Festivals in Bali

Bali is one of the most sought after holiday destinations in Asia. It has a perfect setting of beaches, lovely tropical weather and warm Indonesian hospitality which lures thousands of tourists from all over the world throughout the year.

Bali is also home to most of the minority Hindus of Indonesia and therefore this island is the perfect place to experience the local culture, which is a combination of Hindu and Indonesian traditions.

Throughout the year the island features a range of festivals. Dances and religious rites are part of Balinese day to day life; every religious element, every significant part of their lives, and all what Mother Nature has offered them, are a good enough reason for them to celebrate.

Most of the festivals are about their own lives. From the birth of a child, throughout the life, all the cherished moments such as marriage, until death, each event is a reason for celebration. Then there are the religious festivals. Special prayers, parades, fasting ceremonies and other events at the temple are also celebrated with passion. Some of the religious events also include deity anniversaries, harvest festivals and blood sacrifices.

The most significant religious celebration is the Odalan. This celebrates the founding of the temple and lasts a couple of days, sometimes even up to a week. The temples are beautifully decorates with flags, palm leaves and flowers. Generally this also involves a colourful parade, various ceremonies, all ending with a big feast.

One festival tourists cannot afford to miss is the Nyepi. This celebrates the new lunar year which is usually March or April for the Balinese. Nyepi is the day after the Melasti which involves a lot of festivities. On the day of Nyepi everybody has to remain silent throughout the day. No body works, travels, or does anything else. It is just a day for staying in and relaxing!

For more relaxation in Bali try a wellness retreat. There are many on this island and they offer the perfect way to indulge in a healthy living style. The island being a popular holiday destination offers various types of lodging options and for those keen on luxury living combined with wellness can stay at COMO Shambhala.

St. James’s Park- The oldest Royal Park in London

May be it’s the glance of the Royalty that constantly falls on this luscious green garden that keeps it in splendid perfection throughout the year. Sprawling over 23 hectares in the City of Westminster central of London at the southern end of the St.James area, the garden has just as interesting and famous neighbours in its vicinity. With Buckingham palace at its west and the busy mall and St James place to its north, the Bricade walk lies to the South as the House Guards cover the East. While the Buckingham Palace constantly looks in the direction of the garden, perhaps because its greenery offers such a soothing treatment for the eye, the garden returns the favour with its bridge perched upon the lake, getting a spectacular view of the palace, framed closely by its foliage and fountains.

Regardless of its majestic neighbours and its history as a place of national events and in spite of the crowds frequenting the mall, day in and day out, the garden has maintained a simplistic charm of nature throughout the years, as if it were not afraid of being young and naïve in a world of mature men and women. It seems not only man, but even flora and fauna have found shelter among its leafy branches, thick shrubs and especially the placid waters of its lake that is now and then ruffled by the breeze roaming through the park, often than not. The pelicans have made a permanent stay there and with all the feeding they get everyday, are unlikely to leave such attractive grounds to which they add their own colourful props. There are water birds, bats and woodpeckers especially for the children to gaze on, at least for those who are not busy playing in the playground in the park. For the city weary traveller, the garden is a sanctuary, with decked chairs in summer to recline on and dwell on nothing in particular while being softly caressed by the wind and being wooed to tranquillity by the garden whose attractions can sooth and soften any hard emotion. For some, the garden is ideal for people watching, while the more keen eyes of film makers have discovered in its mossy depths and wide open spaces lined by lakes and islands, the perfect back drop for the drama they’ve woven.

As much as outdoor enchantment, the city has a wealth of indoor charms in many a luxury hotel London. Located in the city’s Belgravia district, The Halkin London is a treat for the eye and mind, with unique interior designs falling only second to its modern conveniences and unforgettable Thai cuisine. In spite of its awe inspiring charms, this London boutique hotel, exudes a simplicity and a congenial warmth within all its services and servicemen that most traveller regard it as a home away from home.

The Thames Barrier- A fascinating modern attraction

The Thames Barrier is one such modern attraction, and is especially interesting as it is a piece of architecture that will protect the city of London from flooding. The construction of this barrier was completed in 1982. It took eight years to build and cost over a 1000 million GBP. It is known to be the largest flood barrier, which is movable, in the world. It is 520 metres wide and is located on the River Thames at Woolwich.

The need for such a barrier arose from the results of the 1953 floods. In 1953 due to heavy rainfall more than 160,000 acres of farmland got flooded and 300 people drowned. This prompted the authorities to take action to solve any further threats from flood water.

This particular design as a barrier was selected out of 41 proposals, as this unique design provided answers to all the problems: it had minimal interference with the natural river flow, headroom for ships were not restricted, and most importantly it is artistically very pleasing.

It comprises four gates; each as tall as a five storey structure and 61 metres wide. Each has its own ‘hydraulic power packs’, which are electrically powered and provides individual operation to each of the gates. When the gates are fully open they set against the river bed providing an unobstructed river. The gates can also be raised above the waters when they require maintenance work.

This piece of great engineering and architecture has come in handy over 60 times since its construction, when they had been raised to prevent the city from flooding. If you are visiting the location take either the river or the road. River boat from Greenwich or Westminster is ideal for a closer view. But if you are interested in a more in-depth experience try going by road to visit the visitor centre.

London also features various other attractions. As for lodging options, there is a range available: from a luxury hotel, London B&B, to budget hotel, you can take your pick. A London boutique hotel with luxury amenities is ideal for a romantic getaway. If you are looking for a great location and luxury accommodation options you may want to try The Halkin London.

Explore Under the Sea in Caribbean

The Caribbean conjures up scenes of paradise found where pristine beaches and palm laden lands lie interspersed on an azure canvas that is as delicate as it is breathtaking. As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for honeymooners and beach lovers this intriguing corner of the world has always been a hotbed of activity for water sports lovers all year round as the Caribbean oceans are also regarded among the world’s finest surfing venues.

Littered with stunning rock formations, abundant marine life and ancient shipwrecks, what lies beneath the Caribbean waters is just as intriguing as what lies above with rainbow-hued species and breathtaking corals occupying a submerged wonderland. One need not be an experienced diver to explore this captivating fantasyland under the sea as the tour operators in the Caribbean offer visitors a number of ways to get up close and personal with the brilliant marine heritage of the country.

A glass bottom boat excursion is often described as one of the easiest methods to explore the Caribbean sea bed as one need not even know how to swim to view the spectacular scenes of multihued coral lying beneath the surface. The glass bottomed ocean vessel takes visitors across several islands of the Caribbean in a cruise that can last up to several hours. The Atlantis Submarine is also on hand for more adventurous visitors and a typical tour takes passengers hundreds of feet beneath the ocean surface across much of the Caribbean including Grand Cayman, Aruba, St. Thomas, Barbados and Cozumel.

Helmet diving is another unique way to explore the underwater surface as anyone aged 5-85 can don the special helmet and climb down to the ocean floor using a ladder to walk among schools of fish and corals that lie between 10-12 feet below the waves. Avid snorkelers and scuba divers can also take a tour of the underwater wonderland the old fashioned way with diving gear rented from innumerable rental services on the beachfront and via hotels. Courses on scuba diving and snorkeling are also available at many hotels and diving schools in the islands.

Travellers on the lookout for an award winning hotel in the Caribbean should look to the COMO Hotels and Resorts conglomerate for all their accommodation needs. As a luxury hotel group with a number of elegant establishments all across the Caribbean, seasoned travellers could hardly imagine more eclectic spaces to spend their valued vacations.

The Peak

It is a necessity that a visitor to Hong Kong should feel deprived if he doesn’t get a chance to go to The Peak. Ascend on the tram at sunset to this towering mountain and its looming view stations and enjoy the city being played on with many brilliant hues as sunlight dips into a fury of colours before converting into the dark of the night where the electric lights take over and spill out their own magic pattern against the velvety darkness.
Known as the Victoria peak or even more simply as The peak, this tall mountain is placed on the western part of the Hong Kong and captures a stunning view of the rest of the city, especially the view over the Victorian Harbour. The peak tower contains the sky terrace which is another excellent location to capture the best scenery. There are more great places to take an eyeful of scenery at Lions view Point pavilion as well as Lugard Road Lookout. The peak circle walk is an excellent way of taking in different angles of the view through a casual stroll while the peak galleria offers a viewing gallery that is as superb as the rest.

The Peak tram journey that takes you up on the ascent to the peak is as great as the end point, reminding you of the caption of success being a journey and not a destination. This famous funicular train ride offers an incredible experience as you get to glide past the tallest sky scrapers of the city and watch them disappear into the distant through your window as you ascend the peak. Dedicated to this excellent mode of transport that has survived for no less than a century is the Peak tram gallery that has stories to tell of the tram and its memorable incidents. The tram leaves for the peak from Garden road and can provide an amusing journey upwards. However, today the tram can be replaced by a taxi or even a car to reach the top.

Descend from the dizzy height to enjoy some of the more earthly luxuries that Hong Kong can offer within the premises of a reputed Hong Kong hotel. A prime location close to major shopping areas, theme parks and other attractions as well as a range of suites and rooms to please the most discerning traveller and memorable culinary preparations will leave a visitor very much content if not delighted with his choice at Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong. This Wan Chai hotel Hong Kong has in store for you is indeed a superb way to experience Hong Kong and its attractions with the most delightful comforts and services as found anywhere else in the world.

Places to go around London- Don’t miss to catch the experience!

If you are fortunate to be going on a long vacation to the city of London then you’re in for a treat because this city has so many places that are in any traveler’s must visit list. For history lovers, London is a paradise with countless tales and events that mark the rich past of England.

A trip to the British Museum will equip you with a comprehensive knowledge on what the city and the country has been through. While China own London is a totally opposite experience, it is also is historically rich as it dates back to the late 18th century. Kensington garden has always been popular because of its early patronage by the royals. The London Eye is comparatively more recent and was constructed to celebrate the millennium.

But if you have visited all these places and more in London and are looking for something else a little away from the city, no worries because there are still an endless number of sites that you can visit. Althrop, the Spencer’s home for over 500 years is an impressive country home and in the stables showcases an exhibition of the life of Princess Diana. Alton’s Towers, UK’s largest theme park also has children’s and motor museum, making it a place for both young children and teenagers.

Known to be one of London’s most haunted castles, Glamis castle; the birth place of Princess Margret dates back to the 14th century and is supposedly the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Stonehenge is a must visit prehistoric site and located in Salisbury. All these places and more are easily accessible by London’s tube trains.

Considering its location as England’s capital city, finding holiday lodging in London is hassle-free. Since it has been a bustling town full of taverns and inns since early days, London still offers many accommodation options. But like the places to visit if you are looking for a different experience, a wellness retreat is an option you should consider. COMO Shambhala is a yoga and treatment space that lets you escape. With the philosophy of healthy living at its core, the company has spread worldwide and has five sanctuaries.

Scuba Diving in Negombo

Negombo is an idyllic coastal town located in the western coast of the tropical island of Sri Lanka. A massive city, it is located roughly forty kilometres from Colombo, the country’s capital. Negombo is known for its bustling fish markets, gorgeous beaches, and active night scene. It is also the place to try out a variety of water sports such as surfing, jet skiing, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Negombo has twelve major scuba diving spots and all of them are suitable for novices except for two. Adams Peak does not have an extensive coral network but is rich in aquatic fauna. Home to Lion Fish, Bullseye, Glass Fish, Cardinal Fish and Snappers it presents a terrific opportunity for taking photographs underwater. Barracuda Point is named after the fierce ocean predators that are found there. This gorgeous diving spot is also home to Sting Rays and Scorpion Fish. Bandara Rocks is known for its excellent visibility and a profusion of lobsters and cuttlefish. Ahas Yatra Gala is another terrific diving spot. Although one can find a plethora of aquatic life here, the main draw of Ahas Yatra Gala is the wrecks of fighter planes from World War II.

Thanthiri Gala is a somewhat shallow diving spot which nevertheless has a large network of coral. Standard Reef, with a maximum depth of around fifteen metres, offers good visibility. Route 66, also called the Oceanic Highway, is an underwater coral lined path that trails north. Lobster Reef is named after the creatures found here in large numbers and is another terrific diving spot. The other two diving spots suitable for novices are Muttiyan Gala and Hanova, where one can also try diving at night. Both Diyamba Gala and Derana Gala are more suited for divers with some experience.

Since Negombo is located so close to the airport it is convenient to stop here for a few days either on the way from or to the airport. Tourists looking for a good Negombo hotel can try the Jetwing Blue. Situated by the sea it is one of the best Sri Lanka hotels around and is sure to make one’s stay memorable.

Turtle Breeding Farm

The southern coast of Sri Lanka is the popular breeding grounds for marine turtles and there are more than 15 turtle breeding farms and sanctuaries along the southern coastline. These breeding farms with tanks teeming with baby turtles are not only fascinating to watch but also educational as it gives you an idea about conservation of these species.

If you are interested in visiting some of these turtle breeding farms along the southern coastline, there are several interesting places to remember. Induruwa, Kosgoda, Bentota, Unawatuna, Ambalanthota and Hambantota are among the popular turtle hatcheries on the island. Different beaches are visited by different turtle species. For instance, Walawe Modara and Godawaya are mostly visited by Leatherbacks and Bentota is well-liked by the Hawksbill while Green turtles nest mostly at Kosgoda and Rekawa beaches. Olive Ridleys are considered as the only species that can be found in any beach.

Managed by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka, Kosgoda turtle hatchery is a popular conservation site among the travellers for its massive tanks swarming with turtle hatchlings. The fishermen in the locality assist the hatchery by gathering the eggs which are laid along the beach. October to April is considered as the laying season for marine turtles.

However, Kosgoda is an outstanding breeding ground, where eggs can be found throughout the year regardless of the common seasons. After being taken care of and fed for 2- 4 days in the farm, these baby turtles are released to the sea, to enjoy their families in their natural habitat. Visitors to Kosgoda turtle breeding farm get the opportunity to touch and pet these adorable baby turtles and sometimes even a rare chance of releasing them to the sea.

Apart from the turtle breeding farms, there are many cultural and historical attractions along this southern coastal belt. Graced by palm grooves and pristine beaches, the city of Bentota is a popular beach getaway among both local and foreign travellers. If you are looking for a Bentota hotel with a relaxing environment and a comfortable stay, look no further than Avani Bentota Resort which is among the best resorts in Bentota.

The Waterbom Water Park in Bali

In the heart of Bali’s tourist spots lies the Waterbom Water Park that is the perfect attraction for a fun filled family vacation. Its picturesque location within close proximity to the infamous Kuta Beach, its close proximity to many of the other Bali tourist destinations and its 5 minute distance from the International Airport all contribute towards making Waterbom a must-visit destination on your next visit.

With 15 different water rides, fantastic facilities and a kiddies area as well, Waterbom is a place resounding with adrenaline shot screams of thrill. The smash down slide is a straight drop of 25 meters that shoots you to the bottom of the ride within 4 seconds. The Boomerang takes you down 20 meters only to bring you right back up again. The climax is a super rush of adrenaline that takes you up, down and across. The superbowl is an exhilarating ride that flushes you down to the pool in a matter of seconds and the jungle and boogie rides are perfect to race against each other.

When you are tired of the fast paced thrill of the rides take time off to relax in the lazy river or head over to the pleasure pool and the sunken pool bar for some refreshing tropical drinks.

The fish spa offers a relaxed environment whilst you allow hungry garra rufa fish to nibble on your feet for a smooth exfoliating treatment. Whilst enjoying a fish spa why not opt for an air brush tattoo, which is easy to get on and lasts only for a week at the maximum.

Cabanas and gazebos, dining outlets, retail shops and even a reflexology treatment centre are all available for a guaranteed complete day of fun, thrills and adventure.

The 3.8 hectare area of the Waterbom Water Park is a lush green tropical garden and is a spectacular sight to behold in itself. The Park also prides itself on maintaining the highest International standards of safety and follows stringent international standards and practices. The Park is also able to boast of many awards and accolades in this regard.

If you are planning on making a visit and are looking for a Bali spa resort consider the luxurious comfort of the COMO Shambhala Estate Bali with its touch of exclusivity and island elegance. It is one of the best Bali spa resorts around.

History Of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small nation situated between India and China. The country is known for its cultural richness and its picturesque landscapes, which have earned it the sobriquet ‘the Last Shangri-La’. Much of the country’s past is a mystery and has been obscured by myth and folklore. It is believed that the first humans settled here sometime around 2000 BC although it emerged as a nation only during the seventeenth century. Before that the land was composed of several fiefdoms that were constantly at war with each other.

Ngawanag Namgyal, a Tibetan lama, is credited with unifying the country in 1616. He imposed a legal and civil system in the country and declared himself the ruler. However, the system fell to pieces when he died and the country was torn apart by war for two more centuries until Ugyen Wangchuck came to power in 1885. He was eventually named the Druk Gyalpo, the Dragon King in 1907, a title that would pass down his bloodline.

All Bhutan’s rulers have attempted to modernise the country by establishing more schools, and building better roads and newer hospitals. This trend was continued by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who imposed sweeping reforms to make the Bhutanese government more efficient. It was during his reign that Bhutan was formally inducted as a member nation of the United Nations. He was succeeded by his son, Jigme Singye Wanchuck, whose ideology of Gross National Happiness led to a 2011 UN resolution that emphasises social and economic policies based on the happiness it will bring to citizens. While Bhutan is still considered a developing nation, it is a wonderful place to visit and tourists are sure to have a lot of fun here.

Tourism in Bhutan is a little peculiar. Foreigners are charged a daily fee that covers accommodation, food, and even a local guide. For more information on the tariffs one can head over to the official tourism website. When it comes to staying in Bhutan one should try COMO Hotels and Resorts. The luxury hotel group has anaward winning Hotel in Paro that promises a delightful stay.