October 30, 2009

Top Winter Destination





Despite only just waving goodbye to winter, now is as good a time as any to start planning where you might like to go this year. Winter is the perfect time to experience something a bit more unusual, be that a new snow sport or a funky ice hotel. Here are a few different ideas to check out before you decide where to go.

Lapland

While it’s famous for being Santa’s unofficial place of residence, Lapland breaks have a lot to offer any winter traveller looking to get away from it all. Literally! This region of northern Finland covers just over 98,000km and has a population of around 183,000; that’s just about two people per square kilometre! So if you’re looking for a ski trip without the mammoth queues of the more popular resorts in mainland Europe, Lapland is certainly worth thinking about.

You’ll also have the chance to witness the Northern Lights, which is a fantastic, ethereal spectacle that keeps visitors coming back year after year. Here, you can stay in a unique glass igloo and fall asleep under the swirling glow of the lights before heading out for a fun-filled day of ice fishing and dog sleigh racing; a perfect winter escape!

Iceland

Anyone keen on diving might have thought about making an escape to a tropical paradise to explore the coral reefs as the weather turns colder, but have you ever considered a wintery dive over in Iceland? The Thingvellir National Park offers divers the chance to swim between tectonic plates in the Silfra Rift. What could be more thrilling than swimming the gap between the continents of America and Eurasia? Make sure you pack your dry suit though; water temperatures are usually between -2°C and 4°C. The visibility is unsurpassable, even at 100km depths and the National Park has been declared as a world heritage site, so definitely worth a visit.  



Bulgaria

If skiing and snowboarding aren’t for you, why not give snowshoeing a try? For keen hikers, Bulgaria’s Rila mountain range is the perfect place to trek if you’re hoping to get away from it all. You can take in the stunning mountain vistas first hand, allowing you a great sense of freedom, though it’s best to go with a guide so you can avoid any danger areas. It’s probably best to have a little walking experience before you go and a decent level of fitness so you’re able to keep up. Whether it’s the magic of Lapland, the thrill of swimming in a rift or trek through stunning forests and mountains, a winter break can be every bit as inspiring as a summer one.

 Andy King is a travel writer who specialises in European travel and has a passion for winter sports Pic credits Northern Lights by Deirdre and Tristan used under creative commons licence Snowshoeing in Bulgaria by John Spooner used under creative commons licence

October 29, 2009

Hong Kong - Food, People, Buildings, and Yellow Fever

Hong Kong Part Two - the final chapter. With a few photos left over from a recent Hong Kong trip, there is no reason not to show a few more.  I will kick off with a revelation. The guy above gave my girlfriend yellow fever. We crossed paths in Sham Shui Po, a fairly typical  Hong Kong neighbourhood. Locals know it as a cheap district to get electronic goods. To me, it's the place where I recognised that females get yellow fever, just as bad as males. Clearly, he's a movie-star. The film crew were onto it, location wise - Sham Shui Po is visually one of the most amazing city areas I have ever seen. The urban decay is well progressed. Many buildings now have illegal "shacks" built on the roofs. A prevailing sense of controlled anarchy left me with a strangely comforting feeling.

October 26, 2009

Perth - Nasty Nas Spotted on Aberdeen St, Construction Update, more CBD Laneways

The rise of Northbridge, Perth's best suburb, continues. Not too many places in the world you can enjoy a bowl of chilli mussels, and watch american lyricist and actor, Nas. Having been a fan of Nas since his Live at the BBQ days, it was always my dream to sit in an Italian restaurant on Aberdeen Street, eat chilli mussels, and watch a delivery of raw poetry from one of the most intelligent and influential hip hop artists of all time.

October 19, 2009

Singapore - Perth's Asian Cousin



Singapore. Imagine your straight-laced uncle. He gets married to a hooker, and has two kids. One kid is a total career minded overachiever - respectful of authority, wants to settle down and raise a family, and has been brainwashed since birth that spending 80 hours a week for 27 years just to get to assistant manager is a good thing. The other kid is a dirty, alcoholic, artist who can cook like a demon. At the moment, the nerd is getting all the attention. But, that kid, that dirty, alcoholic, artist, is the real future of the Singapore family. What makes the whole thing work, is the entire family gets along fine. Both kids wear thick glasses, take photos, enjoy chicken rice, fish head curry, and bak kwa. That, is Singapore. The whitest of all Asian cities

October 12, 2009

Hong Kong - Tales From the Far East

On the vibrancy scale, Hong Kong makes most large international cities feel like Bunbury (bumfuck, nowhere). I just spent a few weeks in the far east. I'm not new to that part of the world, having visited multiple times before. As I stated in my last post, Asians + skateboarders + graffiti writers = vibrancy. Hong Kong has plenty of all three. 


Over a thousand photos taken, and randomly, this is the one that shows up first. Homeless man asleep at the pier, with a nice bit of art from a NYC guy who's name escapes me at the moment. This photo isn't juxtaposition, or commentary. Its real life. I did wake him up, to pay him some cash for modelling for me. He was very happy, and I had perhaps my happiest moment this year, seeing the look on his face.


I was drunk when I took this next one, and I swore to my co-traveller "this will win me a fucking Pulitzer". He promptly informed me "I'm pretty sure that's a prize for journalism". A picture tells a thousand words, dude. Man eating noodles, Kowloon alley.


Asians have really bad eye-sight. Everybody wears glasses. Everybody. Takeaway restaurant, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.


Hong Kong literally has thousands of skyscrapers. This is currently the tallest, Two International Finance Centre, at 415 metres tall.


With all the amazing food available, the only use for a McDonalds is the public toilet. Even when they offer a Double Pork McSpicy burger, or something like that.



The Mongkok Bird Park is where old Chinese men take their pet birds to hang out with other pet birds. You can purchase live insects for the bird to munch on, sit him next to other birds for a chat about HK city life, or just allow the bird to chip away at the guilos (white ghosts) cameras. Its all good, bird.


Its hard to describe just how good Mongkok is. Often described as the densest part of HongKong, it is actually on the main land, not Hong Kong island. It is possibly my favourite suburb on earth. Containing the famous "sneaker street", "bird street", "fish street" and my favourite - "ladies street", Mongkok is Hong Kong's premier destination in my opinion.





The thing about Hong Kong crowds, is that nobody ever says sorry for bumping into you. Whats the point? Typical Mongkok crowded street. Great whitey ratio! (®).


So, what can Perth learn from Hong Kong? Here's a start: a lot. I'll try to bring some sense to this in the next few posts. For now, I need to recover.

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