#Indonesia – 8 reasons to visit Lombok and the Gili Islands

If you’re looking for a laid-back escape with an adventure or two, it
would be hard to beat Lombok and the Gili Islands. You can choose to
relax on endless white sand beaches, dive remote coral reefs or hike to
see panoramic views.
 
Devastated by the series of earthquakes in 2018, these destinations
are bouncing back and hungry for tourists. So pack your bags this coming
dry season and go explore paradise.
 
1. Hike Mount Rinjani National Park
 
Lombok’s Mount Rinjani National Park is unbeatable for spectacular
views and challenging trails. While most of the hiking trails on Mt.
Rinjani were damaged in the 2018 earthquakes, one trail has reopened.
 
Located in Aik Berik village, the trail is lesser known among the
mountain’s more popular trails, but offers a similar experience for
adventurous travelers in search of epic views.
2. Hop around Gili Islands
 
For a relaxing break from daily life, consider going island-hopping
around the stunning Gili Islands. These islands are known for scuba diving cruises and offers a chance to truly get away from it all.
 
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the white sand beaches and
turquoise ocean vistas, you’ll find vibrant coral reefs teeming with
life under the waters.
 
The Shark Point dive site offers a chance to dive with sharks and
manta rays, while Deep Turbo offers overhangs and underwater caves for
experienced divers to explore. You might even see a whale shark or two.
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3. Experience Bangkang bat cave
 
A trip to Goa Bangkang will take your breath away with stalactites
and bursts of sunlight through the cave’s ceiling. Tucked underground on
Lombok, it is a cave like no other.
 
Descending the stairs into Bangkang, your senses will be struck by
the sound and smell of thousands of bats. If you stay in the area until
sunset, you can watch the bats exit the cave, covering the sky as they
begin their nightly hunt for food.
 
4. Swim with sea turtles
 
If you’re a fan of sea turtles (who isn’t?), be sure to check out the sea turtle conservation initiatives at the Gili Islands.
 
Green sea turtles, which are classified as endangered, are
well cared for at Gili Meno, thanks to Bolong, the local man who set up
the Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary. The sanctuary saves turtle eggs from
predators to help release the precious hatchlings into the sea.
The sanctuary is fascinating, and your visit will support turtle
conservation, as it depends entirely on donations from visitors.
 
You can swim with sea turtles at various spots around the Gili
Islands. Gili Air is especially known for green sea turtles at Han Rock.
 
5. Slow down, enjoy the silence
 
No motorized vehicles are allowed on Gili Trawangan, meaning you can
escape the noise of the neighboring destinations and rejuvenate in peace
and quiet.
 
The best way to explore the charms of Gili Trawangan is by foot or on
a bicycle. Stop off at beach bars, do some yoga, or just walk the
endless sands to reconnect with yourself, one day at a time.
 
6. Enjoy epic views from Gili Trawangan
 
There’s only one lookout point on the Gili Islands, at the top of
Gili Trawangan. Head off on a hike at sunrise, and you’ll start your day
off right.
 
At the peak is a shrine and Muslim burial site, plus the remains of a
World War II Japanese bunker to investigate, though the view is the
real highlight.
 
Resting at the top, you can look across the ocean to Mt. Rinjani and
capture panoramic views of the other Gili Islands, plus Lombok and Bali.
 
7. Learn to dive at Sekotong
 
If you’ve always wanted to try scuba diving but were too nervous to
take the plunge, Sekotong in Lombok is a great place to start. The
beautiful reefs there offer easy, sheltered dives, perfect for
beginners.
 
It will be well worth the effort, as you’re likely to spot sea turtles. You can even try spotting the tiny pygmy seahorses.
 
8. Watch the sunset at Semeti Beach
 
Another Lombok highlight are the rock formations on Semeti Beach,
which are not to be missed. These striking pyramid-shaped rocks jut
impressively out of the ocean, providing the perfect backdrop to a
sunset.
 
Semeti Beach is an ideal place to end a day of island-hopping, to see
the best view of the sun setting that you’re ever likely to see.
 
The author is a diver and writer for LiveAboard.com
Source – TheJakartaPost
 

 

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#Myanmar (Burma) Yangon-sur-plage

Yangon beach

A hidden beach 100km from Yangon offers muddy wades and fresh fish.

You are in a deserted Yangon and haven’t planned anything for the break, but adventure is still out there.

Most of Myanmar’s beaches are several hours away by car, but one hidden gem awaits just about 100 kilometres from Yangon. Ale Ywar beach, also known as Sal Eain Tan Let Khok Kone, is the ideal spot to go on a mini-break and enjoy some crustaceans – it has one of the best and freshest seafood I have ever had.   

Ale Ywar is in the Mottama Gulf, in Yangon Region. It is a few kilometers away from Let Khok Kone beach. That name probably won’t ring any bells, but Let Khok Kone was a resort opened by the military government in the 90’s. And like many projects from that particular era, it failed. Today, bushes have reclaimed the installations created to welcome families. The resort is surrounded by mud from the delta. Everything is closed there. 

Meanwhile, Ale Ywar is booming. My husband visited it two years ago, he and his friends were the only ones there. Today, the beach is buzzing with shops and restaurants. Parking is full of cars, and the sea is full of swimmers. 

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The boom started in 2016, during the Buddhist water festival, a synonym of national holidays. This was short-lived though. With the rain, shops closed. This year though, the flow of tourists seems to keep the local economy afloat.

Yangon fish

The beach itself is a natural treasure. It is almost untouched and has not been developed yet. It is entirely owned by the villagers, and restaurant owners rent the spaces and have cleared up the lands.  

It isn’t a white sandy beach though. The sand is almost brown and turns into mud as you get closer to the water. 

We were there during low tide and the earthy beach stretched off into the distance. 

You’d think it’s dirty, but it wasn’t. The mud was soft and most pleasurable to walk on – my 3-year old daughter enjoyed it too. She went a-splashing in it and ended up covered head to toe in mud – a proper mud bath spa for free. 

Eatery 

Choosing a restaurant is not the most difficult thing. There are only about five – and they all looked the same to us. We opted for “Yangon”. The menu only included seafood and do not expect an amazing chardonnay to go with it. The list of beverages is limited to beer and soft drinks. 

Yangon crap

Surprisingly, the seafood is not cheap. The law of the market usually commands that if you consume locally, the bill goes down, but here the owner explained that getting the fishermen to sell their catch is rather difficult. They have contracts with shops and supermarkets in Yangon who by everything in advance.

The seafood is worth the price you’re paying for it though.

We ordered a sour and spicy crab curry (K8000 for four pieces), a sautéed fish called Nga Tha Laut Owe Mhauk (K15,000), fried prawns (K15,000 for 10 pieces) and a small dried fish salad for K 2000 a bowl. A plate of steamed rice cost about K500, and wasn’t impressive. One beer cost K 3000 for a bottle, which is a tad pricier than in town. And a single coconut was K1000.

The shop does not have a proper menu – the staff simply hangs a list on the wall with the catch of the day written on it. Tourists beware: the price isn’t written on it.

The setting is so informal that you can go to the kitchen to check how fresh the fish is and pick your own.

We saw a group of guest sitting next to our table checking the fish and told them what to cook for them. They all looked happy when a waitress brought them fish curry. Nothing is prepared in advance; the chef cooks everything on the spot.

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If it was not for the trace of MSG (a flavour enhancer commonly added to Asian food), the curry would have been perfect. 

Unlike Ngapali or Ngwe Saung beaches — the two most popular beaches for Yangonites — there is no official committee controlling the hygiene of restaurants on Ale Ywar. The shop owners buy purified water from the village nearby. At K200 a bucket, it most probably uses it sparingly. 

There are showers at the back of the restaurants and you can buy a bucket of yellowish water for K500. No soap or towel is provided. I suggest taking a barrel of water in your car ahead of departure, or not wash at all. 

If you are too picky, don’t waste your time in Ale Ywar. If you like an adventure but do not have the time to go too far, you’ll find gold in the mud there. 

How to get there?

Take the ferry from Pansodan jetty to Dala and rent a motor bike or car to the beach. If you wish to go with your own car here are two possible itineraries: 

Route one (way there)

Hlaing Tharyar road junction – Dala – 13.7km (8.6 miles)

Dala – War Ba Lauk Thauk (Kawhmu junction) – 32.8km (20.4 miles) 

War Ba Lauk Thauk (Kawhmu junction) – Letkokkon – 22.5km (14 miles) 

Letkokkon – Ale Ywar – 6km (3.7 miles) (10mins)

Total: 75km (46.7 miles)

Route two (way back)

Ale Ywar – Letkokkon – 6km (3.7 miles)

Letkokkon – War Ba Lauk Thauk (Kawhmu junction) – 22.5km (14 miles)

War Ba Lauk Thauk (Kawhmu junction) – Kawhmu – 14km (8.5 miles)

Kawhmu to Hlaing Tharyar road – 23.5km (14.5 miles)

Total: 66km (40.7 miles)

Source – MMTimes

Asia’s largest railway station being built in #Beijing

Fengtai Railway Station

The reconstruction work on Beijng’s Fengtai Railway Station, the capital’s oldest, has recently begun, and it is expected to result in Asia’s largest railway station, the peoplerail.com reported on Tuesday.

Authorities have diverted the Beijing-Guangzhou railway line, which normally passes through the station, as of Monday night to facilitate the new construction.

Dating back to the year 1898, the Beijing Fengtai Railway Station, located at Zhengyang Avenue in Fengtai District of southern Beijing, used to be a small comprehensive railway station incorporating passenger trains and freight trains.

The station has been closed for passenger service since June 2010, ending a running history as long as 115 years.

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According to its contractor China Railway Construction Engineering Group, the new station will have seven floors with four floors aboveground and three floors underground. Covering an area of 398,800 square kilometers, it will accommodate a maximum of 14,000 passengers. Subway lines 10 and 16 will be linked to the station to bring more convenience to travelers.

The reconstruction work is set to finish in 2020, when the railway station is expected to become the biggest in Asia and a major transportation hub. It will serve high-speed trains on the Beijing-Guangzhou, Beijing-Kowloon and Beijing-Shijiazhuang lines, and will provide suburban railway services.

The station will also help ease the capital’s traffic burden, facilitate transportation to Xiongan New Area, and better promote the integration of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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#Malaysia – 5 ways to get around Kuala Lumpur

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When it comes to getting around the city of Kuala Lumpur, travelers have several options of getting around. Whether it’s by train or taxi, transportation around the city is relatively hassle-free.

Here are some transport suggestions for getting around KL.

Train

With the recent completion of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), more parts of KL are now connected by rail. Apart from the MRT, other rail service include the Light Rail Transit (LRT), monorail and KTM Komuter.

The trains in the city pass through iconic attractions such as KLCC, Central Market and Muzium Negara.

If you’re on a long visit, consider purchasing the Touch ‘N’ Go card or weekly passes for cheaper fares. The card can be used on all trains, as well as RapidKL buses.

Bus

Travelling by bus in the city is a generally comfortable experience these days. Most of them are fully air conditioned and they get you to popular tourist attractions as well as quaint neighbourhoods. Look out for the free purple Go KL buses within the central business district that run along popular sites and famous shopping districts. You can also travel further on the RapidKL buses.

Go KL City Bus is a free bus service that serving the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Taxi

Taxi is probably one of the most convenient ways to travel from one place to another in KL. Always insist on using the metre – do not be duped into haggling for a price.

According to the Land Public Transport Commission, regular budget taxis (usually painted in red and white, or red and blue) charge RM3 for the first three minutes. Subsequent distance or time are charged at RM0.25 every 200m or 36 seconds.

Blue cabs (Teksi Eksekutif) and gold cabs (Teks1M) are better for large groups, but they do charge a higher fee.

Taxis queue along KL Sentral in the city. Photo: The Star

Self drive

KL is a big city and having a car would allow travellers to get to surrounding townships such as Petaling Jaya or Shah Alam in Selangor easily. There are plenty of car rental options available online or at the airport. Driving in the city is generally safe. You might want to avoid peak hours though when traffic congestion can set you back an hour on average.

Driving around KL is relatively breezy, just be sure to avoid rush hours! Photo: The Star

Ride hailing

Malaysia actually has a few ride-hailing options, with Grab being one of the more popular options among locals. Utilising the service is as easy as downloading an app. The downside is you would need mobile data or WiFi to operate the service. But that shouldn’t be an issue as more people are connected on their travels these days.

You can also book taxis, trains, and more …  on some of these apps.

Yogyakarta sets cap on number of tourists allowed in Pindul Cave

The Gunungkidul Tourism Agency has set a limit to the number of daily visitors allowed in Goa Pindul (Pindul Cave), a natural cave and tourist attraction located in Gunungkidul regency, Yogyakarta, as the government aims to preserve the site’s ecosystem. 
 
“The maximum number of visitors to Pindul Cave is limited to 2,600 people per day,” Hary Sukmono, the agency’s secretary, said on Monday as quoted by kompas.com.
 
The limit was set based on Environmental Management Efforts and Environmental Monitoring Efforts (UKL-UPL), a guidance document that also includes information on village-owned enterprises, such as tour operators.
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Hary urged tour operators to refer to the document, adding that he
hoped the new system would help to preserve Pindul Cave’s ecosystem. 
“The limitation of visitors is an effort to preserve the environment of Pindul Cave,” Hary said. 
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Separately, Saryanto, the director of the Bejiharjo village-owned
enterprise, which oversees the cave region, said the organization would
obey the rules. He further said that, in any case, the number of
visitors to Pindul Cave was far below the limit. 
 
According to data obtained by the agency, 145,081 people visited the cave in 2017.
 
Saryanto said village-owned enterprises would continue to coordinate
with tour operators, adding that should the number of visitors
exceed the cap limit, the visitors would be directed to other
attractions. 
“We will accommodate everyone for the good of all,” he said.
 
Source – TheJakartaPost

 

Where is Bali ?

bali-rock

“Where is Bali?” most searched travel question on Google in 2016

Jakarta – New York-based travel magazine Travel+Leisure recently reported that “Where is Bali?” was the most popular travel-related question searched on Google in 2016.

Following “Where is Bali?”, the next most popular questions among world travelers were “What to do in Vegas?”, “What to do in San Francisco?”, “Where is Corfu?” and “What to do in Orlando?”.

Furthermore, aside from asking the location or things to do, the top-10 travel questions searched on Google also include “How many ounces can you take on a plane?”.

(Read also: Ahok the most searched person on Google in 2016)

These questions were ranked based on the highest spikes in traffic.

For the complete top-10 most searched travel-related questions throughout 2016, consult the list below:

1. Where is Bali?

2. What to do in Vegas?

3. What to do in San Francisco?

4. Where is Corfu?

5. What to do in Orlando?

6. Where is Bora Bora?

7. What to do in Miami?

8. How many ounces can you take on a plane?

9. What to do in Myrtle Beach?

10. Where is the Grand Canyon?

Source: TheJakartaPost

The Sevenseas (4 Star) Resort, Koh Kradan, Trang Thailand

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The Sevenseas Resort located on the tranquil island of Koh Kradan, The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan offers luxurious beachfront accommodation. Free WiFi is available in public areas. Guests can enjoy relaxing treatments at a spa.

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The Seven Seas Resort is an 80-minute long tail boat ride from Pak Meng Pier located at Trang on the mainland. The Pier is about 1-hour drive from #Trang Airport.

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Rooms at The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan contain contemporary designs that balance between modern comforts and exotic island luxury. Each air-conditioned room features finely polished floors, dark wood furnishings, open-air bathroom and rain shower.

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Guests can enjoy a cocktail by the resort’s swimming pool while relaxing on a lounger on the wooden deck. 

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Enjoy a soothing massage and rejuvenating body scrub at The Seven Seas Spa, which features open air treatment rooms amid the resort’s gardens.

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The open-air Barnacles Bar is the perfect place to relax during the day or night time for coffee, juice or a cocktail. 

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The Seven Seas Restaurant serves traditional Thai, seafood and innovative international cuisines all day where guests can dine either by the pool or on the beach.

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Satri House Secret Retreats (5 Star Hotel) Luang Prabang, Laos

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Located in Luang Prabang, the colonial-style Satri House was the previous residence of Prince Souphanouvon. The hotel offers 2 outdoor pools, free Wi-Fi and a spa.

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The modern rooms at Satri House feature beautiful interiors and a cable TV. Standard amenities include a minibar and fridge.

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Guests can lounge by the 2 pools and enjoy views of the beautiful landscaped gardens. The hotel’s spa features massage services and sauna facilities.

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The onsite restaurant serves delicious local and international specialties.

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This is our guests’ favorite part of Luang Prabang, according to independent reviews.

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Satri House Secret Retreats have beautiful big rooms

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Grand Millennium (5 Star) Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Situate opposite Fahrenheit, Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur is located along Bintang Walk beside Pavilion Shopping Mall. Offering free WiFi access, it also has a health club with a spa, air-conditioned squash courts and 4 dining options.

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Grand Millennium’s stylish, modern rooms are equipped with a tea/coffee maker. Cable TV and in-house movie channels are provided. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer lovely views.

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Guests have the option of taking a refreshing swim in the outdoor pool or relaxing in the sauna. A well-equipped fitness centre is available for workout sessions. The Club Lounge features 3 separate levels with an internet hub overlooking the Petronas Twin Towers.

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Asian and Mediterranean cuisines are served at The Mill Café, while Lai Ching Yuen features Cantonese dishes, including dim sum. For traditional Japanese dishes, head to Hayana Japanese Restaurant. An alternative dining option is Bistro 160.

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Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur is situated 50 km away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

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Bukit Bintang is a great choice for travellers interested in family friendly exploring, fashion bargains and entertainment.

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This is our guests’ favorite part of Kuala Lumpur, according to independent reviews.

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