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places of interest

The Asian Adventure: Thai Up Those Loose Ends Before You Go!

The area of southeast Asia has long been a popular place for budget backpackers and those wishing to experience a totally different culture to what they are used to. There’s a good reason for that – you can stretch your cash so much further in this corner of the world than in others. It’s an absolute must to include Thailand on your list of places to visit when you choose to roam the globe, especially as you can travel through Thailand for a good few months on the same budget you’d spend in the USA in 2 months!

 

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There are a lot of guides out there for different types of travel, whether that be solo travelling adventures or group travelling with https://www.gadventures.com. There are a lot of loose ends to get tied up before you go globe-trotting, and we think we’ve got them down pat for you. Before you set foot on a plane to Thailand or any of the southeast Asia area, you need to read this list:

 

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  1. Visas. Jet-setting across the globe is fun, but the fun soon stops if you haven’t got the right visas in your possession. The requirements will vary from country to country in SE Asia, so don’t make the mistake of assuming you can just show up with your passport for a stamp. This is an important loose end you need to tie up before you go anywhere, so have a look here at the requirements for Thailand!
  2. Manners. If you were raised right, you would have been taught that each culture and country has their own customs. A beach holiday in Phuket may be your goal, but it doesn’t mean you should just show up with packed bikinis. Thailand is a modest country, so do your research before you get on the plane. Learn where you can and cannot wear shoes and immerse yourself in the culture. It pays to be polite!
  3. Insurance. Before you plan to go anywhere, you need to look at travel insurance and how you can make sure you don’t get taken advantage of abroad. Wherever you go, there will always be someone somewhere who will see you as a tourist and sometimes this comes with extortion (that tuk-tuk may not NEED to go around the houses, but they will!). Check out this link for information on most common scams you could come across while abroad.
  4. World Differences. When you travel from a developed country to another not-so-developed area of the globe, you could find yourself feeling a little shocked and out of place. Accommodation may not be what you are used to and the locals have really been through the mill. Be prepared to step up and take notice of your surroundings.

Your travels are going to become a part of who you are and who you want to be. Going to Thailand for the scenery is a nice idea, but make sure you are well-prepared to see things you didn’t anticipate. You’ll love each experience as long as you are ready for them!

 

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The 2 Sides of Hoover Dam

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Did you know that Hoover Dam is between Arizona and Nevada? Yes it is. I only came to know when we visited few days ago. All I know is that Hoover Dam is a very famous landmark in Boulder City, Nevada. It was built around 1931 and completed 5 years later.  After visiting the famous attraction, I learned that the Hoover Dam spans from one end of Nevada and the other end of Arizona.

 

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(The Hoover Dam from the Arizona side and behind is the Memorial Bridge)

 

We drove from our hotel in Las Vegas to Hoover Dam. The drive was approximately 45 minutes without any congestion. We even got lost and drove all the way to Arizona and had to turn back to reach the road towards the entry of the Hoover Dam gate.

 

We crossed the Hoover Dam and parked our car on the Arizona side. The view was spectacular! We walked towards the sign board that indicated that we were in Arizona already. The road uphill after the state sign has more views of Hoover Dam and the surroundings. And I find them very beautiful despite of the very hot and humid weather that day.

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The water was a bit low when we visited but there were still some small sailboats sailing by beyond the buoys. We took some pictures from the upper road that has a balcony ledge on the side of the dam. After that, we went back to the car and drove to the other side, which is the Nevada side and parked in the car park.

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If you are visiting the Hoover Dam for the first time, it has a small restaurant and a merchandise/souvenir shop near the entrance, and car park. Few meters away from the shop is the Spillway House which was originally built in 1987. It was rebuilt last 2013 and has been set to house events for a beautiful vista of the Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead. All these are in the Nevada side of the dam.

 

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I just wished that the weather was not very extreme as there was a heatwave at the time of our visit. We weren’t able to cross the Memorial Bridge.

I don’t recall every paying for entrance when we entered and cross the Hoover Dam. The only fee we paid for was the parking.

 

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(This is in the Nevada side as you enter The Hoover Dam)

 

This is a perfect place to visit when you are already in The Strip in Las Vegas due to its proximity. You can either join a tour organized by your hotel or pre-booked with a tour operator of your choice. You may also drive there on your own if you don’t want to follow a rigid timing and want to explore at your own pace. You can check the web for directions on how to get there coming from The Strip of anywhere in the US if you are driving. However, consider traffic and weather conditions too when visiting. We could have stayed longer if it wasn’t from the high temperature. It is still a very memorable experience!

Address: Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, NV 89156

 

 

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Sampling The Delights of New Mexico

Across the country, there are few states that offer as much natural beauty and charm as New Mexico. While shows like Breaking Bad and its spinoff Better Call Saul have focused their attention on the state’s vast arid deserts and sleepy suburbs, you have to see it to understand how grievously they do it a disservice. New Mexico is home to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, with breathtaking views that could give The Grand Canyon a run for its money. With some of the country’s most glorious national parks and two UNESCO World Heritage sites, there’s a damned good reason why they call it the land of enchantment.

Here are a few suggestions for enjoying this beautiful and diverse state.

Take a hot air balloon ride in Albuquerque

Image by Flickr

 

There are few experiences that give you the unique and thrilling perspective of a balloon ride and Albuquerque balloon rides are a great way to view the diverse terrain New Mexico’s largest city. As the world slowly shrinks away beneath you, and you float into the Heavens it’s an incredibly meaningful experience alone or a moment of unparalleled romance if you’re riding with a partner. You’re sure to be awed by the silvery flourishes of the Rio Grande glistening in the sun and marvel at the magnificent Sandia Mountains.

 

Walk in the footsteps of the Pueblo peoples at Chaco canyon

Chaco Culture represents the synergy of ancient culture and national heritage about as well as any of the country’s best National Parks. Wandering through the remains of the ancient buildings at Chaco Canyon (the construction of which began in the mid-800s), the scale and complexity of the architecture is awe inspiring and humbling. Chaco’s unique architecture is uncommon for its time, because it was built according to a plan that pre-dates modern high rise apartment blocks.

When intact, the structures of Chaco consisted of hundreds of rooms, stacked several stories high. In fact right up until the 19th century, the buildings at Chaco held the record for being the largest in North America.

 

Be awed by the Bisti / De-Na-Zin badlands

Image by Max Pixel

 

If you love to travel off the beaten track, then prepare to be dazzled by one of the most unique and beautiful locations on the planet. When you enter the 41,170 acres of this undiscovered treasure near to the Chaco National Park, looks like you’ve stepped off a spaceship onto the terrain of some vast and mysterious new planet.

Its geology is as diverse as it is stunning, alternating between grasslands and wondrously bizarre rock formations in a landscape of white, gray and red.

 

Plunge into the mystery of the Carlsbad caverns

When sulphuric acid dissolved in the limestone beneath the Chihuahuan desert, it resulted in these astonishing underground rock formations. A range of guided tours are available which are well worth considering, however we’d still recommend coming back just to meander at your own pace in the cool depths, marvelling at the incredible beauty and diversity of the caverns.

 

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Southern Texas Hidden Beauty Spots

Texas conjures up many stereotypical images such as cowboys and cattle ranches.  Texas has some truly hidden beauty spots across the state. When thinking of Texas you don’t think of sandy beaches, however, the south of Texas have warm temperatures allowing plenty of outdoor activity opportunities. The best way to travel along the southern coast is region to region spotting the natural beauty of Texas. South Texas lies roughly south of San Antonio and to the east of the Gulf Of Mexico.

With it’s gorgeous in climate weather and beautiful beaches.South Padre Island is a major beauty spot of Southern Texas, the unspoiled beaches at Isla Blanca Park are a mile long and a rarity on the island. The sands are crisp white and the waters are pure blue something that looks featured in a holiday brochure.  If you’re a big camper the preserve is best to pitch a tent for the night.

 

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Rio Grande Valley region is idealistic for outdoor enthusiasts. Falcon Lake is classed as one of the best lakes in the country. Fishing is a hot spot around the lake, the guarantee of a catch is imminent with catfish and bass inhabiting the lake.

Image Source: Wikimedia

 

Big Bend National Park is a must see, just over 800 thousand acres one of the biggest parks in the US. For a quieter serene trail explore the winding valley. This wonderful trail separates the US and Mexico. Surrounded by rivers and 1,000ft cliffs. The water can be 2ft deep in shallow waters able to paddle.

Image Source: Wikimedia

 

Get the most out of your trip,is important, highlighting why it’s best to prioritize the must sees of any trip and to make the most. Planning on where to go and figuring out if you wish to go region to region or stay in one particular place. Research what  type of trip you wish to take be it natural or full on with outdoor activities,

Finding the perfect place to rest on your travels is easy, Fiesta Inn Hotel in McAllen,Texas offer up plenty of things to see and do in the local area for you to explore and discover. Located nearby is plenty of culture and history. This part of your trip visits the International Museum Of Art and Science a large collection of Mexican arts and crafts in the country.

Image Source: Pexels

San Antonio is a natural hot spot, perfect for nature lovers. Full of unspoiled natural beauty the attraction is popular for the Spanish colonial building which is full of history too. The area is gorgeous and built up of four areas; Concepcion, San Jose, San Juan and Espada. At the end of this gorgeous wonder is the San Antonio National Historical Park.

One of the most popular outdoor activities for visiting tourists is Birding. The warm weather has brought in a vast amount of species other the recent years. Birding facilities have now opened up plenty of centers to educate visitors on the species.Rio Grande Valley has the world birding center which homes wildlife refuges as well as nature trails.

When visiting Southern Texas enjoy the warm weather when exploring and making new memories. A host of exciting adventures awaits whether it’s exploring new activities to try or relaxing on a beach break. Southern Texas is a must see for travelers.

 

 

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A Gaijin Friendly Guide to Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. It’s the city of bullet trains, skyscrapers, fashion, street food and fun, where the traditional meets the contemporary and the bizarre meets the brilliant.

 

It’s also notoriously difficult to navigate for tourists.

While in many ways it’s a city at the bleeding edge of business, technology and couture there’s an almost impenetrable sense of etiquette and complex tradition that can bamboozle most gaijin (foreigners). In this kind of culture it’s important to know the right way to behave and the most tourist-friendly places to visit to help you get the most out of your visit without falling afoul of the difficulties some tourists tend to encounter.

 

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Cheap flights to Tokyo are getting easier to come by, so a Japanese holiday may well be more affordable and accessible than you’d previously thought. Before you start packing, though, here are some useful tips for a gaijin in Tokyo.

  • A little Japanese goes a long way. Most Japanese people haven’t spoken English since their schooldays. Showing some willingness to attempt their language will be very ingratiating.
  • Remember that ‘gaijin’ is not an insult, it’s a far more nuanced version of the English ‘foreigner’. If someone refers to you this way, smile and be polite. Chances are they’re not trying to offend you.
  • Learn the local etiquette. There’s WAY too much to learn here but always removing your shoes before going indoors, purifying yourself on the way to a shrine, never blowing your nose in public, never pointing with chopsticks and never ever tipping your waiter (it’s considered an insult) are a good place to start.

 

A note for vegetarians and vegans

It’s surprisingly hard to subsist on a plant-based diet in Tokyo. While you’ll find plenty of items on your menu that seem perfectly safe but beware of dashi, a fish stock that finds its way into most soups and sauces. Vegetarianism and veganism are unusual concepts to many asian cultures so be sure to explicitly mention that you don’t eat meat of fish including dashi.

 

Essential locations

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There’s so much to see and do in Tokyo it’s difficult to know where to begin. Shinjuku is no doubt at the top of your list and the thriving skyscraper lined district really is spectacular to behold with its ultra-chic department stores and legendary nightlife but this district really is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

You should also make these essential stops on your itinerary. All of them encounter tourists on a regular basis so will likely be friendly and welcoming (so long as you observe the customs and etiquette).

  • The Imperial Palace– A must for anyone with an interest in Japanese history. The walled palace is surrounded by walls and moats and is lined with beautiful 17th century parks.
  • Senso-ji Temple– The city’s most famous temple is thronged by shops selling traditional handmade carvings, masks and kimonos. Built in 645 AD its appearance has remained unchanged despite it having been rebuilt numerous times. While the pagoda itself is currently closed for renovations it reopens to tourists in September 2017.
  • Ueno Park– The quintessential Japanese park, Ueno is a gorgeous oasis in the bustling centre of Tokyo. The cherry blossom lined gravel paths lead to a huge range of attractions including the reed fringed Shinobazu pond with its Bentendo temple, 17th century Toshogu Shrine and the Tokyo National Museum.

 

Image by Pixabay

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Think You Can’t Afford Travel To Europe? Think Again!

If you’re planning a trip over to Europe, then the chances are that you have a pretty big trip planned. If you’re heading over from the US, then the flights alone to get there can cost quite a lot as it is. Plus, the travel time to get there can be quite a lot too. So it’s not a destination that you’ll just go to for a long weekend, is it? It makes sense that when you’re over there, you will look to spend as little as possible. So here are some tips and tricks for making travel to Europe more affordable. There is no need to spend a crazy amount of money when you’re there.

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Internal Travel

When you’re over there, you might have just chosen one country to visit. And that is totally fine. But with so many of the countries close together it means that seeing quite a few different countries is definitely an option. Take the UK, for example. Using something like https://www.megabus.co.uk is a great way to travel around. You could arrive in London, but see cities like Manchester or Edinburgh inexpensively as part of your trip. Boat trips in countries like Greece and Cyprus can be pretty cheap, as well as train travel on the Eurostar. So don’t think you will always need to hire a car.

 

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Accommodation

The lucky thing about travel in Europe is that there are so many options of accommodation available. But if you’re looking to save, then hotels might not be the best route to go down. If you’d prefer to rent a room in someone’s home in a city like Copenhagen, then looking somewhere like Airbnb can be a really cheap way to do it. Hotels in a lot of capital city locations can cost a lot of money. If you’re staying by the beach or traveling with children to somewhere like Greece, then a villa like these, http://www.villasingreece.co.uk, could be a better option. You still get the comforts of home but get more for your money than a hotel room. Hostels can be inexpensive too but would be better if you’re traveling as a couple or solo, rather than for family travel.

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Food

Eating out when you travel can cost a lot of money,  especially if you’re in the tourist parts of a city or country. So if you can, the best thing to do is to predominantly cook for yourself, and then eat out occasionally, so you still get a feel for the country and culture. In Europe, the best supermarkets to look out for, other than small independent stores, are Aldi and Lidl. So if you see one of those, that is more than likely going to be your best options for a cheap place to buy groceries. Stock up on drinks from a supermarket too; bottles of water or Coke in places like Paris can cost over €4! So buying your own is the way to make the trip more affordable.

 

 

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