Barcelona Tourist Information, Spain

by Gary Marshall

Barcelona is one of the great European cities, notable for its architecture, historic monuments and art museums. This lively Mediterranean port is also capital of the Catalonia region of north-east Spain.

Running through the centre of Barcelona, from the port to the Placa de Catalunya, is the tree-lined Las Ramblas. This famous avenue is often crowded with street entertainers, tourists and shoppers. To the east of Las Ramblas is the medieval Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), home to various palaces, churches and the Cathedral la Seu which dates from the 14th century. Further inland is the Eixample district, which was laid out during the 19th century and contains several of the city's Modernista-style buildings, most notably Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. The construction of this neo-Gothic cathedral was begun in 1882 and it is not expected to be completed for at least another 20 years. Another of Gaudi's fantastical creations, the Casa Mila (La Pedrera) with its curvy lines and surrealist chimney stacks, is also situated within the Eixample.

On the southern side of Barcelona is Montjuic Hill, which literally means 'Jews Mountain'. This expanse of greenery is home to a couple of notable art museums, the Fundacion Miro and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, as well as the 1992 Olympic stadium. For those who prefer a more thrilling ascent to the summit of Montjuic, there is a cable car which leads up to the castle. From here you can enjoy the fine views of the port.

One of Barcelona's newest art museums is the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), housed within a large glass-fronted building designed by the American architect Richard Meier. The MACBA contains modern works by Spanish and Catalan artists. Pablo Picasso spent some of his formative years in Barcelona and there is a museum dedicated to his work, with pieces that include 'The Harlequin' and a series entitled 'Las Meninas'.

The redeveloped Port Vell area contains an attractive marina along with shops, restaurants, cafes, an IMAX cinema and an aquarium. To the north is the former fishing district of Barceloneta, which has also been improved in recent years. As well as some fine beaches and excellent seafood restaurants, Barceloneta is home to the Museu Maritim which traces the city's maritime history.

The Barcelona Card, available from tourist offices, may be worth buying if you want to save a few euros on your visit. The card entitles you to free travel on public transport, as well as discounts at many museums, restaurants and nightclubs. Another money-saving option is the Articket, valid for six months, which provides you with free entry to several art museums, including the Picasso Museum and the MACBA. The Articket can be purchased at the participating museums.

Barcelona's main airport, known as El Prat, is just 8 miles (13 kilometres) from the city centre. Regular train and bus services are available from the airport to Estacio Sants. There are also a couple of alternative airports at Reus and Girona, both of which are used mainly by charter and budget airlines.

Eiffel Tower , France

Eiffel Tower, or Tour Eiffel in French, is one of the most recognised icon of Paris, France and French culture. It is built of iron, and is located at the Champ de Mars (Field of Mars, the Greek god), beside the River Seine, in Paris, France. Designed by engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is still the tallest structure in Paris. It is the world's most visited monument, with over 200 million people having been recorded as visited it, and close to 7 million in the year 2006 alone.

Eiffel Tower is 324m (1063ft) tall, including a 24m (79ft) antenna. This is equivalent to the height of a 81-storey building. Upon its completion in 1889, it became the tallest building in the world at a height of 300m, pushing the Washington Monument in Washington DC to second place. It held this title till 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York surpassed it, at 319m. Today the Eiffel Tower is the fifth tallest structure in France.

Made of iron, the Eiffel Tower was originally intended for the 1888 Universal Exposition in Barcelona, but they rejected it. It ended up being built for the Paris Expo, the Exposition Universelle which marked the centennial of the French Revolution. It was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and was opened to the public on 6 May. At the time it was built, it met with much criticism -- Parisians were shocked to find such a massive tower being placed in their city - novelist Guy de Maupassant ridiculed it by having lunch at its restaurant every day; asked why, he claimed it was the only place in Paris where he couldn't see the tower. The people also accused Eiffel of creating a structure that is artistic - or inartistic - without regard to engineering.

How to go to the Eiffel TowerBy Metro, you can disembark at the following stations:
• Bir-Hakeim (Ligne 6) - for direct access, two minute walk from here
• École Militaire (Ligne 8) - to enjoy a nice walk up the Champ de Mars towards the tower
• Trocadéro (Ligne 6 or 9) - for the best views and photo opportunities of the tower

Admission Details
Entrance fees up the Eiffel Tower is 11.50 euros for adults, by elevator to the top. For more details, check out the Eiffel Tower website (see external links below). The tower is opened from 9:30am to 11:45pm every day, with extended hours from 9:00am to 12:45am.

Colosseum (Coliseum), Italy

The Colosseum, also written Coliseum, is the most famous monument to Ancient Rome. It is a giant amphitheatre in the heart of Rome, Italy. It was built to accommodate 50,000 spectators and was used for public spectacles and gladiatorial contests. The Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre, or in the Latin, Amphitheatrum Flavium and in Italian, Anfiteatro Flavio.

The Colosseum got the name Colosseum from the colossus of Emperor Nero, a gigantic statue that once stood nearby. The area on which the Colosseum stands was already densely inhabited by the 2nd century BC. The Great Fire of Rome of 64AD devastated it. Following the fire, Emperor Nero (official title Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), who ruled Rome from 54-68AD, took possession of much of the area for his own pleasure. Here he built his villa, the Domus Aurea (lit. Golden House) and surrounded it with pavillions, porticoes and landscaped garden. At its entrance he put up a colossus of himself.

After Nero had died (he was forced to commit suicide), there was a year of instability from 68-69AD, when a succession of four short-lived emperors sat on the throne. The next Roman emperor was Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, or in English, Emperor Vespasian, who ruled from 69-79AD. Vespasian was not fond of Nero, so he had much of Domus Aurea torn down. He was the emperor to build the Colosseum. Work on it began around 70-72AD. As founder of the Flavian Dynasty, Vespasian called his structure the Flavian Amphitheatre. As for Nero's statue, he had it remodelled, adding a solar crown to it, and made it Helios, the sun god. The colossal statue continued to stand until medieval time, and the people of Rome credited it with magical powers. A corruption of the noun colossus, in Latin coliseus makes it Colosseum, and was applied to the Flavian Amphitheatre.

The Colosseum measures 48 m (157 ft / 165 Roman ft) high, 189 m (615ft) long, and 165 m (510 ft) wide. It is oval is shape, and covers an area of 6 acres. Unlike amphitheatres before it, the Colosseum is not built into an existing hillside or natural slope, but instead is free standing. It originally consisted of 100,000 cubic metres of travertine stones held together by 300 tons of iron clamps. Much of the Colosseum has since collapsed. Of the outer wall, only the northern half remains standing. This outer wall consists of three stories of arcades with arches, and a fourth level with small windows at regular intervals. The arches on the second and third level framed statues from Classical mythology.

To allow the crowd to quickly enter and exit it, the Colosseum is ringed with eighty entrances on the ground level. Four of these were for VIPs. Of these, the northern main entrance was reserved for the Emperor and his aides. All the entrances were numbered, and this can still be seen over the entrance arch of Entrances XXIII to LIV. During ancient Rome, tickets were in the form of numbered pottery shards. Spectators reach their seats through passageways from below or behind the tier of seats, allowing the Colosseum to be filled and emptied quickly. These passageways are called vomitoria, meaning "rapid discharge", and from it came the English word "vomit".

The area in which performances took place was a wooden floor covered with sand. The Latin word for sand is harena, and this gave us the word "arena". It measures 83 m by 48 m. Below the arena is a maze of underground passageways called hypogeum (Latin for "underground"). It has two levels of subterranean tunnels and cages for the performers and beasts to wait before entering the arena. An underground passage leads to the Ludus Magnus, the training school for gladiators, which also has an arena for training the gladiators.

Thailand Culture

It is immensely useful to know about the culture of any country that you are planning to visit. Having the right information about the ways of the local people can prevent misunderstandings and will also enrich your whole travel experience.

Here's a brief list of things to know -

1. The Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the Royal Family hold a deservedly high and revered position in the country. You will do well to respect this popular public sentiment. You can get into serious trouble for poking fun or disparaging them.

2. Show respect to Buddhist monks. They also command a great deal of respect in Thai society. Women should step aside to make way for passing monks and avoid any accidental contact.

3. Buddhism, especially Theravada Buddhism, is the main and government supported religion of Thailand. Other religions followed are Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.

4. The Thai language is derived from Khmer, Sanskrit, Pali, Malay and Chinese. English is widely spoken nowadays, but it'll be great if you make an effort to learn a few simple phrases. Like 'Sawadee khrap/ka' for 'hello/goodbye'; 'Sabaai dee mai khrap/ka' for 'how are you?'; and 'Sabaai dee khrap/ka' for 'I'm fine, thank you'.

5. One Thai custom you'll encounter frequently is the Wai. This is similar to the Indian Namaste gesture. You put your palms together at chest level and bow your head. The Wai is used in greeting, in farewell or in acknowledgment.

6. Thai people place a great emphasis on family life and respecting parents, elders and seniors. Seniority, by the way, is determined more by social standing and work denomination than by age, and brings with it certain obligations like paying for the whole group when dining out.

7. Many Thai people have nicknames in addition to their formal Chinese/Sanskrit-derived and often long, complicated given names. The nickname may be a shortening of the given name or can be the word for a color, fruit, flower, animal, etc.

8. Displays of public affection between friends are not uncommon; such displays between lovers are usually less common and less appreciated, but globalization is changing all that, especially in the case of the young generation growing up on American soaps and the Internet.

9. Thais dislike conflicts and loud, angry public arguments. You are likely to be more respected if you stay calm, don't point left and right, don't wave your arms about like wind-mills and avoid all excessive behavior.

10. Traditional Buddhist marriages are divided into a Buddhist ceremony and a non-Buddhist ceremony. The groom is required to give dowry, known as Sin Sodt, to the bride's family.

11. Thai funerals usually last for a week, during which many prayers are recited and crying is not encouraged.

12. Dress modestly in clothes that cover your shoulders and upper legs. Especially when visiting temples.

13. Remove shoes when entering someone's house or a temple. Try not to step on the threshold when entering or departing.

14. It is considered rude to touch anyone on the head or to touch them with your feet. It is also considered offensive to sit with your feet pointing at someone.

15. Early Thai literature was influenced by Indian Literature. The Indian epic Ramayana was written into a Thai version by the Thai Kings Rama I and Rama II.

16. There are three categories of Thai dance - Khon, Lakhon and Likay. The Khon dance is the one you see on many tourist brochures, with elaborate dance moves and dancers wearing masks, gilded head-dresses and jeweled costumes. Music and dialogs are performed in the background by off-stage performers. Khon was originally a dance for the Royal Courts. The Likay dance, which is considered unsophisticated in comparison, was performed in public for the common folks and has satirical, political and comedic overtones.

17. Thailand is famous for its shadow puppet plays, Nang Yai and Nang Thalung. These plays are mainly performed in the southern part of the country, and are accompanied by music and comedic dialogs.

18. Traditional Thai music is a blending of different cultural influences, mainly Indian, Khmer and Chinese.

19. Thai cuisine, which is world famous for its blend of sweet, spicy hot, sour and salty tastes, is mainly eaten with a fork and a spoon; chopsticks are used only for certain foods. When dining with friends or in a restaurant, use your right hand to pass things and leave a little food on your plate when you finish eating. This shows you have good manners and have had enough to eat.

20. Two important Thai holidays are the Thai New Year is called Songkran, which is celebrated on 13-15 April, and Loy Krathong, which is celebrated on the full-moon day of the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, which usually falls in mid-November.

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure of the ancient world. Called Chángchéng, or "Long Wall" in Mandarin, the Great Wall is actually a series of stone and earthen fortification. It was built, rebuilt and maintained from the 5th century BC to the 16th century AD, to protect the northern border of the Chinese Empire from marauders. The wall totals over 4000km in length, but is not one wall, but several. The current wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.

Wall-building techniques were developed as early as (and probably earlier than) the 8th century BC. In the 5th century BC to 221 BC, several ancient states including Qi, Yan and Zhao were all building earthen fortifications to withstand attacks of small arms like swords and spears. When Qin Shi Huang unified China and established the Qin Dynasty in 221BC, he destroyed sections of the wall that divided his empire, and built as new wall to connect the fortifications along his northern frontier. Very little of Qin Shi Huang's wall remained today. Later dynasties continued to repair, rebuilt and extended sections of the Great Wall in a continuous effort to defend themselves.

The Mings overcame the Mongols in 1449 to establish the Ming Dynasty. As the Mings failed to gain a clear victory, there were successive battles in the Mongols. So the Mings adopted a new strategy to keep the Mongols out, by constructing walls alll along the northern border of China. The Ming fortifications were stronger and more elaborate that the Qin. It make use of bricks and stones instead of earth. A lot of effort was invested to upkeep the wall to prevent Mongol intrusion.

From 1600 onwards, the Mings face a new threat, in the form of the Manchus. The Great Wall was able to keep the Manchus at bay until 1644, when a corrupt Ming border general by the name of Wu Sangui opened the gates of Shanhai Pass to the invaders. The Manchus swiftly grab hold of power, defeating the Mings, and establishing the Qing Dynasty, which continued until the Republican revolution in the 20th century. Under the Manchus, repair work on the Great Wall came to a stop because by then, the borders of China had extended northwards beyond the walls, and Mongolia was made part of the empire, so the wall was no longer a necessity.

Visiting the Great Wall
There are three sections of the Great Wall that are usually visited by tourists to Beijing. They are:
• The North Pass of Juyongguan, also known as Badaling. This section was the first to open to tourists, in 1957, and remains the most visited section of the Great Wall of China, probably also the most commercialised. Located 50km northwest of Beijing, this is the section of the wall built during the Ming Dynasty.
• Jinshanling, the section of the Great Wall in Ruanping county, 120km northeast of Beijing. The Jinshanling section is 10.5km long. It has 5 passes, 67 towers and 2 beacon towers. One striking aspect of the Great Wall here is the steep inclinations that it climbs.
• Mutianyu, the section of the Great Wall in Huairou County, 70km northeast of Beijing. It connects with Juyongguan Pass in the west and Gubeikou Gateway in the east. First built in the mid-6th century, the Mutianyu Great Wall was rebuilt in 1569, and has remained in good repair.

The Great Wall of China was made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987.

Facts about the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China, which has been in the list of Seven Wonders of the World is a masterpiece of architecture located in China. Although its visibility from space might be a myth, the Great Wall of China has been a part of the Chinese history and still continues to be a major tourist attraction for tourists across the world. Here is all the interesting information and facts about the Great Wall of China.

Do you know where the Great Wall of China is located?

The Great Wall of China stretches over approximately 4,000 miles from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west. Simply put, the path of the Great Wall of China stretches from a seaport on China's east coast to Xinjiang in China's northwest and in between it passes through a variety of mountains, plateaus and deserts.

Do you know who built the Great Wall of China?

The labor force used in the construction of the Great Wall of China was made up of three main groups: the soldiers, common people, and criminals. The soldiers were the primary workforces, while the criminals were forced into labor as punishment.

Do you know how long it took to build the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China was never built at one go. Initially, powerful regional kingdoms built their own walls, which were solely meant for their own defensive military requirements. The earliest known sections of the Great Wall of China were constructed in the 7th century BC. After the emergence of unified China in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), the Great Wall of China became a collective entity. Around 1700 years after this the Great Wall of China was enlarged and enhanced.

Do you know the length of the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China stretches over approximately 6,400 km across a variety of terrains like mountains, plateaus and desserts.

Do you know the width of the Great Wall of China?

The width of the Great Wall of China is different at various positions and hence ranges from 15 to 30 feet.

Do you know the height of the Great Wall of China ?

The Great Wall of China has an average height of about 25 feet.

Do you know the purpose for which the Great Wall of China was built?

The Great Wall of China was built to serve as a site for lookout posts, as means to provide the armies a swift warning system and to create an elevated military roadway through the rugged terrain. Owing to the differences between agricultural and nomadic economies in China, the Great Wall provided a protection to the economic development and cultural progress. The Great Wall of China also safeguarded the trade routes such as the Silk Road, and facilitated safe transmission of information and transportation.

Do you know what the Great Wall of China is made of?

In the nascent stages the Great Wall of China was mainly built from earth, stones and wood. The use of bricks was a later development. Owing to the enormous amount of quantities of raw materials required to construct the Great Wall of China, the builders usually used materials that were available easily. For example while building over the mountain ranges, the stones of the mountain were used; while in the plains earth was pounded into solid blocks to be used in construction, whereas inn the deserts, the sanded reeds and juniper tamarisks were put to use.

Orchard Road, Singapore - The Shoppers Paradise

Experience the best of Singapore at Orchard Road. Enjoy this beautiful cosmopolitan destination, filled with amazing shopping malls, entertainment facilities and much more
The Orchard Road in Singapore is truly a shopper’s paradise with a multitude of shops containing an exclusive range of items. Before commercial development prompted the huge influx of buildings the area was abundant with plantations and orchards and this resulted in the name Orchard Street.

During the 1860’s the road was occupied by many bungalows and private houses and towards the early 20th century the road was noted for its serene and elegant environment with many dazzling mansions. At present this venue has become a favorite destination among both locals and tourists for its diverse collection of shops, boutiques and restaurants. This central shopping area provides an unparalleled experience for everyone as most of the shopping malls have almost everything under one roof. It excels in terms of quality and quantity and never leaves shoppers disappointed.

The largest shopping mall in Orchard Road is Ngee Ann City which comprises upscale boutiques such as Louis Vuittion and Vacheron Constantin as well as Southeast Asia’s biggest bookstore, Books Kinokuniya. Wisma Atria is an excellent venue for the whole family as it is equipped with an aquarium and a massive food court with the capacity of 900 seats. Other malls include Pinoy Palace, Wheelock Place, The Paragon, Tang Plaza, Forum the Shopping Mall and Orchard Point. Many distinctive local dishes as well as French, American and Swiss cuisine are available at the array of restaurants at Orchard Road. Visitors can enjoy their favorite meals at this diverse range of restaurants which include Maison de Fontaine, Song of India, Mezza 9, Les Amis and Canele Patisserie Chocalaterie.

Orchard Road is also home to many graceful Singapore hotels such as the Orchard Hotel Singapore which consists of a range of elegant accommodation facilities as well as award winning cafes and restaurants. On the northern side of Orchard road is the Botanic Gardens and next to Emerald Hill you will find Cold Storage which is the oldest corporate establishment in the vicinity.

A trip to Singapore is not complete without a shopping interlude. Orchard road excels as the prime destination for a one of a kind shopping experience and Orchard Hotel Singapore is ideal to lounge in after an overwhelming day of shopping.

Naveen Marasinghe is an e-marketing executive at eMarketingEye(Private) Ltd. eMarketingeEye is an search engine marketing agency offering integrated Internet marketing solutions, specializing in serving the online travel and hospitality industry.

By Naveen Marasinghe

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Genting Highland, Malaysia

Genting, the Las Vegas of Malaysia, is one of the most popular mountain resorts of Southeast Asia. This state of the art entertainment village, built on the Genting hilltop, is a much sought after tourist destination. In addition, Genting has the advantage of the proximity to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, which helps to make it a popular convention center. Genting is thus a self compliant destination, which can amuse people of any category, including bachelors, family, women or kids.

Genting, the Las Vegas of Malaysia, is one of the most popular mountain resorts of Southeast Asia. This state of the art entertainment village, built on the Genting hilltop, is a much sought after tourist destination. In addition, Genting has the advantage of the proximity to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, which helps to make it a popular convention center. Genting is thus a self compliant destination, which can amuse people of any category, including bachelors, family, women or kids.
Geographically, Genting highland is a mountain peak of Titiwangsa Mountains, located in Malaysia. It is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. Genting features lush green forest in its valley, the characteristic feature of equatorial region. The soothing temperature, which ranges between 16 to 23 degrees, provides a natural feel of air conditioning. The climate is usually cold and refreshing, often clouded and misty. The view from the highlands offers a memorable experience of enchantment. The serenity of the highland attracts the native crowd, which offers them a refreshing breath that they lack in the dusty city.

Genting, only 50 km from the Kula Lumpur city, offers a hill riding experience, while getting there. The steep hill side makes Genting a permanent spot for the national cycling competition. Besides the competition, Genting is a popular venue for several other conventions and meetings. The historic shrines in the highland, Chin Swee Caves Temple and the Mosque, increase its importance as a pilgrimage spot. Cradle Rock, IAB Security Point, Sempah welcome arch, highland farms-vegetable, daylily and mushroom, and nursery are some of the other attractions of Genting highlands.

As an entertainment destination, Genting satisfies every need of a pleasure seeker. The supreme attraction of Genting is its famous casinos, the only legal casinos in Malaysia. The casinos feature all the popular gambling games and in addition, some of the Chinese games. The casinos attract a large crowd to the highlands. Theme parks are another popular attraction of the entertainment village, which include an outdoor theme park and an indoor one. The theme parks provide unique experience of snow villages and haunted adventures, and feature separate rides in different categories such as thriller family and children. For cyber addicts, Genting offer the most modern cyber games in its cyber parks.

Getting to Genting is very easy, since rental taxis to charter helicopters are available for transportation. According to the budget, the travelers can choose rental car, taxis, express bus, limousine coaches, shuttle services, or charter helicopter. Sky way cable car offers a unique picnic ride, while getting to Genting. A number of hotels are available in highlands, which offer comfortable accommodation and delicious cuisine. The large shopping malls offer an opportunity to grab any thing that the visitors wish for.

In a nutshell, Genting is a complete picturesque mountain tourist destination, which feature casino, theme parks, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.

Beach Life in Bali is Pure Fun in The Sun, Indonesia

Explore tropical destinations.. A little paradise island - Bali, Indonesia - the popular destination for beachcombers in search of sun, sand and surf. Let's GO..
As the temperature gets chillier in many Northern Hemisphere countries, tropical destinations around South East Asia region seem all the more attractive. Among the top destinations, a little paradise Island located in Island Country, Indonesia like Bali will always be a decent choice for many tourists from around the world. With their bona fide friendly nature and ingenious for hospitality, the Balinese make the island an even more popular destination to beachcombers in search of sun, sand and surf.

Bali also has a variety of beach options to suit every kind of traveler. Let’s say if you’re one of the surfing addicts you will love to experience some extraordinary and differences from here. There are the popular surf spots of Kuta and Legian, the luxurious and private shores of Nusa Dua, the chic and romantic Seminyak beach and the beautifully serene locale of Sanur.

Says seasoned traveler Ganesh Manickavasagar, Director of D’Casting Company, "Bali is one of those locations where you really feel an affinity with the environment. The picturesque beaches, charming people and traditional culture combine together to create a unique experience that really is unmatched by other tropical destinations."

With its clean break waves and lengthy golden shore, Kuta town – a former fishing village - has been a favourite among surfers since the 1970s. These days, the area is something of a tourist Mecca, offering a prime nightlife and entertainment scene in addition to its vast array of beach activities and hotels. Since it was one of the first towns on Bali to see substantial tourist development, the area with long sandy beach is also brimming with shopping options, with everything from branded luxury clothes and accessories to bohemian beach wear.

The Kuta town and surrounding suburbs are suitable for all types of tourists including seasoned solo surfers, young groups of friends, couples and families. It is an epicenter for surf, sun and fun – but not necessarily peace and quiet. For this year’s summer high season, has hot deals around Kuta beach and the suburbs of Legian at Santika Beach Hotel, The Rani Hotel and Spa, Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel and Legian Beach Hotel.

Bali is my favorite holiday spot. I’m from Sydney, Australia and love surfing back home but Bali has a different, more laid back feel. I love the food, the people and Balinese culture. Also, you cannot get a beach massage Balinese style at such a cheap price back home; they’re sublime!" says frequent Bali traveler and customer service manager, Natalie Brooks.

Not far from Kuta town is the trendy Seminyak beach. Quickly earning a reputation for being a sleek, boutique hotspot, Seminyak has a first-rate swimming beach and a number of designer accommodation and fine dining options. Agoda recommendations include the Resor Seminyak Resort & Spa, Pelangi Bali Hotel, the opulent Oberoi Hotel or a little nice hotel like Vira Bali Hotel.

The luxurious beach cove of Nusa Dua is a favorite among those traveling to Bali, because of its calm, tranquil atmosphere and inviting turquoise waters. It is a perfect place for romancing honeymooners but also for those with a passion for underwater life – there are good diving and snorkeling spots to be found in this area. Agoda has special discounts at Nikko Resort & Spa, Melia Benoa Hotel and Nusa Dua Resort & Spa, all known for their splendid outdoor landscaping, Balinese architecture and high levels of service.

Closer to Denpasar, the quiet beach of Sanur is a pleasant alternative to the highly developed and more popular beach spots of Bali. Everything at Sanur moves at a leisurely pace, and guests can experience a more traditional Bali, with local fishermen bringing in their catch of the day and the soothing sounds of the nearby temple, offering a unique atmosphere. Agoda has special hotel rates at Sanur Beach Hotel, Mercure Sanur Hotel and Sri Phala Resort and Villas.

That won’t be all from enough reasons why this little Island calls Bali is placed right in the heart of many tourists especially among beachcombers who keep visiting their favorite times after times, years after years. More Travel Reviews & Information around Asia and South East Asia region or Asia Hotel Reservations at great deal – Please visit

By Pete Prinyaroje

Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

If you are looking for a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the Singapore urban lifestyle, visit the Jurong BirdPark where 9,000 colourful birds of 600 species will amaze you with their variety, shapes and sizes.

The newly revamped BirdPark offers a range of new and exciting exhibits and facilities which are truly breathtaking and worth your while. Make sure you pay a visit to the 2007 ASEANTA winner for Best ASEAN New Tourist Attraction - The African Wetlands. This African-themed exhibit with African huts and a body of water, houses endangered birds like the Shoebill, the African Crowned Crane, the Saddle-Billed Stork and more.

The newly revamped Birds n Buddies Show now includes bird-inspired characters as buddies to the largest collection of live birds in a show performance. Created by a Las Vegas Show producer, the costumes with intricate sequins and decorative beads plus the interactive birds and audience acts have made the show more endearing to its loyal flock of fans.

Whether you hop into a special tour, go behind-the scenes, feed Lories in the Lory Loft, catch the Birds of Prey Show, learn to Be-a-Falconer or get into the Panorail to catch a bird’s eye view of the whole park, there’s no doubt that the BirdPark is an enchanting paradise of birds and colours.

From the Penguin Parade in a re-created Antarctic setting to the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary featuring a walk-in aviary with simulated tropical thunderstorms, the birds enjoy an environment designed to be as natural to their original habitat as possible. The Waterfall Aviary is a firm favourite, home to 1,500 free-flying African birds. So is the Riverine, a new simulated natural freshwater river habitat featuring over 20 species of ducks, fish and turtles.

At two bird shows, you can watch flamingos, macaws, hornbills, cocktatoos and even hawks in action! Or start the day in style – by having breakfast with a star-studded bird cast!

To view the park from all angles, start by boarding the modern panorail system, followed by a walking tour.

Winner of the Tourism Awards 1999, 2000 & 2003.
Tourism Host of the Year.

9.00 am - 6.00 pm (daily)

Admission Ticket
SGD 18 adult, SGD 9 child (3-12 years)

Park Hoppers
SGD 45 adult, SGD 22.50 child - for Jurong BirdPark and Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

2 Jurong Hill Singapore 628925

(65) 6265 0022

(65) 6261 1869

Show Times (weather permitting)
Fuji World of Hawks - 10.00 am
All Star Bird Show - 11.00 am, 3.00 pm (daily)
King of the Skies Show - 4.00 pm

Borubudur Temple, Indonesia

Borobudur is a Buddhist ruin in central Java, Indonesia, about 40km (25 miles) northwest of the city of Yogyakarta. It is one of the most famous Buddhist ruins in the world and Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.

Borobudur is located on an elevated plain, called Kedu Plain, between the Progo river, the twin volcanoes of Sundoro-Sumbing and the twin volcanoes of Merbabu-Merapi, of which Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It is the biggest of the three Buddhist ruins in the area, which includes Pawon and Mendut, and is aligned in one straight line. Although there is no documented proof, according to a folk tale, there once was a paved brick road that ran from Borobudur to Mendut, with walls on both sides.

Borobudur is built to encase a hillock that is 265m above sea level. According to archaeologists, it is also 15m above the floor of a dried out ancient lake. Borobudur is believed to have been built on the lake shore, or may have even been an island on the lake. W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, a Dutch artist and scholar of Hindu and Buddhist architecture, theorised in 1931 that Kedu Plain was once a lake, and Borobudur represented a lotus flower that floated on the lake. His theory found support among geologists who discovered clay sediments near Borobudur.

There is no written record to show who constructed Borobudur or why, but based on its carved reliefs, scholars believe that Borobudur was constructed around 800 AD. That corresponds to the peak of the Sailendra dynasty of Central Java. (The name Sailendra, meaning "lord of the mountain", was given by historians rather than actual, and was chosen to relate it to sailaraja, meaning "king of the mountain", used by the kings of Funan, from whom the dynasty was said to be descended. The Sailendra dynasty existed at the same time as the Srivijaya dynasty, and there is likely to be intermarriages between the rulers of these two powers.)

Borobudur is built to illustrate the Buddhist mandala, or cosmos. It consists of three sections: the base, the square platforms and the circular platforms.

Construction of Borobudur was estimated to have taken 75 years, and the completion was believed to be in 825 AD, during the reign of the Srivijayan Maharaja Samaratunga. It was around the same period that the Hindu temples of Prambanan was constructed. The Sailendra Dynasty collapsed in 832 AD when Prince Rakai Pikatan of the Hindu Sanjaya Dynasty conquered the Sailendra kingdom, and took Princess Pramodhawardhani, daughter of the Sailendra King Samaratunga, as his wife. Members of the Sailendra household that managed to escape took the Sailendra prince Balaputra into the forest and raised him in secret. In 850 AD Prince Balaputra mounted an unsuccessful attempt at regaining the through but was defeated. He escaped to Sumatra where he took the throne of the Srivijaya kingdom with little opposition. With the demise of the Sailendra Dynasty, the Sanjaya dynasty established a Hindu kingdom credited for building the Prambanan Temples, also near Yogyakarta.

By the time Stamford Raffles - the founder of Singapore - rediscovered Borobudur in 1814, the ruins have already been abandoned for centuries. It is not known when the massive ruins was abandoned, and why. Among the theories put forward includes a massive volcanic eruption in AD 1006, that resulted in the inhabitants of Kedu Plains moving east to Brantas valley. Another speculation is that Borobudur was abandoned as the population converted to Hinduism and then to Islam.

To say that Raffles rediscovered Borobudur is not entirely true, because he did not set foot to look for it himself. The few sentences of instructions issued by Raffles was all the world needed to credit him with the rediscovery. Upon hearing about this marvellous ruins deep in the jungles near the village of Bumisegoro, Raffles sent a Dutch engineer by the name of H.C. Cornellius to investigate. It was Cornellious who employed 200 workmen and over a period of two months, set forth to clear the vegetation and earth, to reveal the buried ruins. He found that the structure was unstable, so he did not unearth all the galleries. He did report back his findings to Raffles.

The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 saw the delineation of the Malay archipelogo between British Malaya and Dutch East Indies. It resulted in the British administrators leaving Java. The Dutch administrator of the Kedu region, named Hartmann, continued the escavation of Borobudur that was begun by Cornellius. In 1835 Borobudur was fully unearth for the first time in many centuries. Subsequent wave of Dutch engineers further documented Borobudur.

The earliest attempt to preserve Borobudur began in 1885, when Yzerman, the chairman of the Archaeological Society of Yogyakarta, discovered the hidden base of Borobudur. The discovery garnered public attention to the monument, leading to the Dutch government take steps to safeguard it. A commission was set up to access the monument. In 1907-1911, restoration was carried out according to the principles of anastylosis. It was headed by Theodor van Erp, the Dutch army engineer officer. The grounds around the monument was escavated to look for missing buddha statues and head. The circular platforms and their stupas were dismantled and restored them. By the time the restoration work was completed, Borobudur looked better than it had centuries earlier. But it was shortlived.

Within 15 years, the gallery walls start to sag. There were signs of new cracks and general deterioration. Due to limited budget, van Erp had concentrated on cosmetic restoration and had not put in place a proper drainage system. Now alkali salts and calcium hydroxide from the concrete used in the reconstruction leeched through the stones and hastened their erosion. A more thorough restoration is needed, and fast.

In late 1960's, the Indonesian government sought help from the international community to restore Borobudur. In 1973 a restoration master plan was put in place. Between 1975 and 1982, the Indonesia government, with help from Unesco, dismantled the whole monument, cleaned all 1,460 panels, put in place a drainage system and reassembled Borobudur. The monumental project rivalled the restoration of Abu Simbel. Around 600 people were involved in the project, and it cost US$6,901,243. Upon completion of the restoration work, Unesco inscribed Borobudur in 1991 as a World Heritage Site.