Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Travel Singapore Guide - A Bus Ride In The Trees

Singapore Bus Trip Guide
Singapore may be a bit squeaky clean for some. There is a rumor that when everybody’s asleep at night, they dust the place. Playing the tourist may also be off-putting to travelers these days, who prefer to spend as much time as possible among the natives, absorbing the true culture and lifestyle of their destination. But there are times when not doing the tourist thing is crazy, and a good example of this is the double-decker sightseeing bus ride around Singapore. The reason? You get to ride among the world’s most beautiful trees.

Singapore is a gloriously planned city. Everything works towards making a stay there pleasurable and there are many
Singapore hotels where one can appreciate the superb engineering of the city. One of the greatest contributors to this is the street plan. There are almost no narrow, congested streets in Singapore, and in the downtown area, the place was conceived on such a grand scale that the boulevards are truly wide open spaces. They are also very cool and temperate. Strolling around in this most strollable of tropical towns, it’s hard to believe that one is almost exactly on the equator. The biggest single reason for this is that the city forefathers had the foresight to plant trees that would grow to such magnificence that they would spread out and cover the boulevards, in many cases reaching over and making a canopy, completely covering the people below in dappled, balmy shade.

Whoever was in charge of choosing, planting and sculpting the trees of Singapore was a creative genius. Many of the more massive trees were not native, but brought from South America over a hundred years ago, because of their height and span. One of the most common of these is the Rain Tree, so called because it predicts rain by folding up its leaves. Nearly 200 of the biggest and most beautiful of these, striding down the boulevards like giants, have been nominated as Heritage Trees – you can nominate one any time you like – and recently someone was arrested for attempting to prune one illegally because it was dirtying his car! That’s the kind of civic pride these beauties inspire.

And the best way to enjoy them is on the top deck of a tourist bus. They’re so awe-inspiring, you won’t want to come down. When in Singapore, ask your hotel concierge for advice. Many
hotels in Singapore will know of the bus and can provide you with more information. Or if you stay in the city, try to get accommodation on the second or third floor of your lodging downtown, just to be among the trees. There are people who actually don’t notice any of this. Imagine that! So be a tourist for once. You can experience all of this for a bus ride that’s almost free.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Travel Australia Guide - Gold Coast offers more than just the Surfers a Paradise

Travel Gold Coast GuideThere is no puzzle as to why Surfers Paradise, which is part of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia is such a popular holiday destination. After all, it is the entertainment and glam capital of the island that is ‘Down Under’, and epitomizes that perfect marriage of city and beach lifestyle.

But it’s the eclecticism of Surfers (as it is affectionately referred to in Australian vernacular) that attracts people from all walks of life. There are activities and events to cater and appease everyone, from families to backpackers, schoolies (young adults who have just finished high school), singles, surfers, honeymooners and retirees. It is home to a host of theme parks and national parks including, Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild Water World, Warner Bros Movie World, Adrenalin Park, the Australian Outback Spectacular and Fleays Wildlife Park. There are about 53 different tours to choose from, ranging from whale watching to scenic hinterland day tours.

Accommodation options in Gold Coast are plentiful, ranging from youth hostels to 5-star hotels. Since there’s so much to do within a limited amount of time, choosing the right location will help. For example, the A1 Crown Towers is located right in the heart of Surfers Paradise and within walking distance to the city center and beaches.

Like most tourist destinations, Surfers Paradise offers a vibrant and varied nightlife that caters to all crowds. To start, Melba’s Restaurant and Nightclub is a great place to dine and dance, with a clientele of all ages. The Rose & Crown, Cocktails & Dreams and The Drink are recommended places for people who love to dance, and for those who prefer to lounge out and chit-chat with a cocktail in hand, My Bar is just that type of place.

And gourmands should be impressed by the variety of cuisines to choose from. Cafes and restaurants line the streets and hotels, offering world class dining experiences. One restaurant currently making waves is Absynthe, where 2-star Michelin Chef Meyjitte Boughenout plates up exciting contemporary French and Australian creations to complement a 600+ wine list.

Shoppers will also be in paradise. Believe it or not, Surfers is the only 7-day, late night shopping district in Queensland, with 14 shopping centers and arcades, offering both retail and duty free shopping. Those keen on a more local experience, should head over to the Beachfront Markets which open every Wednesday and Friday from 5:30-10:00pm.

Indeed, there is something for everyone that visits the paradise that is known as Surfers on Australia’s Gold Coast. The weather is subtropical year-round, it is within close proximity to Brisbane airport (just one hour’s drive) and is about as tourist-friendly as an Australian city can be. For more information about this bronzed Queensland town, go to the official Surfers Paradise website.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Travel Indonesia Guide - How to appreciate the ‘Big Durian’ Jakarta

Travel Jakarta GuideColossal chaos under a blanket of pollution. That is the common perception of Jakarta. But much like its nickname ‘The Big Durian’, this bustling Southeast Asian metropolis may turn your nose at first, buts its rich culture, tremendously friendly residents and historical charm are so full of flavor, they soon become addictive. Let me take you on a fruitful journey into the heart of this fabulous, bewildering city.

If you’re interesting to travel to Indonesia, Bali trip may be the first to come up on your mind, but please do not forget to visit the capital city. Jakarta is simply too massive to explore without fragmenting your experience into specific things to do. Here is our suggestion list:

  • Be seen in the trendy suburb of Kemang. With its selection of boutiques, fine dining and drinking lounges, this is the place to see and be seen.
  • Visit the phallic-shaped, flame-lit national monument (MONAS) otherwise known as Suharto’s “last erection”.
  • Sojourn into the Thousand Islands. The further you venture away from the city, the more pristine the water and vibrant the wildlife. Check out Pulau Sepa, Pantara and Pelangi for the best diving and snorkeling, or if you can, make friends with a billionaire who owns one of the islands!
  • Shop at Plaza Senayan (Pondok Indah) SEA’s second largest shopping mall
  • Traipse around Old Jakarta and see the Museum Wayang (puppet museum)
  • Stay in absolute style at the Mandarin Oriental or designer hotel Kemang Icon
  • Go clubbing at the upscale Dragon Fly and the internationally famous, 24 hour pumpin’, Stadium
  • Munch at restaurants with local cuisine to die for, such as Dapur Babah, Pendoka Kemang or Lara Djonggrang
  • Dream on at Jalan Taman Impian Jaya Ancol themepark

Follow these trip advices, and your holidays in Jakarta could be a delightful vacation after all.