hiking

Guam is a treasure trove of hidden natural wonders that can only be discovered by hiking, or as locals call it ‘boonie stomping.’ Guam is filled with beautiful, lush vegetation, waterfalls, hills, and flowering plants. One animal you’re sure to see a lot of are geckos, who you’ll spot on rocks or walls, especially in the evening. Don’t worry though, these cool creatures are completely harmless and only eat insects. There are plenty of hills to climb that offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

The World’s Tallest Mountain

When you first look at Mount Lamlam, you have to ask the question how is this the world’s tallest mountain? At 1,332-feet high – from ground level – it isn’t very tall at all when compared to the mountains of the Himalayas or Alps. To solve this question one has to look below the sea. The mountain, which is found in the small town of Agat sits next to the Mariana Trench, which reaches 6.78-miles below the sea. To put this in perspective put the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, which is 29,040-feet high at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. When placed here, there would still be nearly 7,000-feet of water above it.

White, sandy beach in Guam
White, sandy beach in Guam

 

Beaches

One of the most obvious reasons to visit Guam is its stunning, pristine beaches. Turquoise water, soft white sand, and gorgeous swaying palm trees await sun seekers and water sports lovers. Governor Joseph F. Flores Beach Park is over a mile long and one of the island’s most popular beaches. You can rent jet skis here or enjoy its grassy park that is perfect for picnics. For great snorkeling head to Taga’change Beach Park, where there are great tidal pools with plenty of sea life. Unlike the white sand on most Guam beaches, Talofofo Beach Park’s black sands are great for walking and sun bathing.

Been to Guam? Let us know if we missed anything in our list.

Top 10 Eco Stays for 2014

Top 10 Eco Stays for 2014

Eco-friendly hostels and hotels can be found in every corner of the globe, however, finding one that is reasonably easy on the pocket and a dramatic, spectacular place to stay can be challenging. But look close enough and you will find there are far more of these places than you may have thought. Moreover, these hostels tend to be situated right in the heart of nature with some of the most jaw-dropping sceneries and regions of outstanding natural beauty right on the doorstep of your eco-friendly holiday accommodation.

The Siberian rail journey is one of the top 10 things to do on many backpackers lists and I’ll bet you will be surprised to learn that at some point in your long journey you’ll encounter a hostel that is clean, green and very environmentally friendly. The Baikalar Eco-Hostel is located in the eastern regions of Siberia. It has been built right on the shore of Lake Baikal and as timber built hostels go this one is right up there with going natural and green. Which is amazing when you consider that the Russian Federation does not have a great reputation when it comes to green living.

Eco-friendly in a Warm and Exotic Location

However, if you are looking for somewhere a little warmer, then take a boat trip to the Bungalows of Nuli Sapi in Papua New Guinea. Here it’s all about the mountains, rainforests, fish and exotic aquatic life, as well as a number of tiny villages and not a car or motorbike in sight.

The Middle East may be a little closer for most travelers reading this, so why not look into Jordan and discover the Dana Nature Reserve. Here there are guest houses that are built into the sides of tall cliffs, giving you an incredible view of the valley. You’ll also have the chance to bathe in the Dead Sea at the bottom of the valley and we all know about the natural healing properties this body of water gives.

Hiking to the top of the mountains
Hiking to the top of the mountains

What about the USA?

If you are looking for a green and environmentally-friendly place to stay this year in the good old United States then look no further than the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range. Head for the town of Taos (in New Mexico) and stay in buildings that have been designed solely out of recycled materials.

South American Adventures

Chile is a country well known for its green values and the tiny village of Chepu boasts several rivers, a tropical forest, and solar panels generating power for everything from boiling water to having a shower. Even the electricity is provided for by the wind and all the outhouses and buildings are constructed from wood taken from the forest.

You will all have heard of the eighth wonder of the world of Machu Picchu in Peru, so why not stay close by and check out the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, which is built so high up it is often shrouded in a cloud forest. Orchids, butterflies, and birds will surround your room as you share as one with nature.

Living as One with Nature in Africa

You can live right among the forest in Africa by sleeping in the jungle at the Chole Mjini Lodges. Here you will actually live up in the trees and by day you’ll venture down to go snorkeling and diving in its many exotic islands. The Chole Mjini Lodges are located in Tanzanian coastline region.

The Raw Natural Beauty of Africa

But if you really want to experience Africa at its rawest, most natural environment then come along to the road to Bulungula. Here you will experience life living with the Xhosa tribe in the heartland of South Africa. Showers here are basically rain water heated up by a paraffin pipe and the accommodation is a round thatched house called rondavels. Here you should expect to cook out in the open on a fire and live as the Xhosa have been living for hundreds of years, in a setting that takes you right back to nature.

But one of the most exciting places to stay in 2014 for eco-friendly and natural surroundings is in Costa Rica. Look for an ecologically friendly lodge called Lapa Rios. The lodge looks out over the shores of the Golfo Dulce, a tropical water bay with dolphins, whales,and other exotic sea creatures.

You will be very safe here as you live as one among nature. You will be located within a private nature reserve where you’ll seat on a wooden balcony with tropical plants and trees growing right into your porch area. Don’t be surprised if a toucan comes and sits on your balcony while you sip at a freshly squeezed orange juice or a locally picked lemon squash with ice.

The world is a big place with so many great eco lodges. Let us know in the comments if we missed any great places that others should know about.