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Today we often want to take time out to recreate ourselves, or to see how the other half lives. Unfortunately the world is becoming smaller as we communicate and travel with greater ease than ever before.
Our information is a summary of the countries listed with note of health, safety and places you should not go without specialist knowledge and local contacts.
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After the city of Christchurch was almost completely destroyed by earthquakes in December 2010 and February 2011, the city is beginning to find its feet.
While a great many homeowners are still battling with the insurance companies and living in broken homes, a major building boom is underway in central city re-establishing shops and mauls to replace the temporary shopping precinct made up of shipping containers.
Being a joint host of the cricket World Cup is a test of the city’s resources, but it seems to be coping quite well one of the ongoing daily problems in the city’s traffic. As so many businesses and shops relocated away from the city centre, all the traffic flows have changed and its not uncommon to take half an hour to travel one or two km.
The other side of this of course is that there was still a great deal of roadwork ongoing as underground services are repaired or replaced like water and sewerage supplies.
The newly restored Theatre Royal
Another side to change is the general escalation in prices. While food prices seem relatively unchanged, it seems that everything else has increased exponentially and residents are complaining of graft and corruption.
On a more positive note, historic buildings like the Theatre Royal are nearing completion and the cities tourist tram is once again operating, and these features are helping to restore a sense of normality although it will be many years before the city is fully functioning as it should.
As a destination, many of the cities attractions are up and running and crush it still remains the best jumping off point to tour the South Island.
City tram before the earthquakes. All but the back right building have gone from this image and the city features many small grassy spaces where building and even entire block existed.
150 km south of Florida lies the island nation of Cuba. It is classified as a communist nation and for over 40 years it has been blockaded by the United States of America because it would not acquiesce to United States political and economic policies.
Cuba’s primary exports are Doctors and healthcare services along with tobacco products. It is interesting that while Cuba exports doctors and healthcare services to countries in need, it is classified as a terrorist country by the United States which in itself is currently engaged in more than 150 conflicts all around the world and is responsible for the deaths of many millions of people.
The nation of Cuba comprises the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud and several archipelagos. Havana is the capital of Cuba and its largest city. The second-largest city is Santiago de Cuba.
Cuba is transforming
Ancient cars and pretty girls are one of Cuba’s hallmarks
Before the United States embargo which isolated Cuba economically and socially from the rest of the world, Cuba was party Central in the Caribbean for the United States most rich and famous. Havana was infamous for its nightlife and entertainment that was more risque than permitted in the northern part of the continent.
The embargo and blockade by the United States severely access and trade to and from Cuba, his best trading partner became Venezuela although Cuban cigars are famous worldwide.
As a result of this embargo, the growth and development of materialism ground to a halt and the infrastructure again to decay. In the latter years Cuba became uniquely famous because it’s vehicle fleet until now has being made up of 1940s and 50s American cars. However now that trade restrictions have eased a little, modern Japanese cars are making an appearance on Cuba’s roads.
Old paint continues to peel off old city buildings, however there are splashes of newness and restoration beginning to appear as remittance money from Cubans working overseas as well as a new openness to business in Cuba is allowing individuals to begin to prosper.
Most Western governments derided Cuba for as political ideology, however despite all the sanctions, all the economic and social isolation forced on the country, there is sufficient food and no one goes hungry and as well as this, Cuba has free education for every child and free healthcare for every citizen.
Although they lacked many modern educational tools, the Cuban people are well educated and the healthcare system is rated the highest of most countries. In fact the healthcare system is so good that people from nearby countries will go to Cuba for medical treatments if they can afford it. The medical treatments themselves are very inexpensive, it is simply the airfare that stops people from going.
Caban beach front
The Cuban economy is largely based on agriculture and fisheries, but tourism has been steadily growing as people found their way around the American blockade. Now that Barack Obama has softened the rules, more Americans will be making Cuba a holiday destination.
Travel is going to Cuba today love its honest simplicity, the Caribbean climate and the friendliness of the people. The Cuban people are poor by international standards and love imported things, therefore tourists need to take the usual precautions and not overtly display their wealth else they might lose it.
The tourist hotels are more than adequate and comfortable, but the more intrepid tourist might find themselves staying with families and getting to know the local culture.
There are some great nightclubs in Havana with bachata, salsa, merengue and reggaeton and charming teachers if you need lessons.
Get out and meet the people, partly because of the heat many people socialise outdoors and most groups are happy to welcome smiling strangers, but it helps if you speak the language, even just a little.
Great beach’s, swimming and diving
Don’t forget your bathers or you can buy them there. Nudism is illegal in Cuba but tolerated on some beaches. But when you’re in someone else’s country, mindfulness and good behaviour takes you more into the hearts of the people. Most naturalists go to Cayo Largo.
When the English took up residence in Australia, the country was already fully occupied by those who we call Aboriginal inhabitants. The Aboriginals assisted those first explorers to survive and what are vastly different conditions to the UK.
That once the Europeans began to get themselves established, the aboriginal landowners were suddenly a problem and a carefully calculated extermination program began.
Part of the program was easy, something providing the native Australian peoples with disease infested clothing and blankets and other means of exposure to the common European diseases resulted in a heavy toll of life amongst the native peoples.
Image of Australian native territories prior to European settlement. Image courtesy of Beth Muldoon
Apart from a small number of native Australians who managed to cross from Tasmania to the mainland, the entire Tasmanian native population was exterminated under the colonial genocidal policy driven by greed and the land itself was carved up and given to the friends of the administrators.
Of course Australia is most famously known as being Britain’s largest penal colony and many thousands of convicts were sent there to fulfil their sentence. Remember that in Britain in those times, one to be imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and this was a time when the Industrial Revolution was taking off and the new machines were rapidly replacing workers who were left with nothing and if they wanted to survive, some low-level crime was their only option.
These cruel social policies were also exported to Australia and those prisoners who were able to work or pleasure their masters, fared slightly better than the general prison population.
The point I am making here is that the first white population of Australia was made up of fortune hunters, convicts and their jailers. It was not long before migrants began to arrive and hear the aboriginals played a vital role in helping them to survive. The natives taught the first Europeans about the dangers and how to survive, what foods to eat and even a little about their medicine.
Once those early Australians established a foothold, the native Australians became dispensable and it became a sport for many to go aboriginal hunting. To the colonial government, the average people had no value and no rights, besides the government wanted the land and it was going to get it by any means even if that meant exterminating entire tribes.
So on one hand we had the ruthless administrators who were eventually tempered by that British attitude that we simply do not go around butchering natives, it is simply not proper and not British. But of some individuals take the law into their own hands then we will conveniently turn a blind eye.
Unfortunately today, this attitude still thrives in the Australian administration. The small number of native Australians as with Native Americans have been exiled into remote corners of the country. Some have escaped, got an education and adapted to the Western lifestyle, but for many Aboriginals they live an oppressed lifestyle where they are penned in by government regulation.
It seems unlikely that the Australian government will ever be called to task over this genocide that has been going on for some 200 years. The Australian media will not speak on these issues except to tell the government’s point of view that the Aboriginals are all criminals and need to be locked up for their own safe keeping.
However good investigative reporters like John Pilger have exposed the injustice and the cracks in the system that allows these abuses to continue.
Should you decide to take an Australian holiday, you will be able to do so relatively safely. As long as you don’t make any waves and behave like a good tourist, you’ll be safe. Remember the Australian administration is a mafia style bureaucracy. As a tourist, you will find native Australian arts and crafts. If you go into the outback you may even find yourself a native Australian guide and some understanding of these people who some agree have resided in Australia for some 70,000 years.
The current Australian government calls herself liberal, and yes it is liberal in the way of many Western governments by further dispossessing the poor and facilitating the transfer of wealth to the rich.
Consequently almost every Filipino learns to sing from a young age and for many it represents a pathway out of poverty. Whe you’re touring the country, there’s music everywhere and people either singing along or wowing the performer.
It’s hard to believe that many girls who are scarcely five feet tall can hit and hold those high notes that many singers can only dream of. Charice Pempengco blew the world away with her high notes and flawlewss renditions of hits by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Celine Dion.
The lead vocalists in the Aegis band have powerful voices that can send nice shivers down your spine. The Aegis band is a family affair from the Southern Philippines. They are a family band and are one of the better know groups who have toured internationally. They perform a mix of their own work, traditional songs and popular covers. Aegis greatest Hits on youtube.
One of my favourite bands is Pinikpikan, a band sarcastically named after Pinikpikan which is a cruel method of killing and cooking chicken. There is a wide selection of their music on youtube as is everyone else’s. Pinikpikan however embrace Phillipine tribal music and present it as a mix of new age fusion. Ravers will love it and on a global level can be seen as similar to the great Australian band Yothu Yindi. Youtube
The Filipino music hazard
If you know Filipino’s and are invited to their homes and functions, there’s a good chance you’ll end up listening to those who dream of singing and have the enthusiasm but just haven’t found the notes. The Filipino’s however understand and support even the worst singers, so while you’re cringing in agony, the family and community will behave as if their beloved is a star and interestingly, they will make you feel like a star no matter how badly you perform. This is an aspect of Filipino culture that makes them so endearing.
So on your Philippine holiday or business trip, when the music sucks, don’t get dispirited, the next singer may be much better and it may be you.
The dengue carrying mosquito bites during the day.
Dengue is a relatively new mosquito-borne viral disease endemic to more than 120 countries throughout Latin America, the Pacific and Asia. It is spreading rapidly and you need to be aware as you travel. It is also spreading in the USA.
Nicknamed breakbone fever, dengue can be extremely painful and debilitating flu-like illness that can lead to life-threatening complications such as dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). The disease is caused by four closely related virus serotypes of the genus Flavivirus. Infection provides lifelong immunity against the infecting sterotype but not the other three.
Encouragingly, the number of deaths due to dengue is falling due to better clinical management and the implementation of PAHO/WHO guidelines.
A personal experience
Hello, in most descriptions of dengue, the information speaks of painful symptoms, however I had none. Here’s what happened to me.
Despite that I thought I was taking reasonably good precautions, I personally had the misfortune to contract Dengue fever on a holiday in the Philippines in 2012. I later calculated that I may have been bitten by a mosquito when visiting a fish farm with city officials and symptoms became apparent about two weeks later. The only symptom I felt was that of a sense of languor which I put down to the tropical climate and laid back lifestyle, however my family suggested that I looked unwell.
I began to feel a little weaker than normal and as […]
Colorado is located in the Western United States where Rocky Mountain high recently took on a new meaning. You may think of the song by John Denver, but no; the referral here is to Colorado’s new status as the mile high state which should also not be confused mile high club.
The mile high club of course is a reference to people who have enjoyed the pleasure of sex on an aircraft in flight, the mile high state is a reference to Colorado’s legalisation of marijuana or cannabis.
Before continuing, lets remember that marijuana was made illegal back in the 1930s. The reason for it being made illegal was nothing to do with human health or risks of its mildly euphoric effects. Marijuana is another name for hemp, a plant that has traditionally been used for making ropes, building materials, medicines and to a lesser extent, recreational highs.
Cannabis plantby Stoners Euphoria
The hemp plant can also be processed to produce oil and plastics, and the bodies of Henry Ford’s first cars were made from hemp plastic. This is a very tough and durable material that can be composted at the end of its life. The oil and steel industries saw hemp as a threat to their business, they lobbied the government and had the plant declared illegal citing their fear of what it did to the people who consumed it.
Of course the people who consumed marijuana suffered few ill affects. Those who smoke the […]
Waiheke Island is a tranquil getaway from the hectic pace of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. There are ferries to and from the island leave about every half hour which makes it very accessible. Most of the island is farmland and besides the café’s in the township of Oneroa, the main attraction is the ocean and the beaches.
If you are going there for a day trip, take your drinking water, food and sunscreen along with your beach gear. While it is possible to charter your own boat, plane or helicopter most take the ferry from downtown Auckland or Devonport.
When you get off the ferry, you can hire a pushbike. There is a bike rental behind the car park adjacent to the ferry terminal and a car rental place a little further on but may take the bus the 1.6 kms into the village of Oneroa where you can also buy anything you might have forgotten, or book some more adventurous recreation.
Oneroa Beach, that’s the main beach which is only a few minutes walk down from the Oneroa town centre. This is a nice long sandy beach and the bay is generally filled with pleasure craft making for a picture perfect place to spend a lazy day. There are toilets and showers near the west end of the beach.
Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island
If you need a rest from relaxing, you can go around or over the rocks at the east end of the beach. This takes you onto Little Oneroa beach that has a kids play area […]
The Grand Canyon is one of the worlds wonders and a must see on any American tour. The Grand Canyon is a great chasm carved by the Colorado River cutting through the Colorado Plateau which is slowly rising as the Earths crust changes.
The most popular view points are from the South Rim which is some 7000 feet/2134 m above sea level and often hidden from view 5000 feet or 1524 metres below the rim or the canyon the turbulent Colorado River is popular for white water rafting. On foot it is a two-day hike down to the river and back from the South Rim although you can take a tour by mule.
It’s a longer trip from the North Rim and you can to drive to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry which is the official beginning of the Grand Canyon near Marble Canyon which is a 2.5 hour drive from the South Rim.
It is more than an awe-inspiring view. It is more than a pleasuring ground for those who explore the roads, hike the trails, or float the currents of.
To see the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is an ideal starting point or the town of Page is on the north rim where you will find the ancestral home of the Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians and Pipe Spring National Monument which is worth a visit for it’s early explorer and Mormon pioneer history.
Geographically, what the locals refer to as the Mackenzie Country is actually the Mackenzie Basin. It is a wide alluvial plain and a tussock grassland within the South Canterbury region of New Zealand’s South Island.
After travelling south from the plains of Canterbury, the Mackenzie country provides a refreshing change of vista as well as some refreshingly fresh air.
Despite being nestled between the mountains, the daytime temperatures in summer can be very hot and in winter heavy snows will occasionally is the roads. As such this is a delightful winter playground with ski fields at Ohou, Round Hill and Mount Dobson.
Some scenes for Peter Jackson’s movies the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit were filled here.
The main route into the area is State Highway 8 from Fairlie or Omarama in the south and State Highway 83 from Oamaru and through the Waitaki Valley from the East.
When driving into the area from Canterbury, the highway runs from Fairlie, over Burke’s pass which can sometimes be closed by snow in winter and onto the township of Tekapo.
Over the past 50 years, Tekapo has transformed from a sleepy village with a tea shop, a small service station, a supermarket and camping ground for those who wanted to stop by to a thriving tourist village with almost every modern amenity including mini golf and a spa complex.
For the traveller, it’s an in between place to buy fuel, stretch one’s legs and have a […]
Blenheim – Nelson, Nelson – West Coast, West Coast – Central Otago, Central Otago – Southland
Break time in the Marlborough Sounds
This is a long scenic drive that could be squeezed into two days, but as a holiday it can take a week or more. Typically anyone travelling this entire route will commence the journey at Picton after having crossed the Cook Strait on one of the ferries, or driven north from Christchurch to Blenheim on highway one.
If commencing this route from Picton, the more popular and very scenic route is Queen Charlotte Drive, It’s a shortcut across to Havelock. This road is very winding in places, but there are some spectacular views over the Marlborough sounds and some very nice picnic spots and a range of accommodations.
If coming from Blenheim, turn right to Renwick, a small town 10 km from Blenheim that services the Woodbourne Air Force Base. There is little of interest before Havelock and a almost 20 km further on is the Pelorus bridge. If you are travelling with kids this is a nice place where they can scramble over the rocks and swim in the river although most adults find the water a little cold.
Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve
Pelorus Bridge and one of the deep freshwater pools
From the Pelorus bridge, the road follows through the picturesque Rai Valley. Along this route in addition to the farms, there is a scattering of artists and crafts people are you my like […]
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