Bangkok Holiday

architecture art beautiful buddhism

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country with about 90% of population subscribing to Buddhism. Their faith and the love for their King may be the reasons why Thais are generally honest, kind and disciplined.

Bangkok is like a big marketplace where you can buy almost anything. Their street economy provides employment to hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors. The advantage of Bangkok is the cost of living which is comparatively much cheaper than other Asian countries.

When going to Bangkok, it is recommended to book in a hotel located near the Baiyoke Tower because that is the most convenient area for a tourist. The streets are abuzz from morning until night with vendors and their wares ranging from food and drinks, clothing and footwear to souvenir items.

In the early morning, Buddhist monks from distant monasteries are roaming the area in search of food. Donors are not lacking because most of the faithful offer something to those barefooted monks. In return, donors receive prayers from the monks who are dressed in saffron robes.

Thai food is kind of unique. You can sample the dishes with noodles or fried rice that goes with beef or chicken. Just be warned that Thai food is usually spicy so be ready with a bottle of cold water.

The streets are full with all kinds of fruits in season, from dragon fruit to maprang, a yellow fruit that is a cross between mango and plum. A favourite is durian which is ready to eat in packs covered with cellophane. All fruits in Bangkok are of high quality and naturally sweet.

Thailand street food

At night, you can snack on their street food or challenge yourself to sample the fried insects sold in carts and know the taste of a scorpion or a beetle. Before bedtime, a good Thai massage can relax your tired body. Surely there’s a massage parlor near your hotel.

In going to tourist spots outside of Bangkok, it is best to arrange a packaged tour with the hotel concierge. The distance of most tourist spots from Bangkok requires a taxi which is very expensive as transportation.

Safari Zoo
Quite expensive entrance ticket, but it’s worth the visit to Kanchanaburi Safari Park Open Zoo. The van goes inside the open zoo where you see the multitude of birds and animals close up (you are not allowed to get out of the van though). Definitely your camera will be satisfied with the showcase of fauna.

A real theme park, the zoo also has some shows to offer. Catch the humour of the boxing orangutans that is rated H for hilarious. There’s also the cowboy show which is a live drama that is full of action like what you see in the movies. Do not miss the giraffe feeding area where you can buy plantain for those hungry long-necked creatures.

Samphran-Elephant-Ground-Zoo

Elephants
Not to be missed is the elephant show in Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo. It is a live show with many elephants in participation to tell a bit of Thailand’s history.

In another section of the zoo is the crocodile show where 2 caretakers wrestle with live crocodiles. Undeniably thrilling, but surely dangerous particularly when one caretaker puts his head inside the open mouth of a crocodile. The performers earn not only applause but also tokens in cash from the audience.

The buffet lunch in Samphran is filling so take a little rest before proceeding to the elephant camp for the desired elephant ride. Just take note that the short elephant ride is a bit expensive but the once in a lifetime experience is worth cost.

Temples
For a cultural walk, you can visit the temples starting with Wat Pho to see the giant reclining Buddha that is made of brass. A long walk will bring you to a boat ride to reach Wat Arun, another Buddhist temple with antique displays. If you have the budget, you can buy a ticket entrance to the Grand Palace which is magnificent.

Grand_Palace_Bangkok_Thailand

Floating Market
There are several floating markets and you can just let your tour guide pick the best place for you. The floating market looks like a flooded road with a scattering of small boats that sell food and other flea market items. It is another unique experience so do not miss this.

Bangkok is a city that comes complete with everything. An enjoyable stay is guaranteed!

 

 


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5 Important Things to Know Before Your Next Vacation

The best bonding time for family and friends is during a vacation. It is all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work, friends and family. We all have that vacation itch to take a break from our everyday lives. The checklist below outlines what to do before your next getaway.

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1. Transport

Book your travel in advance to avoid last minute havoc. Be it a taxi to the airport or a flight to your chosen destination. The advantage of booking earlier is that the price is always low.

2. Travel vaccines

Once you are sure of where you want to spend your vacation, book an appointment with your doctor to discuss vaccines. Each country has its recommended injections depending on the area you are going to stay. Health is wealth, so do not risk your health on a fantastic trip.

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook

3. Packing list

Self-organization saves time. Write down a packing list of everything that you would need. Starting from clothes, shoes, toiletries, accessories to medication. Don’t forget your chargers and adapter plugs. By making a list you are certain that you have every important item you will require.

4. Documents

Save yourself from unnecessary headaches over travel documents. It is very confusing to start sifting through your email inbox at the check-in counter. Arrange all important documents in one folder. Better yet, get an app called Trip-It. It will gather all your travel information and compile it into a single itinerary.

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage

5. Confirm your reservations

Double-check your reservations: The hotel, flight, taxi and any other services you had booked in advance. Last minute surprises can ruin your holiday good mood so stay prepared and re-confirm.

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Three useful apps that will help you learn a foreign language for free!

hello-language

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Most of us would love to learn a new language. It opens the possibility of meeting a lot of new people learning a new culture. Perhaps we would like to get in touch with our roots, or better understand a friend or loved one. Regardless of the reason, learning a new language can be a daunting task.

Back in the day, options were limited to language classes and self-study books. The chance of finding a native speaker with whom to practice was usually low, and more so if your desired language had a small number of speakers. But in this information age options abound, and we are only limited by our own determination.
The following apps can be used in iOS or Android, and while they may offer premium services for a fee, their most useful features can be accessed free of charge.

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Duolingo

One of the first hurdles when starting out in a new language is the lack of vocabulary. You have so much to say, but you just don’t know any words!

Duolingo contains a broad set of exercises designed to help you learn new words based on different categories, such as clothing, people, traveling, etc. Some of these ask you to associate spoken words to their corresponding written form, while others may ask you to translate a sentence. All the exercises come in bite-sized collections, a crucial characteristic when you can only dedicate five or ten minutes at a time to studying.

To keep you motivated, Duolingo sports an XP system, which you can use to compete in leaderboards against other users. There is an XP goal for each day, usually achieved by completing two sets of exercises, and every day you reach it your current streak grows. If you fail your goal in a day, you lose your streak. It may not sound like much, but you can be surprised at how these incentives keep you coming back.

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Tandem

Practicing by yourself is fine, but to truly learn a foreign language, it’s almost necessary to interact with native speakers. Whether it’s by text messages or by phone call, being exposed directly to your target language in a casual setting will take you to the next level.
Tandem is a simple but powerful tool that allows you to locate people who are fluent in the language you’re learning, while at the same time being students of the language that you speak. This language exchange is enabled by a messaging system, complete with translation and transliteration tools, and voice and video chat options.

If you do have extra cash to spare, Tandem also features professional tutors, who will help you in your language of choice for a set hourly fee. These fees range from $10 to $20+ USD.

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HelloTalk

HelloTalk shares many features with Tandem but adds one important piece of functionality. Not only can you engage other users directly, but you can also post ‘Moments,’ similar to Facebook’s status feed. Here you can try your skills in your target language by sharing your thoughts with the community, complete with text, audio recordings, and pictures. Other members may then comment on your post and even correct your mistakes with a handy correction tool.

This option is quite handy for people who are too shy to engage in one-on-one communication, or when time zone differences make real-time contact difficult.

As with any language exchange program, you must be careful in your interactions with other people. As with any other place on the internet, divulging personal information is risky. While most users are there to learn a new language, some are lonely people who will demand constant attention. These people are a reality of the medium, and they shouldn’t deter you from using these apps. The block button is your friend in this case, and you shouldn’t feel bad for using it.

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There you have it, three wonderful apps that’ll get you talking in a new language sooner than you think. Along the way, you’ll make some new friends, learn about other cultures and hopefully have a ton of fun!


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Spis castle on a hill with fog surrounding below in Slovakia

7 Beautiful Castles in Slovakia

Did you know Slovakia has more than 300 castles? Although a lot of them are ruins there are many still intact. These historic castles have survived heroic battles and raids and are some of the best places to visit in Slovakia.

Katedrála sv. Martina v Spišskej Kapitule Spišský hrad

Spiš Castle

This medieval castle was built in 12th century and is situated above the town of Spišské Podhradie and the village of Žehra. Covering about 41 thousand square meters it belongs to the biggest castles in Europe. Movies such as Dragonheart, The Lion in Winter and The Last Legion were shot right here. 

 

Orava Castle

Orava Castle

One the most beautiful and largest castles in Slovakia, in the northern Orava region, Orava Castle is situated on a high rock above Orava river. Your journey through the castle will take you hundreds of years back with historical exhibitions such as furnished rooms, large courtyards, torture rooms and weapon collections.

 

Bojnice Castle

Bojnice Castle

Bojnice, the oldest spa town in Slovakia, is home to the country’s oldest zoo and its most visited fairy-tale castle. Bojnice Castle was for many years owned by kings and aristocrats. The reconstruction in the 17th century brought the castle its romantic appearance. Now it is one of the most visited castles in Slovakia. 

 

Nitra Castle

Nitra Castle

This castle right above the old city Nitra dates from 11th Century and consists of four parts – the cathedral, the Bishop’s palace, the outbuildings and the well-preserved outer fortification walls with bastions. Today the Castle serves as the seat of the Bishop and the Archaeological Institution of the Slovak Science Academy. Walking along the Castle you can have a look at the courtyard and see a beautiful view of the city. The Cathedral is the place of regular church services, and because it is so beautiful, many young couples decide to say their “I do’s” there.

 

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle

This massive rectangular building with four towers stands on a strategic place – right above the Danube river in the capital city of Slovakia. Known as the symbol of Bratislava, the castle is undoubtedly the most popular sight in the city. The castle was completely ruined by a fire in 1811 and reconstructed in 1960’s to become a national cultural monument.

 

Devin Castle

Devin Castle

Close to Bratislava this castle, declared to be a national monument of Slovakia is worth the 10km trip. Since it is situated on a high cliff over the Morava and Danube rivers, and standing on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria, it offers beautiful panoramic views and is a very popular place to visit. 

 

lietava-castle.jpg

Lietava Castle

Not far away from Rajecké Teplice & south of Žilina are the ruins of the Lietava Castle. Accessible only by foot (about 30 minute hike), it is the second largest castle in Slovakia.  It has played an important role in the history of the north-western Slovakia. The castle was built to command movement along the Amber Road, the ancient trade route for the transfer of amber between Europe and Asia.


Information sources:

wikipedia.org        slovakia.travel        www.slovakia.com/tourism

 


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3 Things to Experience in Your Lifetime

 

1) Grand Canyon
grand canyon
The Grand Canyon, over 277 miles long, is located entirely in northern Arizona and is one of the great tourist attractions in the United States. The massive canyon encompasses several distinct areas, most famous of which is Grand Canyon National Park, a United States National Park. Visitors to the national park have many options, including the remote North Rim; the more accessible (and therefore more crowded) and the South Rim; by far the most popular destination and the best equipped to handle the millions of yearly visitors. Tours from the South Rim offer the broadest range of experiences from Rafting, Helicopter, Airplane, Motorcoach, Jeep, Biking and much, much more.
Useful links to help plan your trip to Grand Canyon:

2) Machu Picchu

   machu picchu

Machu Picchu is the site of an ancient Inca city, high in the Andes of Peru. Located at 2,430 metres (8,000 ft), this UNESCO World Heritage site is often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world – a visit to Peru would not be complete without it.

Useful links to help plan your trip to Peru:

www.perutourism.com

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3) Great Barrier Reef

Great_barrier_reef  great barrier reef

One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef. The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches. Because of its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the worlds most sought after tourist destinations. A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and pulling away from it, and viewing it from a greater distance, you can understand why. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.

Useful links to help plan your trip to The Great Barrier Reef:

www.australia.com

www.queensland.com

 


.Information sources: https://en.wikivoyage.org & http://www.greatbarrierreef.org/



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