Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Travel England Guide - The London Calling

Travel London GuideLiterally a clash of personalities, Travel to London is always exciting, the electric city that anyone should experience at least once. Don’t let the well-used label of it being “one of the most expensive cities in the world” deter you as there are plenty of activities to partake in which won’t break the bank. Here are 10 ways to enjoy the vibrant capital:

1. Muse over History
Most of London’s museums are open to the public for free and there are plenty of them. Don’t miss the Natural History Museum and Museum of London for a thorough and creative display of local culture and history.

2. Cherish the City Views
Views are always free, despite what real estate agents might tell us. And you can appreciate London’s Thames and the classic sights of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey from many different standpoints and times of day.

3. Get Arty
Bite into the Francis Bacon at Tate Modern or see works by artists dating back from the 1500s in the Tate Britain. Visiting art galleries is a must in the UK capitol with other notable places being the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and White Cube.

4. Go Green
Park yourself in one of London’s royal parks, where well-watered foliage provides a lush landscape to further appreciate the city views. Regent’s & St James Park offer the most breathtaking views of the Palace and Big Ben whilst Hyde Park hosts the popular Diana Memorial Fountain and Peter Pan statue.

5. Shop in the Street
Cruise along the eclectic Portobello Market (part of the Notting Hill area made famous by Hugh Grant) on the weekend or try Borough Market and Spitalfields Market which are perfect for gourmands and gluttons alike.

6. Buy a Brew
OK so it’s not free, but can you really appreciate London – or the UK in general – without stopping in for a pint? Of course, pubs are on every corner in this city, but the best ones are those that sell the microbrewery labels on tap. The Market Porter at Borough’s Market is by far one of the finest to sample smaller “real ale” labels.

7. Plug into Free Sounds
On Fridays at 5:15pm, Commuter Jazz plays at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. You can also catch free lunchtime concerts at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Royal Opera House.

8. Commute to an Inner-city Countryside
Whilst still part of Greater London, there is one place where urbanites can feel they are truly out of the city. This would be the Mudchute Park & Farm, a volunteer-run animal farm and park space which is located on the Isle of Dogs in Docklands.

9. See Street Acts
The English have a long affinity with theatre – after all this is the country that gave us Shakespeare – and you can find live performers entertaining in London for free (although spare change is welcome). Check out the West Piazza of Covent Garden Market.

10. Change that Guard
And finally, a trip to London would not be complete without witnessing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Yes, these expressionless men are a British institution.

Enjoy your trip..

Monday, March 3, 2008

Travel Health Guide - Protect yourself against Malaria

Malaria Protect GuideOne of the most common questions travelers ask when going to tropical countries in Asia is whether they should take malaria medication. The fact is, there is no sole answer to the question – it really depends on where exactly you’re going and what you’ll be doing. For example, it would be sensible to take preventative malaria medication if you were planning a trek in Northern Thailand where it is close to the Myanmar border, while the same measures would be unnecessary for a trip to popular beach island, Phuket or Bali.

According to the WHO, preventing Malaria is as simple as ABCD. This is their prevention outline:

  • Be Aware of the malarial risks you face in the country, the symptoms and the incubation period.
  • Avoid being Bitten by mosquitoes, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • Comply with appropriate prophylactic medication.
  • Seek immediate Diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing a fever one week or more in the country you’ve traveled to.

How should I prepare? Keeping in mind the WHO strategy as outlined above, protecting yourself against malaria is mostly about common sense. Here are some other tips:

  • Strategize about what to pack. Since malaria is spread through mosquitoes, you can take simple measures to stop yourself being bitten, such as wearing long-sleeved and trouser-length clothes during the evening and using mosquito repellents and nets.
  • If traveling to a high-risk area, prepare yourself accordingly (note that many high-risk areas will have strains of multi-drug resistant malaria so make sure you check with your doctor that you have the correct medication).
  • Talk to your doctor openly about the real risks of contracting the disease in your travels. Remember that anti-malarials can be expensive, have nasty side effects and are not 100% effective so make sure you need to be taking them.
  • Go to online forums to read about other traveler experiences with malaria-affected countries.

Where can I get more information? For fact sheets and a list of malaria-affected countries and preventative measures you can go also go to the Center for Disease Control.