Monthly Archives: November 2009

New Heights for Young Love

These two are taking the love of the outdoors to new heights!

couple caught having sex on Sydney clock tower

http://ow.ly/163Vbi

Today, Sydney was captivated by two young thrill seekers making love in the historic clock tower of the Broadway Shopping Centre. 

 

Clearly in view and not at all fazed by the growing crowds below, they shared their love with all of Sydney. The Clock Tower is situated above the Broadway Shopping Centre on Sydney’s Broadway Street, near the University of Sydney. This is a very busy traffic and pedestrian zone and not the place one would usually go to share such an intimate time.

 

The news has spread around Australia and the world as the buzz grows and the question mark over the identities of the two remains. Shout outs for the pair to come forward are being sent via social media, television and radio. WHO ARE THEY AND WHY DID THEY CHOOSE SUCH A LOCATION?

 

Hats off to them (well it is the least I can take off after their clothing removal efforts) for giving it a go. I guess it answers the question of “How shall we liven up this dull Tuesday afternoon?”

 

My final thoughts on the matter are  inspred by the words of Chief Wiggam from The Simpsons:

 “If it feels good, Do it!”


Sydney – South Coast of Australia

A wonderful little weekend trip when staying in and around Sydney  is to take a drive down the South Coast from Sydney. You head out from Sydney towards Wollongong and keep going down from there. This can be a great little one day trip down to Nowra and Jervis Bay or you can keep on going and spend the night in some of the many beautiful towns along the way.

 

Here is my advice for a nice 3 day trip spending 1 night in Stanwell Tops or Berry and 1 night in Jervis Bay area.

 

The drive itself from Sydney down our Southern Coastline is stunning. Taking the coastal road via Stanwell Tops is a great start and if you are taking it slowly then spend the morning at SYMBIO WILDLIFE GARDENS. Symbio is fantastic as it has Australia’s most loved Native Animals and you can get right up close and personal with them, cuddling a Koala and feeding a Kangaroo. You can then squeeze in an afternoon of Hang gliding from Stanwell Tops down to the beach at Stanwell Park below, or simply grab an ice cream and watch others give it a go.

SYMBIO ANIMAL PARK: http://www.symbiozoo.com.au/

HANG GLIDING:http://www.hangglideoz.com.au/

 

Next stop is Kiama. First driving past the gorgeous Bombo beach and through some terrific countryside and catching a glimpse of Australia’s diverse natural environments. Kiama has some great little restaurants and cafes by the sea where you can relax and watch the Pelicans soar in. A visit to the Terrace shops for cute gifts and some old fashioned lollies is a must. Before you head on, take a drive up to the blow hole and Lighthouse on the point- this is always a great thrill for tourists and something that is never boring.

KIAMA: http://www.kiama.com.au/pages/welcome/

 Kiama Blowhole

Back in the car and its back to the views of the countryside and winding coastal roads with the ever changing scenery to the right at all times. This drive can be done all in one day or take your time and enjoy the little towns along the way. Berry is the perfect place to put up your feet and rest for the night. Whether it’s camping near the 7 mile beach, keeping it cosy in a little B& B or pulling up to a caravan park, you will find all sorts of accommodation here. Great antique shops, boutique fashion stores and homely food will keep you busy when wandering around this lovely little town. The opal store and Chocolate Factory are two of the best attractions, so make sure you’ve got some cash on you.

BERRY: http://www.southcoast.com.au/berry/Central Berry

 

The drive then continues down quite straight towards Nowra from here. You will reach the Shoalhaven area and pass many fruit picking spots and vineyards (depending on the season) as well as little beach suburbs. I would suggest renting a house for a night in Collalla Bay, a little further then Nowra or continuing closer to Jervis Bay, Huskisson or Vincentia. Huskisson offers wonderful fishing spots and great whale and dolphin watching cruises. Jervis Bay Caravan Park puts you right out there in the middle of nature with Kangaroos bounding up to your cabin door and always stopping by for a pet. Nearby is also the Valhalla Horse Riding Centre which will take guests through the bush on 1-3 hour guided tours. A brilliant way to see Australia’s Natural beauty.

Valhalla Horse Riding: http://www.valhallahorseriding.com.au

 

Stop by Nowra’s Information Centre or Visit the Website to get all the hot tips on the Shoalhaven area: http://us.sydney.com/town/Nowra/Shoalhaven_Visitor_Information_Centre_Nowra/info.aspx

 

So whether it’s a one day trip or a three day trip, there are plenty of options of great things to do and see all along this beautiful coastal path. You can zip straight back after your weekend in 3 hours or again take it slowly with lots of nice stops along the way.

 

Please see here for a map of the route:

http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&tab=wl&q=sydney%20-%20nowra


Delhi Delights – My Top 8

New Delhi is the National Capital of India and one of its most fascinating cities. Being the Political centre and having the second largest metropolis by population, the city has a strong effect on the people of India and the direction in which the country has developed.

 

I love Delhi for its amazing diversity and interesting culture. The markets, the temples, the bustling business, the stunning sunsets and the great night spots. I would be difficult to ever get bored in this city. Here are 8 of my favourite things to do and see when in Delhi:

 

1. Bahai Lotus Temple

This is a temple dedicated to the Bahai faith and is a more recent addition to the architectural jewels of Delhi. I have never been close to it but I have driven past many times and it is just as spectacular at night as it is in the day. Reminds me somewhat of the Opera House and the Waratah Flower of Australia, maybe that’s why I like it so much. It took me at least 4 sightings of this to finally get an understanding of what it was and it is always at the top of my list for must sees in Delhi!

http://travelinsider.qantas.com.au/lotus_temple_south_delhi.htm

2. Qutub Minar

The World’s tallest free standing brick Minaret. An islamic structure which has a number of beliefs surrounding it. The intricate detail and craftwork which covers the entire structure is worth a look alone. Entry here is cheap and there is a fabulous mix of cultures all marvelling at the magnificence of this unusual sight.

http://www.info2india.com/rajasthan/qutub-minar-delhi.html

3. Dilli Haat Markets

Resembling the traditional craftsmen and trade markets, Dilli Haat offers the traveller a chance to experience a unique style of shopping . It’s the first permanent fair for regional foods, crafts and cultural activities. It’s a completely new experience and a great day out.

http://www.delhi-hotels-india.net/dilli-haat-delhi.htm

4.Red Fort

The Unesco World Heritage Site which could easily be mistaken for the Taj Mahal…. except that it’s red. I was very confused when I first saw it as it was so similar to the Taj Mahal in style, but once you see them in comparison, you understand the difference. This is where the Prime Minster addresses the people at the celebrations of Independence day, 15th August. If anything, it’s a beautiful building to see, octagonal in shape as is the style of such Islamic architecture.

http://www.tourmyindia.com/states/delhi/red.html

5. GK1 M- Block Market

A trip to Delhi is not complete without visiting this more upmarket area and the great set of shops and stalls located at the centre. The areSouth Extensiona is called Kalisah and it’s where the wealthy come to do their lower end shopping (so my high end.) There is fabulous jewellery, great snacks, luscious hair and beauty salons and shoe stalls as far as the eye can see. You may even spot an Indian Celebrity (I saw the queen of Beauty and skin care products of India… well, you couldn’t miss her! Diamonds covering every spare bit of flesh- LOVE IT!

http://www.delhilive.com/gk1-m-block-market

6. Shalom (Restaurant)

Amazing Mediterannean lounge bar with great decor and a very trance vibe. You can smoke sheeshah (hubbly bubbly) with flavours like apple and cherry and you can sip on sumptuous cocktails! Chill out sessions playing in the background with low lighting provide the prefect relaxing atmosphere for a great night out.

http://shalomexperience.com/


7. New Delhi Parliament

The Indian Parliamentary Buildings and India Gate are essential to the Delhi City Tour. It’s best to go here with a guide who can explain the area and chances are you will probably only see it from the car. Security is quite strict in this area and it can be difficult at times to get close. It was only in the 1920’s that Parliament was moved to Delhi from Calcutta and it has remained their since.

http://www.indiasite.com/delhi/places/parliamenthouse.html

8. India Gate

A slow drive down the Rajpath will allow you ample photo opportunities of the India Gate. This is a war memorial to over 90,000 Soldiers who lost their lives serving in World War 1. It’s a magnificent structure and a testament to the Indian people and their contributions during British Colonialism.

http://www.indiasite.com/delhi/places/indiagate.html

I hope you are able to see some of these great sites in Delhi. I strongly recommend going on a city tour or hiring a tour guide for one day to really get a good understanding of the history of the city and the many facets which make it the wonderful city it is today. To find out about the best markets and where to eat, chat to a local. The Indian people are very friendly and always more than happy to stop and give some advice to visitors.


Royal Bombay Yacht Club

A 12 hour flight, a bustling airport, a sea of dilapidated temporary houses, an overwhelming stench and a blur of a car trip begin my second visit to Mumbai, India. This would sound like hell to most travellers but to me, it’s like coming home. Mumbai has a feeling, a vibe, an attraction which is indescribable and a familiarity that is as good as a warm hug from mum. My return to India through this Airport and to this city was very welcome.

 

I would only be in Mumbai for one night as I would then continue on to Delhi the following day. To assist me in my brief stay a dear friend had arranged for me to stay as a guest at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.

 

Arriving at night I was unable to see the standard of my accommodation or the location but it was described in detail to me by my wonderful driver on the drive over. The friendliness and openness of the Indian people never ceases to amaze me. Upon first inspection the building seemed old and fairly run down and as it was night I had no idea of what the local surrounds looked like.

 

I was told immediately upon arrival that my friend Mr Vinoo was waiting for me and we would have dinner together. It was now 9pm. In India, this is an early dinner. As much as I love the Indian hospitality, after a long flight, all I wanted to do was sleep.

 

My Badipapa (Indian Grandfather), as I would now call him, had arranged my transportation, stay and return visit to the airport. I really do know how lucky I am to have such great connections in other countries as well as such kind and generous friends. An American woman on the plane had invited me to stay with her in her house in Mumbai if I didn’t have somewhere to stay but after informing her about my accommodation at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club and my friend, she recognised quickly that I was certainly not in need of help.

 

Seeing my dear friend was wonderful and the meal absolutely delightful, but I was exhausted and simply needed rest.

 

I was woken at 6am by my startling alarm and I was all but ready to pull the covers over my head and beg for more rest until my eyes were drawn to the window. There sat the most perfect circle of golden light I have ever seen. The sun was just rising over Mumbai and I think  I had the most incredible view of the whole city to watch this day begin. My stunning heritage framed windows allowed for the many colours of the skies early morning light to be framed perfectly and to reveal that just in front of my window lay the famous landmark, the Gateway to India.

 

 

 

The beautiful Royal Bombay Yacht Club is a heritage building which sits facing the Gateway to India with the Taj Mahal Hotel towering beside it. Behind these great structures still and calm in the early morning was the great Harbour of Mumbai. The The Bombay Yacht Club was founded in 1846 and was established after regattas were held there since 1830.

 

I could not believe my eyes and I simply stood at the window and watched the sun shed it’s light over this beautiful city. The photos speak louder then words, though they too are not necessary as the images in my mind are as clear and vivid as if it were only yesterday.

 

 

Though you must be a member or the guest of one of the members to stay at the Hotel, you can visit and admire the history of this wonderful landmark. The Harbour is lively and busy during the day with local markets, the famous Taj Mahal hotel and the tourist favourite, Gateway to India. The Bombay Yacht Club offers fantastic meals and a stunning view for a beautiful night out with a difference.

 

This has to be one of the most interesting and culturally rich hotels I have ever stayed in. I know how lucky I am to have been introduced to such a gem of India’s history. It’s a must see when visiting Mumbai.

For more information on this amazing establishment:

http://royalbombayyachtclub.com/

(This trip was taken on 25th January 2006)


HOLA MEXICO – Film Festival, Australia

 

HOLA MEXICO Film Festival, Australia ’09

Opens TODAY!

 

The Hola Mexico Film Festival opens November 18 in Sydney at the DENDY Newtown and Opera Quays. The festival will run from the 18th-29th November before kicking on to Canberra and the other major cities of Australia.

 

The Festival is a fine showcase of Mexican film making which celebrates the intriguing, enticing and amazing culture of Mexico. The wide variety of films gives patrons the chance to experience Mexico through comedy, drama,  animated and documentary style cinematic techniques.

 

I was first drawn to this event by the awesome graphics and colours on the poster which are so typically Mexican. Having studied in Mexico for 4 months earlier this year I am now captivated by anything that emits even the slightest bit of Mexico’s dynamic and vibrant culture.

 

Some of the films on show include Sin Nombre, Otra Pelicula de huevos y un Pollo (Another Egg Movie and a Chicken), and Oveja Negra (Black Sheep). I will be seeing Amor, Dolor y ViceVersa (Love, Pain and Viceversa) on thursday –  a tale of the search for love. I can’t wait.

 

So check out the schedules at http://www.holamexicoff.com/09-AU/sydney/index.html.

It’s also a fabulous website with great graphics and funky Mexican tunes!

 

The Film Festival will also be in CANBERRA, BRISBANE, ADELAIDE, PERTH AND MELBOURNE. So no matter where you are in Australia, try and get to one of the films for a night at the cinema with a twist!

 

Espero que disfruten del espectáculo!
 

*All films will be in Spanish with english subtitles.


Taj Mahal: Twice in a lifetime Experience

I would have thought seeing one of the seven wonders of the world and one of the most famous buildings in the world would be only a once in a lifetime experience. I have just been informed however that for me the Taj Mahal will be a twice in a lifetime experience.

 

The magnificent Taj Mahal is situated in Agra in the North of India. This sacred site is considered one of those must sees in one’s life and millions of people make the trip to see the great structure every year. It is one of the most recognised and identifiable buildings in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

As my second trip to the famous Taj fast approaches, I thought I would reflect upon my first siting in 2005. After a business trip to the amazing Udaipur and a quick stop in Delhi, my father arranged for us to fulfil one of his lifelong dreams of seeing the Taj Mahal in person. It was to be a long day trip from Delhi to Agra, but an unforgettable journey.

 

We started the day with a 6am ride on one of the famous Indian trains, though we of course took 1st class so I feel I was somewhat robbed of the true experience. Upon arriving in Agra we were met by our guide for the day and taken to the closest car park to the Taj. There are no cars allowed within 1 kilometre of the great structure and so the last leg must be done on foot or as we chose, by horse and cart.

 

The trip leading up to the Taj Mahal is incredible with the typical indian life of markets, farm animals and busy people bustling about the streets. There are tour guides and souvenirs as with any popular tourist site but it all seems to be more cultural and relevant here.

 

Once up close you must walk through a series of red buildings and courtyards before you are met by the four gates. You then turn to face the Western gate which leads to the site you have travelled so far to see. My father could barely hold in his excitement but I wasn’t feeling the same way. I know it’s important and it’s so very famous but I had seen so many pictures so I wasn’t expecting to be dazzled or overwhelmed. The lead up and suspense to actually seeing the structure really does help the experience and I would be lying to say that I was anything less than speechless once faced with the Great Taj.

 First view of the Taj

The experience begins as you walk through an enormous gateway with indian styled architecture into a dark middle section where the Taj Mahal is first framed in a natural window.

 

 

This is the typical photograph everyone has seen. As you continue forward, the gardens and  the enormity of this site are revealed to you. Once you have walked all the way through the arch and stand directly in front of the Taj with all it’s splendour laid out before you, you can but simply gasp at this amazing spectacle. I didn’t think it would affect me that much but I felt a shiver down my spine and a sense that I was experiencing something spectacular.

That famous Image

 

We spent a good 2 hours there strolling around the gardens, taking the mandatory 100 photos, viewing the river that runs out the back, seeing the muslim mosque and replicated temple which stand to either side and entering the Taj Mahal itself. Once close to the building you can see the true expense that went into it’s construction and the 17 years for which it took to be constructed. It is made of white marble with semi precious stone inlay both inside and out. The tombs of the great Maharaja who built the temple and his wife lay at the centre as a reminder of what the building was originally for, a final resting place of the kings beloved Queen. I most certainly recommend a guide to walk with you through the site as there is too much wonderful history and questions to be asked for you to miss out on.

 

My experience at the Taj was further cultured by the wonderful Indian people who were also viewing the site that day. It was Indian Tourist season in June when we went so for a rare time there were actually more Indian tourists then there were foreign tourists. To the delight of many of the Indian tourists that day they not only got to see the great attraction of the Taj Mahal but they were entertained by something else new and intriguing, ME!

 

As I stood on the main viewing platform at the centre of the site I began to notice a crowd forming near me. But instead of viewing the magnificent structure ahead, all eyes were on me. Slowly one by one, people came up to to shake my hand and speak to the white skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed girl who said “dhanyawaad” and “Namaste”. I didn’t realise until my guide informed me that many of the people may never have seen a white person before as they were coming from villages and towns where tourists would never go. Before I knew it, a busload of tourists were there and I was posing in a photo with 20 odd Indian people all wanting to hold my hand and say hello. This went on for at least 15 minutes before I gave Dad the signal to come and take me away from the madness. For me it was a truly humbling and special experience. To have people be so excited to meet you and interested in you for simply being different was a joy. I’m glad I could share that special moment with them in such a wondrous location.

 

Walking out of the garden and looking back over your shoulder at the Taj Mahal for one last time is almost as exciting as the first glimpse. You feel as though you have accomplished something great and you now have this memory to cherish until the end of your days.

 

I cannot wait to make the acquaintance of the Great Taj Mahal again. They say that you could visit it every day for a year and it would never look the same because in every light it has a new and different beauty. I will also be going with an Indian family as part of a wedding ceremony and a cultural tradition which will add to the experience. I am interested to see how culturally important this site is to Newlyweds and how important this structure has been in the Indian way of life.

 

For more information on the history of the site and how to get there visit:

http://taj-mahal.net/

http://www.tajmahalindia.net/

Quick history and background:

A beautiful story of love and Tragedy. The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is Mughal Architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic aarchitectural styles. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

Soon after the Taj Mahal’s completion, Shah Jahan was deposed by his son and put under house arrest. Cruelly locked in a  tower in the nearby Agra fort, where he was forced to look at his beautiful creation everyday. Shah Jahan had previously planned to build a second structure identical to that of the Taj Mahal but in black marble. He wanted to be buried in the tomb which would face his beloved wife’s final resting places so that they could look upon one another for eternity. Sadly, due to his don’t intervention, it wasn’t to be. Upon Shah Jahan’s death his son buried him in the mausoleum next to the centred tomb of his wife, making it the only unaligned or symmetrical part of the entire tomb.

Since 1983 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim Art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”


Nepalese Home Stay

When travelling to a foreign land and a new culture we can feel alone, scared and tentative about the experiences we are about to have. These feelings are greatly minimised when we have friends or family to meet or stay with in the new place.

 

I am lucky enough to have met so many wonderful people from around the globe and to now have a place to stay when I visit that country. Many people have this opportunity as well, they just don’t take the offer up. I am the “yes girl”. You offer me a bed, I’ll be booking a flight and seeing you there before you know it!

 

In 2 weeks I will be going to India and Nepal and there will only be 4-5 days, out of the 30, in which I will be needing hotel accomodation as the rest of the time I am staying with friends I have met around the world. This is not only great for the budget but it also gives you a great cultural immersion and a better understanding of the country you are staying in. You have a 24-7 tour guide and cultural expert.

 

When I went to Nepal in 2006, I was to meet my friend Sundar and spend most of the time with him. He wanted to have me stay in his home but unfortunately it was too small at that time so I was to stay in a hotel. That first night was the loneliest of my whole trip and I hated it. Luckily, I had met a wonderful Indian woman on the plane who offered me a place in her home she was renting for work for the duration of my stay. I really feel that my trip to Nepal the first time was so much better as I was able to iThe lovely people I stayed with in Tahmel, Nepalnteract with people of that culture and learn so much more from people living there.  Home cooked meals, playing with local children, seeing a wedding procession from my bedroom window and having lovely people to speak to anytime of the day was such a unique experience. I am just thankful that I was open to the experience and took on this once in a life time opportunity.

 

This time I thought I would be staying in a hotel which was perfectly fine until I recieved this beautiful message from my friend Sundar:

“During your stay in Kathmandu, If you like and comfortable you can stay at my house I am near to airport bit far from Thamel you can do tipical Nepalese homestay. Its like a fimily, In my house we: My wife, my sister-in-law and daughter Sourya,  so you may have to share the room with my sister-in-law.

At my house you will have LAN internet access 24 hrs, Hot Shower and self made tea coffee and my wife made meal (Nepali style). We will be happy to welcome you at our family”

 

I was excited before but now I can barely contain myself. To see another Nepalese family living their daily life and being taken around to all the cultural sites with my personal tour guide will be so magical.

 

If you don’t have a dear friend in Nepal, do not lose hope. There are many places that offer homestays and a true cultural experience in Nepal. Here are just a few:

http://homestaynepal.com/

http://www.nepalhomestay.com/

 

Recommendations and reviews by past guests will be the best thing for you to look into. Also on www.hostelworld.com many of the hotels are small and family run and are available for only A$6.00 a night.

 

I found Nepal to be very safe and friendly towards foreigners. Even in a time of political turmoil and trouble between the people, I felt safe.

 

If you are looking for a different experience then check out some homestays, I promise you won’t regret it. Also think about some of the friends and contacts you have and maybe someone has a friend or family member you can get in touch with in the place you are going to make you feel a bit safer.

View from the roof of the house I stayed in, Nepal


5 Favourite International Phrases

Learning new words and phrases in another language is such a novelty. It is even more interesting for Australians living on a giant english speaking Island who would use subtitles in live conversations if they could.

 

I always try to learn Hello and Thank you when I am new to a country. I find that people open up so much more and are so appreciative that you made even the slightest effort.

 

So here are 5 of myfavourites that I have picked up along the way. Please feel free to use them at your leisure. (Sorry, they are spelt phonetically to a degree.)

 

1. DAS IST MEINE HAMBURGER
Germany       

Das ist meine....... Beer?

                                                                                                                                                                     We learnt this in year 7 German class from a hilarious text book and now whenever I meet someone from Germany I feel it my duty to say it.  It means THIS IS MY HAMBURGER. It is particularly funny when used out of context!

 

2. ESTOY PEDA, BESAMEPeda!!!
Mexico

A hilarious car ride in Mexico City with some random new friends and an impromptu language lesson has firmly imprinted this saying in my mind. My english speaking friend actually taught me this one, only to ask me what it meant a few days later when I repeated it to her.
It means – I’M DRUNK, KISS ME. You will have Mexicans rolling on the ground laughing when you murmur these words.

 

3. NO ME MOLESTES!
Spain

In 2006, I was a fresh faced traveller on my first trip to Spain staying in my first ever hostel. A lovely lady from Argentina and a girl learning Spanish from England decided to help me in my naivety and protect me from some of the more passionate Spanish men. They said ” You are blonde with blue eyes and you must learn this phrase- NO ME MOLESTES” What does it mean?
DO NOT TOUCH ME  or GET AWAY FROM ME!! I loved it!

This phrase came in particularly handy at the La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, Spain. At this festival there is a goal of ripping off as many people’s t-shirts as possible, so when my friend was wrestling with a feisty young man I simply said “No me molestes” and he said…. Lo siento…Sorry and left! VIVA ESPANIA!

 

4. JELDI CHELLO
India

I was in India in 2005 with my father for a business trip and on a rare day off we went out into the desserts of Rajasthan to see some incredible Forts and temples. For some unknown reason Dad and his friend wanted to stop on the side of the road to look at some shiny metal nestled in some of the rocks. It was 45 degrees celsius and we were in the middle of no-where…. so I asked our guide how do you say HURRY UP! Waiting by the roadside, but blessed with an awesome view

JELDI CHELO.
I now love using this when around my Indian friends as they just love to see the young blonde girl shouting at everyone to hurry up… and in Hindi none the less.

 

5.  I’M DRY AS A DEAD DINGO’S DONGER
Australia

I know this is one from my homeland but it is too good to pass up and the look you get when you say it to a foreigner is just priceless. It’s not a phrase I would use in my daily repertoire but it is a well know old Aussie saying. My Dad, being an expat from the UK, just loved it when he first heard it when they arrived here back in the 80’s and he loves to use it occasionally in front of visitors.

Simply means I’M THIRSTY. But the imagery associated with it is probably the true magic in the saying.

 

Enjoy these phrases next time you visit these countries or meet someone of that country. I hope you at least get a laugh…. preferably not a slap in the face 😉


Adventure Travel & Backpacker Expo Sydney

Today I went down to the beautiful Darling Harbour to check out the Travel mania that has swept through Sydney this weekend. My focus was on the Adventure Travel & Backpacker Expo but it was easy to get distracted with Mind Body and Spirit as well as two other festivals going on around there.

My greatest surprise of the day was to get into the Expo at around 3pm (closes at 4pm) and see that it was already time to start celebrating the success of the day. However, my sources inform me that the whole expo is like one big backpacker travel party. Good people, travel on the brain, beers and other beverages flowing and generally a great vibe throughout the whole place.

The expo is run by  http://www.myadventureexpo.com/and sponsored by Myexpotravel (http://www.myexpotravel.com/) aswell as TNT Magazine and YHA Australia. The goal of the event is for people interested in travelling in Australia and Around the World, who have a focus on Adventure and Backpacker style travel to connect and learn more about what’s on offer. And man was there a lot on show!

From overseas work to Incredible India, Bungee Jumping in New Zealand and Volunteering in schools in Africa. You had the latest in backpacker accessories, the best in accommodation and backpacking locations around Australia as well as the cream of the crop for Travel agents and guides. Throw in some competitions, live music, 1000’s of brochures, lollies and FREE giveaways and you’ve got the traveller’s dream day.

My favourite stand was definitely the crew from Cairns! They set up a bar and the tunes were pumping out all day. Win friends and influence people with FREE Beer, these guys are on to a good thing.  I was also very impressed with an up and coming group, DragonBus. www.dragonbuschina.com was launched last night and they will be offering a hop on/ hop off bus service in China. You also can’t miss the fun teams at TNT Magazine and TravelManagers for their down to earth vibe and great advice (Contact NickBowditch for all the best deals!)

I really took away from this Expo just how little I know about Australian Travel and the many wonderful places that this great country has to offer. I have been to some of the “must see” destinations in the world- Eiffel Tower in Paris, Taj Mahal in India, Pyramids of Mexico and Oktoberfest of Munich. Sadly though, I have not seen Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or Ayers Rock. I haven’t even been to some of our major cities like Hobart, Adelaide or Darwin. It was definitely a bit of home truth for me and Australia is now at the top of my travel list!

The event is on again tomorrow, 8 November 2009 at the Exhibition & Convention Centre (Darling Harbour). Grab a few mates, cool down with a beer and you can start planning your next big adventure!

For FREE ENTRY visit: http://mytraveladventure.com.au/free-sydney-expo-ticket/


Taiwan offer Free Tourist Tours for Transiting Travellers

Stop over’s and transit time in Airports can often be one of the major pitfalls of International travel.

 

Picture this: You have just been on an 11 hour flight and you now have to wait 6 hours in a sterile, cold, unfriendly and busy International Airport Terminal. You are then faced with another 12 hours or so of flying time before you touch down wearily at your destination. Transit is not all that terrible when you are on your way to a country and your fun filled holiday, but it’s a whole other story on the way back. You are dreaming of your own bed but the wait continues to drag on, will you ever see your beloved pillow again?

 

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is combating this problem with the Transit Tourist program. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau offers FREE half day tours from the Airport on either the cultural route or the City route. This allows travellers to get out for 4-5 hours and enjoy the sites of Taiwan. This is especially good in an airport such as Taiwan Toayuan as it really is a big, sterile, quiet and lonely airport.

 

I was lucky enough to arrive at 6.30am on February 12th 2007, so with what felt like a hangover and 12 hours until my flight left, I was not looking forward to the day. Luckily I bumped into some other weary travellers and we all headed to the tourism desk which we had been notified about on the plane. There were 6 of us there and we quickly formed a bond and chose to do a cultural tour of the city in the morning, this meant that we could get back to the Airport by lunchtime and then travel all together by shuttle to the central Taipei. This way we got the best of both tours.

 

I was so thankful to have something to do for the day and to have met such a unique and interesting bunch of people to spend the time with. A Greek/ Aussie guy named Zoran, A Canadian girl living in Oz named Sarah (Nugs), A Japanese/ Australian whose name evades me and Tony and Nick from Newcastle. We clicked right away and spent the journey to the temple and ancient city chatting about our trips to date.

 

The cultural tour was definitely worth braving the wet and foggy morning for. The ancient city was fascinating with intricately designed buildings containing little businesses that had been running for many years. We really got a great peek into the Taiwanese culture. The guide was brilliant as well. He was knowledgeable, animated and very open to questions. We had 3 hours to stroll around the old city, temple, morning market and small art museum. I was so fascinated by the culture and really was disappointed now that I only had a short day here. Taiwan is onto something with there little taste tester tourist trips. Marketing 101 – free samples!

 

After shopping, seeing the sWhen they say Fresh, they mean Fresh!ights and being stunned by some of the Taiwanese customs- including having a live fish on hooks at your stall to show just how fresh your produce is, we boarded the bus and headed back to the airport. Our now tight knit group then jumped on the city shuttle to head to the famous Taipei 101! How lucky are we to have such a fun filled day with only 10 hours to spare!

 

We arrived at the incredible Taipei 101 and decided lunch was probably the best option first and as the tallest tower in the world also doubles as a shopping centre, we were able to find a rather large food court to satisfy our appetites. Choosing lunch was interesting….. and finding almost an entire chicken in Sarahs soup was an experience, but overall the food was delicious and the choice unfathomable. Great Asian flavours and at wonderfully low prices. Tallest Tower in the World

 

We decided to walk through the many levels of shops that we could never afford to purchase things from and amused ourselves with the many gadgets and products on offer. It was then time for the tallest tower in the world, Taipei 101! Once you reach the top you are greeted with both indoor and outdoor viewing decks which offer amazing views over what appears to be the entire island that is the tiny Taiwan. There was also a museum inside containing strange and unusual coloured lights – we didn’t know the purpose of it but it was fun to explore. Photos were in abundance and many oohs and ahs were spoken. It’s definitely a sight to be seen and one to cross off the old traveller list.

 

We got back to the airport around 8pm as we were all rather tired from our Big Day Out. Happy to realise once we had checked in that we had most certainly made the right decision in having a day out as the Airport was so quiet , sterile and un-welcoming.

 

Of all the airports to have to spend the day in- Taiwan’s International Airport is the best. What a great idea to help tourists on their long journeys and to entice them back to this beautiful and interesting country. If you have the option, choose Taiwan as your international stop-over, all you need is a day to have a fantastic taste of Taiwan!

 

You can take advantage of the Free Half-Day Tour for Transit Passengers offered by the Tourism Bureau. The Presidential Office Building, the Taipei 101 Mall, and several other places of interest are included in the tour. You may register at the Arrival Lobby Tourist Service Center.

 

Terminal I: Morning tour: bus leaves at 7:45 a.m. and returns to the airport before 1 p.m.* Afternoon tour: bus leaves at 1:45 p.m. and returns to the airport before 6:30 p.m.*

 

Terminal II: Morning tour: bus leaves at 7:30 a.m. and returns to the airport before 1 p.m.* Afternoon tour: bus leaves at 1:30 p.m. and returns to the airport before 6:30 p.m.* *Actual return time to terminal may vary according to traffic conditions.

 

For information at the airport go to: http://www.taoyuanairport.gov.tw/english/about/item_e_e.jsp?itemid=6

 

For information on Travel in Taiwan visit the Tourism Bureau website: http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0000236

 

Exploring the Ancient City


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