Discovering the world with relentless curiosity

Category: Accomodation

Travel Tips In Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a fantastic city for tourism, rich in history with castles and museums dotted all over the city. However, for budget travelers, it can be an expensive city, with…

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a fantastic city for tourism, rich in history with castles and museums dotted all over the city. However, for budget travelers, it can be an expensive city, with entry fees to all those places adding up quickly. So after 7 days of exploring the city by foot, here are some recommendations:

Affordable accommodation

  • Caledonian Backpackers on Queensferry Street – The building is just off Princes Street where the buzz happens. Free (and great) breakfast from 6am – 12noon. Free wifi and internet access. Super cheap bar. Mini beanbag cinema with an endless list of movies. Hot showers, comfy beds, generally clean. And the wall murals are great for pics.
  • Budget Backpackers on Grassmarket – There are over 700 pubs just along Grassmarket if you’re into pub crawling. Grassmarket used to be a trading place and a place for execution way back. Creeps for those whose imagination goes wild! The facilities are a lot newer, room prices are cheaper however everything else is on a paid-to-go basis. Breakfast is at 2 pounds, internet access 1 pound for ½ hour, baggage storage 1 pound per locker…

Food, Glorious Food

  • Maggie Dickson on Grassmarket – they serve really good chilli con carne, great for a hearty hot lunch. They offer discounts for students at 7.95 pounds for 2 mains.
  • The Last Drop on Grassmarket apparently serves mouth watering haggis (haag-geese) but the line was always too long for the wait, so we skipped it. Try it If you’re around and let us know if it’s really that good. Haggis is the traditional dish of Scotland, it is hot peppered minced meat served with a gazillion other spices. Usually served with Neeps and Tatties (mashed potatoes and turnips).
  • Rose Street is a street filled with pubs and restaurants. Go there if you have exhausted all places for food. From Mexican to Japanese to (obviously) Scottish food!

Things to do

  • Free walk tour by SandemansThe New Europe tours are designed for any kind of travelers for a first-hand introduction of specific cities in Europe. It is fun, engaging and educational – best of all it’s free. It’s quite impossible to download the entire history of a city but this tour dissects years of history into sizeable bits for all. Tour guides work on a tips only basis, which means we get to rate our tour guide and tip what we think he/she deserves.
  • National Museum of Scotland is a great place for knowledge thirsty folks. There are 5 floors to explore and you should visit the remains of the first cloned sheep, “Dolly” stuffed and encased in a glass box on a rotating plate. Admission is free.
  • Edinburgh Castle – The castle at Edinburgh perches on volcanic rock and dominates the city skyline. During the medieval period the castle at Edinburgh became the chief royal castle. State records and crown jewels were housed there. The room leading into the crown jewels is very impressive (take particular notice on the ‘Stone of Destiny’) and do a google search to find out its amazing ‘adventure’. Tip: Book online!
  • Climbing Arthur’s Seat or surrounding hills. The view from the large volcanic hill in the center of Edinburgh is a wonder on its own. Situated inside Holyrood Park, Arthur’s Seat takes approximately 1 hour to climb. Since it way icy and slippery we opted to climb other surrounding hills, but if you’re in Edinburgh in summer, spring or autumn – make sure you climb it!

EdinburghEdinburghEdinburghEdinburgh

The over rated places…

  • Tours to Loch Ness is way over rated, whilst the scenery there is beautiful, you literally spend 6-7 hours on the bus to and from Edinburgh. Loch Ness, (Loch in Scotland means Lake) is a pristine and quiet expanse of water with the famous legend of “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster surrounding it.
  • John Knox House – Unimpressive and very much over-rated. John Knox only stayed in the house for a period of time and only a percentage of what tourists see are authentic fittings from the original structure. Admission fee is 3.50 pounds.

EdinburghEdinburgh

No Comments on Travel Tips In Edinburgh

Soneva Fushi In The Maldives

Fringed by coral reefs that meet soft white sand, rings of blue hues from crystal clear waters surround the 1190 islands of the Republic of Maldives. Soneva Fushi, located idyllically…

Fringed by coral reefs that meet soft white sand, rings of blue hues from crystal clear waters surround the 1190 islands of the Republic of Maldives. Soneva Fushi, located idyllically on Kunfunadhoo Island of the Baa Atoll, offers all the charm one would expect of the Maldives in utter sophistication and luxurious comfort.

Soneva Fushi (1)Soneva Fushi (2)

Tucked away in lush tropical vegetation, 65 villas stay cool from the hot and humid Maldivian weather. The limited villas allow for exceptional service by attentive hosts, predominantly male, at a guest to host ratio of 1:4. Generously spaced out for privacy and nestled in nature, the villas and other buildings are constructed and crafted from renewable and certified-sustainable sources.

Fast moving towards its ‘Zero Carbon’ goal by 2010, Soneva Fushi had a carbon footprint audit carried out and a suite of carbon emission reduction strategies are being implemented. One ambitious experiment worth highlighting would be the Deep Water Cooling of villas and other buildings using nature’s renewable resources – i.e. cold deep seawater, resulting in 70% energy saving through more efficient air-conditioning.

Soneva Fushi (3)Soneva Fushi (5)Soneva Fushi 6Soneva Fushi 7Soneva Stars

Other carbon reduction (and waste reduction) measures include growing the resort’s own food in the organic gardens and sourcing produce from local farms and fishermen, thereby reducing air miles and non-biodegradable packaging, not to mention rewarding the human gastronomic sense with the freshest ingredients.

0.5% of Soneva Fushi’s annual revenue goes into their Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund (SERF), which supports national and international programmes on health, education, conservation and community development.

Soneva Fushi (4)

Whether you decide to go barefoot and stroll along the beach or jungle paths, star-gaze at the Observatory or dive into the depths of the sea, or even indulge in their award-winning spa treatments, one is bound to embrace Soneva Fushi’s “S.L.O.W. L.I.F.E.” concept – Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experience…The real experience guests repeatedly return and stay on for.

3 Comments on Soneva Fushi In The Maldives

Tourism Emerges In Thailand Post-Tsunami

Relief is the immediate step after a natural disaster. Then what? An uncertain future lays ahead for communities whose livelihood and surroundings have been directly affected. Fisherman villages in Southern…

Relief is the immediate step after a natural disaster. Then what? An uncertain future lays ahead for communities whose livelihood and surroundings have been directly affected. Fisherman villages in Southern Thailand had to rebuild their lives and look for new opportunities to sustain their families after the 2004 tsunami.

Andaman Discoveries (AD) previously known as North Andaman Tsunami Relief (NATR) stemmed from tsunami relief pioneered by Bodhi Garrett to serve communities he had lived with and respected. After the initial rebuilding of homes through community-driven tsunami relief, it soon progressed into long-term post-tsunami development programs. Participatory workshops and community meetings sparked the idea of potential tourism as a means of economic renewal. Villagers wanted to welcome tourists in a way that will not bring negative and harmful impacts like that of mass tourism.

Since then, AD works closely with interested villagers on vocational training (covering aspects of tourism, guiding, hospitality, small business management, community development, English and computers). The idea was to maximize and utilize local knowledge and local people as a means of tourism. Villagers return empowered to set up home-stays and design a holiday experience for guests.

Now, guests can choose from six villages to stay in – mostly fishermen communities. Accommodation is simple and clean often with a fan, mattress and mosquito net for a good night rest. Guests are assigned to different host families whom they will spend their time with. Often times, guests leave with great memories of relationships being made. Some even stay to volunteer.

Activities in each village are focused on preserving the culture, religion and environment within the village. Busy your day with big net fishing, batik and soap making, cashew and fruit harvesting or even teaching English to villagers. Conservation programmes such as mangrove and orchid replanting are also encouraged to educate guests on the natural surroundings.

The majority of the money of each trip goes directly to the villagers and 20% of guests’ in-village costs are donated to the community fund which funds community-led projects. AD helps provide communities with new sustainable livelihoods to replace those they lost in the tsunami.

No Comments on Tourism Emerges In Thailand Post-Tsunami

Lamai Homestay

A five hour drive away from busy Bangkok, Lamai Homestay offers its guests the simple yet authentic experience of living in the rice village of Kho Phet in North-eastern Thailand….

A five hour drive away from busy Bangkok, Lamai Homestay offers its guests the simple yet authentic experience of living in the rice village of Kho Phet in North-eastern Thailand. Jimmy White and his wife Lamai Ormnock run the homestay. From dawn till dusk they accompany guests on tours within and outside the village – tirelessly explaining the Isan way of life, making sure guests are well fed with mouthwatering Thai cuisine and even changing bed linens to ensure a comfortable stay.

The homestay only allows 6 guests per visit usually spanning between 3-5 days to ensure personalized attention and minimize impact on the environment and daily routines of the villagers. The house was built on barren land mindful not to take up precious rice planting space. There is an eco-dwelling hut just few steps away from the main house made from mud and rice husk bricks and supported by bamboo structures. The homestay also encourages biodiversity by surrounding the land with native trees and plants to promote that habitation of various species of insects, birds, lizards, snakes, butterflies and frogs.

Energy and water conservation comes as second nature to the homestay as Jimmy and Lamai operate the homestay similar to any household who has savings in mind. Water is vital to the village as this season of drought posed critical to the paddy fields. The homestay goes the extra mile by channeling all grey water from the guest rooms into the flourishing garden.

With the inclusion of the homestay, surrounding villages have benefited economically through income generated from tourists – from buying locally hand-woven silk to contributing to the upgrading of the local school. The homestay plays a vital role in educating guests on the cultural diversity of the village folk. Guests are encouraged to participate in the daily routine of villagers to avoid disrupting their schedule. Choose to food forage with the villagers in hunt for scorpions, beetles and frogs with spades and shovels or watch the delicate process silk making from boiling silk worms, spinning, dyeing to weaving the silk – this is truly a genuine and unique Thai village experience!

No Comments on Lamai Homestay

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, may be a large sized resort renowned for its impeccable service and beautiful surroundings; however it is what happens behind the…

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, may be a large sized resort renowned for its impeccable service and beautiful surroundings; however it is what happens behind the scenes that makes this hotel outstanding. The resort has been recognized by Wild Asia as one of the finalists for the 2009 Responsible Tourism Awards because of an array of best practices that have been adopted and applied.

One of the best practices of responsible tourism is “Their participation and Support of the Local Community through a range of philanthropic activities”. They sponsor many schools in the area, including La Salle secondary school, Sabah College, and Seri Mengasih, a school for mentally challenged students. They have adopted 4 students this year and have helped to provide an education for these children. They have raised funds for and donated various items to the schools, such as books, magazines, play grounds, recycle bins and others. The resort has also involved students in environmental activities, such as beach clean ups and recycle buy back centers within the school.

Another responsible tourism best practice worthy of noting is “their strong commitment to local employment and worker’s welfare”. Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa guarantees excellent staff conditions, as well as extensive training in environmental management for all employees. Over 90 percent of staff is from Sabah, and many of them have worked at the resort for over 20 years. It is not uncommon to find two generations of a family working at the hotel.

Finally, Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa is involved in a range of “innovative environmental activities that promote conservation”. They have adopted Zero beach, a public beach located adjacent to their resort property. They have accomplished a dramatic cleaning of the beach area, and try to promote local environmental awareness through education in surrounding schools. The resort has an organized and efficient recycling separation process, as well as composting all organic waste with Bokashi, a microbe enzyme that speeds up the composting process. Recently, the hotel has taken the initiative to involve both local schools and hotel guests in making EM mud balls containing this microbe in order to release into polluted streams. The mud balls slowly dissolve and release microbes into the water stream to help improve water quality. The resort has also taken on the immense uphill battle of helping to clean up the neighboring water village, wrought with layers of rubbish.

Shangri La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa understand the importance of being a leading role model in local environmental conservation and social empowerment. They have a long uphill battle presented before them, but are committed to improving the surrounding natural and cultural heritage.

2 Comments on Shangri-La Tanjung Aru

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search