Category Archives: Travel

The World’s Five Best Places to Watch the Sunset

Watching the sun set seems like a rare treat with all the day-to-day nonsense, but it’s possible to make it a real luxury by seeing the sun melt into the horizon from a spectacular location. Whether from a mountaintop, next to the ocean, on a glacier or at the top of a skyscraper, looking to the west has never been so inspiring than from these 10 incredible vantage points.

1. Taj Mahal, India

Dulcet tones of yellow, orange and pink enhance the warm glow of the Taj Mahal at sunset. With such a saturated palette against the white marble and delicate carvings, this striking sunset is a paragon of romance, and one that will whisk away any negative thoughts, along with the sun, into the night.

2. Empire State Building, New York

This one’s a must for rom-com lovers everywhere. Cemented by Sleepless in Seattle as a place of true love, the Empire State Building evokes a feeling that everything will be alright, especially when watching the sun go down over one of the most vibrant cities on Earth. And who knows, maybe certain someone will be waiting up on the viewing deck!

3. Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge may have mysterious origins, but there’s no doubting that there’s definitely a celestial element to it. On clear days, the sunset is always spectacular, but it certainly deserves extra attention on the solstices and equinoxes when modern-day Druids, Pagans and visitors pack in to witness what the ancients saw thousands of years ago.

4. Tahiti

Sunset doesn’t get any more picturesque than on the South Pacific island of Tahiti. The last bits of daylight filter through the palm fronds, before pulling back and throwing vibrant warm hues across the sky. In no time, the palm trees, hills and the occasional boat are nothing but silhouettes, turning the show into distinct parts that equal the sum of a spectacular sunset.

5. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

One of Asia’s most beautiful ancient sites, Angkor Wat is enchanting all day long, but at sunset, it’s like the whole reason for this being built suddenly becomes clear. There are more than 30 vantage points to see the sunset, from hilltops to a gondola ride. From nearly every available point, visitors can see the sky turn from searing yellows and oranges to much more mellow purples, which is pierced only by the ridged tops of the temples and the “oohs” of others standing near.

Two Weeks in Australia

Australia’s vast wilderness, relieved by a handful of vibrant modern metropolises, is one of the world’s great travel destinations, containing an immense diversity of cultures and climates, tastes and terrain for wanderers to explore. This two-week itinerary winds its way up the country’s east coast, taking in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane, sojourning in the sun-drenched Whitsunday Islands, and finishing in the great wild worlds of reef and rainforest that surround and enclose the city of Cairns. This is an unforgettable trip, encompassing almost 3000 km and some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.

Begin in the southern hemisphere’s greatest colonial metropolis, Sydney

First stop, follow the example of the early colonists and drop into Sydney, built on the site of the first British settlement in Australia. It was originally established as a penal colony, but is situated in an ideal location for a city – on the hills surrounding one of the world’s largest natural harbours. This harbour is now an icon itself, framing a skyline composed of iconic structures including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The shoreline where the city meets the sea is defined by a string of famous beaches, such as Manly Beach, which is one of the world’s great casual surfing destinations. Younger travelers are likely to adore the Sydney SEALIFE Aquarium, with 12,000 animal inhabitants and exhibitions on the marine life in Sydney Harbour, in other areas around Australia’s coast, and across the southern oceans.

Party or stretch out in Australia’s east coast chill city, the Gold Coast

From Sydney, wind your way north up Australia’s east coast and – a short 900km later – you’ll reach the sun-dazzled city of the Gold Coast. This is one of Australia’s most alive cities, balancing the fast-paced nightlife and sky-scraping skyline, with a shoreline of white-sand beaches and a hinterland of dense and wild rainforest. Experience the town’s coastal life at Burleigh Heads, a sheltered and secluded beach with protected waters perfect for swimming, and a more turbulent headland area swarming with surfers. Inland of the Gold Coast lies a vast terrain of rolling forest-covered hills. This can be explored in Springbrook National Park, an ancient land of crashing waterfalls, huge trees, and verdant rainforest which is home to a fantastically diverse ecosystem of plants and animals.

Get to know warm, trendy, and up-and-coming Brisbane before the hipsters take over

Drive a couple more hours north of the Gold Coast and you’ll reach Brisbane, which is rapidly becoming one of Australia’s hippest and most desirable cities. It has a chilled-out, tolerant vibe and a gorgeous subtropical climate, which translates into a great café culture and a friendly, open attitude which sees life unfold on the streets instead of behind closed doors. A birdseye perspective on Australia’s up-and-coming mid-coast capital can be gained from The Wheel of Brisbane, with particularly memorable views at night. Get to know some of Australia’s unique local fauna – koalas, platypuses, kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, that kind of thing – at the fabulous Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, one of the country’s best zoos. And drink down the open-armed ambience of this warm and cultured city in the South Bank Parklands, a precinct that encompasses much that is great about Brisbane: the outdoor gardens and beaches of the Parklands; the cosmopolitan bars and restaurants of Little Stanley; and the galleries and music venues that speckle neighboring Grey Street.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Fraser Island

Fraser Island, a few hours north of Brisbane, is the world’s largest sand island and a place of phenomenal natural beauty. A shoreline of soft sand beaches flanks an interior of winding creeks, freshwater lakes and rainforest growing out of island’s sandy floor. All this is guarded by stunning colored cliffs, which rise bright and jagged above the glimmering green-blue Pacific. The entire island is contained in Great Sandy National Park, and one of its most unique and representative features is Lake McKenzie, a sapphire blue lake raised above the regional water table and filled with water so pure it is unsuitable for many species. Six kilometers from Lake McKenzie is Kingfisher Bay Resort, the island’s biggest provider of accommodation which has, thankfully, been built to blend with rather than dominate the surrounding natural world. Knowledgeable tours to Fraser Island’s remoter reaches are offered by Tasman Ventures.

Drift round the pristine Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays are an archipelago of 74 islands off Australia’s east coast, a collection of sand-ringed green gems dotting the sun-glazed surface of the Pacific Ocean. The launching point into this pristine natural world is the small town of Airlie Beach, perched on the mainland, a fun and convenient place to base yourself for a few days exploration of the islands themselves. Among the most memorable sights in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach, the quintessential Australian beach which borders a green jungle interior with vivid white silica sand that runs and curves alongside crystal-blue seawater. If you have your own boat, you can base it at Abel Point Marina and explore the rest of the islands from there; or there are plenty of charter and boat tour companies with which to roam the pristine network of islands, and discover your own hidden coves and tranquil spaces.

Martingale House in Cape Town

Snuggled along the deep valleys, rolling hills and mountain cliffs, on the western cape of South Africa, the small city of Hout Bay is encroached with snow-white sandy beaches and framed with trees & thick flora. In the midst of this artistic African wonderland is where we spent an entire month during our 8-month extensive tour of S. Africa. An eye opening drive of about 40 minutes from the amazing port city of Cape Town Hout Bay offers a peaceful and serene setting of breathtaking beauty. It rests precariously between towering, jagged peaks, thick jungle and the whitecap surf of the Atlantic Ocean.

As a photojournalist, I have traveled the world seeking the unknown, the beautiful and the amazing. I found it all in S. Africa and especially in Hout Bay. Even though I was fascinated by Cape Town I do love the solitude of the less touristy areas and felt immediately rejuvenated as we entered this haven by the sea.

Our crew had arrived late on the night of October 28th 2003 at the Cape Town International airport and had made arrangements to spend at least a month touring just the Western Cape. Our perspective was not to get absorbed by the flowing beauty of Cape Town and maintain a broad-minded approach in exploring the entirety of this southern most part of Africa. Staying outside of the city would allow us to tour it at our leisure.

Departing from the plane after the long 15 hour flight our first and, at the time, only interest was to check in at the closest hotel. After breezing through the South African customs, we took a cab to a referred & quite comfortable hotel a few kilometers from the airport. At this point of our trip our primary and only goal was to pass out in the cool darkness of our rooms, which is exactly what we did. Rising the next morning, feeling total refreshed, we met in the lobby and walked out into the warm clean air of the Cape and was greeted by the slowly rising morning sun. We were totally ready for this adventure and after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we made arrangements for a driver to take us on a 4 hour-long tour of Cape Town and eventually to our pre-arranged destination, Hout Bay. Driving in and around the city and along the bay tweaked our imagination and my Nikon was feverish in capturing the unfolding glory of this remarkable city. Needless to say, we frequently stopped to shoot hundreds of photos. Witnessing an amazing diversity of culture and scenic beauty throughout the short tour we knew whole-heartedly, that this was just the beginning. Driving just north of the city, we parked in utter silence as we stared at the famous Table Top Mountain. It was covered in a perfectly formed white blanket along its highest plateau illustrating with clarity its descriptive name, Table Top. This city, its people, the open markets of bustling native people excited the very air we breathed. Cape Town is truly one of natures and mans artistic achievements, unparalleled anywhere.

Leaving the city we drove along the winding mountainous road hugging the ever expanding bays and stopped ever so often to film & photograph, not wanting to miss a thing.

Knowing that this tour would definitely not be enough, I had already made arrangements for a rental company to deliver a car to our booked accommodations. Complete mobility was definitely not an option…it was crucial.

As the small 2-lane highway made the last flowing curve down the mountain pass we were fully exposed to the long white beach, the sunbathing people, the rows of cafes and the sky blue water of the bay as it faded off into the expanding Atlantic. Once again we stopped for photos. I knew we would never forget this beautifully inspiring land and knew fully well that our initial instinct to come here was inspirational, to say the least.

Our arranged lodging was at The Martingale House. The white two stories, early 19th century house had been fully refurbished and converted into a multi-floored guesthouse and we were booked to enjoy the entire top floor to ourselves. Our accommodation was a beautifully decorated two bedrooms, full kitchen, dining area, huge bath, and totally self-contained luxury apartment. With the stereo system, large sofas, big screen television and a balcony overlooking the private pool and garden it was the ultimate vacation accommodation. Scanning above the magnificently colored trees and flora was an overwhelming mountain and bay view…it was absolutely stunning. Unloading our bags and after some gracious and warm welcoming from our hosts, it was time to relax, but only for a few hours. I couldn’t wait to get out and explore the area.

After what seemed like only an hour, the driver brought our car and loading our cameras, we were off to soak it all in. The 50,000 plus photos and hundreds of miles of film we shot of S. Africa made sure that this tour would not be forgotten…ever!

Day and night for a complete month we explored every inch of the coast, the mountains, the towns and cities for hundreds of miles in each directions. We dined in small beach side cafes and fabulous restaurants, hiked the hills, sipped local wine from the numerous wineries, danced away the early morning hours at discos and all in all had the times of our lives. We never met or encountered a single ill tempered or even slightly rude person. Our only setback was that we did, however, accumulate way too many souvenirs and as our bags grew heavier and heavier we realized that even after our initial month, there was still much to see & do. We left this beautiful apartment on the 29th of Nov. and after bidding farewell to our kind hosts, and knowing that we could and would not leave the area completely, we drove back into Cape Town to find additional lodging in the city. We ended up staying another 3 weeks in which we took numerous driving tours, some as far as the southern most part of the continent, Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope. The visual exasperations of the wild wind swept capes that had for centuries wrecked hundreds of ships were the ultimate spiritual stimuli, not to mention the family of roaming baboons we encountered along the way. They were rummaging through a large dumpster behind a small roadside café. As they say…one persons trash is often another’s treasure!

Traveler’s Digest most assuredly recommends South Africa in its entirety and this specific region of this most remarkable land on Earth. When you do venture to the region, and your most surely owe it to yourselves to do so, we refer you to enjoy the luxury accommodations and welcoming hosts of the Martingale Estate. And for all you bird lovers, it sits directly across from the renowned bird sanctuary “World of Birds.” Believe me there is no sweeter sound to awaken your early morning hours than the sweet spiritually refreshing songs of African birds. The Martingale House is a fine balance of leisure; comfort and amenities abound in the absolute most panoramic location.

As a Traveler’s Digest highly recommended member, the Martingale House is our preferred choice for vacationers, travelers of all types, business or pleasure, seeking the ultimate accommodation for their money.

A Holiday Break to the Italian Lakes

Savvy travelers have long known that seeing the best travel destinations in Northern Italy requires that one leaves the confines of Milan or Venice to make the quick journey to the Italian Lakes, the most popular of which are Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda. And with plenty of affordable holidays around the lakes available from Neilson, there’s no reason not to visit the lakes and see what all the fuss is about.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is just outside of the city of Verona and is known for its bustling resorts. Medieval-era villages line its mountainous shore, and when visitors aren’t exploring the lake via leisure cruise, they can enjoy some of the region’s famous wines at any of the many charming trattorias. The village of Sirmione is a big draw, as visitors come to see its castle and traipse along its cobbled lanes.

Lake Como

Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, on the other hand, are both about an hour’s drive north of Milan, near the border with Switzerland. The lakes share an Alpine landscape that is stunning, to say the least, but there are some subtle differences between the two.

Lake Como is incredibly posh, and is well known for its luxury villas that line its coast. George Clooney is one famous homeowner, as is Richard Branson. The lake has a long shoreline, 120 kilometers, that’s divided into three regions: the southern shore, eastern shore and western shore. The southern shore is the most visited, as it’s home to the picture-perfect village of Bellagio. The eastern shore, meanwhile, offers a quieter alternative for travelers who prefer to avoid other tourists.

Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is about 1.5 hours west of Lake Como, with the Swiss town of Lugano standing in between the two, and has a more laid-back feel than Lake Como. The main town on the lake’s Italian side is Stresa, which is known for its villas and the stunning Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees. This hotel once hosted Ernest Hemingway, and part of his epic novel A Farewell to Arms was actually set at the hotel.

 

Best Places to See Wildlife in Asia

It’s true that illegal logging, poachers and globalization are all taking their unfortunate toll on lush Asian terrain and the wildlife it houses. However, many sanctuaries and national parks are doing their part to rehabilitate endangered species and reintroduce them into the wild, as well as to establish eco-tourism adventures. And with so many refuges across Asia, travelers can choose by country, animal or type of adventure for a customized visit to the animal kingdom. To make that choice easier, however, we have collected the ten best places in all of Asia for wildlife watching.

1. Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most well-known national parks. It’s most famous for its large numbers of elephants and leopards, which can be seen when on safari. The park covers several ecosystems, including moist and dry monsoon forests and wetlands. Historical and religious sites and ruins add to the must-see list. The park is divided into five blocks, making it easier to plan a trip.

2. Ranthambore National Park, India

The former hunting grounds of the maharajas of Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park is now one of the largest national parks in northern India. Its main draw is seeing tigers in their natural habitat; however, the park has much more to offer. The 10th-century, 700-foot tall Ranthambore fortress lies within the sanctuary, and visitors can also spot hyenas, wild boar, leopards and a huge variety of local flora and fauna.

3. Woraksan National Park, South Korea

Woraksan sees visitors all year around, yet it’s still a great escape as it never gets too crowded. Steep hikes may be a reason why it’s never teeming with visitors, but making the trip results in spectacular views above the clouds and the chance to climb around the ruins of a 13th-century fortress. The park features thousands of plant, amphibian, mammal, reptile and insect species, 16 of which are endangered. Lucky trekkers will spot the rare antelope that are monitored with radio transmitters.

4. Shaanxi Province, China

Just seeing photos of pandas is enough for an involuntary “aww!” so it may be hard to control yourself when visiting the Foping Nature Reserve, which had a population of 64 giant pandas at last count. Nestled in the bio-diverse Qinling Mountains, the reserve is surrounded by other sanctuaries, like the Zhouzhi Nature Reserve, which is in the foothills of the Qinling Mountains and specializes in rescuing injured animals and protecting endangered species, including giant pandas and golden monkeys.

5. Xe Pian National Protected Area, Laos

Tucked near the Cambodian border, Xe Pian is renowned for its gibbon population and diversity of species, several of which have not been found in any other park in Laos. In addition to the gibbon, visitors can spot Asian elephants, tigers and the so-cute-it-hurts Asian black bear. Dolphins reside in the three rivers that run through the evergreen and deciduous forests and vast flatlands.

25 Signs You are Already Successful and You’re Simply Unaware

We have all had that period in our lives where we feel, regardless of what happens, we simply have nothing positive going for us. It’s easy to criticize yourself in just about anything–from your competence in the workplace to how you deal with situations at home–and this can make it easy to become clouded to our own successes in life.

This kind of constant action and lack of clarity can make it easy to believe that you are a failure, even when all the evidence in your life–personally and professionally–points to other conclusions. If you are too busy in life fighting fires, you’ll likely never make the time to actually appreciate your own success and accomplishments. You could already be successful and just not realize it. Here are some signs that is the case:

1. You aren’t controlled by your income.

Many people feel like they are tied to that next paycheque to make things work for them. If you are able to go day-to-day without the worry that you won’t have enough money to last until the end of the month, then you are most definitely a success! You might not be able to afford a Rolex, but if you aren’t living from week-to-week you are a success.

2. You don’t seek praise.

Seeking praise from loved ones and colleagues is something that we typically grow out of in our teenage years. If you aren’t hanging around waiting to get the proverbial pat on the back at work or at home, you are a more successful individual than you might even know. Being able to do your part without looking for praise is a strong sign of mental security.

3. You suffer less drama.

Look back even just a year in your life: are you finding that things are quieter? At home and at work? If this is the case then you can probably say that your life is pretty successful–a lack of chaos points to order and harmony.

4. You have a plan.

Success is built on structure and having a long-term plan to get to where you want to be. If you actually have a framework to follow in your life to reach your life goals, you are already pretty successful. Most people don’t plan ahead!

5. You crave more.

For someone who might feel like they aren’t doing well very in life, if you tend to look for more from any situation you are already on your way to success. Ambition and a desire for knowledge points to a determined individual who seeks to better themselves.

6. You are an early bird.

You know the old saying. The early bird catches the worm. If you are to make your life a success, you can’t be starting each day in the afternoon. When you find that you are jumping out of bed, ready to attack the day, you can probably point to a successful lifestyle and personality.

7. You are socially active.

Success tends to come in many different ways, not just your rank or your pay packet. If you are able to get involved in many different situations with a variety of social circles you can point to a healthy and harmonious life–people don’t tend to stick around toxic personalities.

8. You offer mutual respect.

Success tends to come from your own experiences in life, including going through stresses and difficulties. If you understand the value of treating others with respect, you already harness one of the most important aspects of success.

9. You wish to help others.

Again, your success in this world goes far beyond the cost of your car. If you are able to provide people with a solid base to work with, and act as a pillar of strength for colleagues, success is not too far off.

10. You are driven.

Anybody without an engine and a willingness to get through the hard times and the difficulties will struggle to succeed. If you don’t mind getting your sleeves rolled up and your hands dirty, you are better off than you think.

11. You possess confidence without arrogance.

The big difference between a successful person and someone who believes they are successful is the way they conduct themselves. If you can show some genuine humility for others, whilst inspiring those who are struggling, you are already a successful individual

12. You have fought back.

We have already touched on how failure can be the point needed to succeed. You need to hit the bottom before you can reach the top. Being able to battle back from a position of failure to success–any success–is a sign of an iron-willed individual with the nous to succeed in life.

13. You strive to improve.

Many people fall into the trap of believing that they “made it”. When you always look to improve on the previous performance, even if it was spectacular, you are setting yourself up to be a long-term success.

14. You have discipline.

Discipline can only come from being a success and seeing how things have gone in the past. Learning how not to make mistakes and how to make the right call is vital to being a long-term success.

15. You preach patience.

Patience is a virtue that the most successful people emit on a large-scale basis. Without patience, it can be hard to ever make the type of impact that you originally intended in any work or personal environment.

16. You can say no.

We spoke earlier about the power of being able to avoid needing to be praised–this is the same ideal. If you are able to say no then you have already avoided the need to please everyone. This is the sign of a successful individual.

17. You manage time well.

Time management is a sign of long-term success, and being able to use the time in any given day to be productive is the sign of a successful person. Capable of dealing with plenty of tasks in any given day? You are already a success.

18. You have successful friends.

Success around you is the easiest way to inspire yourself. If you find yourself surrounded by those who are also doing well it can be easier to actually improve and develop yourself in the right manner.

19. You don’t blame others.

You have reached a point in your life where you fully understand what it means to take ownership of your actions and not target others for your frustrations and failures. That comes about from being active rather than passive, and noticing your inner power to transform your life. It also speaks to your ability to prevent the environment from leading you down a direction you do not desire.

20. You don’t waste your time.

Long gone are the days when you let others drag you along and make you invest your time in activities you deemed boring or even counterproductive to your self-development and self-esteem. Your greater sense of direction empowers you to know what you want without needing other´s approval.

21. You are assertive.

You understand that simply saying yes or no is not enough. Explaining your reasons in a clear manner is essential for others to understand that you are an individual with your own thoughts and needs. This does not mean being inflexible, but while being understanding you should never let anyone bend your way.

22. You stay positive.

You have learnt the hard way that being negative or skeptical to justify your potential defeats and failures does not serve any purpose. Not only it does make you feel unable and anxious, but also does affect the final outcome. By being positive and honest at pursuing your goals you will unleash the true achiever within you.

23. You take care of your health.

Quitting harmful activities that stop you from working towards the brighter future you have always dreamt is a powerful step. Be it smoking, taking drugs, eating too much saturated fats and sugar, or not exercising, you understand that leaving all of those behind will turn you into a stronger individual with greater drive and willpower.

24. You don’t seek a relationship to solve your personal issues.

It is easy to hide our failures behind someone who loves us. But, it is a bit immature for both sides in a relationship to stop tackling the real issues that harm each other’s lives. It is not a good idea to avoid helping the other towards becoming a better person just because it is easier not doing it or because “things are just fine as they are”.

25. You are mature.

When bad situations unfold in the workplace, or you need to deal with the individual who you have a problem with. A sign of success is being able to put personal grievances to the side for professional gain.

It’s always important to remind yourself that success isn’t something that can be judged so materially. If you are able to look at your lifestyle and understand that you do things in a mature, social and effective manner then you are already far more successful than any slap on the back will ever make you feel.

Success comes from acceptance of your own skills and abilities, not what somebody you might never have met before tells you.

Visiting the Ancient City of Luxor

At one time, 4,000 years ago, the ancient city of Luxor was one of the greatest cities in the world. The golden-era of Thebes, as Luxor was then known, lasted for thousands of years and its grandeur rivaled even that of Athens or Rome. Great pharaohs built an almost unbelievable amount of tombs, temples and monuments in the city and its surrounds, which even today retain much of their incredible glory.

Roughly 700 kilometers south of Cairo, Luxor, like most Egyptian cities, sits on the River Nile. The longest river in the world, a small patch of greenery lines the shores of the River Nile as it snakes through the Sahara Desert and its waters are the only reason civilization ever flourished here.

In Luxor it creates quite the contrast, as the city itself is rather green with its suburbs dominated by small farming plots, but travel just a few minutes outside of the city and one could be forgiven for thinking that the massive sand dunes and mountains of the Sahara were endless.

Today, most travelers begin their holidays to Egypt at Luxor’s international airport, but it is still possible to arrive the traditional way, via the River Nile. Luxury cruise ships make the journey regularly to nearby Aswan and even all the way to Cairo.

Once in Luxor travelers are literally surrounded by the antiquities of ancient Egypt. The grandeur of the ruins and temples in their real-life settings far surpasses what’s possible in any museum, and there aren’t many travel experiences in the world that can rival a person’s first visit to Egypt.

The Luxor Temple is in the center of the city and its giant sandstone columns covered in hieroglyphs offer an imposing first impression of the city. The complex is even more impressive at night, when it’s possible to visit the illuminated ruins and admire the small statues of the Avenue of Sphinxes without the crowds that throng the site in the day.

A few thousand years ago the Avenue of Sphinxes connected the Luxor Temple with the Karnak Temple to the north of the city center. These days, however, a regular street will have to suffice.

Much larger than the Luxor Temple, Karnak was the preeminent temple of Thebes and all of Upper Egypt. In light of how impressive the Karnak Temple is in this modern-era of skyscrapers and architectural feats, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision what the reaction to its Great Hypostyle Hall must have been thousands of years ago.

The hieroglyphs that adorn every inch of the temple contain the spiritual knowledge of ancient Egypt. The decline of the Egyptian civilization and religion happened rather quickly and so rapid was the displacement of hieroglyphics by the Greek alphabet that the meanings of the hieroglyphs were lost even to the modern Egyptians themselves. It wasn’t until the soldiers of an invading Napoleon found the famed Rosetta Stone, which had a translation of ancient Greek into hieroglyphics, that their meanings began to be studied and understood once more.

Outside of Luxor, on the west side of the River Nile, the Valley of the Kings beckons to be explored. The official burial site of the Egyptian pharaohs for over 500 years, elaborate underground burial chambers that were constructed to safeguard the mummified remains of the kings of Egypt line the valley.

Understated entryways lead travelers past the rock faces and immediately underground into the dimly lit chambers, which wouldn’t seem too far out of place in an Indiana Jones film. The young Pharaoh Tutankhamun is the best known resident of the valley, and his burial chamber ordained in gold is not to be missed, though much of its treasures now sit in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

Leaving the Valley of the Kings a small trail climbs the mountain and leads hikers on a 45-minute trek through the desert to its payoff of stunning panoramic views of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. The limestone temple would blend seamlessly into its desert landscape and cliff-face backdrop if it weren’t for its grand staircase and perfectly uniformed support columns.

This temple was built by Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt’s first female ruler, to curry favor upon her death with the sun god Amon Ra, and it sits just across the mountain from her tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Though there are always more wonders to discover, the gist of it is that a trip to Luxor is an unforgettable journey into ancient Egypt that should not be missed.

Why Frequent Travelers Are More Likely To Be Successful

Success can be defined differently for everyone but the fact is some people achieve it and some people don’t. What is it that successful people do or have to find success that others don’t? There has been a lot written about the skills and habits needed to live a successful life and I think most of us know the things we could work on like building confidence or overcoming fears to be more successful in areas we want to. There are people that have a higher likelihood for success than most. Frequent travelers, people constantly on the move learn many life skills exploring our world. Here are 15 reasons why frequent travelers are more likely to be successful because of that:

1. They Know how to Thrive Outside their Comfort Zone

Frequent travelers are in unfamiliar situations regularly. They must work through the unknown because of necessity. Faced with countless new experiences they learn valuable coping strategies that help them shoulder uncertainty and remain calm and effective. This is a key skill for success in both business and leading people.

2. They Welcome and Embrace Change 

Travelers invite novelty. People constantly surrounded by new and different things avoid boredom and learn to focus better. This way of thinking inspires innovation and creativity.

3. They Know how to Manage their Emotions 

Frequent travelers experience varying levels of stress routinely; tight flight connections, interrogations by border guards, and rude hotel staff can all cause ones nerves to fray. Travelers hone the ability to manage emotions and remain calm under pressure developing keen self-awareness. Being self-aware increases productivity and helps people find what makes them happy in life, the ultimate success.

4. They Trust and don’t Always Need to be in Control

Travelers have to rely on people they don’t know all the time. They deal with language barriers, cab drivers in strange cities and are often dependent on the kindness of strangers. Accepting the fact they can’t always be in control helps them build new relationships. They develop confidence in their ability to choose friends and acquaintances that are genuine and trustworthy.

5. They Manage Fear and move Past it

The key to success is taking action. When you travel a lot you put yourself in situations where there is no turning back.This makes people face fears head on and develop coping skills to take action despite the fear.

6. They Recognize and Seize Opportunities 

Travelers have a wider breadth of experience and knowledge about the world. They learn new and better ways of doing things being exposed to different customs and cultures. This knowledge  helps them recognize opportunities to improve and innovate at home and in the places they visit.

7. They Know how to Negotiate to get What they Want 

Travelers negotiate to avoid being taken advantage of. Good negotiating skills are needed to get what you want or need without becoming pushy or aggressive. This skill is important in influencing others and helping them understand and accept your ideas in business and as a leader.

8. They see Beauty Where Most don’t 

Frequent travelers see many different types of things and train their brains to focus on the beautiful. Constant novelty keeps the mind and the eyes sharp. People who travel see beauty where others see the ordinary. This skill belongs to great photographers, poetic writers and fertilizes the garden where inspiration grows.

9. They are More Confident and Know how to Fake Confidence when Vulnerable

People who travel a lot learn to rely on themselves and are confident that they can accomplish what they want to. This belief helps them to be persistent in the face of obstacles and recover better after failure because of that.

10. They Better Understand Differences in People and are More Accepting 

Travelers are always meeting new people. They become good at asking questions to learn about the people they meet and what their opinions are on their city and culture. The questions come naturally because of travelers curiosity and desire to learn about the places they visit. This inspires great conversations that help travelers understand and accept the person and their views on a deeper level. They make friends easily and are loved by many because of this.

11. They Know When to live in the Moment 

Learning to live in the moment has many mental and physical benefits. Frequent travelers know their time in a place is fleeting. This helps them think to live in the moment more than average.

12. They Smile More and feel Happiness More Often 

Studies show travel makes us happy. Frequent travelers smile more than average because they explore new places regularly. They feel happy because they get to meet different people, see incredible sights, eat new and delicious food. That living in the moment skill helps with happiness to.

13.They Understand the Importance of Listening 

This is a life skill that a lot of people struggle with. Learning to focus and really listen to what people tell us is so important to success in life. Achieving success is about building relationships and you build strong relationships understanding people. People who travel a lot know you really need to listen to have good understanding.

14. They are Less Judgmental and More Empathetic 

Great leaders know the ability to relate to others gains loyalty and moves business forward. Frequent travelers learn to show empathy and avoid being judgmental because of that. Empathy comes from a willingness to understand, people who travel come by that willingness naturally

15. They may not be Rich but they Know how to Save and Spend Wisely 

Frequent travelers know where their money goes farther. Making the world your home you can choose places based on cost of living. People who travel and work can make less and live well in a lot of countries.

The Five Best Temples in Hong Kong

Ditch the shopping malls and skyscrapers and delve into the city’s rich cultural heritage with a visit to one of Hong Kong’s top five temples. Nowhere is better to learn all there is to know about the hopes, dreams, fears and superstitions of this city’s industrious urbanites – especially true during Chinese New Year and important lunar calendar festival dates. While some places of worship have been given a glossy new makeover, many of Hong Kong’s oldest temples have been serving as important community gathering points for hundreds of years.

1. Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

 With its bold, red pillars and ornamental latticework, Wong Tai Sin displays all the qualities of the archetypal Taoist Chinese temple. Colorful and noisy, worshipers come year round to pray for good fortune and divine guidance from the “Great Immortal Wong.” Crowds flock here during the Chinese New Year to offer incense, make wishes and visit fortune tellers in hopes of an auspicious and prosperous year to come. Visiting the temple during this time may be interesting from a cultural perspective, but it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Throngs of people push their way through the winding temple complex in a cloud of smoky incense towards the main altar and gather around stalls selling charms and amulets of all shapes and sizes. It is certainly a once in a lifetime experience, but alternatively, an early morning weekday visit will serve just fine.

2. Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden

At Diamond Hill, only one subway stop away from the Wong Tai Sin temple, you’ll find the peaceful and serene Chi Lin Nunnery. In stark contrast to its colorful and brash Taoist neighbor, the Buddhist nunnery exudes calm and tranquility with smooth stone balustrades, lotus ponds and stunning wooden architecture. Inspired by Japanese and Tang Dynasty temples, the elegant series of halls and walkways were constructed without the use of nails, using a complex design of counterweights and dowels. Across the road, the Nan Lian Garden is a scenic oasis amid towering high-rise apartments looming up along the hillside. A relaxing stroll past ancient bonsai trees, koi ponds and meticulously landscaped gardens is the perfect antidote for those needing some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city.

3. Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

Although calling itself a monastery, the name is a bit of a misnomer as there are no resident monks at this eclectic Sha Tin temple. Follow the steep winding path up the hillside, flanked by 500 life-sized Arhand statues to reach the main complex and its 9-story pagoda. Here you’ll supposedly find more than 13,000 Buddha statues – but at this point, who’s counting? – and a few bodhisattvas on horseback for good measure. The main attraction, however, is the preserved body of Yuet Kai, the monastery’s supremely devout founder. Embalmed in lacquer, plastered with gold leaf and dressed in robes, the upright body currently sits on display in a glass case inside the main monastery building.

4. Man Mo Temple

Stepping into the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road is like entering another world, a realm inhabited by the venerable deities of Man (God of Literature) and Mo (God of War) who are worshiped here. Rays of sunlight cut through the rising smoke of giant incense coils hanging low from the ceiling and down onto the altars of the 10 judges of the underworld. Make sure to take in all the details – the lines of descending green Shekwan roof tiles represent bamboo and longevity, while the antique sedan chairs inside were used to carry statues of the gods during festival processions.

5. Lam Tsuen Tin Hau Temple and Wishing Trees

This quaint collection of villages in Tai Po has been drawing visitors to its Tin Hau Temple and two wishing trees for hundreds of years. Traditionally, festival goers would write their wishes on joss paper and tie it to an orange, which was then tossed up towards one of the banyan tree’s highest boughs – the higher the branch the better the odds of your wish coming true! As the practice became more popular, authorities stepped in to help preserve the trees and visitors are now encouraged to tie wishes to wooden racks nearby instead. Steps away you’ll find a small Tin Hau temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, which can typically be found in any ancient fishing community in Hong Kong or along the Chinese coastline. Sit down with a fortune teller here if you want to find out about that wish.

Asia’s Top 10 Backpacking Destinations

Southeast Asia’s lush tropical landscape and patchwork of ancient civilizations, combined with relatively low prices for western travelers, has drawn a steady stream of backpackers since the counter-cultural movement of the sixties. The current flows as strongly today as ever before and, as this list of the region’s gems attest, it’s easy to understand why. Climbing limestone cliffs from the soft sand of pristine beaches, diving into emerald waters to explore submarine worlds of colorful coral, and weaving handicrafts with a cosmopolitan population of ragged travelers are among the experiences these ten destinations have to offer.

1. Climb or Recline on West Railay Beach, Thailand

Located on the tropical shores of the Railay peninsula, this stunning setting is among Thailand’s most picturesque white sand beaches, lapped by emerald tides and enclosed by towering limestone cliffs. These cliffs cut the peninsula off from the mainland, so it can only be reached by boat, which enhances its atmosphere of isle-like seclusion. Rock climbing up these jagged sentinels above the soft-sanded beach draws enthusiasts from around the world. And there are also plenty of bars and restaurants, at astonishingly low prices, for the more indolent to indulge in their own brand of pleasure. The accommodation is cheap too, and ranges from bamboo bungalows on the adjacent East Railay Beach, to the affordable and secluded Tonsai Bay Resort on neighboring Tonsai Beach

2. Experience the ancient Buddhist culture of Luang Prabang, Laos

A small town in northern Laos, Luang Prabang weaves together natural and man-made beauty. It sits at the confluence of two rivers which girdle the town, beneath forest-swathed hills rising to rugged mountains. The town’s skyline is dominated by one steep hill topped with the gleaming spires of Wat Chom Si, one of many gold-hued wats sprinkled through the town, decorated with intricate mosaics depicting the life of Buddha. Each morning brings the sight of hundreds of monks wandering the town’s streets collecting alms. The town also has a long tradition of handicrafts, sold at the night market which runs until 10 at night.

3. Lose yourself in Bangkok, Thailand

A global backpacker Mecca, Bangkok’s budget travelers orbit around the hippie haven of Khao San Road, designated by one writer as “the place to disappear”. Handicrafts, food and fruit, pirated CDs and DVDs, and regional barbequed snacks join the jumble of bars and clubs that are filled with lounging travelers at any time of the day or night. Elsewhere in this buzzing, relentlessly eventful metropolis, travelers can step into relative peace in Buddhist temples such as Wat Pho, with its huge golden statue of a reclining Buddha, or explore the vast and labyrinthine Chatuchak Weekend Market.

4. Hit the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville’s latest incarnation as a budget traveler hub marks a fresh twist in its tragically eventful history. It is named after Norodom Sihanouk, a former King of Cambodia, under whom the town became a booming and glamorous port in the 1950s. But after the Khmer Rouge seized power the city was symbolically desecrated; the walls of its luxury Independence Hotel peppered with bullets. Through the past few decades, the town has been traveling the slow road to regeneration, helped in large part by intrepid backpackers who braved the journey’s dangerous reputation and brought back word of the area’s sublime beaches, such as the stunning 4km stretch of white sand, Otres Beach. The town is now the hub of Cambodia’s most vibrant backpacker scene, a chilled-out stretch of bars, restaurants, cheap lodging and tropical coastline, lively but relatively unswamped with travelers.

5. Get yourself along to the classic hippy hangout of Goa, India

There’s no denying that Goa’s soul has changed since it was first chosen by the hippies of the sixties as an exotic backdrop for exploration of self and consciousness, distanced from the psychic chains of western civilization and conveniently situated in lush tropical surroundings. There are still strong hippy communities in the area, and ragged westerners travel here to make and sell handicrafts. But these days they share the tourist space – including iconic beaches such as Calangute and Baga – with charter holidaymakers, a creeping quantity of upscale resorts, and Catholic and Hindu pilgrims. But a great backpacker scene cuts through all this, feasting on the fantastic cheap food and cavorting in the bars and on the beaches, and in many ways the area’s increasing diversity makes it all the more interesting to visit. Many budget airlines fly direct to Goa’s airport.

6. Encounter the flora and fauna of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam

The jagged archipelago of limestone islands that compose Halong Bay off Vietnam’s north coast have long been one of the country’s top backpacker attractions. As well as the ocean and beaches, there are mangrove forests, craggy peaks and enchanting caverns such as Song Sôt for tourists to explore. This environment is home to a unique world of flora and fauna, including some of the world’s rarest flowers as well as the golden Cat Ba langur. This endangered creature inhabits Cat Ba Island, one of the archipelago’s best stop-offs, an island of breathtaking beauty which packs the best of Halong Bay into one place and is a great base for kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and water sports.

7. Spend time on the island of Bali, Indonesia

Bali’s volcanic landscape, fringed with world famous beaches and alternating barren and forest covered hillsides, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, traveling on the whole spectrum of budgets. Famous backpacker sites such as Kuta Beach have now been infiltrated with wealthy resorts, top-end restaurants, and private developers who have chomped chunks of the white sand beach. But there is still a terrific budget scene and plenty of cheap and laid-back bars and cafes in which to meet locals and travelers alike. And you can meditate on the island’s spirituality at Tanah Lot Temple, spectacularly situated on a headland jutting out into the ocean.

8. Drift among the beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands make up a small archipelago just north of Lombok in Indonesia. They became popular with backpackers in the ‘80s, looking for a remote experience of the Pacific isles that didn’t require a super-expensive flight to reach. Even two decades after the first intrepid budget travelers set foot on the island’s powdery sand, it remains relatively undeveloped – there’s no automated traffic, and people travel primarily by horse and cart. But there are a few indulgences to choose between, including a Japanese restaurant, good backpacker accommodation, and, inevitably, a lively Irish bar. The island is also famous for its hatching sea turtles, and there is a sanctuary which buys the eggs from the local population to prevent them being sold in the market. And there are some world-class, uncrowded dive sites, such as the ominously named Shark Point.

9. See a different side of China in Yangshuo

Backpackers first flocked to Yangshuo in the ‘80s, set on the trail by a gushing recommendation in Lonely Planet. They discovered an entirely different China to the rapidly industrializing country depicted in the western press, a quiet, picturesque region spread from the banks of two great rivers, Li and Yulong. Strung between these rivers is a rolling landscape of bare karst peaks, green hills, deep sharp-sided caves and unique sights such as Yangshuo Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole reached by over 800 marble stairs.

10. Escape the traveler crowds in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s rural north is far less infested with hordes of tourists than the resort-ridden south, and it makes a great escape from the crazy crowds that swarm Bangkok and Phuket during peak season. Chiang Mai is the region’s hub – founded in 1296, it was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and designed as the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand. This ancient heritage can be experienced at sites such as Wat Chedi Luang, a towering ruined temple in the center of the city, and the Bhubing Palace, surrounded by colorful gardens a few kilometers out of town. And the city’s cosmopolitan ex-pat population has given rise to a vibrant scene of restaurants, bars and nightlife.