Monthly Archives: November 2017

A New and Popular Travel Destination

Once called the Middle East, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel have become popular travel destinations. Visited by themselves or in combination, most travelers return satisfied and surprised by their travel experience. For many, they have been on a truly remarkable holiday with a difference. So why is this so? To best answer this, we need to know a little more about these countries and how to travel to and within them.

*How to get there

Most travelers come by air. The national capitals of Damascus, Amman, Beirut and Tel Aviv all have international airports that are serviced by a range of international and Middle Eastern carriers. Both bus and private car travel is possible between most of the countries. Generally these are via a number of single crossing points like Syria-Lebanon and Syria-Jordan (at Derá on the new highway that links the two countries). Land routes exist to bordering countries. Land travel into/from Israel is more restricted. The most common point of entry is via the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge from Jordan. Syria has a somewhat dated rail network. Some services only run weekly but those on the popular central routes operate several services each day.

*How to get around

Trains, buses and taxi’s form the centerpiece of Middle Eastern travel services. Car hire with a guide is provided by many local tourist operators. They generally are cost effective and worth considering. Use Google to find them and always ask for (and check) references. Most will require half of the booking fee wired to them before they will confirm the bookings. A number of international companies including the overland companies offer tours. Again check with Google. A number of universities offer summer archaeological digs. Many of these are fee based and no experience is required.

*When to go

The Middle East enjoys a Mediterranean climate but the summers are hot and the winters cold, especially in the north. March to May is the best time to visit. Those who want to soak up the sun will find the coastal areas mid summer comfortable as temperatures are often influenced by cooler coastal breezes. The area suffers from winter rainfall that can make sightseeing difficult and snow covers the mountains between Lebanon and Syria mid winter.

*The Countries

Syria – Syria is modern, easy to travel in and relatively safe. It’s affordable if you keep away from the more expensive five star international hotels. It has a myriad of charms with excellent food, breathtaking scenery, tons of places of historic interest and friendly people. English is generally spoken in most hotels and markets in the major centers. Damascus is the major attraction with its wonderful markets and historic mosques and palaces. The Umayyad Mosque and the nearby mausoleum of Saladin (one of the greatest heroes of Arab’s history), are a “must see”. Plan a couple of days to enjoy Damascus. Consider at staying in one of the renovated boutique hotels that have sprung up in the past ten years. Many of these are ancient palaces in the Old City and are well worth the little extra cost. Do take the time to drive out to Palmyra for the site of the city that built to rival Rome. Homs with its water wheels in on the road to Apamea. This has an avenue of two kilometers of granite columns. Both are worth visiting and are part of 20 or more major archaeological sites that can be visited by tourists. Wandering around ruins of forts, mosques, churches and palaces provides a wonderful insight into what life was like two thousand years ago. Looping back towards Damascus is the most famous of the Crusader castles, Krak des Chevaliers. It is remarkably intact and it will be enjoyed by castle enthusiasts.

Jordan – Jordan has a huge selection of fascinating history to offer the tourists. It is steeped in the history of the Old Testament. The ancient cities of Petra and Jerash date back to Roman times when they were great trading cities along the Silk Road. Jerash is the “Pompeii of the East” and needs a little background reading to fully appreciate the historic context of the site. Take your time to explore it; you are walking through centuries of history. Although Amman is the relatively modern capital of Jordan, you’ll find the satellite city of Salt with its narrow streets and quaint houses is worth the visit. Jordan has a fascinating history of craft, Bedouin weaving, embroidery, pottery and ceramics, jewellery and glassblowing. These crafts are still very much part of Jordanian life today. The Bedouin hospitality and wonderful local cuisine is legendary.

Driving south from Amman you’ll find the now spreading town of Petra. To walk down the half mile long suq, you will be surprised by the beauty of the pink stone Treasury at the entrance of the old city of Petra. It will take your breath away. Read about Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who discovered Petra in 1812, before you go. His is indeed an amazing story. South of Petra is the now modern port of Aqaba made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. West of here you’ll find Wadi Rum where the film of Lawrence’s war-time exploits was made. Here, an option is to stay with the Bedouins in their cloth covered black tents. They are remarkably comfortable. Take a camel ride out to the secret camp where Lawrence planned his desert campaigns. You might return a little saddle sore but you will have really “ridden” in the footsteps of history.

Lebanon – Lebanon is a relatively small country. The highlights are generally along the coast. Here is the colorful coastal town of Byblos and further north is the ancient Crusader city of Tripoli with it’s interesting souqs (markets), mosques and hammams (baths). Turning inland, you will pass through the picturesque villages of the Qadisha Valley, through the Cedars and on to historic Baalbeck which has magnificent Roman ruins said by some to be the best preserved in the world, The route continues through the vineyards at Bekaa and then Umayyad ruins of Aanjar. Nearby is the charming village of Deiral-Qamar and the Beiteddine palace with its wonderful gardens.

Israel – Don’t ignore Israel as a possible travel destination. Access difficulties can be overcome by careful planning or with the help of an experienced travel operator. It’s the Holy Land and steeped in history. Most visitors head for Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho but there lots of little know archaeological sites like the old Roman capital of Galilee called Tzipori. In Jerusalem, the old City of David, The Citadel and Church of the Holy Sepulcher with the nearby Wailing Wall, draws the most tourists. What is believed to be the oldest church in the world is in Bethlehem. A silver star marks the place where it is believed that Christ was born.

Some tourists choose to visit the Dead Sea. It is off Highway 90 west of Jerusalem. Personally, although unique, I think that it is overrated. Those with more time might consider visiting Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Further a field you’ll find Masada with its spectacular ruined fortress.

Take care in Israel photographing or showing interest in border and military installations or personnel. You’ll get used the very obvious security presence.

*Visas

All these countries have different visa requirements. Generally Israel does not require a visa for most western countries. Tourists are allowed a stay of up to 90 days. However, it is necessary to avoid getting your passport stamped upon entry or exit as this causes problems of entry into Lebanon and Syria. Ask the border officials to stamp your entry permit instead. Better still, put Israel last on your itinerary. Jordanian visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport and at most border crossings. It is best to get Syrian visas in advance. USA, most EU, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand passport holders can get a visa to enter Lebanon at the border. Jordan allows entry/exit to Israel via the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge without a multi-entry visa.

Travel Destination That You Cannot Miss

Kuching is the most popular holiday city in East Malaysia and Borneo Island, along with Kota Kinabalu. There are a lot of popular locations that you can make a visit in Kuching. Listed below are 5 Main Kuching travel places.

Sarawak Cultural Village

Sarawak Cultural Village is the No1 tourist destination that you cannot afford to ignore. It is an award winning “live museum” where it hires real people from 7 Sarawak main races groups to live in there. Hence tourists are ready to see the lifestyles, arts, games, clothes, food of 7 different cultures in one place. Tourists will also be treated with a 45 minutes of traditional dance and music at the end of the visit.

Sarawak Museum

Sarawak Museum is considered as an extract of the entire of Sarawak, due to the fact that it stores and exhibits the most massive collection of artifacts of the indigenous people of Borneo in it”s 2 buildings. The original one has a Normandy townhouse style whereas the new building has genuine imitation of the life in the prehistoric of Niah Caves. With such riches of collections of Borneo, Sarawak Museum has earned enormous reputation from around the world. Your Kuching travel trip will never be perfect if you don’t visit Sarawak Museum.

Annah Rais Bidayuh Longhouse

This is an actual authentic Bidayuh longhouse within 1 and half hours drive from Kuching. The longhouse is kept in its original state, so as the local people dwelling here who are carrying out farming and are exercising traditional life style, even though lots of visitors go to the village everyday. If you want to experience their lifestyle by yourself, you can opt to dwell with one of the native villager here.

Semenggoh OrangUtan Rehabilitation Center

Orang Utan is a near extinct creature that is very well protected in Sarawak which can only be seen in Sarawak Malaysia. In this rehabilitation centre, Orang Utans are not kept in cage and they are roaming freely in the jungles. You might go into the jungle to hunt for them and look at their behavior directly if you are adventurous enough. Alternatively you also can catch them during the eating time at 9am and 3pm every day.

Bako National Park

Bako national park gives you you the chance to enjoy the gorgeousness of the nature and to observe the wildlife in detail. You can have intimate interaction with the endangered species of Probosics Monkey or have a little jungle trekking at the paths you can find here. You will see various interesting flora and fauna as well as awesome waterfalls and beaches while in the trekking.

Kuching will be an exciting destination to enjoy your holiday. In addition to surprised by the many attractive Kuching travel destinations here, you will also be amazed by the warm welcoming of the city’s nice and friendly people too.

Luxury Travel Destinations

“An experience is etched in our minds due to the value returned”

I look at the dollars in my wallet to determine where I am going next, what activity should be first on the list or at least moved up and if what I am hungry for is nearby. Should we go to the water or inland to explore waterfalls? Should we drive up a winding mountain road or ride the tram?

Sure a camera can capture scenes for future reflection but receiving value that was unanticipated etches a memory, there to recall with any conversation regarding the trip. Think back to your most remembered trips. What is the memory recalled? Why are you able to recall it?

Experiences are the main reasons we vacation. Why we choose to go to many of the destinations is so something new or unusual will occur to improve our moods. But many times we find certain costs prohibitive to an over-reaching experience.

Here is what I am speaking of; if you are going to any destination for one week, hoping to experience the lifestyle of the area, visit several sites of interest and enjoy the local foods. If the cost of the hotel/condo/resort accommodations is high, the chances of multiple experiences drops relative to these costs.

Instead the options will have to be listed, looked at for cost analysis and certain activities will have to be crossed out, saved for a return trip. To make these secondary choices once at the location adds disappointment, even subconsciously, detracting from the experience.

Luxury travel destinations are defined by the experiences of the trip. Luxury is defined by the traveler; it is not always the heightened monetary expenses because luxury comes in many packages. We as individuals, are allowed to define our lives in our own ways and I choose to define luxury travel based on the value returned.

If my memory is packed with unforgettable activities, scenes, experiences and the costs were low for the trip, there is no greater luxury. A memory has no price tag; it goes on and on and on allowing reliving of the experience and things to expand on should a return trip occur.

Getaway ideas will increase because I know now that when I am taking luxurious travel vacations, I will be getting more value experiences due to the reduced accommodations charges I have defining my trip as luxurious. There is value in every trip I take, how about yours?

Travel Destinations In Kenya

Kenya, which lies in East Africa has a lot to offer. The various national parks and wilderness are the leading tourist destinations in the country. Wildlife has made this East African country one of the most favorite tourist attractions in the world. A part from this, there are other travel destinations where you can spend your holidays and have complete adventure. For instance, the coast along the Indian Ocean in Mombasa is one of Africa major attraction site. A combination of the exotic beaches, marine life, world-class hotels, beautiful Islands and the friendly people of Mombasa make your travel a complete adventure. The Mamba Village is a unique attraction crocodile farm situated near Nyali. This is the largest crocodile farm in the country. Here, you will see different crocodile species, learn their behavior pattern and lifestyle.

Malindi is another travel destination with so much to offer. The long coral beaches and the Malindi National park are the highlights of this beautiful Island. The residents of Malindi rely on cotton, sisal and fishing for their living. This place is ideal for snorkeling, diving, fishing and surfing. You can explore the Malindi National Park by boat as you watch the marine life.

Lamu archipelago is another peaceful and beautiful place to visit. There are two main Islands in the archipelago, namely Lamu and Manda. The main means of transport in these two areas is the donkey. One common thing with these two Islands is their long beaches, ideal for picnic and relaxation under the hot sun. Manda Bay is a sanctuary for many wildlife mammals, butterflies, reptiles and different types of birds. As you tour the Lamu Island, you will see some ancient architecture, mango and coconut plantations. Famous activities in Lamu include; sailing, fishing, snorkeling, diving and exploring the long beaches.

Marsabit National Park is the most remote national park in Kenya, located in a desert region. The park is a forested mountain rising up out of the surrounding desert. It is a habitat home to wildlife such as lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, giraffe, hyena, warthog, elephant and the antelope. You can camp in the park for better game viewing and photography. The small town of Marsabit has basic facilities including a bank, petrol station, post office, airport, restaurants and shops.

Kisumu, the third largest town in Kenya is a business and transportation hub. This town is in an area of intensive agriculture, valleys, green hills, thick forest and mountains. Kisumu town is located in the eastern shores of lake Victoria. You can reach the town by road, rail, boat or air. The Kisumu Museum is a famous travel destination, where you will learn more about the history of Kisumu. You will also have a chance to see Lake Victoria, which the largest fresh water lake in Africa.