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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from September, 2008

We need a theme song!

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Well, sort of…

I have been assigned the exciting task of finding an upbeat, catchy ‘theme’ song to use for our corporate video (which is going to be awesome, by the way).

Since we are a such a new, young and fun company, we are looking for the equivalent in a local music group.

Is your up-and-coming, UK-based band looking for some global exposure?  (Are you a dedicated groupie, seeking to promote your oh-so-talented friends?)

If so, we want to hear from you ASAP.

Like, today.

Just post a link to your band’s website below, or email me with your contact info and a link to your band’s website at:

carrie.daniel@isango.com

THANKS!

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Vietnam seen as a safe destination

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Vietnam in southeast Asia "is now perceived as a safe destination," according to new research.

Improved "tourism infrastructure" and increased investment due to rising visitor numbers are thought to have brought about the change in perception among holidaymakers.

Commenting on the findings, Voyage Jules Verne”s David Pattison said the appeal lay in the "mix of modern history and ancient culture" Vietnam offers.

Research by the World Travel and Tourism Council found that Vietnam is the 4th fastest-growing tourism destination in the world.

More than four million visited the country in 2007, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.

The increase in tourism is reflected in a rise in inward investment, a significant portion of which is aimed at the top end of the market.

While Thailand is considered by many as the destination of choice for travellers attempting to backpack their way through the region, Vietnam is one of a number of countries growing in popularity as more adventurous tourists look to explore the many different areas of the continent.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18796737-ADNFCR

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Kenya unites at the Mombasa Cultural Carnival

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Each November every part of Kenyan society is represented at the Cultural Carnival, held in the capital Mombasa.

The focus of the celebration is a street parade with incredible floats and beautiful processions drawing on the culture of Kenya”s rich mix of tribes and ethnicities.

From the modern rhythms of young Kenyan musicians to the traditional Swahili sounds of times past, music is a key part of the carnival with live performance scattered all over the city.

In the beginning two parades proceed through the city, meeting in central Moi Avenue for the climax of the event.

Mombasa is also one of Africa”s oldest coastal settlements and its maritime heritage is celebrated in a regatta held by the waterfront.

Kenya has long had a reputation as a destination popular among wealthy westerners travelling there on safari, a remnant of colonial times. But the Mombasa Carnival celebrates the real Kenya and its rich diversity of people and culture.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18796532-ADNFCR

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Hindus and Buddhists unite in Kathmandu

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Followers of the Hindu and Buddhist religions may have many differences but they come together as one to celebrate the festival of Indra Jatra in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu each year.

Taking place from the September 25th to October 2nd, the festival is as much a celebration of classical dances as a religious event, with elaborate costumes and masks representing all manner of gods and demons.

Named after the Lord Jatra, believed to be the king of heaven and god of rain, the festival is a complex mixture of ritual, folklore and myth, deeply rooted in the traditions of both faiths.

The dancing takes place at Dubar Square in the centre of the city and is a parade of colour, energy and music.

Key features of the celebration include a large pole (called ”yosin”) being erected outside the ancient Royal Palace to appease the rain god, before both Buddhist and Hindu mythologies are invoked in a number of parades and symbolic ceremonies.

Earlier this month Nepal Fair 2008 came to London, highlighting Nepalese culture and creating awareness of the country and its people.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18796517-ADNFCR

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‘Sex and the City’ Madness Continues with DVD Release

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Just when I thought the Sex and the City madness had subsided, another wave of Manolo Blahnik euphoria swept over New York City last week at the ‘Sex and the City: The Movie’ Extended Cut DVD launch, which was, apparently, about as posh and exclusive as a ‘real’ film premiere – caviar, carpet, celebrities and all.

This meant I could finally see the film for the first time (wasn’t really up for the cinema queues at the time of release).  Now, as always, I am grateful to Sarah Jessica Parker for giving my name some added sex appeal (thanks!), but I’m not so sure about the strange, stretched out plot of her latest cinematic endeavor.  It was 2 1/2 hours long!  Great for a girls’ night in, I suppose, but I can’t justify owning it (I did, however, own the freebie, giant SATC Galaxy chocolate bar, awarded to my by Blockbuster for my release-day rental…)

I’m really not the best person to talk to about this era-defining series.  My colleagues, however, are big fans and have informed me that our On Location: Sex and the City Tour is well worth it.  Check out the list of famous stops here.

So, if you still haven’t had your fill—if the six-year TV series and loooooong  capstone movie weren’t enough—maybe the behind-the-scenes Sex and the City Tour is your ticket.

Let us know how it goes!

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Coolum gears up for its annual kite festival

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The annual Coolum Kite Festival will be taking place on Coolum Beach in Queensland, Australia on October 11th and 12th.

For the last eight years the skies above Stumers Creek have played host to all shapes and sizes of kite and this year”s festival promises to be the best yet.

Recreational flyers are free to spend the afternoon flying their own kites while the more adventurous can compete against one another in the kite surfing competition.

The best of Australia”s kite-surfing talent will be competing at the event, which is sure to attract a crowd who will be able to sample a range of food and drink while enjoying plenty of live music.

Coolum Kite Festival began in 2000 when a small group of friends decided to inaugurate an event which gathered together kite-fliers from their area.

In its eight year history it has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the most well-known festivals of its kind.

This year it received a AUS$25,000 (£11,300) grant from the Australian government in addition to existing sponsorship.

Over 40,000 thousand are expected to flock to the beach for the festival – all of whom will be praying for strong winds.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18795301-ADNFCR

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Ancient reef found in Australian outback

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A reef ten times larger than the Great Barrier Reef has been discovered in the Australian outback.

At 650 million years old it is believed to be unique in its age and may therefore hold information about a previously uncertain period of primitive life during its formation between two ices ages.

Situated in the northern Flinders Range in Southern Australia, it was discovered by scientists from the University of Melbourne.

"Some of the complex organisms we have seen in the reef have never been discovered previously," associate professor Malcolm Wallace told the Times.

Professor Wallace confirms that the reef is "the right age to capture the precursors to animals", having formed some 80 million years before the oldest fossilised animal remains on record.

Dubbed the Oodnaminta Reef, it is too old to have been made of coral and instead comprises "complex, chambered structures that have not been discovered before," according to the professor.

Just last week it was announced that hundreds of new species of plant and animal life had been discovered at Australia”s Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the most visited natural attractions in the world.

Seniors – Historic Tours – From the Roman Empire to the second world war, these tours bring world history to life.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18794947-ADNFCR

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Europe’s largest waterpark opens in Tenerife

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Siam Park, the largest waterpark in Europe, will open on the Spanish island on Tenerife this week.Attractions include the Dragon and the Volcano, with others catering for all ages and levels of activity.The park even boasts its own surf school which uses the Wave Palace as its aquatic classroom, capable of surf up to three metres high.It is also one of the most technically advanced and environmentally sound waterparks of its type.Tenerife was formed from volcanic activity, meaning it has a barren landscape largely free from botanical life. It also receives very little rainfall.Siam Park features some 8,500 palm trees which are irrigated by the same desalinated sea water used on the slides, avoiding any depletion of the island”s scarce fresh water.There is also an aquarium which is home to many different species of tropical fish and other aquatic life.In an article for the Times, travel journalist Dominic Wells was very impressed with the new attraction.”I”ve been to several of the great American water parks – Schlitterbahn, Six Flags, Disney – and in many respects Siam Park tops them all,” he said.On September 15th Princess Maha Chakri Sirind-horn of Thailand visited the park. The Thai royal family are said to have given it their approval.Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18794384-ADNFCR

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Strange fireballs to return to Thailand”s Nong Khai

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Between October 11th–15th the peculiar Naga Fireballs are set to return to Thailand”s Nong Kahi province.

Each year a number of glowing balls rise up out of the Mekong River, one of the longest in Asia, around 400 miles northeast of Bangkok.

They exhibit a reddish hue and are around the size of a bird”s egg. Anywhere between a handful and many thousands of these objects appear each night and locals give the occurrence mystical and spiritual significance.

Scientists suggest this unusual occurrence is the result of a set of coincidental biochemical circumstances, which result in sediment and decomposing matter at the bottom of the river combusting before the pull of the moon (which is at its fullest during this period) brings them out of the river.

Meanwhile the locals believe they are the breath of the serpent Phaya Naga from Buddhist tradition, which lives at the bottom of the river. Recent suggestions to the contrary have upset their spiritual sensibilities.

The annual event has become a festival to attract tourists and is becoming increasingly well known among adventure travellers.

These silent, mystic orbs can be seen from anywhere along the banks of the river, with the temple of Wat Paa Luang being one of the most popular locations.

Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18794330-ADNFCR

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Register to vote! Absentee ballot info. for U.S. citizens overseas.

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Hey, hey, hey American expats, extended vacationers, students abroad, dual citizens, and anyone who may have his/her head stuck in the clouds in some far corner of the world…….

The Presidential Election is just over a month away!

Have you registered to VOTE?

We try to make our blog topics light and fun, and we are thrilled that you’ve chosen to do a bit of world traveling, but we’ve gotta get serious for a moment:

If you are a U.S. citizen currently overseas and haven’t yet registered to vote, DO IT NOW.

OK? Thanks.  Here is the link:

http://www.fvap.gov/overseas-citizens/request-registration-absentee-ballot/index.html

Deadlines vary by state.  It should take you 10 minutes to register, max.  For some states, you can even do it by email!

Oh yeah: feel free to post below if you have any general comments on the election.  That would be super cool.  And it doesn’t matter where you are from – always good to get an international perspective.

THANKS!

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