Monday, August 31, 2009

Elephant walk

Returned from Thailand via the red eye flight and brought back a head cold and sore throat, yikes. Before returning to Bangkok had a couple of days north of Chiang Rai at the Anantara Resort. This is also an elephant sanctuary and elephants are 'saved' from being street kids in Bangkok where they live the undignified life of a street performer. They move to Anantara with their mahouts and their families to learn to live a useful and happy life - playing polo. It cost a great deal of money to keep the beasts in food despite them living on the land, so I'll put the name of the charity up next when I download a few of the pics. Yay Thailand and the beasts of burden! I also saw an elephant painting a picture! True. AND met a man who reckons he has the best job in the world: he is 'director of elephants' at Anantara resort. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bangkok fashion


Leaving Bangkok

off today to Chiang Mai. Three days in Bangkok have been fun and rewarding. It was for t he Australian Society of Travel Writers' agm. The day before the big event members of the society visited the Bangkok School for the Blind and presented a cheque for $1000 as a donation. We were entertained by the children with a few songs and were given a tour around this impressive institution. (They need volunteers to help the children with their English homework if you have some time to spare when visiting.)
I took the sky train to the weekend markets to have a look around. It was 35deg. and a little warm and cosy.
Saw an extravaganza last night in a huge theatre where elephants entered the stage and even walked past us in just behind the front stalls - it truly is Amazing Thailand.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Foot massage


Very fishy indeed

Just arrived in steamy, busy, noisy fabulous Bangkok. At 8 o'clock at night the streets are packed with people eating at street tables (doesn't anyone cook at home anymore?), music blaring from boomboxes and the traffic's crazy - where are all the cement trucks going to?
Walked past a massage place with a difference - a fish massage. A friend and I couldn't wait to try it. We sat at the back of a long tank teaming with Gara fish (the manager said they come from japan) and the plan was to have all those slippery little suckers eat our flesh clean. It was awful, tickly and nippy, I couldn't keep my feet still long enough for the fish to gather and stick to me. It was $6 for 15 minutes but I could only do about 10 minutes of the torture - too ticklish and too cannibalistic . . .first three hours in Thailand - what will the next week or so offer? Can't wait,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Toilet humour

Cheap, cheap, cheap! Airfares have never been so inexpensive - keep looking and you'll get to where you want to go for very few dollars. All fares, domestic and international are expected to stay in the low $ range for a while but the word on the tarmac is that fares will begin to take off to greater heights next year - so the thing to do is to book now, never been a better time. Go on!
In Australia we have low cost airlines, which on the world stage are pretty good compared with some that shall remain nameless. But the major model for cheap airlines is Ryanair which has more complaints against it than anyone we've heard of and just as many champions of the cheap and less than cheerful airline.
Whether this is true or not, here is what the company wants for the future of the airline:
free airfares for everybody, but a higher ancillary bank of charges for extras like luggage and excess luggage, paying to go to the toilet, standing passengers (instead of sitting passengers they are strapped into a harness - to comply with safety regulations), passengers checking their bags in themselves to ground handlers on the tarmac to save check-in coast. This could be really funny if I didn't have that cold shiver of a premonition running down my back.
Remember what your mother said before you went on a trip? "Best go to the toilet before we go". If we are to pay for the loo, best we do!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gone to the dogs



Just returned from three days in the amazing High Country in Victoria (the Alpine Way). Ate enough local, gourmet produce to feed a small nation, stayed at splendid accommodations, went for a bushwalk, watched other people abseil, threw snowballs on the road to Mt Hotham - blue sky, crisp white snow all around, and met a pack of great dogs that were whooping and hollering to get moving. The sled dogs took us for a little ride around the snow at Dinner Plain, a beautiful high country location with lovely buildings that fit the landscape, excellent restaurant and day spa.
One day was devoted to white water rafting on the mighty Mitta Mitta River, something that wasn't on my bucket (handbag) list, but I did it, and it was a sensational experience - as most things are when you have experts looking after you. Whoohoo! More about that in the magazine later on. We live in a beautiful country, no doubt about that. Who's been white water rafting? And where did you go?
These are my recommendations and if you want to discover some really good things in Victoria, while there's still snow or maybe for when spring hits the slopes - enjoy these websites - I've stayed there, played there and ate the food!
Visit: www.raftingaustralia.com;  www.adventurevictoria.com.au;  www.thebuckland.com.au;  www.villagusto.com.au; www.adventureguides.com.au;  www.visitdinnerplain.com.au;  www.sleddogtours.com.au;  www.rundells.com.au;  www.motelomeo.com.au
Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bargains galore


If you have signed up for the FREE Get Up & Go e-newsletter (www.getupandgo.com.au), you will have seen the great bargains on offer now - free flights (just pay taxes) on some packages; discounts for earlybird bookings; free things to do in London –  yep, for free! River cruises are hot to trot at the moment, so check out savings by booking early. There's a special two day accommodation package and amazing day tour to be had in Cairns and information on a themed tour (Christmas markets) in Europe. Aah, life in the travelling lane!
I'm off to Victoria's High Country on Sunday for an adventure packed three days - and I am so not an adventure woman. Will be reporting next week on adventures or perhaps accidents. It's good to have an open mind!
Note for the week: more cruise ships than ever before are visiting Australian waters, so get in early and book your dream cruise. Remember when you had to fly half way - or sometimes further around the world to pick up a ship?  Ask your travel agent for suggestions.
Travel guide book of the week: Frommer's Singapore day by day - 20 smart ways to see the city. On sale now for $19.95
Travel companion book of the week: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson, the first of The Millennium trio. Fabulous book (my opinion only).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Far North, far out!

About to wander out into a beautiful sunny Cairns day. Tropical North Queensland always delivers on the promise of a good time. The little city of Cairns is lively, sophisticated and on a laid back Sunday full of visitors and locals alike, strolling along the shoreline. Just about to find a food market, after a big breakfast of course!
Yesterday spent the day NOT on the reef but inland where there were many natural treasures to be uncovered. What a stunning region, lakes, mountains, rainforest and I must divulge - scones with jam and cream. More in coming issues of Get Up & Go. Check the next newsletter (Free) from get Up & Go for a two-day hotle stay, and an all day trip to the Hinterland for a very special pice.
Visit www.getupandgo.com.au and sign up to the newsletter for free.
Gotta go, Cairns is calling.