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Travel From Thailand To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia With The Rawfoodfamily

16 Nov

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We did it!
We finally left our lonely island in Thailand where we lived for the last 4 months and moved on.
The South-East Asia Tour 2012-13 with The Rawfoodfamily continues.
Enjoy one of the most beautiful cities on earth – Kuala Lumpur – see through the eyes of Ka Sundance and his family.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES!

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The World’s 10 Best Snorkeling Destinations

10 Mar

Scuba diving requires training, a PADI qualification, and heavy equipment, but absolutely anyone who can swim and feels at ease in the water can snorkel. It’s the easiest way to discover an unbelievable underwater world full of color, critters, and beauty. Snorkelers only need a mask, a snorkel, and fins, and it’s free to practice on most of the world’s beaches at any time, dependent on sea condition.

There’s so much to see and learn; snorkelers can swim among dolphins, turtles, and rays, discover thousands of different corals, and ambush shoals of jewel-colored fish as they dart around their domain. Here are some simply magical snorkeling destinations; dive in to their marine wonders.

1. Menjangan Island, Bali

Snorkeling at Menjangan Island

Menjangan Island. Photo credit: Bart Speelman via Flickr.

Part of West Bali National Park and within sight of Java on the north-west tip of Bali, Menjangan is protected and accessible by boat only with a guide. Trips can be booked through hotels or at the national park offices on the beach at Labuhan Lalang. Just on the 20-minute outrigger journey from the mainland, we saw green turtles and the fleeting shadows of bottle-nosed dolphins.

The reef is in spectacularly good condition, with table-coral formations almost protruding from the water, which teems with fish: eels, schools of bright purple chromis, star fish, puffer fish, and vast angelfish swaying gently in the current, partly hidden among wafting coral fans. The water is calm at Menjangan all year but visibility is best from April through November.

2. British Virgin Islands

Snorkeling at Anegada

Underwater at Anegada. Photo credit: ScubaBear68 via Flickr.

There are many excellent snorkeling sites throughout the BVIs, but two stick out in my mind. Firstly Salt Island, for diving over the wreck of RMS Rhone, which sank with all its passengers in 1867 during a hurricane. In clear water with a lilting current, it’s easy to float over the hull and get a sense of its size. Hundreds of brightly flecked parrotfish, yellowhead wrasse, triggerfish, and clownfish flick over the barnacle- and seaweed-encrusted decking and rigging of the boat, with rays and nurse sharks lurking in the depths.

Anegada is one of the more remote spots in the BVIs, where the warm waters of the Caribbean meet the colder Atlantic Ocean. Composed of coral, the island reaches just 28 feet (8.5 meters) above sea level. The pristine waters of the north coast are protected by reefs, which form shallow lagoons that are safe for snorkeling. Try Loblolly Beach for wrasse, parrotfish, snapper, and spiny lobster before retiring to the Big Bamboo beach bar for a sundowner.

3. South Plaza Island, Galapagos Islands

Turle swimming by South Plaza Island

Turle swimming by South Plaza Island. Photo credit: Joanne Goldby via Flickr.

If you’re lucky enough to get to the Galapagos Islands, snorkeling with the sea lions on rocky South Plaza Island is one treat guaranteed to melt the very hardest of hearts. This remote little volcanic speck in the Pacific Ocean is the home of more than a thousand sea lions, whose pups happily show off for snorkeling humans by performing acrobatics in the crystal-clear turquoise seas. Although the older sea lions keep their distance as they tumble and turn in the water, they readily accept human presence. Boat trips and wet suit hire can be arranged from Santa Cruz; while visiting South Plaza Island check out the colonies of swallow-tailed gulls and boobies as well as cumbersome yellow and red land iguanas.

4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Snorkeler surrounded by fish in the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkeler surrounded by fish in the Great Barrier Reef

Stretching 1,400 miles down the east coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s longest and most southerly reef. There are many springboards off onto the reef from Port Douglas south to Brisbane and Hardy Reef, accessible from Shute Harbour, just east of pretty Airlie Beach, is one of the best spots. Here’s your chance to swim among the coral and sea life of Hardy Lagoon in majestic silence. Harmless black-tip reef sharks stalk snorkelers among the pink and green shades of lettuce, antelope, and brain coral as it whispers back and forwards in the gentle current.

This is an opportunity to experience the Barrier Reef without the crowds, swimming among flashy regiments of sergeant majors, parrotfish, timid green turtles, and sea slugs. Trips out to Hardy Reef are by boat, cat, or plane; the latter gives the chance to spot the perfectly formed Heart Reef and return flights at sunset take in the Whitsunday Islands, flying low over the gleaming white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach as it streaks yellow and pink in the setting sun.

5. Stingray City, Cayman Islands

Stingrays in the Cayman Islands

Stingrays in the Cayman Islands

A tourist trap if ever there was one, but nevertheless an amazing experience. The Cayman Islands’ boast that it has the friendliest stingrays in the Caribbean appears to be true. Once they hear the engines of the dive boats, they congregate in scores on the sandbar inside the reef at North Sound and hang around waiting to be fed. Although the reef itself is nothing special, the rays simply steal the show. They know no fear and hoover bait from outstretched palms before bustling around in the shallow, transparent water and nudging legs when they want more handouts.

Once they have eaten their fill and posed for their close-up, they happily let snorkelers swim around them. Touch them gently – they feel velvety – but be careful with your fins if they are swimming close by. Most Grand Cayman hotels can organize trips to Stingray City by yacht, boat, or jet ski, which operate all year around; take sun cream and towels.

6. Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

Sharm el Sheikh snorkeling

Snorkeling near Sharm el Sheikh

Not the most enchanting spot in the world, but Sharm on the Red Sea has plenty of reefs and is striving to sustain its green credentials by the establishment of three national parks. Of these Ras Mohammed National Marine Park has a backdrop of arid red mountains, is edged with soft sandy dunes, and offers clear, calm water with great visibility, healthy banks of live pink and yellow coral, and thousands of fish.

Look out for blue-spotted rays, scorpion fish, angelfish, butterfly fish – and if you’re lucky you might spot dolphins playing in the bow waves of the dive boats. Wear a T-shirt in the broiling summer months to prevent sunburnt backs. There is an eco-camp in the park for overnight stays, but all hotels in Sharm can organize trips.

7. Big Island, Hawaii

Sea turtle near Big Island of Hawaii

Find giant turtles near the Big Island of Hawaii

Swimming with turtles is possible in many tropical destinations, but on islands like Barbados they are habitually fed by the crews on the dive boats, so they respond Pavlov-like to the sounds of the boat engines. To see wild green turtles in their natural environment, head for the protected Kahalu’u Beach Park near Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Here the seawater is clear and calm and protected by a rocky reef with thousands of resident fish, but the real stars of the show are the turtles. Attracted by the algae-rich water, they feed in large numbers in the shallows close to shore before disappearing over the reef back to sea. Growing up to 500 pounds, they are unafraid of people and will tolerate them swimming among them. However, there are strict guidelines for snorkelers; do not feed, touch, or chase the turtles.

8. Islas Medas Islands, Spain

Snorkeling at Islas Medas

Snorkeling at Islas Medas. Photo credit: topSportHolidays via Flickr.

Contrary to the belief that there are virtually no fish left in the western Mediterranean Sea, the Costa Brava boasts one of the best snorkeling sites in the world. The seven uninhabited rocky islets of Las Medas rise steeply out of the sea a mile (1.6 km) offshore and form Spain’s first Maritime Nature Reserve. Some of the richest marine life in the Med is to be spotted when floating through the sheltered coves and over rocky reefs.

A ridiculous abundance of lobsters, moray eels, enormous and over-friendly groupers, octopus, mullet, barracuda, and even tuna hover over the lapping sea grass and waving slabs of fan coral or dart into into underwater caves. Try the snorkeling spot at Pota del Llop to see spiky yellow and purple gorgonian coral. Boat trips depart L’Estartit on the mainland and run year-round; a wet suit is required in winter and visibility is never great after rain.

9. Kuda Bandos, The Maldives

Clear water at Kuda Bandos

Kuda Bandos. Photo credit: mariyam shafeeq via Flickr.

The Maldives are an archipelago of 1,200 coral-formed islands splayed out in the center of the Indian Ocean, of which around 90 are given over to glamorous resorts, many with their own ‘house’ reefs. The snorkeling off Kuda Bandos is exceptional for the variety and size of the fish and easy for novices; the reef rings the island for around 100 feet (30.5 meters) before abruptly dropping off to form a wall plunging downwards.

Float over the edge of the reef between the inky darkness and the pristine sapphire blue of the shallows to spy scores of manta and stingrays as well as darting black-tipped reef sharks and barracuda mingling with the shady silhouettes of scuba divers far below. Further inshore among the lumpy brain coral and wafting finger coral the waters are infested with shoals of parrotfish, comical sweetlips, stripy sergeant majors, and flashy triggerfish. Don’t forget the sun lotion or wear a T-shirt. All Maldives hotels can organize trips and Kuda Bandos is closed to non-nationals at weekends.

10. Dimakya Island, Philippines

Dugong

A dugong. Photo credit: Christian Haugen via Flickr.

So you’ve swum with dolphins, turtles, and reef sharks. What’s next on the bucket list? Dimakya Island is one of the few places in the world that offers swimming with dugongs. These extremely rare, endangered, and shy marine mammals look like over-inflated walruses and grow to about nine feet (2.75 meters) in length while weighing in at up to 1,000 pounds. Despite their size they are gentle beasts of the sea with a mournful countenance, and pop inshore regularly to feast on the sea grass beds around this minute coral island in the Philippines.

An added bonus on this marine paradise is the richness and diversity of the house reef, where manta rays, green sea turtles, and schools of flashing tropical fish may just look commonplace following an encounter with the spectral dugongs.

The World’s 10 Best Snorkeling Destinations bali , Big Island of Hawaii , British Virgin Islands , Cairns , Cayman Islands , Costa Brava , featured , Galapagos Islands , Great Barrier Reef , Maldives , philippines , Sharm el Sheikh , Water tours

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March

7 Mar

Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors, for obvious reasons.  (Photograph by Anurag Kumar, My Shot)

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in March:

  • As the summer sun sets on the Southern Hemisphere, one Australian beach town isn’t quite ready to bid the season adieu. In Coolangatta, surfing greats like Kelly Slater duke it out on the waves at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (March 2-13) competition. While the riders paddle their way toward big cash prizes prize, spectators can keep their toes in the sand with meet and greets, live music, and shopping.
  • Call it a bruja brouhaha. Subscribers to the supernatural flood the streets of Catemaco, Mexico for the annual Noche de Brujas (March 1), a festival that fetes the ancient tradition of Mexican sorcery in a community that claims to be the world capital of witchcraft. Healers and local shamans abound, but if the magic fails, don’t fret. The calming lap of nearby Laguna Catemaco may be just as entrancing.
  • The Gathering Ireland, a yearlong initiative intended to draw the Irish diaspora back to their homeland, takes a literary turn this month at the Ennis Book Club Festival (March 1-3). Acclaimed author Joseph O’Connor will headline the event, but he’s not the only draw. The weekend will be filled with enough readings, seminars, and literary love-ins to appease even the most hardcore bookworms.
    Many women --

    Many women wear traditional dress during Las Fallas. (Photograph by Alexander Rostocki, My Shot)

  • Once a simple feast intended to honor the carpentry of Saint Joseph, today’s Las Fallas (March 15-19) in Valencia, Spain is a veritable ode to pyrotechnic prowess. Watch as local tinkers construct enormous effigies, only to set them ablaze on the festival’s final night. Not all the statues face the stake though. A citywide vote bestows clemency to the crowd favorite.
  • Foodies and oenophiles the world over have been flocking to Sonoma County for decades. Discover why at the California’s Artisan Cheese Festival (March 22-24). Farm tours, cheese making seminars, and pairing demos are all part of the program, but the festival’s location — with Napa Valley, San Francisco, and the Muir Woods just a stone’s throw away — may be the biggest star of all.
  • Music festival season is upon us. From Austin to Glastonbury, large crowds and loud sounds are an inextricable part of spring. This year, take the path less traveled to the principality of Andorra as it hosts its first ever ElectroSnow festival (March 30-April 1). What traveler in their right mind (and with enough scratch in their pocket) could resist a trip to the Pyrenees for a weekend of skiing and electronic music?
  • Savannah, Georgia may be known for its Southern charm and delightful squares decorated with Spanish moss, but it bleeds green on at least one day of the year. The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade(March 16), now in its 189th year, is one the largest in the world, and pays jubilant homage to the city’s unique Irish heritage.
    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C.  (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

  • Baseball hasn’t always hit it out of the park with the International Olympic Committee. After being axed from the summer games in 2012, the international baseball community responded with the World Baseball Classic (March 2-19). With opening games staged in stadiums from Taiwan to San Juan and everywhere in between, the quadrennial event is on pace to become a global institution.
  • Devotees of Krishna the world over descend on Vrindavan, India for Holi. The Hindu holiday celebrates Radha and Krishna’s love bond and the beginning of spring, with each major Krishna temple celebrating on a different day. But the most anticipated event takes place at the Banke Bihari Temple on March 27, where worshippers and visitors alike are doused in brightly colored powder.
  • Washington, D.C. ushers in spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20-April 14). Celebrating the end of winter and the enduring friendship between the U.S. and Japan, the beloved festival centers around the willowy sakuras that Nat Geo’s first female board member, Eliza Scidmore, played a vital role in bringing to the capital city.
  • Bali is back. A string of attacks left the island reeling, but tourists are once again flocking to this Indonesian paradise. Discover it for yourself during the Bali Spirit Festival (March 20-24), where music and movement come into perfect balance. By day, festival-goers attend yoga, meditation, and dance classes. When the stars come up, international musicians take the stage.
  • In Birmingham, England mankind celebrates man’s best friend at Crufts (March 7-10), the “largest annual dog show in the world.” Founder Charles Cruft’s first show, staged in 1886, boasted 600 entries. This year, the four-day event — which includes competitions, displays, and a trade show – will play host to more than 25,0o0 four-legged friends.

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March Andorra , Australia , bali , Banke Bihari , Birmingham , California , Catemaco , Coolangatta , ElectroSnow , Ennis , Georgia , Holi , india , Ireland , japan , Laguna Catemaco , Las Fallas , Mexico , Muir Woods , Napa , National Cherry Blossom Festival , Phoenix , Quiksilver Pro , San Francisco , San Juan , Savannah , sonoma , Spain , St. Patrick’s Day , Taiwan , tokyo , USA , Valencia , Vrindavan , Washington D.C. , World Baseball Classic

25 Incredible Ways to Propose Abroad

8 Feb

Forget dropping down on one knee at a glitzy restaurant; these days popping the question requires a little more thought. From drifting along the Venice canal ways on a romantic gondola ride to camping out under the Egyptian stars, or even from the top of the Empire State Building, here are 25 ideas for mind-blowingly romantic proposals.

1. In a private capsule on the London Eye

London Eye

Propose on top of London in the London Eye

Pop the question with a glittering view of London from above by hiring out a private capsule on the London Eye and impressing your loved one with the best views in the city. For a romantic twist, book a  London Eye: Valentine’s Private Capsule where you’ll get champagne, flowers and chocolates to seal the deal.

2. At a private picnic in NYC

For a low-key and intimate proposal, few locations are as idyllic New York’s Central Park and with a Perfect Picnic Delivery to New York City Parks you’ll get a delicious array of gourmet foods delivered directly to your picnic blanket. All you need now is a ring.

3. On a private horse and carriage ride in NYC

Take a fairytale horse and carriage ride around New York’s Central Park where the iconic scenery offers the perfect backdrop, with great views of the Bow Bridge, the Central Park Carousel and Belvedere Castle.

4. On a gondola in Venice

Venice gondola ride

Cozy up on a gondola ride in Venice

Few places in the world do old world romance like Venice, with its historic canal ways, cobblestone plazas and majestic architecture. After experiencing a Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade along the picturesque Grand Canal, the only problem will be how to top it for the honeymoon.

5. At a fairy tale castle in Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Make your partner feel like a modern day Cinderella with a trip to the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle, the real-life inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, where you can swap the glass slipper for a diamond and propose in style. Top it off with a stroll around the lake and waterfall gorge, and a stop-off at the equally beautiful Hohenschwangau Castle.

6. At the top of the Empire State Building in NYC

Empire State Building

With Manhattan as a backdrop, the Empire State Building is a memorable place to propose

Views don’t come more special than the glittering New York City skyline from the city’s most iconic building – the Empire State Building. Reenact one of the many famous film scenes set on the hugely popular observation deck and create your own piece of movie magic.

7. On a sunset cruise in NYC

Don’t fancy scaling the lofty heights of the Empire State Building for a view of the Big Apple? Get a dazzling view from the water instead, with a New York Dinner Cruise. Much more than a simple dinner date, you’ll be served a 4-course gourmet meal while cruising through Manhattan on the Hudson River with views of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.

8. At the happiest place on earth

Disney World might be top of the wish list for family friendly holidays, but whatever your age, the iconic theme park never fails to bring a smile. For the most atmospheric way to experience the park, take in the legendary Illuminations with a spectacular Fireworks Helicopter Tour over Disney’s Epcot Center where you’ll get the ultimate view of the mesmerizing fireworks, laser and water show.

9. While watching a Hawaiian sunset or sunrise

Haleakala sunrise

The magnificent Haleakala sunrise

Get a taste of paradise without leaving the United States, with a romantic sojourn to Hawaii where you can set the scene for the big question on a Mauna Kea Summit and Stars Small Group Adventure Tour or a Spectacular Haleakala Maui Sunrise Tour.

10. Just about anywhere in Paris

What better place to propose than Paris, one of the most famously romantic cities in the world? Take a horse and carriage ride around the City of Lights, enjoy dinner with a view at the top of the Eiffel Tower or admire the glittering city skyline on a Seine River Cruise.

11. At Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls at night

At night, the lights at Niagara Falls make it even more romantic

You might have to shout to be heard over the thundering falls, but few backdrops are as dramatic as the world’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls, and there are plenty of options for a romantic sightseeing trip. Take a boat trip beneath the falls, explore behind the falls, enjoy a late night stroll by the illuminated Falls or dine with a view at the Skylon Tower’s revolving restaurant.

12. Toasting with cava in Spain

From fiery flamenco dancers to moonlit walks along the beach, Barcelona knows a thing or two about romance and the city boasts a myriad of ways to say ‘te quiero’. For the best dinner date, couple your tapas with a glass (or several) of local specialty, Cava, or better yet, explore the region known as ‘Cava county’ with a Wine Tasting and Winery Tour.

13. Under the Tuscan sun

Chianti Region Wine Tasting Half-Day Trip from Florence

Propose over wine in the Chianti Region!

The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and home to the inimitable Leaning Tower of Pisa, there’s plenty to keep you busy in Tuscany. To make the most of the Tuscan sun, sample the Italian high life on a luxury Chianti Region Wine Tasting Half-Day Trip from Florence, where you’ll couple visits to the region’s most renowned wineries with a scenic drive through the spectacular Tuscan countryside.

14. On a deserted island in the Caribbean

Bring your desert island fantasies to life with a San Juan Snorkel and Picnic Cruise to a secret Puerto Rican island, where you can swim in crystal clear waters, sip Pina Colodas on the deck and snorkel amidst colorful corals.  Just don’t forget to pack the engagement ring.

15. In a vineyard in Vienna

Vienna wine tasting bike tour

Go on a Vienna wine tasting bike tour

Explore Austria’s most picturesque wine region with a romantic Wine Tasting Bike Tour departing Vienna where you’ll get to explore the traditional wine taverns in the Wachau Valley and sample some of the country’s finest wines. Take time to pedal through the cobblestone villages and sprawling vineyards, before cooling off with a romantic dip in the Danube River.

16. In California’s wine country

Prefer to stay stateside? Explore the rolling hills and verdant valleys of California with a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour, instead. Home to some of the world’s most renowned wines, there’s something to impress even the most ardent wine connoisseur, with idyllic wineries hidden in the heart of serene Californian countryside.

17. Under the stars in Egypt

What better way to get starry-eyed than stargazing in the Egyptian desert? Spend the day marveling over the vast pyramids, then head into the Sharm desert to dine in a traditional Bedouin encampment and spend the evening spotting star constellations in the night sky with a Private Tour: Egyptian Stars and Bedouin Dinner.

18. On a beach in Bali

Bali

Bali is beautiful and romantic

No longer just for hippies, surfers and yoga enthusiasts, beach lovers will find few places as heavenly as Bali. Indonesia’s spiritual hub makes an idyllic spot for a romantic getaway, where you can indulge in luxury spa treatments, cycle around the glistening rice paddies and stroll hand in hand along the white sands.

19. At the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Admire the Taj Mahal together

Looking for an awe-inspiring setting to get down on one knee? Take a break from sightseeing and propose at the famous Princess Diana bench before the magnificent Taj Mahal – the iconic white marble dome and exquisite gardens will make a spectacular backdrop to your holiday snaps.

20. On the Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China in autumn

The Great Wall of China in autumn

A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 7 wonders of the world, no travel wish list is complete without a trip to see the epic 8,850km long Great Wall of China. Make your move as you marvel the ancient structure and the views won’t be the only thing taking your breath away!

21. At the top of Mt Fuji

Scale the summit of Japan’s most iconic peak, teetering a heart-racing 3,775 meters over the surrounding Fuji Five Lakes, Mount Fuji offers a sunrise so magical that you’ll understand why the mountain is considered sacred. Huddle together on the summit and whisper sweet nothings as the sun melts over the horizon.

22. Dancing the tango in Buenos Aires

Oozing with Latino charm, Buenos Aires is the self-proclaimed romance capital of South America. Stir up the passion by learning to dance the tango in a traditional milonga (dancehall) or opt to watch the professionals at work with a sultry tango dinner show.

23. Hot air ballooning over Cappadocia

Cappadocia hot air balloon ride

Watch hot air balloons take off in Cappadocia

Float over the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia on a sunrise Hot Air Balloon flight where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the region’s famous fairy chimneys, then celebrate with a champagne toast on landing.

24. On an elephant trek in Thailand

Chiang Dao Elephant Camp

Pop the question on an elephant trek

For an adventurous way to mark your engagement, explore the jungle from the back of Thailand’s gentle giants with an elephant ride in Phuket or Chiang Mai. Alternatively, get up close and personal with a visit to an elephant sanctuary, where you’ll get to splash around with the baby elephants as you help with bath time.

25. On safari in South Africa

Pilanesburg Nature Reserve Safari

Zebras at Pilanesburg Nature Reserve

An African safari is sure to top everyone’s bucket list so throw an engagement party to remember with a wildlife adventure in South Africa. Spot the Big 5 from the comfort of a private jeep, gallop across the savannah on a horseback safari or cuddle up in a luxury eco lodge beneath the desert stars.

25 Incredible Ways to Propose Abroad bali , Barcelona , Buenos Aires , Cappadocia , China , Egypt , featured , hawaii , india , London , Munich , napa and sonoma , new york city , Niagara Falls , Paris , Puerto Rico , romantic travel , South Africa , thailand , tokyo , tuscany , venice , Walt Disney World