Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil #1

1. Itatiaia National Park

Coming from Rio de Janeiro, Follow the BR116 (Dutra) and take the exit for Itatiaia, right after the “Graal” restaurant. Follow the indications to the National park and you arrive at the gate.
Getting to the Itatiaia Park from Rio de Janeiro is a +/- 200 km drive via the BR116 (Rio – São Paulo). The distance from São Paulo is about 250 Km. I’m lucky to live in Volta Redonda, which is only 80km from the park. – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil.

Itatiaia National Park is the first and so also the oldest National Park of Brazil. It was inaugurated in 1937 and covers almost 30.000 hectares of the larger Environmental Protection Area of the Mantiqueira mountain range.

2. Rock Climbing to Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado), Rio de Janeiro

The climb starts at 500m above the city. You can hike the whole way to the base, but we took the car to a parking place, from where we took a minivan that goes all the way up, but we got out halfway. After a 15-20min hike through some quite dense jungle, we reached the starting point of the climb and geared up.

Rio de Janeiro is a great place for rock climbing, and one of the more difficult climbs, but also one of the most beautiful ones is Corcovado mountain (also referred to as K2), on top of which stands the most famous landmark of Rio de Janeiro: the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

3. Hang gliding or Parasailing in São Conrado

Hang gliding is just one of many offbeat things you could do in Rio de Janeiro. Driving down the coastline of Rio de Janeiro in the direction of Barra de Tijuca (Zona Oeste – west side), you will pass São Conrado, one of Rio’s “noble”, and more privileged neighborhoods, which is surrounded by coastal mountains, creating perfect circumstances for hang gliding.

The Pedra Bonita take-off ramp is located inside the famous Tijuca National Park, at an altitude of 520 m.
It should only be a 20 minute drive from Copacabana, but depending on the time of day, traffic tends to cause significant delays, so always leave half an hour (or even an hour) earlier than you planned initially.

Self-Drive Turkey

Day 01:  Cappadocia
Arrival at Kayseri airport meet and assist and transfer to the hotel in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia which is unique in the world and is a miraculous nature wonder is the common name of the field covered by the provinces of Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri and Kirsehir in the Central Anatolian region. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia

Day 02: Cappadocia
Early morning hot air balloon ride. Transfer back to the hotel for breakfast. Late morning North Cappadocia Tour. The north tour includes visit to the Goreme valley with all churches,the Uchisar castle and Valleys Pasabag,Dervent and Pigeons valleys,Cavusin.Dinner and Overnight in Cappadocia

Day 03:  Cappadocia
Today we shall be touring the South of Cappadocia. Visit Ihlara valley with all churches,Selime Cave village and Underground city Kaymakli. Dinner and Overnight in Cappadocia

Day 04: Kusdasi
Transfer to the airport to take a flight to Izmir. Arrive and transfer straight to Ehpesus for sightseeing. Ephesus, once the most important commercial center of the western Anatolia , is one of the highlights of Turkey that awaits the exploring tourists. The city was established as a port on the mouth of the river Cayster and was one of the foremost cities of the world for its being on a strategic trade route in Anatolia.The city itself and the ruins are all on the sides of a fertile valley. The extensive ruins including the theatre, library or gymnasium create the special atmosphere of Ephesus, and appeal to every visitors. Ephesus has been a "center" during the date. Once a trade center of the ancient world , a religious center of the early Christianity and today, a unique tourism center proving all its perfectas to the visitors through the world.
Transfer to Kusadasi. Kusadasi, which means "bird island", is set in a superb gulf in the Aegean region of Turkey and is known for its turquoise sparkling water of the Sea, broad sandy beaches, bright sun and large marina with a capacity for 600 boats. A glorious ancient city stands beside it, Ephesus with hundreds of thousands of visitors from tours each year. Numerous holiday villages and hotels line its shores and hundreds of restaurants serve food from all around the world.Dinner and Overnight in Kusadasi

Day 05: Pammukale - Bodrum
Today drive to Pammukale. Sightseeing of Heirapolis and Cotton Castle. Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces. The underground water once gave life to the ancient city of Hierapolis now helps Pamukkale be one of the most important thermal centers of Turkey.Arrive and transfer to your hotel.Late afternoon visit unique Cotton Fortress, the white calcium cascades, and also pay a visit to one of the first modern spa centers of the ancient world, Hierapolis. Drive onwards to Bodrum. Overnight in Bodrum

Day 06: Bodrum
Half day tour of Bodrum including visit to the Castle and the Museum. One place of Bodrum that no visitor to this great city should miss is the famous Bodrum Castle, which overlooks the harbor and the international marina. This castle was constructed by the Knights of Rhodes in the 15th century during the crusades of the middle ages, and it was given the name The Castle of St. Petrus, or Petronium. Dinner and Overnight in Bodrum

Day 07: Bodrum
Day at leisure.  Dinner and Overnight in Bodrum

Day 08: Istanbul
Transfer to the airport to take a flight to Istanbul. Istanbul - The Former capital of three successive empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Istanbul today honors and preserves the legacy of the past while looking forward to a modern Future. Istanbul of the day conforms the definition of a great city, not only with her population and the area she covers but also with the variety of cultures and ways of living. This cultural structure which enables a good number of elements that contradict with each other and yet exist together even one in another, is the produce of an accumulation of about one thousand years. Arrive and transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon visit famous spices market, Rustem Pacha mosque from the XVI century and end your day with the cruise on the Bosphorus and from the deck of our cruise boat take in the sights and sounds of this legendary waterway, that is lined with historic villages, grand wooden mansions, imposing fortresses, like Anadolu Hisarı and the Baroque palaces of the late Ottoman sultans. Overnight in Istanbul

Day 09: Istanbul
After breakfast, depart for a full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul. Visit Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque; “Istanbul's imperial Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (Sultan Ahmet Camii) is called the Blue Mosque because of its interior tiles, mostly on the upper level and difficult to see unless you're right up there with them. Forget the blue tiles! The mosque (built 1603-17) is the masterwork of Ottoman architect Sedefkâr Mehmet Aga. It's built on the site of the Great Palace of Byzantium, on the southeastern side of the Hippodrome” and Hippodrome; “The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a horse-racing track that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and the largest city in Europe. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving.” Finish the tour at Grand Bazaar.Overnight in Istanbul

Day 10: Istanbul
Today depart on a day picnic to Princess Islands. The Princes' Islands are composed of nine islands off the Asian coast of Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara. There are regular passenger ferries and fast passenger ferries (sea bus) to the four of the islands from different piers of the city; from Sirkeci, from Kabatas, and from Bostanci districts. Motor vehicles are not permitted on the islands except the ones belonging to local municipality for public works, so people walk or rent a bicycle or horse-drawn carriage, even a donkey.The name of the islands come from the Byzantine period, when princes and empresses were exiled there. But during the Ottoman period, especially around 19th century with the use of steamboats, these islands became a popular resorts for Istanbul's rich people, building their wooden houses. Overnight in Istanbul

Day 11: Istanbul – Mumbai
Transfer to the airport to take flight back

Monday, 21 October 2013

Northern Splendour

This experience is all about discovering a new world with its heritage and culture. It’s about exploring and discovering of nature’s best gifts to human kind. A journey that will set your senses free and your soul enriched.


On arrival in Auckland, 'The City of Sails', seat in coach passengers you will be met by our local representative and privately transferred to your hotel. Self drive passengers will collect your rental car at the airport and drive to your hotel. Today feel free to relax and energies yourself for what awaits you. There is a scenic relief for your eyes, and history and heritage to refresh your mind.


Today you will travel south to arrive at Waitomo for a guided tour of the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It is a must see on everyone’s wish-list. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as our expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves' historical and geological significance. Enjoy the world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history.
From here you continue over the Mamaku Ranges to reach the 'Thermal City' of Rotorua.


Rotorua is part of the Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty coast to Mount Ruapehu in the central North Island. You will visit Te Puia Thermal Reserve, here the environment alone is of enormous geological significance, with thermal activity ranging from boiling mud to the world famous 30-metre (100-foot) Pohutu geyser, erupting up to 20 times each day. Hot springs, boiling sulphurous pools, silica terraces and bubbling mud pools are among the natural wonders.

Following this, visit Rainbow Springs to see New Zealand's trout, birds and wildlife before continuing to the Agrodome for a New Zealand farm show featuring sheep dog demonstrations, cow milking and an introduction to the stars of our sheep industry. The afternoon is at leisure. In the evening you will go back in time at a Maori village. In the depths of the forest, you will gain a clear picture of Maori lifestyle and traditions - with singing, dancing and a traditional hangi feast to enjoy.


Travel south to reach Taupo travelling over rugged mountain ranges and well cultivated farmland to arrive in the 'Art Deco' city of Napier. This small city has its own charm and sometimes feels fictional.  Napier, was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive Richter 7.8 Earthquake. Subsequent fires destroyed most of its commercial heart. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe.
No where else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century making it unique, with Maori motifs.


The morning is set aside for your leisure. You can explore Napier and its uniqueness on your own and meet and greet the locals. The afternoon is booked for a wine tour in which you will not just visit but also indulge in wine tastings at 3 local wineries. Napier wine tours showcases the best in fine wines made at top wineries and vineyards in New Zealand. Some of the internationally acclaimed wines such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are from here.


Today is a visual delight for you in the laps of nature. You are going to travel through the Manawatu Gorge to Palmerston North, down the Kapiti Coast to finally arrive in the 'Capital City' of Wellington. This drive is going to leave you mesmerized.


On the last day you with head back home after a relaxing vacation full of memories and experiences to last a lifetime.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Spain Travel #1

Spain (officially called the Kingdom of Spain) is a fascinating mix of cultures. Due to its geographic location it has been influenced throughout history by cultures such as the Goths, Moores and Romans. All of these influences combined with its centuries of rule as a colonial power around the world has created a weave of cultures unequaled in the world. From the cultural aspects to the amazing food, visiting Spain can be one of the most unforgettable trips of your life.

Abundant year-round rainfall lends a deep-green color to northern pastures and meadowlands. Seasonal temperatures vary only slightly; winters are mild, summers, cool. The eastern coast and Balearic Islands enjoy typically Mediterranean weather: semitropical warmth, sunshine and long dry spells. Spring and autumn winds bring localized storms with brief but heavy rains.


The kitchens of Spain produce a pungent and imaginative fare. Substantial and plentifully served, the food is typically not highly seasoned. Olive oil, the idea of Spanish culinary art, imparts a refined flavor to most ingredients.

A number of dishes, each national and regional, are to be recommended. Variations on rice-based dish, flavoured with saffron and pimentos, are found everywhere the country. Valencia is known for the tastiest version made with pork, chicken or food.
The meals of the Basque nation are likely to include several hearty courses. Salt codfish cooked with fresh tomatoes (bacalao a la Vizcaína) is known in other areas of Spain, as is fish soup (sopa de pescada), a traditional favorite of fishermen.
Many cafes offer tempting snacks (tapas) for those who find it hard to hold out until scheduled meal times. Seafood is the most common, but sandwiches and several varieties of sausage can be purchased as well. With all of these, Spaniards drink wine or beer.
Squid (calamares), at their best within the Basque country and territory, are eaten up in alternative regions. cuttlefish are oft prepared in a dark sauce of their own ink or cut up and fried crisp.Gazpacho is an uncooked soup of andalusian origin. Oil and vinegar are combined with finely strained tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, green peppers and onion. garnished with croutons, the chilled mix makes a refreshing nourishment on hot days.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Amazing things to do in South Africa

Whenever we think about a destination, we think what can we do there. Same old sight seeings, visiting monuments and beaches. But this post is not about travel 101, this is about what all amazing things that you can do in your travel in South Africa along with the travel default options.

The number one wild and crazy thing that you can do in South Africa is ride an ostrich, you might have tried riding on a horse. Riding on an ostrich is way different than riding on your two wheeler bike. Well, It does have two legs. Riding an ostrich takes a lot of skills but amateurs are welcome to try their luck in Oudtshoorn, in the Karoo. Ostrich farms abound in this semi-desert area of South Africa, there are hundreds of them. Oudtshoorn is the place to master riding this ungainly but strangely attractive, non-flying bird. If you're feeling very confident, there are regular races to be enjoyed as well but you should probably leave those to the professional ostrich jockeys.

You might have seen in movies, surfers riding those big waves and experiencing that excitement thousands of kilometers away in front of your TV. You can try your hand on surfing on South African beaches, feel that rush of riding the waves inside your body. You might want to know that the quality of the surf depends on the size of the swell and the direction of the wind. Hire that waxed surf board and head towards you own maverick to come cruising towards the beach. Afraid to get up, you can just paddle on your board and enjoy your swim and watch others riding.

Hiking is another amazing option, a must try. The Wild Coast, in South Africa's Eastern Cape region, is one of the most beautiful coastlines on earth and much of it is only accessible by foot. There are fantastic natural sights including waterfalls, isolated beaches, untouched forests and rivers. The hike also offers the chance to mix with locals like the Xhosa and the amaPondo.
Strandloper - a 5 day backpacking trail along the southern section of the Wild Coast and Cape Wild Coast where you stay in huts on the beach.
Hole in the Wall Hiking trail - is also a 5 day hike, nights are spent in small hotels, days are spent walking through spectacular mangroves, beaches and over clifftops.
WildCoast Walk offers many hikes on the Wild Coast as well as horseback and canoeing trips.

Swim with animal wearing tuxedo, you can also swim with penguins. Swimming with penguins at Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town, is a real thrill. A small public beach is set apart from the main penguin colony that resides here (on Foxy Beach), but that doesn't stop the penguins from sitting on your beach towel or darting around your legs while you take a refreshing dip in the Ocean. Penguins like to walk about and generally ignore fences. A boardwalk has been built around the dunes so you can get a great close up look at the entire colony eating, breeding, preening, swimming and chatting away.

Meeting great whites without losing your arm or leg.  Cage diving with the Great White Shark is a relatively new adventure sport in South Africa. There are several operators who offer cage diving packages and most of them concentrate around an area known as "shark alley" in Gansbaai, just 2 hours drive from Cape Town. Great White Shark diving is the marine equivalent of seeing the Mountain Gorilla in its natural environment. It's an adventurous and unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with a magnificent animal.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Intense RoadTrip #1. Manali-Leh Highway, INDIA

This is our first blog post for road trip destination, here we are going to talk about most intense destination for road trip.

Manali at an altitude of 2,050 m in the Beas River Valley is a hill station nestled in the mountains of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh near the northern end of the Kullu Valley. Manali is primary attraction for the tourists who want to visit the Himalayas. Rohtang Pass is very much popular among tourists. Kullu river nearby also offers opportunities for rafting. Manali is also getting increasingly popular as a destination for Tourists desiring to witness Snowfall.

Leh is the largest town in Ladakh which is in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south.

The highway begins from Manali and stretches to Leh in Ladakh. This highway is open in summer approximately from June to October. Due to snow covering the roads highway is good for travelling roughly for four months a year. The cheapest mode of transport by bus. The main public transport company is HPTDC and the seats on the bus should be reserved couple of days prior. There are agents who reserve certain amount of ticket in prior to sell it in higher amount. Additionally there are private transport companies and modes of transport. Shared taxis are also available but must be avoided, the journey is a dizzying long haul of 16-18 hours, known as the ‘Cannonball Run’, is not only tough on your body due to the altitude, but also leaves you no time to contemplate the scenery.

Group of people also organize bike ride from Manali to Leh every year. Bike fanatics travel from different cities to participate in this ride. It is an adventure for young hearts as they ride it on rough terrains and through beautiful roads surrounded by snow capped mountains and blue lakes. Ride may be a test for your back as 16-18 hours ride can test your body to the limit. Eventually, it is a trip to remember for life time and share it colleagues and friends.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Top Germany Beaches

Need a middle of the year occasion elective to the packed and overheated urban communities? In the event that getting up promptly and using innumerable hours to see the top attractions for minutes isn't engaging, the German islands in the North and Baltic Sea come greatly proposed. This region offers stunning and uninhabited vacation spots, making it an extraordinary summer objective, and booking motors like Goeuro permit travellers to effortlessly arrange their ideal summer occasion encompassed via ocean, sand and delightful scenes. Here are a few recommendations of what to do at the top German shore end.

1. Sellin, Rügen Island

Rügen, the biggest and maybe the most prevalent island in Germany, is spotted off the Pomeranian drift in the Baltic Sea. Sellin is an extraordinary place to use an unwinding occasion and visit a few sights and historical centers. Resort structural planning is overwhelming all through the village, making it enjoyable to try for strolls throughout the nighttime and appreciate interesting structures. At 384 meters, the Sellin Pier is the longest dock on Rügen and a flawless sight throughout the night when it is lit.

2. Niendorf Beach, Timmendorfer Strand

Strand is an extraordinary end of the line. Throughout the mid year months, Niendorf is the place you can have an extraordinary time nearby your four legged companions. The beach is three minutes from Niendorf harbour and alongside an exquisite promenade. The water nature of the Baltic Sea here is characterized as "extremely exceptional" so provided that you are aching to run for a dip with the entire family (canine incorporated) book your outing to this phenomenal destination.

3. Heringsdorf, Usedom Island

Regarding the matter of Heringsdorf its challenging to propose a particular sunny shore because of the excellence of the entire resort. Since its establishment it has been a prominent end on the Baltic shore, indeed, for German Emperors. Heringsdorf is separated in three parts: Ahlbeck on the Polish outskirt, Heringsdorf fitting, in the center, and Bansin in the west. Picturesque houses and different structural edifices enhance the whole island, and the eldest in Germany dock in Germany is discovered in Ahlbecker.

4.  Hörnum Beach, Sylt Island

A history of privateers and wrecks isn't the main thing that makes Hörnum shore at Sylt an extraordinary occasion end. These days numerous will name Hörnum as one of Germany's best beaches. For those needing to extend their legs in the wake of using hours on the sunny shore, the Sea Preservation Centre at the island's National Park heads climbs year round, where you can get your feet grimy on a shoeless stroll through the mudflats. In the nighttime, flaunt your recently bronzed skin and visit Sylt's occurring nightlife. Provided that your makes a trip take you to Hornüm, don't miss what is recognized the most wonderful beacon  in Sylt. For all the numerous extraordinary exercises, Sylt is truly very little, and biking is an incredible approach to get around the island.

5. Juister Beach, Juist Island

Juister is a white sand shore spotted on the island of Juist, one of the seven East Frisian Islands in the North Sea. Need to take a sentimental or reflective stroll on the shore? Juister is perfect, as there are no restraints in the seventeen-kilometre long sunny shore. Swimming at Juister vacation spot throughout the middle of the year months is recognized by numerous a treat yet for the individuals who would prefer not to get their feet wet exposed North Sea, different exercises like volleyball or shore vigorous exercise are availabl

Luxury Travel in Maldives

The Maldives don't seem to be precisely in need of many ultra-luxury retreats, or resorts promising peace and tranquillity. however at Velaa, a non-public island gap this fall, guests ar secure the final word level of escape. It can charm to those longing for an area aloof from the hordes of holidaymakers and tourists, with serene natural environments, holistic treatments, sublime service, and, most significantly, peace and quiet.

One thousand of the 1,192 islands that constitute the Maldives are deserted. The other 192 host some of the most decadent and luxurious resorts found anywhere in the world. There are spa islands and overwater villas located a half mile from shore to ensure privacy. Known throughout the world as a premiere honeymoon destination for the affluent – including the British Royal Family – the islands are often overlooked for what they themselves offer.

The Maldives, a string of green atolls bordered by white beaches and turquoise waters, look like something out of an explorer's story. With a normal rise of less than five feet above ocean level and a top height of eight feet, these islands are vanishing under the climbing Indian Ocean. Researchers foresee the nation will be gone soon after the close of the century. The islands' delightfulness guarantees that their legend will survive.

With such a variety of resorts, choices are ample. The main mix-up might be to touch base in the Maldives without a reservation. Tourism is exceedingly regulated and controlled by the administration of Mohammed Waheed Hassan. The best lodgings are not shoddy, yet they do offer an authentic quality because of all that land amidst heaven. With two area based resorts, Kuda Huraa and Landa Giraavaru, and the Explorer, a liveaboard jump watercraft, the Four Seasons has a gigantic vicinity. It additionally has a seaplane accessible to guarantee that visitors make it to remote swoop spots and the best waves. Searching for something all the more extravagant? The underwater suite at the Conrad Maldives Ringali Island Hotel is a variety – though an amazing one – and the Tree houses villas at the Shangrila Villingilli resort will make you feel like an exceptionally joyful evaluation schooler. Assuming that surfing is your necessity, stay at the Lohifushi Island resort, which has private access to the waves at Lohifushi's reef, a percentage of the best in the island.

Benefits of Travel

Tired, you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, and losing your enthusiasm for your job, your hobbies and your social life. you've some vacation time banked, however income is low and you are questioning if it's definitely worth the effort to plan to get away from daily routine.

Between budgets and busy schedules, it is not simple to line aside time and set up a getaway. however getting away, even for a brief amount, will do wonders for your well-being. you actually cannot afford to not travel.

If you are beginning on a excursion, confirm you decide on the correct travel companion. If you are cursed with a ill-natured girlfriend or a poverty-stricken brother, it'd become a trying expertise, negating the potential health edges.

If you are offered the prospect to travel on a business trip, take it. it'll build your expertise and exposure, and provide a chance to quickly modification your work setting.

Sometimes going alone is that the issue to try to to. Doing thus can force you to fulfill and create connections with others, whereas providing you with the liberty to try to to no matter you decide on. Of course, the type of trip you are taking makes an enormous distinction -- make sure to tailor it to your preferences. If you get a kick out of rubber-necking and recognize that you just would go crazy unerect on a beach all day, then head for a town.

Here are some of the BENEFITS of travel.

1. Helps avoid MONOTONY.

2. Reduces STRESS.

3. Helps being ACTIVE.

4. Enjoying your FOOD.

5. Meet new PEOPLE.

6. Create MEMORABLE experiences.

7. Helps spice up your SOCIAL life.

8. OUTDOOR activities

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Malaysian Chinese festival

Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Malaysia is home to a large Chinese population. Recent estimates indicate that nearly 25 % of Malaysia’s 29 million-strong population is of Chinese origin. It is believed that Chinese traders arrived in in Malaysia arrived from the Mainland, as early as the 15th century. Some of these traders settled down in Malaysia and intermarried with the women of the local population, giving birth to the Peranakan or Straits-Chinese culture.

Since then Chinese immigration to Malaysia tended to occur in waves from various provinces of Mainland China. Today, the Malaysian Chinese form the second largest ethnic group in the country and play a prominent role on the economic front of the country.  They have assimilated into the fabric of Malaysian society but continue to maintain their native customs, traditions as they strive to maintain their cultural identity.

Chinese festivals like various other festive celebrations mark the passing of time in the course of a year. Chinese festivals follow the lunar calendar and hence the dates of these festivals change every year.

Chinese New Year
Perhaps the most important Malaysian Chinese festival is Chinese New Year. As in the case of all other Chinese festivals, the movements of the moon also determine the dates for Chinese New Year. The festival is thus generally celebrated either at the end of January or then in mid or early February each year. Malaysian Chinese usually preform a big spring clean of their homes in days leading up to the festival. They also decorate their homes with red and gold trimmings, as they believe red to be an auspicious color. Elders in the family also distribute Hong Bao(red packets stuffed with cash) to the young ones in the family.  Employers are also expected to distribute Hong Bao amongst their staff and on an individual level, you are expected to distribute Hong Bao to anyone who has rendered any service towards you during the year. It is customary to stuff these red packets with crisp, new notes so its not uncommon to see long, lines outside banks in the days leading up to Chinese New Year as every body tries to acquire new notes. The practice of distributing Hong Bao is quite similar to distributing Baksheesh during Diwali.

Dragondances and the consumption of traditional Chinese pastries and foods like Nian Gao and Yu Sheng (a raw fish preparation) are other hall marks of the festival. Chinese New Year is a major public holiday in Malaysia and many shops and establishments are shuttered during its duration.

The Dragon Boat Festival
The Duan Wu Jie (Dragon Boat festival) falls on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month and is usually celebrated in June. This ancient festival which dates back 2000 years, is associated with the popular poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River to protest against corrupt leaders of his time.
The  Dragon Boat festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by Malaysian Chinese who host dragon boat races in various locales. Dragon boats are slim, multi-person row boats which are not unlike the snake boats of Kerala. The best spot to view these exciting dragon boat races is in Penang where several competitive events are held at the Teluk Bahang Dam.
Zhong zi , a dumpling made of rice and various filling is the traditional food associated with this festival. Many Chinese families prepare these Zhong zi which are wrapped in bamboo and lotus leaves and are thrown in the river. The Chinese hope that the fish will eat the dumplings rather than their venerated poet, Qu Yuan.
Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost festival is celebrated on the seventh month of the lunar year. During this time, Chinese all over the world indulge in ancestor worship by offering food and other items to the departed souls. Food and papier-mâché representations of material items like houses, cars, gold are offered and often Wayangs (Chinese operas) are also staged to honor the dead and entertain restless wandering spirits.

Mid-Autumn Festival
The 15th day of the eighth lunar month sees the celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival. Family and friends meet for dinner at homes adorned with sparkling lanterns. They partake of sumptuous feasts, which are rounded off with the consumption of traditional pastries, the calorie-laden moon cakes which are available in various flavors and feature varied fillings. The host families and their guests then venture out to marvel at the big new moon.

The well-known Buddhist festival Vesak, is usually celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month. The celebration features the offering of prays and chants at various Buddhist temples and shrines. The festival commemorates the day Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and hence the temples are also beautiful decorated with lights and flowers for the occasion as vegetarian meals are offered to devotees who visit. A scintillating parade is also taken out in cities like Kuala Lumpur to celebrate the occasion.

Your trip to Malaysia is bound to receive another dimension, if you choose to visit during a popular Chinese festival.

Malaysian Food

Malaysian food is a rich mélange of flavors and tastes heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Thai cuisines. The influences are evident not only in cooking styles like making use of a wok to prepare dishes but also in the type of ingredients used for Malaysian cuisine uses spices common to various other cuisines of South and Far East Asia. In fact, the base of many a Malaysian dish is a Rempah or spice paste made from freshly ground spices. The Rempah is quite similar to the Indian masala paste, an essential for Indian cooking.

Malaysian food is somewhat spicy and also features the liberal used of chutneys (achars) known sambals. These sambals are made with popular Indian, Chinese, Thai and Middle Eastern spices like turmeric, chili, coconut, shallots, dried prawns and more. Other herbs and spices liberally used in Malay cuisine, include common Asian ingredients like lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, star anise , fenugreek, coconut milk, galangal, torch ginger and so forth.

Rice, like in other parts of Asia plays a prominent role in Malaysian cuisine. While fragrant Thai rice is most commonly used for Malaysian preparations like Nasi Lemak, basmati rice is usually used for signature Mamak(Indian Muslim) dishes like Nasi  Biryani. Nasi Lemak, a rice based dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and served with dried anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, dried shrimp and pickled vegetables called ‘acaar’ is in fact considered to be the signature dish of Malaysian cuisine and is consumed at all meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner. A meat or beef curry is usually served as an accompaniment to a Nasi Lemak meal.

Chinese traders who arrived in Malaysia during the early 15th and 16th centuries settled down and intermarried with the local Malay population. This phenomenon gave birth to a unique culture known as the Peranakans or the Straits-Chinese people. The Peranakans are known for their own inimitable culture and traditions and their unique style of cooking which features a blend of Malay and Chinese cuisines. Some popular and well-known Peranakan dishes include preparations like the famed Asam Laksa, Popiahs(fresh spring rolls) and otak-otak (fish ,coconut milk, galangal and spice paste wrapped in banana leaf). The Peranakan people were also responsible for introducing delicate, colored pastries called Kuih to Malaysian cuisine. The various kuih like Kuih Talam, ondeh-ondeh, kuih lapis and others, are made with ingredients like sago, palm sugar, coconut, rice flour and more.

Another significant contribution of the Chinese to Malay cuisine is the widespread use of noodles. Various kinds of noodles like bi-hoon(rice vermicelli), Kuay Teow(flat rice noodles), Hokkien mee( yellow noodles),langka and others serve as the base for many popular Malay dish like Char Kuay Teow, Mee goering and  many more. Similarly the early Indian settlers to Malaysia who were brought to work on rubber and palm oil plantations by the British, introduced their staple foods to Malaysian cuisine. They brought along breads like Dosa(called Thosai in modern–day Malaysia) , flaky parathas  which today form an important component of a Roti Canai meal( a meal featuring a rich paratha served with a spicy chicken curry), idlis(steamed rice dumplings), puri(fried Indian bread) and more. The Indian Muslims in the meanwhile, contributed their most famous dish, the slow-cooked concoction of rice and meats, the biryani which was rechristened nasi biryani in Malaysia and today features an immensely popular dish sold by various Mamak (Indian Muslim) eateries and restaurants throughout the country.

Malaysian cuisine with its numerous flavors and tastes provides a true representation of the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic tapestry of Malaysian society and must be sampled on any visit to the country.

Healthy vacations

When booking hotels and tours, get good-for-you activities on the itinerary too—reserve a spot in workout classes nationwide 

1. No Gym? No Problem.

This is top choice thing to do in the midst of some recreation.  Get up and get the whole family moving. A lot of the time you can’t get to a gym when you are out of town.

Setting off to the closest secondary school track is a great alternative to a gym.Instead of a stairclimber you have the grandstands.  You can transform it into a game.  Race your spouse or your youngsters here and there and see who can go the longest. It is hard work but it will be fun.

2. Walk around in your travel.

Rather than heading to the town, uncover the closest strolling way and delight in the perspective.  Cherish get-away in light of the fact that there is no calendar.  Plan less so you aren't focused about being late.  Most urban areas have strolling and biking trails for which they will have maps on their official site. 

It's not that hard to talk your children into strolling.  They might much rather be outside then in a car.

3. Take the stairs instead of elevators.

This is the best way to keep your body fit by climbing up and down the stairs. But if your hotel room is many many stories up to climb, travel half the distance by elevator then climb up the stairs to your hotel room floor. 

4. Keep your family moving.

Keep moving by playing games with your children and your wife/ husband. This will be a interactive game session with your family and fun. On top of it, this will keep you healthy and fit.

This is how you don't miss that essential daily workout in your travel.

Adventure Travel tips

Planning for a bag packing or a adventure travel to get that adrenaline pump? Here are few tips that will help you in smooth sailing your travel.

1. Know the custom/ culture of your destination:

This is to not hurt feelings of local or it might get ugly for you. By all means avoid awkward situation in these destinations. Do not comment on their religious belief or culture. While communicating, it won’t hurt to learn a little of the language.

2. Stay flexible:

The success or failure of your trip from a happiness/fulfillment standpoint will come down to how well you managed the unforeseeables. Plans can change. Buses run late. Remember this: the best stories you later tell will be of the chance encounters, the follies and the unexpected. Roll with it.

3. Pack lightly:

You may be going for two weeks, but pack like you are going for one. Ditch the four “night out” get ups and the three pairs of board shorts. The extras will only weigh you down, especially if your adventure consists of a significant amount of foot travel. If you can get away with it, pack only what can be carried on the airplane. Nothing is worse than arriving at your destination airport only to find your checked luggage never made it out of Phoenix. Here are some of the essential items that I always take with me.

4.  Play the guest:

Respect + humility. Those two concepts will get you everywhere, in my opinion.

5. Know your strengths and limitations.:

You can’t just decide one day to climb K2 and go do it the next. While it’s absolutely okay to try something new on your next adventure trip, you might not want to make Half Dome your first rock climbing experience. And even the most seasoned mountaineer needs to train before tackling an Everest. Do yourself a favor and brush up on the skills needed for your adventure and work some fitness into your daily routine.

6. Document the trip:

Take photos and keep a journal. You may think you’ll remember every last detail, but once the trips start adding up (and hopefully they will) you’ll be thankful that you have some old pages to pore over and photo galleries to click through. And when the grind starts wearing you down again, pull this material out to get motivated for your next adventure.

Italian Restaurants

You like Italian food then this post is must read for you.

Italian cuisine has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots as far back as the 4th century BCE. Italian cuisine in itself takes heavy influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish. Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Chefs chiefly rely on the quality of the ingredients than its quantity in food. Cheese and wine are key ingredient for Italian food.

Restaurants in Italy should never be missed in your visit. Below are the top 5 restaurants in Italy:

1. L’Etoile d’Or.

It is a not a restaurant, it is a restaurant-cum-bar with regional snacks such as a sweet ricotta filled with rice balls stuffed with meat and calzone type savory treat. It is one of the best bar-cum-restaurants in Italy; it is open throughout a day. It is located in Catania, Italy and stocked with all good things in life and certainly compels one to sip the local drinks.

2. Gusta Pizza.

It is a Pizza restaurant located in Florence, Italy. It is featured with delicious scorched crusts and it is small pizza shop set up by Neopolitan cousins. In Italy there are a lot of Pizza shops, which offers good competition to them and it is known a best pizza shop in town.

3. La Madia.

Two times Michelin star winner chef Pine Cuttaia presides over this increasingly famous place. The sublime food here is reinvented Silican cuisine at its finest, haute cuisine that draws from a global sensibility. The simplicity and the elegance of the restaurant complement the creative interpretations of traditional Silican tastes and ingredients.

4. Masseria Barbera

The relaxing atmosphere of the Murgia hills (located in the inner part of Puglia region, somewhere between Corato, Andria and Minerno) and the flavours of local food products (majority of foods and wines served comes from the property itself), meet together at the “Masseria Barbera”, where typical homemade Italian food like homemade pastas, farmyard chicken, just-baked breads accompanied by local wines are served.

5. Vittorio.

Whilst restaurants in hotels may in the past have had a bad reputation, Da Vittorio, located in the charming boutique villa La Dimora, a 10-minute drive from Bergamo in Lombardy has dedicated itself to serving the best of traditional Italian cuisine for years.

Da Vittorio Exterior

When to visit Malaysia?

The country of Malaysia is made up of a mixture of many ethnic groups and religions, where Malay, Indian, Chinese and many other ethnic minorities live peacefully. This cultural diversity has helped Malaysia become a paradise of cuisines, cultures and festivals, putting it among the most attractive tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.

 June 22nd to June 30th - The Malaysia International Tourism Night Floral Parade at Putrajaya Lake.

Shoppers paradise follows the floral parade. The whole month of July is with exciting offer from 10% to 80% discounts on clothes, shoes, bags and electronic gadgets. This month features 8-Week long Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival.

Malaysian National Day on August 31 and Malaysian Day on September 16th are occasions for all Malaysians to show their patriotism. The focus of these days is the Malaysian Lantern Festival, during which the streets are decorated with colourful lanterns.

October, November and December is a month for foodies. October is the begining of 3 month long Malaysia food festival. Visitors can enjoy the wonderful cuisines of Malaysia’s 13 states. The streets are bright with lights, while shopping malls and hotels are decorated with lights aiming to win attractive prizes.

November is the month where international teams compete against each other in an international boat race. Teams compete against each other in rain to cross south China sea to win monsoon cup.

The remarkable traditional Malaysian dance are performed at the Cuti Malaysia Dance Festival in December. Travelers still can join the Mega Year End Sale this month and you can chase discounted big brands and enjoy street delicacies and Malaysian cuisines or experience the tropical Christmas atmosphere in shopping centres and hotels filled with lights, all combining to make Malaysia an exciting place to welcome the New Year.