Tag Archives | Tourism

Romance, Leeches and Elephants?

Thailand is likely best known for its inviting beaches and vibrant cities.  One of the best kept secrets of old Siam is its rain forests.  A short and affordable drive from either Phuket or Krabi, is the crown jewel of the Thailand forests, Khao Sok National forest.   Khao Sok is perfect for the active couple.  There is so much to offer!

Romance Tree HouseOne fun idea for lodging is to stay in a tree house deep in the forest!  We chose “Our Jungle House” located on the edge of the national forest.  It offers “rustic” accommodation with excellent service.   The Jungle House is located right on a small river that offers great wading and if you wish, take an inner tube float from the bridge down to the resort.  The resort has a main lodge and a number of cabins and tree houses along the river.  Many command excellent views and all are spaced out enough to make you feel like you’re the only ones out there!  Of course the “Fighting Couple” elected to take “Romance Tree House”.

 

What to do

Bird of ParadiseDay hikes

There are so many great little day hikes all through the park.  When you arrive at the entrance, pay your 100Baht entry fee and they will supply you with a really good map.  Scope out your adventure according to your time.  There a many lakes, waterfalls as well as caves to explore.  Remember to pack your water and take your time as you hike due to the extreme heat and humidity.   Take your time and don’t overdo it.  Better yet, pack a picnic and spend the entire day exploring one of the pristine rain forest in Asia.   Hiring a guide is up to you.  It is Thailand, so they do come cheap.  Many of the hikes are just fine as self guided adventures.

 

If you are looking for more pictures of the Rain Forest, check out the Fighting Couple on Facebook.

Night hikes

You can arrange through the park or your lodging a night hike to explore the jungle.  A number of the creepy crawlers can only be seen at night.  Our guide’s command of english was limited, but the flora and fauna was truly beautiful.  One thing to be mindful of when traipsing through the rainforest is to beware of Leeches.  Yes, we said leeches.  They fall from the trees and are about an inch long and very skinny (that is before they latch on and begin to vampire you).   Our guide was wearing shorts and sandals.  He kept picking these little things off his toes.  Mike was supremely confident since he was wearing long slacks with tall socks and shoes that no harm would come from these pesky things.  Oh contraire!  Once we returned to our “romance” tree house,  Mike found that he had acquired an unintended souvenir, a leech.  It latched on just above the kneecap.  It came off fairly easy, but the blood flowed for quite awhile.  following are some of the shots we caught while in the Jungle:

Thailand night hike

 Elephant expedition  This is Thailand, so everywhere you turn there is a vendor wanting you to sign up with them to “ride and elephant”.   If all you want is a quick photo op, go ahead.   On you hop, then a quick saunter around the parking lot, and you are done.  Boring!   If you really want to experience a true elephant adventure, work with your accommodation to take a half day trek.  Our elephant wranglers loaded us in the back of a pickup at our hotel and took us up in the mountains.  We were assigned an “elephant driver”.  We mounted our pachyderm and off we went.  The driver sits on the elephants neck offering verbal cues as to our path.  Words and pictures cannot capture just how gorgeous our trek was.  It felt like something out of Jurassic Park.  Stunning!  At our turn around point we had a swim in a waterfall fed lake.  It was a great day!  (Sorry, no fighting on this one)

Thailand Rain Forest

 

Thailand Rain forest

 

Thailand Rain Fores

The Thailand rain forest is not to be missed.  Thailand has it all, lovely beaches, lush rain forest and  the people are some of the most welcoming and gracious we have come across in our adventures.  So, have you been to Khao Sok?  What were your impressions?

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5 Unwritten Rules for Being an Elegant Traveler

Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.-Coco Chanel

Rule #1 Manners-

Japan bowI know, I know…you knew that we were gonna start here.  For good reason.  The easiest way to be an “Ugly ( Aussie, Brit, Yank….enter country of choice)” is by completely tossing all convention of what is classy and what is not to the wind whilst on holiday.  Don’t be that guy/gal!  One of the beauties of traveling is exposing yourself to new cultures, social norms, and new viewpoints.   As a part of your trip prep, don’t skip of the chapter on local traditions and customs.  No need to go over board and bow to the Japanese waiter every time he returns to your table to fill your water glass.  But you might use “Nin” instead of “Ni” when speaking to someone in China to show respect.

The elegant traveler treats the bellboy with the same respect as the hotel’s CEO.

 

Rule #2 Dress-

This is likely one of the more obvious aspects of traveling with elegance.  I remember the first time I traveled abroad and saw a gentleman wearing a sharp tweed jacket, tasteful kerchief in the pocket, button down shirt and cotton pants.  He looked so sharp.  A great example of an elegant traveler.  It doesn’t take much to go from blah to vavooom.

Beautiful woman black dress

Guys–  OK guys, I know, this is vacation and all, but let go of the jeans with paint on them from the last remodel project.  Leave the grubby ball cap at home.  No need to go overboard here either.  You don’t need to pull a Mike with his preppy kakis and button down shirt.  Spiff it up a tad gents.

 

Gals–  Lets start with hemlines.  Harken back to rule #1.  Just because your wardrobe is acceptable where you came from, does not mean that it will be ok where you are going.  Conservative countries in the Middle East, Asia and even parts of Europe frown on too much exposure.  Know your location.  The elegant traveler plans ahead, and has the right ensemble for every occasion.  And for heaven sakes leave the fanny pack at home!!!  Better yet throw it away!

 

Rule #3  Courtesy

Common courtesy is an international language.  Unlike manners, it is not requisite to be fluent in the local customs to show courtesy.  One simply must put others needs before their own.  Ideas include holding doors open for others, accommodating those that need “a little extra time down the jetway”, patience in trying circumstances.  Some of the stuff your grandmother tried to teach you.  Show respect to seniors, give a harried mother a hand in the airport, lift a bag for someone.  And of course the golden rule of courtesy …please and thank you.  These should be the first words you learn in the new language.

 

Rule #4  Dress for dinner

montecarloTake a lesson from the popular TV show “Downton Abbey” and dress for dinner.  The Elegant Travel Dame always has a little black dress.  The Traveling Gentleman always has a fine dinner jacket.  One of our most elegant travel moments came in Cusco, Peru of all places.  We try to include at least one really nice meal when we travel.  During our Peru adventure, we elected to have dinner at the il Monastery in Cusco.  Highly recommended! We had just come out of the jungle, and we cleaned up and had an amazing meal dressed to the nines.  It made us feel like a million bucks.

 

Rule #5  Do the Homework

Our final rule is to do your homework.  Truly seek to understand what you are seeing on vacation.  Find destinations that really interest you.  Plan a trip to Turkey!  Dig a little deeper.  Ask questions.  Do all of this before you get on the jetplane.  Learn a little bit of the language, enough to show respect for you host country.  We typically plan our trips 6 months to a year out.  We do this on purpose, it gives us enough time to do the homework.  We learn the language, a little of the dominant religion and culture as well as search out the off the beaten path locations.

So those are our rules for becoming an elegant traveler.  Did we miss anything?  What advice can you give to others?  Leave us a comment below.

 

 

 

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The Man’s Guide to Traveling with a Woman

 

5 Things Every Man Should Know About Women…While Traveling.

How do you travel with a Woman?  Not long ago we did a post relating little know secrets about how to travel with men.  We have now turned the tables and offer you hommes a few insights on how to travel with the fairer sex.  While every person has their own travel style, and we certainly don’t want to paint every woman into a box, there are a few helpful general tips, that if understood, can help couples find greater harmony on the road.  So here we go:

Keys to traveling with a Woman

Miramare Castle, Triste, Italy

It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Men, for whatever reason have a “let’s get there attitude” when traveling and doing other things. As women, we tend to focus a little more on the path.  Men: build in a little extra time into your schedules.  Be flexible. Here’s an example from our recent trip to Venice which turned into another 1000 fights. We were driving from Triste, Italy to Venice.  We were looking through tourist books and spotted an amazing castle cradling the bay outside of Triste.  It wasn’t in our plan.  Mike had an Excel spreadsheet that kept a strict schedule with everything we were to see that day and the castle wasn’t on the list. He didn’t even know about the castle. Of course Mike was like, “Gotta get on the road, got to see Venice, got to obey the spreadsheet.” After a fight that resulted in zero pictures of Mike and I together at the castle (in fact, Mike wouldn’t even take pictures of me-our friends were the photographers), we went to the castle.  We ended up seeing one of the most incredible sites of our entire trip.  Mike admitted he was wrong three weeks after the trip, and I have a few pictures of a fairy tale castle in Italy. Guys take the hint.  Be flexible.  Slow down a little and enjoy the ride!

 

Cleanliness is next to Godess-ness

I don’t know how many times I have said…for men…the world is your urinal.  Traveling, as we have in third world countries, the facilities are not always ideal.  No problem.  But there is a clear and bright line between rustic and disgusting.  Third world or first world, some truck stops are dens of disgusting.  Men take this little hint, when the facilities are sub par,  DON’T ARGUE.   Try saying things like…”Let’s find another place” or “There is a hotel just down the road, lets go over there.” My hero!   One option we highly recommend is skipping the hotel and renting a vacation apartment instead.”

 

man-taking-photoPictures are the best souvenir

Its all about the social media and the Christmas card.  Deep down, women are vain.  We really are.  Men could care less how their outfit looks or if their makeup is smudged.  OK maybe most men don’t care about their make up.  For us frau-lines, we truly want our vacation pics to look really good.  Why do we take vacation pics?  To show them off to all our friends on Facebook!   Our photo shoots might take a little long.  Guys, take it from me, you want us to look hot for these pics, it will make all of your old girl friends # jealous!

 

The whole flowers thing

This is likely the hardest concept for men to understand.  Women like cute things.  Cute things can come in the shape of purring cats, daffodils, teacups and cutie-bug kids.  We are going to take pictures of them, we are going to cuddle them, we may put an entire tour on hold to take pictures of a bunny.  I can’t tell you how many pictures we have of the dafodills in front of Jane Austen’s house!  They were incredible!  Guys, this is really going to test your patience.  Take a deep breath.  Count to 10.  Trust me, if you make a big deal about this, you will be removed from our “cute” list.  This will not bode well for you later.  Girls can I have an “amen?!”

 

Dinner in Venice ItalyA little more talk and a little less action

Women need to talk.  We need to communicate.  We need to discuss.  Guys: a couple of different options for you.  Some of you are talkers as well, so no problem.  Some of you are good listeners, no problem.  If you are neither or your name is Mike, a few ideas for you.  Let your spouse known that you need some time to talk. You finally have some time together, and for women it’s all about communication. If you don’t know what to talk about, we suggest “The Book of If: Questions for the Games of Life and Love” by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell.  On a four hour drive through Croatia, we found out a lot about each other. Like, “If you could fire someone from work, who would it be,” or “If you could relive one romantic date from high school just as it was, which would it be.”  Some answers we had to plead the “fifth.” But overall, it’s a great way to get a conversation going.

If communicating together isn’t your thing, join friends you meet on the tourist trail for drinks before/after/during dinner. Meeting fellow travelers is one of the most dynamic experiences that can create lifelong friendships and maybe a few Facebook friend requests!

Gentlemen, these are a few little hints for keeping us gals happy whilst on the road.  Every women is different, but take these ideas into consideration and know your travel partner.

Gals, did we miss anything?  If you could tell you guy just one thing that would make life a little easier out there, what would you tell him?

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10 Things to Know for Your First International Trip

We put together a little cheat sheet for you folks who are attempting your first international trip.  These little hints are the sum of all our knowledge from visiting a couple dozen different counties on 5 continents.  These are the things that we wish we would have known, but were painful lessons learned out on the road.

1)Roll with it

Ok, this is your first trip abroad.  You happen to be the type A, planner type.  Take a chill pill!  Regardless of how planned you are, things are going to be different than you expect.  Roads don’t exist that are clearly on the map!  This is a really good thing.  Experiencing another culture, another language, and another environment makes you a better person.  You can understand and cope with differences better after your return.  You become more deep as a human being.  Just to recap, things are going to be crazy.  A lot of things are going to come at you fast.  Savor every moment!

2)Speak the Language

If you are a loyal 1000 Fighter, you know that we always harp on this.  It is so critical in order to really get to know a new country, you must, must, must know some of the language.  You by no means need to be fluent.  Its better if you are not.  You do need to know enough to engage in a small conversation without relying on your native tongue.  Our goal is always to know enough to chat up a taxi driver for 10 mins.  Know how to talk about the weather.  You don’t need to conjugate every verb, you need to know how to ask a kid their name, and how old they are.

Turkish Breakfast

3)Just Try It

This little nugget of advice applies on so many levels.  Lets start with the food.  As you departing on your first international trip, you are going to see menus that look Greek even if you are in China!  When you walk into the food establishment, glance around,  pick out something that looks interesting and give it a try.  Why not?  (If your are in Cusco, Peru- give the guineu pig a try!) You have never been on balloon flights UK?  Follow rule number 3.  Just try it!   The beauty of experience days is stepping outside your comfort zone.

4)Ask a Lot of Questions

Luci is a real pro at this.  It is her reporter background.  Regardless if we are on a plane, in a museum, taking a nature tour, or just in a cab, she is always pumping anyone that will listen for information.  Why?  Frankly, you don’t know what you don’t know.  There may be another bigger unknown waterfall just around the corner.  There may be a cheaper place to buy your souvenirs just down the road.  The taxi driver might have a brother that runs a better tour.  All of these things have happened to us.  Only because we asked.

5) Follow your instincts

Traveling internationally, trust your gut.  One of our fave couple travel bloggers: Y Travel Blog recently did a post on safety tips for single female travelers, in this article Caz says: “Trust your intuition.  It always knows best. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. There is a reason why you get that unsettled feeling in your stomach when you meet that strange person on the beach.  Don’t freak yourself out by imaginary monsters, but definitely pay attention to those little messages our animal instincts give us.”

If you are in a place that doesn’t fell right, leave. Common sense kinda stuff.  We must say, be careful of situations where your instincts are dulled: “see drinking too much barley pop.”

6)Smile

We give you permission to forget every other one of our hints in this post, please don’t forget this one.  This is the most powerful hint to traveling abroad.  The smile is the universal language.  Attempt to speak Turkish,  compliment them on their beautiful country and then grin ear to ear.  Your feeble attempts at communication  will be supplanted with the power of the smile.  If you are struggling figuring out the exchange rate and what all of the multi-colored monopoly money means…flash a big toothy grin.  No problems.   Smile at everyone.  Give the little children you pass on the street a warm smile, the old man in the chair in front of his flat a big one as well.  The returns from this small gesture will pay huge dividends.

7)Be Prepared

The old boy scout motto applies to international travel.  If you are going to the Amazon, buy some medical evacuation coverage.  If you are going to Tahiti and you only wear a certain sun tan lotion, bring it.  Think through things on a couple of levels.  Put your money in a couple different places.  Another couple of our travel friends, Cam and Nicole have a great story about this!  “How I got robbed by a Thai prostitute on the streets of Bangkok.”  Cam shared this story with us when we were up in Vancouver, BC this summer.  We are still laughing.  The moral of the story is always be prepared!

8) Don’t Follow the Other Tourists

It is soooo tempting when traveling abroad to do what everyone else is doing.  But didn’t your mom warn you about doing this?  If not, we are!  Don’t go on a tourist bender.  If you are prepared, and follow the other tips above, wander out of the norm.  See the undiscovered sites.  Are they still out there you ask?  YOU BET THEY ARE.  Will you get lost?  We sure hope so.  Some of our best moments traveling are when we get lost.  Be a leader, not a follower.

9) Show me the Money

Every place you go, you are going to need rupees, pounds, yens, or coconuts…Be prepared.  Exchange some cash at the airport.  Have a couple different flavors of credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, and something else.  Anywhere you go, money will flow.  Have some.  The law of travel we have found that is that ATMs are never close, and they are finicky.  Having cards from different banks is literally a lifesaver.

10)Pack Light

We really hate to put this one in.  How can we preach something we don’t practice? Mike is the all time worst packer.  He packs a ton.  He is a child of the 1980s so he has to match the seasons, with clothes for every event, restaurant, and setting.  Don’t follow his example!  Here’s why it is so critical that you follow this suggestion.  Luggage is heavy.  On every single international trip we have taken, we have ended up walking long, long distances with luggage.  It WILL happen to you.  If you pack heavy, you will be tired.  Good decisions are rarely made when tired.  Especially if you are traveling as a couple.  You can always buy more clothes when you get there.  In fact, this is a really good idea.

So that’s it!  Our 10 ideas that will make your life a little easier making your first trip abroad.  Now go and book those tickets.  After you come back, please share with us the lessons you learned!  We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.  Just leave us a comment below.  Bon Voyage!

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A Zanzibar Holiday!

Why to choose a Zanzibar beach holiday?

Beach holidays are an essential part of many people’s year. They give you a chance to relax, unwind and soak up some beautiful weather by stunning scenery. Beach holidays are ideal for those with children, couples, groups of friends or even solo travelers.

Zanzibar is a beach holiday resort rapidly growing in popularity. Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa set by the Indian Ocean. The Island has become incredibly popular due to its fabulous beaches and stunning coral reefs.

 

One of the key criteria any holiday maker looks for is gorgeous weather.

Zanzibar is set near to the equator meaning it has a warm climate all year round. Unlike many other beach holiday destinations, Zanzibar does not get uncomfortably hot during the summer months. The islands hot weather during its summer is cooled by a refreshing breeze meaning holiday makers can comfortably sunbathe and visit tourist attractions during the day.

Zanzibar has some of the most glorious beaches in the world. Beaches throughout the island are white, sandy and clean making them ideal for sunbathing and exploring. A trip to the beach is a tranquil and peaceful affair as beaches are largely untouched and unspoilt by tourists. A visit to the beach is also an ideal way of experiencing some East African culture.

Between beaches are quaint, picturesque fishing villages where the locals live life at a relaxing pace. Locals are friendly meaning you can immerse yourself in the culture of the island. The waters of Zanzibar are an ideal diving destination with fantastic coral reefs and warm waters. If you fancy mixing a relaxing beach break with some scuba diving adventure, Zanzibar is one of the best locations you will find.

Zanzibar beach holidays are accentuated by the fantastic local food on offer in the region. In Zanzibar you can relax and take in the rays during the day then go out for a mouth-watering meal in the evening. Local food is mostly based around seafood and you can find a large number of delicious seafood buffets across the island. Ingredients are sourced locally; often you will see men and women on bikes delivering freshly caught fish.

Zanzibar beach holidays are often combined with Kenya safari holidays. Kenya safaris make a trip of a lifetime. Kenya is home to some of the most magnificent wildlife in the world. Game drives are regularly scheduled and hosted by knowledgeable local guides. You can stay in a range of accommodation from luxury lodges to eco friendly tents.

You can find tours starting with Kenya safaris and ending in a well deserved break at a Zanzibar beach resort for very reasonable prices. This is a perfect way to combine wildlife and adventure with the relaxation of Zanzibar beaches. Both are highlights of any trip to Eastern Africa and can comfortably fit into one trip to the area. . Most Kenya safari holidays and Zanzibar tours last for approximately 12 days meaning you can easily fit them in to a hectic work schedule. Zanzibar beach holidays make a refreshing change from typical beach holidays packed full of tourists. Combine your beach holiday with Kenya safaris for a trip you will never forget.

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Why can’t we just get along?

60 percent of British couples fight on holiday

Holidays with one’s partner can become a relationship’s crucial test. As an international online survey by the travel site trivago.co.uk has just revealed, only 40 percent of British couples spend their holidays in peace and harmony.

A holiday trip with one’s partner can mean harmony and cozy togetherness. But what if you do not agree with your partner on the destination, the organization of your trip or your holiday activities? How to react, if your partner flirts shamelessly with other travellers? According to the survey, it seems that 60 percent of British vacationers fight with their beloved while on holiday. In most cases it is jealousy which causes such fights, said 17 percent of the survey’s respondents. 16 percent stated they fight about everyday issues like the weather or food and 15 percent about who’s in charge of what on vacation.

The reasons for holiday tiffs differ enormously throughout Europe. With their latin temperaments, the Spanish are especially prone to react aggressively to their partners’ flirting: 60 percent of them named jealousy as the reason for arguments. Only 19 percent of the French spend their holidays untroubled; again it is jealousy which causes disquiet. In contrast to that 40 percent of the English and Polish and 45 percent of the Italian vacationers get along perfectly with their partners on holiday. Germans fight mostly about jealousy and diverging ideas about travel plans (22 percent). It seems that the further North you go the less inclined travellers are to quarrel. Hence the country with the most harmonious holiday couples is Sweden: 62 percent of the Swedish couples relax without any conflicts on their vacation.

BY WWW.TRIVAGO.CO.UK

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