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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 in ‘Isango’

The Paris Pass – Your Best Friend

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Paris – The City of Lights – is probably the most beautiful and romantic city in the world.  Its iconic landmarks, magnificent cathedrals, museums of every kind, beautiful tree-lined avenues, vivid gardens, the scenic River Seine, pretty street cafés, incredible choice of entertainment and world-famous fashion houses will satisfy every visitor’s whim.  Paris never fails to delight.

Paris Pass 1
More than 45 million people come from every corner of the planet every year!  They come to see and experience, for themselves, the many famous attractions of Paris.  The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles are all synonymous with this wondrous city.

You should remember that very few Paris attractions are free.  You will need to buy tickets to enter monuments, museums, churches and historical sites and they can add up to a large pile of Euros.  Another problem that Paris’ popularity poses is the difficulty and length of time required to enter her majestic attractions.  Queues can be long and winding.  It could easily take you from 45 minutes to an hour to get into highly visited sites and in the summer heat, that is not a joy.  The solution to the above woes is to get yourself a Paris Pass.

Savings!  Savings!  Savings!

That is the best way to describe the Paris Pass.  Purchase a Paris Pass and you save on time, money and your energy levels.  It is a real life-saving sightseeing package that provides you with all you need to make the most of your precious time in Paris.

pARIS pASS 2

The Paris Pass gives you entry to the city’s top attractions as well as public transport.  One of its magic like qualities is that it offers skip-the-line access to attractions so that you enter without having to queue up.  Some highlights of the Paris Pass are:

  • Sightseeing with the Paris Pass with free admission to over 60 attractions
  • Choose from a 2, 4 or 6-day Paris Pass
  • Monstrous savings.  2 Day Adult Pass (€30 savings): 4 Day Adult Pass (€66): 6 Day Adult Pass (€122)
  • Free use of public transport – including Metro, buses and RER services for the duration of the Pass
  • Skip the line entrance to Paris’ most famous attractions, including the Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and the Centre Pompidou
  • Free entry to Paris’ best attractions including, Musée Grévin and Tour Montparnasse Tower
  • Special offers and discounts at restaurants and shops
  • Free and very handy city map of Paris
  • Free one day Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour with informative commentary
  • Free 120 page Paris guidebook that is a marvelous guide filled with tips and useful information about the city and its attractions.  It is an excellent tour planner

The Paris Pass is an indispensable tool and a comprehensive sightseeing package for anyone who wants to get as much of Paris, into their itinerary, as possible.

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Pompeii Contest – Win a free trip to the Lost City!

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When their world exploded around them, many of Pompeii’s residents tragically (or should one say ‘thankfully’) never saw it coming – literally!  When Vesuvius erupted, the ash it spewed completely blocked the sun’s rays!  The day Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii, events happened so rapidly, many people were killed instantly.  In the midst of going about their everyday lives – cooking, carrying out business, domestic chores and even sleeping.

Pompeii Ruins, Italy

Ash totally blanketed the city and her citizens.  Pompeii’s tragedy was unknown for 1500 years!  That was because the ash and debris totally covered the city, hiding it for all that time.  We can view the wonderful houses, mosaics, statutes, jewels, coins and hundreds of artefacts that give us an amazing insight into the daily life and activities of average Pompeian’s – all incredibly intact! Pompeii is like a two thousand year old 3D picture book showing life-size pictures of restaurants, baths, a market, a bar, fountains and even a brothel.

The Movie
This is the epic story of Pompeii’s destruction in 79 AD and the hero, Milo, played by Kit Harington, a slave turned invincible gladiator.  He has to race against Vesuvius’ rapidly brewing ‘eruption’ time to save his true love Cassia (Emily Browning).  As Mount Vesuvius erupts in terrifying and destructive fury, Milo must desperately fight his way out of the arena in order to save his beloved.  The movie is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

Pompeii Competition
isango! has come up with an absolutely spectacular way for you to get to Pompeii.  You don’t even have to dip into your wallet or bank account.  All your travel expenses including an extra £200 spending money will be paid by isango!

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It’s no gimmick.  Simply click on the link below and you will be directed to the Facebook app-

https://apps.facebook.com/Pompeii/isangotravel

Once on the page, you watch the trailer of Pompeii, answer the very simple questions based on the trailer, submit your entry and wait for our call.

Don’t hang about!  This offer is too good for you to miss.

Thousands of people have already put in their claim to that airline seat to ancient Pompeii and gorgeous Italy. The last date to enter is 30th June and the winner will be announced in July. Get set go!

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Seeing London – Three Times The Pleasure

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“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…,” wrote Samuel Johnson.  More perceptive words were never written, for London never ceases to engage, impress and inspire.  It is a leading financial center of the world, home to the mother of parliaments, art and literary capital, fashion trendsetter and the inspiration for poets, romantics and dreamers.

Visitors from all around the world come to gaze at and admire London’s many historic sites, iconic buildings and monuments and also partake of its varied and exciting offerings.  London never ceases to attract and every year more and more come to stroll through its well-known streets and wander its famous lanes. There are different ways, besides the traditional coach or open top double-decker buses, to see London’s landmarks and experience its allure. You can read about the 3 most popular ones here-

The Thames – London’s most famous thoroughfare
For centuries the Thames has been the main route for commercial traffic and sailors heading off to or returning from distant lands.  That role has become even more exciting.  You can now marvel at most of London’s landmarks from a Thames River boat.  View Big Ben, the House’s of Parliament, London Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the city in an entirely different way.

thames river cruise facebook

You can choose from several boating options.  Take an all day cruise or spend the evening on a Thames dinner cruise and experience the beating heart of London town by day, or night when all the lights are on.  Or you could speed through London at 35 knots on a speedboat along the River Thames and get that James Bond rush!

The Shard’s View
Yes, it is called The View!  When you are standing at 800 feet (244 metres) above London, you understand why it is called The View.  With that great city spread out below your feet and every landmark clearly visible, you finally get a perspective of why it is one of the greatest cities in the world.  It is a visual experience that goes deep into your heart.

This experience begins when you whoosh upwards in one of two high speed lifts to Level 68 and the first of your highs kicks in.  You are at cloud level.  The next part of your skyward journey is Level 69 where you get a true 360? view of London.  You can see for about 64kms into the distance.  To broaden your experience the vista stretching out before you is brought to life in the multimedia displays.

view from the shard Twitter

The pinnacle of your sensory buzz is reached when you get to Level 72.  Here you are open to the wind and the sun and the sky.  With the city sounds drifting faintly up from the streets below, there is nothing above but the shards of glass reaching ever upwards.  As you make your way down to the ground floor of The Shard your memories will forever be up among the clouds above London.

The London Eye View
The London Eye has managed to become the most popular attraction in a city absolutely crammed with so much history, beauty and thrilling things to do.  A sedate half hour passes while you catch, literally, a bird’s eye view of London from one of its clear-screen high tech glass capsules.

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When you get to the top of the wheel’s arc – 135 metres high – you get a wonderful view of central London and all its iconic landmarks.  The River Thames flows below with St James Park in front and the contrasting styles of the Gherkin Building and Big Ben looming upwards from the rest of the city.  As you gaze down on Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, you cannot help but be in awe of the spectacular view that the world’s tallest observation wheel provides.  It is truly one of the modern world’s architectural wonders and a ride not to be missed.

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Beat The Dubai Heat

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When summer comes around to the desert city of Dubai, it’s time to head for the shady and air-conditioned environs.  The day temperatures can soar to a skin-burning 47 to 50 degrees Celsius.  However, this city has come up with innumerable and clever ways to avoid or beat the heat so you can stay cool.

Here are some ideas and cool attractions that will help you relax and enjoy Dubai through its long summer months -

Wear light cotton clothes and go for the loose fit.  It may sound obvious but what you wear helps cope with the heat.  Also, when you have to go outside, wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen and carry a hat or cap.  Drink lots of water and increase the number of times you shower.  These are basic guidelines but a good start in staying cool.

However, it’s not all about getting into survival mode.  There are plenty of activities that can be fun while keeping cool.  You could hang out at one of Dubai’s many theme parks.

Water Park Dubai

One of the better known parks is the Wild Wadi Water Park right opposite the Burj Al Arab.  It has a variety of water slides and features catering for all ages, skills and levels of enthusiasm.  Other well-appointed ones are The Dolphin Bay, the Aquaventure Waterpark, Marine Animal Adventures and The Lost Chambers Aquarium.  Besides getting up close and friendly with the sharks and stingrays, these parks offer plenty of shade, cool spots and a choice of great food.  You could make a day out of a visit to any of these places.

If you really want to chill out, then Dubai has incredible recreations of polar landscapes- the Dubai Ice Rink and the Ski Dubai Snow Park.  The rink is located within the Dubai Mall.  Here you can learn, practice or hone your skating skills on an Olympic sized rink.  You can get classes or participate in disco sessions and show your stuff.  You can also take a break at other entertainment features, the many eateries or do some shopping, after all this is one of the world’s largest malls.

Another winter-imported wonderland in Dubai is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.  The Ski Dubai Snow Park is located within the fabulous Mall Of The Emirates and the temperatures are maintained below freezing point.  You can ski, toboggan, bobsled, frolic or indulge in snowball fights with friends and family.  There is a Giant Ball run, slides and a colony of Emperor Penguins.  There are even snowfalls to keep you in the mood and give you the full Monty winter experience.

Malls Dubai

Of course the biggest reason people come to Dubai is to shop.   Shopping (even if you don’t drop) is one of the best past-times in this emirate.  Dubai’s many dazzling malls offer more than just discounts.  You can stay cool in the shops, restaurants and entertainment centers within their premises.

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5 Must-dos While Visiting the Italian Dolomites

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The Italian Dolomites are one of the most fantastic mountains in the world.  Their sharp pointed pinnacles and steep pale stony cliffs plunge steeply down to green valleys, creating some of the most incredible landscapes in the world.  There are eighteen summits that extend beyond 3,000 metres in height with Marmolada being the highest.

The Dolomites (meaning ‘pale mountains’) are sturdy in contrast.  Rough crags, pinnacles and towers encircle magical green meadows, multi-coloured forests, fields and lakes.  These striking contrasts are at its best in Cortina – ‘the pearl of the Dolomites’.   The whole region has been designated a UN Heritage Centre.

Dolomites article

There are many reasons to visit the area.  Here are our picks on the most satisfying things you can do while touring the Dolomites.

Adventure Activities
The Dolomites are renowned for skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, base jumping, paragliding, hang gliding and free climbing.  The Alte Vie or ‘Alpine Trails’ are world famous and, in some instances, really challenging treks. These mountains are a rock climbers’ dream with different sorts of climbs for all – novices, skilled as well as the seriously professional types.

Soar like an eagle under a parachute or glider’s wings from one of the mountains and thrill to the feeling of weightlessness – and live your dream.  You will get a view which only a few others do – above the spectacular peaks of the Dolomites.

The Dolomite region is a skier’s heaven.  Short summers and long winters make it ideal for extended skiing seasons.  The most famous and best skiing town is Cortina d’Ampezzo.  The 1956 Winter Olympics were held there.

Visit The Tunnels And Galleries In The Dolomites
In the early 20th century the border between Germany, Austria and Italy passed through the Dolomites.  During World War I, it was the frontline.  Soldiers on both sides excavated several series of tunnels in the mountains in order to fire at each other and wrest control of the heights.

Hiding places in the Dolomites (World War I)

Hiding places in the dolomites

These tunnels and galleries contain the remnants and artefacts of that period till date.  You can explore and see the still preserved barrack rooms (complete with sleeping bunks and heating stoves), storerooms, machinegun emplacements and other war relics.

Take Cable Car/Ski Lift Rides
The experience of a cable car or ski lift ride in the Dolomites is unlike any other.  They provide spectacular views unequalled in the world.  Even in this picture postcard world, some locations stand out from the others.  Just to name three – Lagazuoi near Cortina, Pass Pordoi and Mont Seuc.  The Dolomites, with the light on them constantly changing, are a photographer’s delight.  Once viewed, the scenery from the lifts will be sure to drag you back.

The ‘queen of the Dolomites,’ Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites.  The entire journey in getting up to the top is an experience not to be missed.  As your gently swaying cable car lifts you towards the peak and above the clouds, you feel like you have wandered into a movie set.  The views are awe-inspiring and on a clear day you can see Venice!

Tour The lakes
If the sight of peaks of this region leave you in awe, their counterparts, the placid clear waters among the Dolomites are just as captivating.  These numerous pools of magic are flanked by golf-course like meadows and groves of trees while reflecting the pale peaks rising above them.  The picturesque little towns and villages that sit on their banks add to their allure.

Lake Auronzo di Cadore is an outstanding example.  Its fairy-tale surroundings are further enhanced in winter when the waters totally freeze up to the point where polo is played on it.  Another serene and tranquil lake is Misurina which is worth a visit.  Lake Misurina is where the speed skating events were held during the 1956 Winter Olympics (it was the last time Olympic speed skating events were held on natural ice.)  The spectacular scenery of Lake Misurina features in most photos of the area.

Spend The Night In A Mountain Hut (Rifugio)
To round off your Dolomites adventure or make it even more memorable, you should stay at a traditional alpine hut.  You can really soak in the magical atmosphere of the mountainous landscape.  The long history of mountaineering in the Alps has seen the building of many huts (rifugios) along the trails and throughout the high Dolomite massifs.  These wonderful wooden or stone cabins are very often perched precariously on the rocks.  The vistas from here are extraordinary.  There is no greater feeling than the camaraderie of other walkers, sharing an excellent dinner, a good night’s sleep and a generous breakfast before you set off again.

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isango! Travel Ideas for April – Spring Magic

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It’s spring in most of the Northern Hemisphere.  It is during this time, when the flowers bloom and the world is green and pretty with the promise of pleasures to come, that the travel bug bites.

Here are some exciting isango! picks of places to be this month.

Los Angeles, Southern California
The Oscar season is over but the stars will always shine in Los Angeles, the Entertainment Capital of the World.   Visit Mann’s Chinese Theatre’s to see nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs embedded in the concrete of the forecourt.  Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame where some 2,500 celebrities are immortalised by stars on the sidewalk.  Take a tour of the incredible mansions of Hollywood’s superstars in the famous Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills districts and you will realise that the movies are really the biggest thing in this town.

los angeles

Glamour and beauty is all around whether you are relaxing at the Venice Beach or are window shopping at Rodeo Drive.  There is also charm and quaintness to be found in the small shops, stalls and cafés in the narrow passages of the Farmers’ Market.

Paris
‘I love Paris in the springtime,’ sang the poet and he had every reason to do so.  It is a magical time to be in Paris.  The Paulownia trees and lavender are among a myriad flowers breaking out, in all their glory, in every garden and park.  This is especially so of the Tuileries Garden and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Spring also brings out the locals and kick starts the café culture.  The alluring aroma of coffee and hot croissants is simply irresistible.  The Paris springtime nights are magical and dinner in one of the many restaurants or cruise ships on the Seine will be etched long in the memory.

Paris

At this time of the year, the countryside around Paris is absolutely gorgeous.  Take a day trip to the Champagne region of France.  The geometrically ordered rows of grape vines marching across hillsides and encircling tiny picturesque French villages are the stuff of picture postcards.

Japan
The month of April is the best time to visit Japan.  The country will be blanketed by the beautiful, delicate pink cherry blossoms (sakura).  This collection of islands is absolutely packed with natural beauty and a gracious people who have created a unique and amazing cuisine.  Japan has 16 World Heritage Sites reflecting an ancient history and a rich culture.

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Among its countless splendours are the centuries old shrines and temples of Kyoto, which are national treasures and the finest symbols of Japanese heritage.  A trip on the legendary Nozomi Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto is an enthralling journey that goes past the iconic Mt. Fuji and scenic countryside.  Tokyo is an eclectic mix of the old and the futuristic, best exemplified by wild street fashions, inspired by (and often outdoing) anime comics, and the wonderfully sedate ancient Geisha traditions.

Turkey
Istanbul mirrors its vibrant history.  Straddling the Bosphorus Strait, it links Asia with Europe.  The city has evolved into a multi-cultural melting pot and the financial hub of the country.  The minarets of the Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church easily rub shoulders with modern skyscrapers and look down upon bustling shopping malls and restaurants.

istanbul

The old city of Istanbul (once Constantinople) is where most of the famous historical sites of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods are located.  The new city is epitomised by the upmarket and trendy Taksim Square and Beyoglu in the Galata district (once home to Istanbul’s Jews), which are a hive of flourishing art galleries, museums, bars, nightclubs, entertainment centres and restaurants.  The action in Istanbul never stops and is in perpetual high-gear.

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Famous Easter Celebrations Around The World

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Easter is a really important time for Christians around the world.  It begins the week before on Palm Sunday and is called the Holy Week. It is the end of the 40 day period of fasting known as Lent.  Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified on Good Friday.

Christians around the world observe and celebrate Easter in many different ways.  There are sunrise services, Easter egg painting and parades. Two things are common though – church services and plenty of good food.

We show you how different cities around the world celebrate Easter.

Seville, Spain
The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in Seville are one of the most spectacular in the world.  The atmosphere is really terrific.  Every day there are huge colourful processions with masked participants and floats depicting scenes from Christ’s passion.  The floats are elaborately decorated and feature startlingly lifelike sculptures – some of which are several centuries old masterpieces.  It is a really important occasion for local Catholics and the many worshippers who come from across the world.

Easter 1

Jerusalem
As the Lenten period draws to a close, Jerusalem is packed with thousands of local and foreign Christians.  Celebrations in Christianity’s most holy city happens on a more emotional and spiritual plane.  Every year pilgrims come to join in processions that retrace the steps Christ took on the way to his crucifixion.  Known as the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering), it winds through narrow passageways from Lion’s Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The solemn yet joyous services at the Holy Sepulchre on Easter Sunday are especially important as Christians believe that this is the place where Jesus was buried and later resurrected.  A visit to the historic and picturesque Mount of Olives, Jesus’ favourite place, is not to be missed.

Rome
The spiritual and administrative centre of the Roman Catholic Church, Rome hosts a number of traditional and religious events.  For two weeks there are processions and church services (some candlelit/torch lit) to mark the most important event in the Christian calendar.  The Good Friday processions are particularly poignant as actors enact the Passion of Christ leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.

The Pope is involved in many of the services.  On Easter morning he will celebrate open air mass in St Peter’s Square with many thousands of worshippers.  After the mass he delivers the blessing known as the "Urbi et Orbi – to the City and to the World" from the balcony on the façade of Saint Peter's.

Buenos Aires
Argentina is almost 85% Catholic and so Easter is an important time for people.  There are numerous religious events around this time.   La Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Argentina is observed by candlelit processions through the streets accompanied by melodious choirs.  Easter in Argentina involves plenty of delicious foods and sweets.  It is a time when families get together and conjure some tasty dishes.

One of the most popular destinations in Buenos Aires during Easter is the Tierra Santa Religious Theme Park.  The park is a recreation of many Christian related sites and buildings of ancient Jerusalem that give you the feeling of being in that holy city even though you are many thousands of miles away.  During the Holy Week they put on special programmes re-enacting the important events in the life of Christ.

New York
This city likes to put on a show and Easter is just the occasion when New York puts its best foot forward.  The many churches have services all through the Holy Week.  The lovely and most famous church in the city is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Central New York.

Easter parade

Aside from the religious observances, one of the most famous (and rather hilarious) events is the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival.  The event takes place on the celebrated Fifth Avenue.  You have got to see (and join in if you want) the jaw-dropping bonnets, hats and outfits.  Some are elegant, some are interesting and many are just plain over-the-top creations.  Some people even bring their dressed up dogs!

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The Sights of Putrajaya

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Putrajaya is a showpiece city.  One cannot help but notice that.  This deliberately planned official federal capital of Malaysia is about 25km away from Kuala Lumpur.  The designers and planners have come up with an amazing blueprint.  

There are two very striking aspects to Putrajaya. One is the huge amount of area devoted to green spaces – like parks, gardens and botanical gardens.  The other feature is the magnificent buildings and monuments.  The city is traversed by broad and impressive avenues.

There is plenty to see and admire in Putrajaya and the best way to do so is to take a convenient tour from Kuala Lumpur.

Buildings

  • The Putra Mosque is outstanding for its pink colour and size and sits on the banks of the man-made Putrajaya Lake.  With a capacity of 15,000 worshippers, it is the principal mosque in Malaysia.

putra mosque 2

  • The Perdana Putra is a huge building housing the Prime Minister’s Office.  It incorporates Malay, Islamic and European neo-classicism architectural styles.  Massive and imposing, it is next door to the Putra Mosque.
  • The Putrajaya International Convention Centre sits at the head of Putrajaya Boulevard.  Looking like an alien spaceship, it is designed to resemble a Malay belt buckle.  The building can seat 10,000 people and is regularly used to host high profile conferences and conventions.
  • The Millennium Monument is a 68 metre tall obelisk with contributory architecture shaped like the hibiscus flower.  The pillar has etchings that mark important dates and events of Malaysia’s history.  At night when it is lit up, it looks very pretty.
  • The Putrajaya Landmark is located within the Taman Putra Perdana Park.  It’s a contemporary design with a high-technology theme.  Its overall impression is of a wizard’s hat from a Harry Potter film.  The Landmark site is surrounded by a maze of walkways and numerous scattered gazebos.
  • Jambatan Seri Wawasan Bridge is quite a visually striking one.  It is a combination of concrete, cables, and steel.  Lit up at night, it is very attractive.

When visiting the buildings and monuments in Putrajaya you need to keep in mind that there is a dress code.  T-shirts, shorts, sandals and “indecent” ladies wear are not allowed.

Parks and Gardens

  • The most important among the numerous parks and gardens is the Botanical Gardens (Taman Botani Putrajaya).  It is divided into three areas – flowers, ornamental plants and research.  It houses local plants as well as those from other parts of Asia, the Pacific and Africa.  It also has themed areas – Explorer’s Trail, Palm Hill, Floral Gardens, the Sun Garden and the Lakeside.

A visit to Putrajaya is worth the effort and time spent to see a beautiful ‘city-in-progress.’  It is a city that seeks to be progressive while striking a balance between the urban and the natural aspects of living.   So far it is succeeding.

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10 Things To Know About The Phi Phi Islands

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The Phi Phi Islands are the most iconic symbol of Thailand.  They are featured on nearly every poster promoting the country.  They are amazing pieces of rock with stretches of achingly beautiful white sandy beaches.  They are located just off Thailand’s western coast in the Malacca Straits and only 50kms south-east of Phuket.  For the vast majority of visitors, the islands are the main reason for going to Thailand.

Here are some interesting details about the Phi Phi (pronounced pee-pee) Islands.

  • There are six islands in all.  Most of them are just tall pieces of limestone rock sticking out of the fantastic blue waters of the sea and covered with scattered plants and shrubs.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

  • The two largest islands are Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Lee. Only Phi Phi Don is inhabited.  Ko in Thai means “island.” The name Phi Phi is Malay.  An interesting derivation for the name comes from the original name “Pulao Pi ah Pi,” which translates to “Fiery Tree” and refers to the local Grey Mangrove tree.
  • The islands first came to fame in 2000.  The beach of Maya bay was the setting for the movie The Beach.
  • The waters around Ko Phi Phi are fabulous for scuba diving and snorkelling.
  • The entire Phi Phi archipelago region is a protected area and part of the Thai marine National Park set up.  This has ensured that there is an abundant and varied marine life – and you don’t have to go far too out.  You can see large schools of multi-coloured fish swimming around your legs in the shallow water.
  • Ko Phi Phi Lee has many caves, one of which is world famous.  It is known as “Viking Cave.” The caves are the source of the thriving and profitable birds nest soup industry.

Maya Bay

Maya bay

  • The Phi Phi Islands were the earliest inhabited parts of Thailand.  Communities settled here as far back as pre-historic times. The local population is a good mix of Chinese, Thai and sea gypsies.  There are also Buddhists and Muslims, which means that there is always some festival being celebrated.
  • Longtail boat races and regular boat-launching ceremonies are held frequently, which are always colourful; a great time for music and traditional dancing.
  • The Phi Phi Islands have only two seasons – hot (January to April) and rainy (May to December).  The rain showers come in short but very heavy downpours.
  • Ko Phi Phi Don was devastated by the Christmas tsunami of 2004.  The restoration since then has been tremendous with the introduction of paved roads. The great thing, though, is that no motor vehicles are allowed.  Bicycling is the most popular and rewarding mode of transport.

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Game of Thrones – A Tourism Tsunami

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For three seasons, the Game of Thrones has been enthralling the world as they follow the often violent and provocative tale of the seven clans engaged in a war to claim the Iron Throne.  The television series has gathered an avid and faithful following interested in all things related to GOT.

As the fourth season of the gripping fantasy tale approaches, public expectation is rising with the release of teaser trailers.  Similar is the case with the interest in the dramatic and beautiful countryside seen on screen. Much of the outdoor shooting has been around the stunning Northern Irish landscape. The brilliant natural backdrop has contributed greatly to the success of the TV series.

So much so that many visitors to Northern Ireland are keen to explore and see for themselves the location and settings where their favourite characters play out their roles.  There are some exceptional, organised tours that do just that.

In fact the most popular tour is run by the company that provided transport to the crew and cast of all four seasons.  Their close association with the television project has given the staff plenty of behind-the-scenes tales about locations and cast for you to feast upon.

The tour will take you out of Belfast, through Antrim and along the Causeway Coastal Route.  There is no better way to be introduced to glorious Ireland.  It is a region of superb natural beauty, which includes beautiful glens, steep, rugged black cliffs and tiny picturesque villages, enhanced by the ever changing colours of the land.

Ballycastle

Ballycastle

The serene little seaside village of Ballycastle is a setting often featured in the Game of Thrones.  The home of Lady Catelyn Stark, Ballycastle’s green and rolling hills overlook a sweeping bay, a sandy beach and a marina populated by colourful bobbing boats.

You then wind your way along a more rugged coastline to the caves of Cushendun, the setting for the birth of the ‘shadow baby.’  However, this beautiful little rocky section of the tour is not as dark and gloomy as the story.

Another memorable stop on the tour is the steeply descending, rocky and timeless Ballintoy Harbour.  Just five miles away from Ballycastle, Ballintoy is the setting for Pyke Harbour featured several times in the Game of Thrones.  The village itself plays the role of Lordsport in the series.

The chalk quarry of Larrybane is featured in the second season of the series and is the setting for Renly Baratheon’s camp and the Stormlands.  The location also has a duelling scene and a meeting between Renly and Lady Stark.  The area comprises of dazzling chalk cliffs and a tight cove just a short distance from Ballintoy Harbour.

Larrybane

Larrybane

The culmination of your trip is a walk along the dramatic and starkly beautiful Giant’s Causeway.  While this amazing place is not part of the Game of Thrones scenery, it should be as it seems to be made to order.

The Game of Thrones has been credited with giving Antrim and Northern Ireland a great deal of favourable publicity.  When you take a trip along the now famous settings you can understand why.

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