Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Exotic North of Australia

by Ryan Rebutica

Australia's Northern Territory is a land of swirling, near-phosphorescent, ochre dust, rocky mountain-high thunderclouds and sky-shattering storms - a region of pawpaw (papaya) and mango farms, pearl oyster meat from the pearling industry, farm-raised alligator and Thai spices. Indigenous people still dive for lily roots and burn the forests to trap game and make passage through the undergrowth possible. To journey through this land and taste it was one of the greatest privileges of my travel-writing life.

Equivalent in size to France, Italy and Spain combined, Australia's Outback Northern Territory is bordered by Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. A vibrant, developing economy, the Northern Territory has one-sixth of Australia's land mass and just over one percent of the population, but with the youngest, wealthiest people in the nation. It has an environment that ebbs and flows with the seasons, of contrast and colour, where change is the only constant. Of awe inspiring iconic wonders - the World Heritage National Parks of Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock).

Darwin, the state's capital, is so close to Asia that it's much easier to head to Singapore than Sydney. Immigrants of every Asian culture have brought their foods and cooking traditions. At Darwin's Hanuman, Thai Nonya cuisine meets Tandoor Indian: soak up the lemon grass and basil-flavoured sauce drenching the grilled rock oysters with warm naan bread. These are served in the trademark earthenware plates with little lids covering the oysters.

Australia's Outback Northern Territory is renowned for its colourful characters. The type you'd meet at one of the legendary outback pubs, cattle stations or country towns. The gateway to Asia for the rest of Australia, or the window into the country for the rest of the world, the Northern Territory is a unique part of the most exciting continent on earth. It's almost hard not to fall in love with its down to earth attitude.

Don't miss this great once in a lifetime experience. National Visas can help you get a Visa for Australia. Visit our website for more details.
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Galapagos Islands: Where history comes alive

by J Gonsalves

Located just south of the equator in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands is a string of tiny volcanic islands that have for centuries captured the imagination of explorers and naturalists from all over the globe. Visited by the likes of Charles Darwin and Thor Heyerdahl, the Galapagos makes for an incredible vacation destination with its amazing wealth of natural life. Roughly five million years old, these islands sit of the western coast of Ecuador and have been declared a national park by the Ecuadorian Government.

Comprising of 19 islands and a number of islets, the Galapagos are spread out roughly over 50,000 sq km and play host to some of the most rare and endangered animals on the planet. Also home to a number of endemic animal species, the likes of which have been found no where else on earth, these islands have come to play a very important part in the understanding of evolution and the history of the world.

The history of the Galapagos Islands is quite a unique one. Thought to be first discovered by the Inca tribes that lived on mainland South America, these islands were first spotted by Bishop Tomas de Berlanga in 1535, while he was traveling from Panama to Peru. The most amazing discovery of the trip was the giant tortoises or Galapago as they are known in Spanish, which were found on the islands. Often used as a stopover base since its discovery, the Galapagos Islands sheltered buccaneers, pirates, whalers and sealers, who used this region. A great location due to its protected anchorage, the availability of food, fresh water and firewood, these islands soon became a place for scientific discovery in the late 18th century.

Visited by Darwin in 1835, these islands provided him with a plethora of information that helped him form the basis of his theory of evolution. Claimed by Ecuador in 1832, these islands slowly began to be inhabited and were soon used as penal colonies, the last of which ultimately shut down in 1959. However, by 1934 the government of Ecuador had begun to realize the importance of the Galapagos and a few islands were turned into wildlife sanctuaries. By 1959 after the penal colonies were all closed, these islands became a national park with the Charles Darwin Research Station set up in Academy Bay on Isla Santa Cruz. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO a few years later in 1979, this national park was expanded to include the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve in 1986.

A completely unique and extraordinary set of islands, the Galapagos takes you back in time to what the earth might have looked like when it was much younger. Considered to be young by geologists, these islands are an ecosystem unto themselves. Therefore, it is key that we protect and preserve this precious habit for future generations, so as understand the world we live in today from an environmental point of view. A wonderful getaway especially for those who enjoy nature, you will find history come alive here amid the volcanoes and wildlife, both above and beneath the ocean.

About the Author
Visit to get further comprehensive information on the incredible Galapagos Islands. Aimed at providing tourists with the very best and most accurate travel details, lets you tour these amazing islands in all its glory. Cruise details, historical background, transportation information can also be found here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Do Not Miss Beautiful Ubud For Your Bali Vacation

by Made Dertha

What is it about Ubud that one should visit this beautiful village? Because Ubud has much to offer; from its stunning panorama of Ayung River valley and the terraces rice filed, its most talented artist, its typical traditional market and myriad of shops that line the road is a heaven for shopping, its undying culture, its serene environs and plentiful of nice small hotels and restaurants and many more.

Ubud has no great beaches to speak of, no mountain lakes, and no grand hotels. Yet it has the richness of soil and it is the center of Bali?s art and culture. If you don?t stay in Ubud, or you don?t have much time during your Bali Holiday, a visit is worth because it would offer you a memorable stay in Bali.

Driving out of bustling Denpasar, the tranquil green of rice paddies contrast sharply with the boisterous sounds of the city. Palm-leaf carvings of Dewi Sri (the Rice Goddess) guards over the crops, and small thatch huts dot the rice fields, giving shade to those who work them. Temples and small shrines can be seen along the way, women lay out offerings of flowers, rice, incense and holy water to placate evils spirits and please the good one. Even with the great influx of tourism, village life basically goes on the same. Almost every village on the way up to Ubud specializes in some kind of art form. You can stop off and see the artisans at work in their studios.

Many places near Ubud make beautiful side trips. Morning walk through the villages lead to out-of-the-way retreats. The route to Tegalalang offer beautiful views of terraces rice field and myriad of art studios, Mas, Penestanan and Peliatan, the centers of wood carving and painting, Sayan offer a stunning panorama of Ayung River valley and still home to spectacular view of gorges and palms and rice fields. Campuhan , the place where three rivers meet ? a sacred site. There is a very beautiful temple called Pura Gunung Lebah is worth a visit.

To the north is Petulu village is known for many things but the most spectacular is the kokokan or white herons. Every morning at dawn and the afternoon around three or four o?clock, you can see them circling the trees in droves.

To the south a short walk you will arrive at Monkey Forest. To visit it, one must by a ticket. There are hundreds of tame monkeys and a temple stands in the middle of the forest. In the center of town the interesting places to see are the Puri (the court of palace of former kings), here every Sunday morning at 10 o?clock dozen of young girls study traditional Balinese dance. Ubud main market just opposite the Puri offer varieties of merchandises; Produce, dry goods, linens, T-shirts, paintings, wood carvings, even traveling medicine men appear here. Closed to market you can visit Puri Lukisan (Museum of Paintings). Established in 1954, it is dedicated to showing the works of local painters. It is the excellent place to get an overview of the stylistic differences between artists.

Ubud is a picturesque township and visitors have been attracted by its charm and beauty for decades. If shopping is your interest, Ubud has a myriad of shops which line the road to Monkey Forest and the Museum Puri Lukisan. Don?t forget to bargain!!! If art is your interest, in Ubud, Mas and Peliatan, one can study dance, music, painting or a number of other art forms. The best way to meet a teacher is to find a style that appeal to you (by going to galleries and watching performances) and than approach the artist directly about lessons.

While you are in Ubud and need more complete information, you can visit Bina Wisata a local Tourism Bureau. It prepare map of Bali and Ubud. There is a massage board, small book store and a printing press on the premises. It?s about 500 m past the market.

Waka Namya Resort is a nice place to stay. It offers free luxury shuttle service to the center of town and to the Rudana Museum and Arts Gallery; it is one of the best galleries in Ubud. It also offers a free tracking to the rice field. Excellent service and very friendly staffs. I know the manager very well, so I sand many guests to this resort. Waka di Ume, Komaneka, Santi Mandala Resort and Maya Ubud are also very nice place to stay. For more affordable accommodation you can choose Ubud Sari; small, charming and rustic ambience. It has a complete Spa and Beauty Salon service, Yoga, Chiropractic, Healing Week in Bali Program. Raw Health Food Program and Colonic Hydrotherapy.

So Ubud has many attractive objects can be seen for your Bali Vacation. And do not hesitate to choose beautiful Bali for your holiday. Bali is a small, beautiful island in Indonesia, the ultimate tourist destination in Asia.

The quickest and easiest way to find Bali hotels at your destination is to go online and visit a hotel reservation website. Do a search for Bali you are traveling to and you will be presented with a list of available hotels in Bali, Choose your preferred Bali Hotels.

About the author
Made Dertha was an English and Italian tour guide for many years in Bali, writes for Bali Turista Tours where he is the Managing Director now. Bali Turista is focusing on Bali hotels and villas reservation. Just visit

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cat Island, Pearl of Bahamas

by Cretu Remus

Cat Island ,the sixth largest island in Bahamas located at about 300 miles away from Miami, and 120 miles S-E from Nassau covers an area of 48 miles long and 4 miles wide of secluded beaches. With a population of only 1.678 people , the island must not be confused with Cat-Cay, a small island in The Biminis, Bahamas.

Like the others islands in Bahamas , Cat Island has its own history. It is considered to be the first Loyalists settlement built in 1783. Locals lived from plantations, some of their ruins remained even in our times.The most known plantation is considered to have been located in Port Howe,a village built by Colonel Andrew Deveaux who recaptured Nassau from Spain in 1783.

Anyway the name Cat Island was given if we take one source after the famous pirate Arthur Catt who used this island as his perfect hide place and the other source after the hordes of wild cats the english encountered when they arrived on these lands in 1600.For centuries the island where Columbus first set in October 12'th 1492 had different names, one being San Salvador.

One of the most interesting places in the island is "The Hermitage," a monastery built on the top of Mt. Alvernia on a cliff named Comer Hill at about 206 feet distance of see level in 1940s by monsignor Jerome Hawkes an architect coming to Bahamas to repair Anglican Churches. The purpose of the top of the cliff church was to become a sanctuary for meditation. Being an architect he built someother churches: 5 on Long Island and took part in the design of St. Augustines College in New Providence .After his death , Jerome was burried on Mt. Alvernia and by visiting his tomb you can see from these high cliffs,a marvelous view consisting of forested hills and 60 miles of deserted white and pink sand beaches.

Locals are renowned for their ingenuity of using anything nature provides to build something they need. A good example are the musicians who combine a piece of wood with a fishing line and a worn tin tub to create the bass instrument . In the Cat Island lie many of the folklores, myths of the Bahamas islands, here when someone dies and the person is the last of his/her generation , the house he/she lived in is left intact for the spirit to live there.

The island is also very known in bahamas for the Obeah or Obi culture that is some kind of a middle form of white witchcraft or voodoo. Nowadays locals living derive especially from farming,the traditional slash-and-burn farming method.Cascarilla bark is gathered and shipped to Italy, where it is a main ingredient in medicines, scents, and the italian aperitif called Campari.

Another income could be , but a lower point the deep see fishing industry.One of the most visited settlements is Port Howe, named after Admiral James Howe, the first English commander during the American Revolution where Greenwood Beach Resort can offer you some of the tranquillity atmosphere that some of you might look for. There are so many activities you can take part in that it is possible to not have enough time for all.

You can even explore Bahamas island and find yourself driven right into the past between those cotton plantations and wrecks, you can rest on the beach , go snorkell or scuba diving through the coral reefs or just stay in a hammock drinking a tropical cocktail or serving a local cuisine. Greenwood Beach Resort is owned by a german family and consists of twenty rooms lying on 8 miles on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean . All have their private bath, king sized beds and ceiling fans right opened to the fantastic pink sandy beaches.

Despite other islands in Bahamas, Cat Island has no casinos or golf courses, not even a bank. So as a form of payment shops owners will take cash ,cheques and credit cards. Local cuisine might be a real interest to visitors couse it is influenced by many cultures from South America, Britain, Africa and Spain. Delicious dishes made by seafood and tomato sauce, native fruits are combined with rum and served in cocktails or desserts, an last but not least the Bahamian Kalik-Beer, Rum-Mixdrinks, Bahama Mama and Goombay Smash.

So, wether you dive , snorkell or you are just passing by through Bahamas, you shouldn't miss a day or two in the pleasent and familiar style of Cat Island.

About the Author
Cretu Remus is passionate of traveling who fail in love with Bahamas.Find out more about Bahamas by visiting the bahamas vacation guide which is at