Thursday, June 3, 2010

Being right: The Wright travel plans

The Lonely Planet's Ian WrightImage by Smaku via Flickr
This talks about an upcoming TV show where they'd feature travel destinations. (Since I am posting late, this is already on air this time).

Pardon me, but I do agree with Ian when he said that "... they're free... they're not nailed down... " Take 'em with you when you leave...

Read on...

The Wright travel plans
It's out with boundaries, and in with Ian Wright

by Michelle Ann Kwara

AN ENTIRE room of eager journalists watched as Ian Wright slowly unbuttoned his shirt. Don't worry, the children can stay - he was just showing off his gleaming sunburn from his most recent escapade.

"Eighteen years of travel, and I realised that I haven't learnt one thing," sighed the globe-trekker, who popped into town last month to promote his latest TV travel programme, Ian Wright: Out of Bounds.

As the name suggests, the 45-year-old Englishman's latest offering features destinations that are, well, out of bounds. The world's most remote or least visited locations - Cuba, Syria, Venezuela and Siberia are a handful of the cities explored.

It may not sound like a leisurely spa getaway. And it isn't - Wright was quick to say that he wasn't always as calm and smiley as what you see on TV. "You've got to be mad to not be scared of nothing," he said. "Or dead, I suppose."

The much-loved host of Lonely Planet, also known as Globe Trekker, Wright has also hosted shows like America The Wright Way and VIP Weekends With Ian Wright. The shows are a lovechild of travelogue and comedy, with Wright providing his trademark wit and screwball antics.

As a professional traveller, he is no stranger to exotic foods. While Singaporeans feast on shark's fin, Wright dines on mouldy sharks in Iceland.

"It's an old Viking dish, it's like cured meat. If you're on a boat, you got to have something to nibble on. No wonder the Vikings aren't here anymore," he quipped.

We cosied up with the award-winning host as he shared tips on stealing hotel toiletries and why we should all go to Siberia.

Ian Wright Out of Bounds
Where's the one place you think everyone should visit?

There's isn't anywhere, really. Some people say Auschwitz is one place you must go, just to remind yourself of what's going on. Like in Cambodia, the school that was the death camp. It's always worth going to one of them places, just as a reminder of what a bunch of a**holes we are. You don't necessarily need to visit those places. Everyone's got their own little mecca. And while you're in Cambodia, get yourself some noodles and go off to Angkor Wat, you know? It's only round the corner, innit?

Ian Wright Out of Bounds
What's the best advice you can give travellers who want to travel the way you do?

Well, just buy a ticket, really. The thought of going on your own, or with someone, to the other end of the world, it's like, "Oh my god!" and you can dwell and think about it too much. And it can stop you going. What you need to do is, when you get the idea, go and buy a ticket. Buying that ticket is the first step, and probably the hardest.

What are your travel essentials?

Now, it's my DVD player. I love films, especially for long plane journeys. But make sure you've got a bloody good battery.

Why should we visit Siberia?

Because it's unlike any other place. People want to travel to experience new experiences, to see different perspectives of the world, different landscapes in the world. And it doesn't get more different, or more extreme, than in places like Siberia.

Ian Wright Out of Bounds
Have you ever nicked hotel soaps and toiletries?

I don't use the word nick - they're free anyway. If it's not nailed down, put it in your bag. That's my motto.

Ian Wright: Out of Bounds premieres today and airs every Thursday at 9pm on Discovery Travel and Living.

From TODAY, Travel - Thursday, 20-May-2010
The Wright travel plans

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Air Travel: Travelling safe

This may not be very timely, but the idea presented can be of use anytime any type of delay in air travel happens.

I'm not saying that another volcano eruption is imminent, or whatever, no, I'm not saying that. it is just that anything can happen while you are on travel, by air, water or land.

Read on...

Travelling safe
Will the volcano in Iceland leave you stranded in Europe? Is this really the best time to visit Greece? We have the answers

Eruption disruption

IF WE want to fly, we have no option but to grin and bear the risks of delays. The good news is that any further disruption due to Icelandic ash looks as though it will be intermittent and short-term.

The bad news is that it could prove impossible to predict: The fact that there were cancellations in Spain, Italy and Morocco last week, but that most of Britain was unaffected, is proof of that point. It's essential to know what you are entitled to in the event of being stranded or delayed.

Greek philosophy

The problem here is that, while the European Union may have shored up Greece's finances for the immediate future, the level of discontent in the country is clearly extremely high. Further disruption and protest seem likely, and Athens does not look like an attractive option for a summer holiday.

You might reason that the most popular holiday islands are a long way from the tensions in the capital. But we have already seen strikes affecting air-traffic control and ferry services, and a long-lasting general strike would have an impact all over Greece.

Our advice? Not to deprive Greece of vital tourist income this summer but keep watch on the political situation there and be wary of booking too far in advance.

If you spot a last-minute bargain (and there will be many), however, you might do well to snap it up.

Bargain hunting

In the immediate future, the travel industry faces another issue - the World Cup. Traditionally, many of us put our holiday-booking plans on hold during the competition, consumed apparently, by a fear that we might miss out on the atmosphere in a bar if our teams do well. Since June is always a good month for holiday bargain hunting, the World Cup effect this year will make it better than ever. The Daily Telegraph

From TODAY, Travel
Travelling safe

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Johor: To Land's End... in a day

The saddest thing that can happen is to live in a place where tourists are easily coming in and going out, and enjoying their stay - but not be able to go there yourself while it is a stone's throw away.

I'm talking about being in a country where tourist destinations abound, but they become like common things to you, simply because they are in your country.

May it not happen to me anymore... but then again, do I have the time and money to take a vacation? Hopefully!

Read on...

To Land's End... in a day
Get to know Johor's rustic gems. Tanjung Piai and Kukup Town make a good weekend getaway from the urban hustle and bustle

by Michelle Ann Kwara


What: Seafood in Kukup

Kukup is a small fishing village located about 40km south-west of Johor Bahru, in the district of Pontian. Visitors from Singapore and Indonesia flock there for the open-air seafood restaurants built on stilts over water.

At the seaside New Kukup Restaurant, next to Kukup International Ferry Terminal, you never have to worry about the freshness of the seafood. The restaurant has an alfresco dining area that extends over the water and gets its seafood fresh from large fishing nets positioned below. The food has the stamp of approval from celebs such as Phyllis Quek, Felicia Chin and Chen Hanwei.

The salted egg yolk crab (RM45, or $19.50, per kg) is sweeter than the average haunt's, and the gravy is finger-licking good. The marriage of prawns and cereal (RM38) is familiar to most Singaporeans, but these prawns are fresher than those found in Singapore, though the cereal topping was a bit on the scanty side.

The stretch of sea between Kukup Fishing Village and Pulau Kukup is home to aquaculture farms. These "floating farms" use a modern farming method where fish are reared in large cages suspended from wooden floating platforms. The farmers move around the platforms with ease, but make sure you keep an eye on the children, as these planks are quite slippery and narrow.

Get there: New Kukup Restaurant, No 1 Kukup Laut; tel, +607 696 0216; opening hours from 10am to 9pm


What: Tanjung Piai

This cape in Johor is part of Tanjung Piai National Park, which covers 5.26 sq km of mangroves and another 4 sq km of inter-tidal mudflats.

A 653m boardwalk trail leads visitors into the heart of the mangrove and to the southernmost tip of mainland Asia. Known as Land's End, it is reportedly the inspiration behind the "At World's End" tag of the third Pirates Of The Caribbean movie.

Tanjung Piai National Park offers guided tours, fishing, bird-watching from its three observatory towers, and camping on platforms underneath the mangrove.

The best period to visit is between September and March, during the bird migratory season.

Pulau Kukup is an island entirely covered by a mangrove forest and surrounded by mudflat. The second largest mangrove island in the world, it is an ecological treasure trove that has 50 per cent of the world's true mangrove species, 76 bird species and 12 species of fauna. A 12m suspension bridge across Sungai Ular is one of the main tourist attractions on Pulau Kukup.

Stand in the middle of the bridge, and drink in the picture-perfect view of Kukup Village and the boats at the quay. Observation towers can be found on either end. Each is 10m high, and is perfect for bird-watching.

Both parks are on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of wetlands.

Get there: Tanjung Piai - From Johor Bahru, take the Jalan Skudai Highway and head for Pontian/Pontian Kecil. At Pekan Nenas, turn left at Sri Bunjan, follow the rural road and take the right turn at Jalan Tenggayun. Thereafter, follow the signage for Tanjung Piai. Kukup - The island is near the south-western tip of the peninsula, about 20km from Pontian Town and 62km from Johor Bahru. From the North South Expressway (NSE), take the Skudai exit (Interchange 254) through Pontian Kechil (Highway 5 and 95) towards Kukup.


What: Honey Bee Farm

Get up-close and personal with the bees at the Tanjung Piai Honey Bee Farm, and have a taste of the honey - fresh from the honeycombs.

Established in 1996 by owner Pak Mat, the honey bee farm is definitely off the beaten track. The only way to get there is to drive until you spot the weather-beaten arch.

Pak Mat harvests his honey the old-school way, no bee suits for him. The bees are "familiar enough" with him and will not sting him even if he is dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.

When eating the honey pieces, suck out the honey from the honeycomb and chew the wax as you would gum.

Get there: Perepat Timbol, off Tanjung Piai, Serkat, Pontian; tel, +6013 797 2842.

For information on guided tours, contact JB-based Prima Sierra Holidays at +607 521 7087.


What: Nusajaya

Johor Bahru will have a brand new resort town in 2012. With plans to have indoor theme parks in collaboration with Legoland and Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty, Nusajaya looks set to be a fun-filled holiday destination for families looking for a quick break.

Nusajaya also aims to be Asia's foremost fully integrated city comprising a financial district, medical and wellness village, creative park, as well as a waterfront and marina.

Getting there: Visitors can hop onto the Bas Iskandar Malaysia No. IM06 which runs from Bukit Indah to Kota Iskandar and back. Bukit Indah can be reached from Singapore by taking the Handal Indah Bus from Jurong MRT Interchange.

From TODAY, Travel
To Land's End ... in a day

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

New Rules on Coming to America

With the latest developments in the air travel safety and security, rules are modified to adapt to the needs and tighten security.

There's no such things as a failsafe measure, but this change is to make things better - if not, at least it is safer.

Read on...

Coming to America
New rules make air-travel in the US less stressful - and easier to complain about

THE United States federal government is taking a stronger hand in regulating how airlines treat passengers, and new rules limiting long tarmac delays are just the first step.

"I don't know of another time in the department's history when we've stood up for passengers and said enough is enough," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, mentioning the overnight stranding of passengers on a plane in Rochester, Minneapolis, last summer as the tipping point prompting government action.

"There were actually personnel in the terminal who could've let people off the plane - that was ridiculous," LaHood said.

Even before the latest rules, which went into effect April 29, the government had fined airlines for violations of existing regulations that cover baggage-reimbursement policies, fare advertising and compensation when passengers on over-booked flights are denied boarding.

It seems carriers may be getting the message. Although airline executives predicted "unintended consequences" and widespread cancellations if planes were required to return to the terminal after sitting on the tarmac for three hours, there have been no reports of this happening in the two weeks after the rule took effect.

Here's an overview of what's been adopted so far, and what's under consideration.

No more nights on the tarmac

If an aircraft sits on the tarmac, airlines now have to give passengers the option to deplane after three hours (with exceptions for safety and security), and offer snacks and drinking water at the two-hour mark. They must also maintain working lavatories and provide medical attention, if necessary, and publish plans outlining how they will deal with lengthy tarmac delays.

The three-hour time limit applies only to domestic flights; for international flights, carriers can set their own time limit but must disclose it in advance.

Complaining will be easier

One of the less-publicised new rule is that carriers now have to publish contact information for consumer complaints on their websites and on all e-ticket confirmations. The Transportation Department has also redesigned its aviation consumer protection web site,, to make it easier for passengers to file complaints.

The complaints help investigators spot emerging problems that may require further regulation, such as whether airlines should have to refund checked baggage fees if a passenger's luggage is lost or late.

Charges should be fair and transparent

Even before the new rules went into effect, the Transportation Department was working on another set of proposed regulations, which it plans to announce and open for public comment in June. Among the topics under consideration: How extra fees - such as for baggage or seat reservations - are disclosed, how fares are advertised and how and when airlines should provide alternative transportation for passengers on canceled flights. THE NEW YORK TIMES

From TODAY, Travel
Coming to America

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Australia: Soft rocks

Artist Brian Eno lights up the sails at Vivid Sydney last year.
Down under, you'll get to enjoy yourself, either in the city, or in the outback...

As the TV ad says: "So, what are you waiting for?"

Soft Rocks
by Lance Ng

IF YOU'RE not already relaxed when you reach Sydney, a day in The Rocks area will ensure that you see a different side of this busy metropolis.

Light installation Vivid Sydney

Start your day with breakfast at The Rocks. The site of Australia's first European settlement fringing Sydney Cove not only has historic charm, it offers fantastic views of the city's most famous building, the Sydney Opera House.

Many cafes are housed in historical buildings or set in courtyards. Vintage Restaurant (R2 Nurses Walk), decked out in a fusion of historical and modern styles, offers delicious breakfast items that include eggs benedict, pancakes, sandwiches and omelettes.

You can have a lighter breakfast at Tara Tea Rooms, which is situated in a cosy courtyard behind Irish Design Shop (33 George Street). It's well-known for its scones, which come in 10 flavours.

Pub at Observer Hotel.
After breakfast, walk to Circular Quay for a Sydney Harbour cruise on Captain Cook Cruises. The Harbour Express option departs every 45 minutes and takes about one-and-a-half hours to complete. You'll get a hop-on, hop-off day pass that allows you to stop at seven harbour attractions. A guide will explain the history of each attraction, giving you an overview of Sydney Harbour while the city's famous landmarks, Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, glow in the morning sun.

Pancakes on The Rocks

Have lunch at Pancakes On The Rocks (4, Hickson Road, Metcalfe Bond Arcade), well-known among Sydneysiders. The eatery serves Western/Mediterranean items, though it's famous for its crepes and pancakes.

Portions are substantial. My favourite is the chicken and mushroom crepe topped with a crunchy coating of parmesan cheese.

I walk off my lunch with The Rocks Walking Tour (23 Playfair Street). Knowledgeable guides dispense intriguing nuggets of history, such as how The Rocks got its name (an abundance of sandstone was used for the construction of buildings) or the material used to pave the streets (culled from the ballasts of ships).

The Rocks
The tour winds through shaded cobblestone alleys among sandstone buildings, so you can easily appreciate the district's old charm - a sharp contrast to the state-of-the-art skyscrapers just a stone's throw away. The daily tour starts at 12.30pm and 2.30pm, and is priced at $30 for adults.

After having gone under the Harbour Bridge during the morning cruise, climb to the top of the bridge with Bridge Climb Sydney (3 Cumberland Street) to experience the "Climb Of Your Life". Those who do not exercise regularly will find the three-and-a-half hour climb a bit of a workout, but the panoramic view at the peak of the bridge is worth the sweat. On a clear day, you can see past the cityscape, all the way to Blue Mountains. The climb costs A$198 ($245).

The Rocks

The Waterfront (27 Circular Quay West, Campbells Wharf, Campbells Cove) serves a luxurious seafood dinner while allowing diners a precious view of the Sydney Opera House. The restaurant is located across Sydney Cove from the landmark. If you go during Vivid Sydney, the city's annual light-art festival held from May 27 to June 21 this year, you will see the Opera House's sails splashed with colourful patterns in an eye-popping light show.

Spend the rest of the evening at one of the welcoming pubs at The Rocks. The pub at Observer Hotel (69, George Street) offers fantastic live musical performances and beer at only A$5.50 per pint.

From TODAY, Travel
Soft Rocks

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]