Friday, 13 June 2014

Where to Meet the Kung Fu Monks of China

Chinese martial arts has been the subject of popular culture and western fascination for many years, but very few have actually seen the art of Shaolin Kung Fu in the flesh. With so many fantastic tour operators visiting ancient China, there is no excuse not to meet the impressively skilled Kung Fu Monks of China.
The history of Shaolin Kung Fu dates back to 520 A.D. where it is believed that Indian monk Tat Moh, or Boddhidharma, gave up his Royal heritage as a Prince to become a devoted Buddhist and monk, spreading the teachings of the religion and simplistic lifestyle. There is a legend that Boddhidharma spent nine years facing a wall without speaking to anyone, studying and coming up with a way to help fellow monks overcome the weakness they faced when trying to live a Buddhist frugal lifestyle involving long periods of fasting. After this time, Boddhidharma emerged from his isolation with a series of exercises for the monks to strengthen their chi flow; this became what we now associate as Shaolin Kung Fu.
The Temple
These exercises formed the base of the Shaolin Arts, which was practised in the ancient centre of the Shaolin Temple in the Songshan Mountains. The temple was established in the 5th century and is said to have been constructed by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty, later visited and further established as a centre for Chinese martial arts by Boddhidharma.
The temple can now be visited by the public, who can see Shaolin monks put on an impressive martial arts demonstration as the Temple has now become the centre of an outstanding Kung Fu school.
Popular Culture and influence
The impressive nature of Shaolin Kung Fu has made it a subject popular in the media and contemporary films. From the National Geographic Channel showcasing the highly-skilled art form in the 2008 programme Fight Science to what are considered to now be classic films and television series, such as Kung Fu starring Bruce Lee originally, Chinese martial arts have been brought to the forefront of western popular culture and the big screen.
Chinese martial arts has manifested itself into many other contemporary films where Bruce Lee's work appears to have been carried on by such prominent actors as Jackie Chan and Jet Li, making the subject of Chinese martial arts and Kung Fu a fascinating and alluring subject for those visiting China and the Shaolin Temple in particular.
This article was written by Thom Sanders, on behalf of Wendy Wu Tours, who offer a wide range of trips to China, including a selection of fantastic Beijing Tours.
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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top Ten Family Holiday Destinations

School holidays are fast approaching and so too are our thoughts on how best to entertain the children. If you are planning a holiday with the family there are a number of destinations that cater specifically to families and should not be missed. Here are our top ten family holiday destinations.
Taupo, New Zealand: The ideal place to take the family, there are an abundance of activities to suit children, teenagers and adults alike. The stunning lake setting in the heart of New Zealand's volcanic region features adventure parks, water playgrounds and a number of water activities.
Queenstown, New Zealand: Always a hive of activity, there is no way the children will be bored in Queenstown. With a reputation for being the Adventure Capital of New Zealand, Queenstown offers an abundance of outdoor activities.
Seminyak, Bali: Sunshine, beach and swimming pools, Seminyak is an incredible family destination. An added plus, babysitters are easy to find and affordable, allowing parents the opportunity to check out some of the world-class restaurants!
Gold Coast, Australia: The Gold Coast, with its numerous theme parks and bountiful beaches is maybe the ultimate family destination. Experience the thrill of the area with the whole family!
Coral Coast, Fiji: The birthplace of Fiji tourism, the Coral Coast offers stunning beaches and lush vegetation. Families have the opportunity to explore the surrounding National Parks and take advantage of Fiji's famous hospitality.
Phuket, Thailand: A tropical outdoor playground, Phuket is a must for families. Children and adults alike can experience once in a life time activities, such as riding on elephants, dinosaur mini golf and water sports. Adults can still have some 'alone time' as Phuket has an abundance of kids clubs that the children will love.
Koh Samui, Thailand: Kids will love the Samui Aquarium with Tiger Show in Koh Samui. This beautiful island in Thailand has something for the whole family, this coupled with its stunning weather make Koh Samui a must visit family destination.
Yala, Sri Lanka: Yala National Park is something totally different for the whole family to experience. Take a safari and get up close and personal with elephants, monkeys and leopards. The region is simply beautiful and it will be an experience the children will remember for a lifetime.
Costa del Sol, Spain: The Costa del Sol is an unrivaled family destination. Families flock to the coast in the summer months to wile away days bikini clad on beaches. There are also a wide variety of theme parks to entertain, water parks, zoo's and underwater worlds included!
Tuscany, Italy: For the family that appreciates food and culture head to Tuscany. As a family destination activities include numerous inspirational art galleries and museums or for something different how about a cooking class. Many holiday villas feature private swimming pools, perfect for cooling off with the kids after a day soaking up the culture.
For family holiday accommodation in all these areas head to
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Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Core of The Greatest Hotels

Why are good hotels so hard to find these days? Before that question can be answered, the reason why people go to these places must be identified. The typical reason is traveling or tourism, but that is incredibly broad! Is it business or pleasure? Is it a solo trip or a family trip? At the core of any of these reasons, people book reservations at these places to have somewhere to relax while they're away from home. If a place of lodging wants to be successful, then it should do its absolute best to make guests feel like they're in their "home away from home."
Now, what makes so many hotels fail to impress their guests? It could be any number of reasons, such as horrible housekeeping services, uncomfortable beds, and unreasonable prices. A dangerously low budget, a perilously undersized staff, and an oversized business operation that's impossible to run are also potential reasons worth mentioning. It should be noted that unhappy guests come from both the tiniest inns and the biggest resorts, though. At the end of the day, these places of lodging succeed or fail based on the people providing the experience to the guests. Without good service, these places become little more than large apartment buildings.
It's certainly no secret that the hospitality industry is a service business at its core. The people who work at hotels aren't building cars or growing crops, because they're busy pleasing other people. Successful people in this field go above and beyond in their service giving. Whether they fluff pillows nicely or respond extra early to room service calls, guests will remember these little things when they review the establishment. Reviews are definitely not to be taken lightly, because they can either be an establishment's best friend or its worst enemy.
Another thing one must know about service is that the breadth matters just as much as the depth! Any hotels worth their salt will provide their guests with a literal and figurative feast of goodies to devour. Restaurants on the premises and food from room service must be top shelf! Also, a well-designed gym area should be in place for people who want to get workouts in during their stay. Of course, one can't forget about shopping boutiques, golf courses, swimming pools, beach proximity (if located in a coastal town), and massage services, either. There's still plenty more to throw on the proverbial table, as well.
Without a doubt, hotels are vigorously pouring time, money, and effort into finding ways to trump each other in pleasing their guests from check-in to checkout. Some succeed and become lodging legends, while others fall into obscurity. If the people behind these buildings are wise at all, they'll do well to remember that superior service is the key to victory. Both breadth and depth cannot be ignored; otherwise there will be complaints to be had, for certain. Five-star ratings only go the strongest, the smartest, and the most hospitable.
Find hotels Frankenmuth MI that will make your vacation special. Read more at:
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Thursday, 5 June 2014

How to Plan a Vacation

A vacation is something that everyone looks forward to, especially in the context of the 24x7x365 wired world that we function in.
A true vacation is one that takes you away from your cacophonic, unruly lifestyle to one of calm and quietude that helps one recharge body and mind with 'the basics of life'. Where the sounds of everyday life overpower every minute of your day, the 'sounds of silence' are even more deafening because they heighten your senses to every activity around you, like the gentle breeze among the trees, the rustle of dry leaves and the gentle lapping of water.
That's why most people call a vacation 'a once a year or so spiritual retreat'; and that's what it truly should be.
But holidays and vacations needs a lot of planning and forethought to take care of essential nitty-gritty's, the lack of which may hamper your holiday and make it a non-starter before it even starts.
There is no one set manual or instruction guidelines for holiday planning but the broad thoughts can be classified and customized to individual needs.
1. Research, Prepare and Pack
a. Plan a destination keeping in mind your and family's needs
b. Prepare a travel / stay budget to help with expenses depending upon mode of travel, accommodation, food expenses; should include contingency plan measures. 
Always look for comfortable stays that offer good rates on food; places that have activities for children offer great plans for families that include food and accommodation plus sightseeing trips round the destination. Keep an eye out for discounts, special offers and off-season times to get best value for money
c. Budget should also take into account sightseeing expenses like day trips to zoos and theme parks where entrance fees, photograph charges, cost of snacks and drinks etc. will make a considerable hole in the pocket
d. Pack bags suitable for carrying; carrying smaller bags distributed evenly among your group is ideal
e. Ask around the location to see if there is a medical practitioner or doctor on hand close by or a hospital that can handle emergencies
f. Pick out clothes suitable for weather, light-weight and drip-dry so they can be washed and used again to lessen luggage weight
g. Comfortable and suitable walking shoes that can double up as slip-ons
h. Toiletries, night clothes, undergarments, towels
2. Prepare for unexpected situations to make travel smoother
a. Extra set clothes in case plans change midway for whatever reason/s
b. An umbrella or lightweight rain coat
c. Foldable mat or mattress and inflatable pillows in case of breaking journey during road trips
3. Check what each family member would like to do on way to travel destination or at location so that time can be best allocated and utilized. Of course compromises are the need of the hour if everyone's plans can't fit in.
4. If you have a pet or pets at home, find a good pet-sitter ahead of travel schedule; best is to get them to visit you and spend time with your pet so that initial hiccups are overcome.
5. Lastly, there are basic essentials that one must take on a trip.
i. Medicine kit - apart from general medications, antiseptic creams and ointment, scissors, cotton roll, gauze, bandages, medicines for migraines, upset tummies, allergies etc. any specific medication for kids and elderly must be put in.
ii. A map of the area - in case you have extra time you can always give yourself a surprise by throwing in another location to visit provided it is within your expense budget and you are absolutely sure that no unpleasant surprises await you - e.g. bumpy and unsure terrain that can cause breakdowns leaving you in the middle of nowhere, lack of eating places and toilets along the way etc.
iii. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast - unexpected rains or inclement weather can throw you plans out of gear. Ensure you have at least a couple of umbrellas or light-weight raincoats.
iv. Carry along a mat or foldable mattress with inflatable cushions or pillows to add the zest of a day picnic for the family; this simple way of relaxation bonds the family
v. Board games, pack of cards, favorite coloring or story book are some essentials when travelling with children; even adults can benefit from playing a game of cards or mind games that can bring a spurt of energy and enthusiasm to both body and mind.
The other most important aspect of travel especially to overseas destinations is Travel Insurance; it's wise to choose the right pack that provides safeguards against a wide range of risks. The 2014 Best Travel Insurance Plans review ranked CSA Travel Protection as the Best Travel Insurance provider based on points gauged from a wide parameter of factors categorized under Travel Benefits, Medical Benefits, Optional Benefits and Health & Support.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cheap Travel and Beautiful Scenery

My wife and I enjoyed a beautiful trip to Montreal Canada. The home of hockey, maple trees, Cortland apples and of course The Oratory. When we traveled into Montreal, we discovered a serenity that was completely foreign to us. The sides of the roads as we traveled into Canada were green and lush with beautiful grass and country side surrounding the area. An untouched portion of heaven that had been positioned within the borders of Canada. As we continued to travel closer to Montreal, we soon came upon the beautiful city. We were fortunate to travel there prior to 9-11.
Our first visit was to St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. We gazed upon the concrete steps and were told how people would go up the steps to be healed by St. Joseph and the room that was full of crutches where people had traveled to the top of the steps and were miraculously healed and able to walk without any assistive devices after their journey to the Oratory. Numerous Nativity scenes were setup as we traveled there during Christmas season. Votive candles illuminated the massive chapel and the stain glass that reflected numerous religious scenes glowed from the outside. The robust statue of St. Joseph surpassed any expectation that either my Wife or I had ever had. The Stations of the Cross were true to live and as one would travel from one station to the next, the feeling of contentment and the absence of stress was phenomenal. When someone travels to Montreal this has to be on your list to see.
Next, we traveled to the famous McGill University. We entered the campus and toured the majestic buildings and architecture. How the buildings stood above the rest, the campus was unsoiled and systematic. One of the highest ranked Medical Schools that is internationally known for its research in Medicine and Green Environmental studies to name but a few. The columnar structure are as bold as the students that travel there from 150 different countries. We stayed in the dormitories watching fireworks out the window and drinking Labatt Blue beer. It was amazing stress reduction, maybe not weight loss as the Canadian food is ohh so good.
We then traveled to The Bell Center in downtown Montreal. There we proceeded to see the Montreal Canadians defeat the New Jersey Red Devils in an overtime shootout. What could have been better than that? There was absolute pandemonium before the puck was dropped and my wife and I traveled through the Bell Center seeing the eccentric decoration of memories of hockey players who had played the game and their game jerseys that had been retired. Again, weight loss was not on the agenda with the fantastic fries covered with gravy and of course a hockey game wouldn't be complete without at least 1 beer.
After seeing the Montreal Canadians by just traveling a bit we decided to stay another night and then went to The Choko Design shop as we owned snowmobiles and planned to travel through the Laurentian Mountains. The clothing that we purchased was exceptionally cheap for our travels and top quality workmanship. We still have the clothing and the durability is outstanding.
To summarize: This blissful travel and the amount of money we saved was extremely outrageous. The courteous people, the serene environment's and most of all the memories we obtained are absolutely priceless. All because we used network marketing. What a treat, one that I'm sure my wife nor I will not long forget.
by Brent Skipper

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

How to Feel Safe in Bali

Bali has had its fair share of travel horror stories, from tourist assaults, scams and road accidents to more extreme events such as drug busts and the traumatic bombings of 2002 and 2005.
As the stories mount up, it is understandable that tourists are a little apprehensive about visiting, what can be portrayed as a volatile region.
Yet beyond the media hype, Bali is a stunning country, when compared with many other countries is reasonably safe; the dangers faced are not dissimilar from the common dangers faced at home.
While common sense will get you a long way, here is the our guide on how to feel safe in Bali.
Where violent crime is uncommon in Bali, petty theft can occur, but can easily be avoided. Most high end properties are located in secure grounds with 24 hour security. However taking these necessary precautions can make all the difference.
1.     Make sure to lock all outdoor doors and windows.
2.     Keep valuables either on you or in the in-room safe.
3.     When exploring the streets, carry copies of you passport and travel documents (leave the originals in a safe).
The Balinese roads are hectic and hazardous so care does need to be taken when travelling them.
Many luxury vacation villas either come with, or can arrange, drivers for you and your party. Using a driver is a sensible option, any stress that navigating the chaotic streets you may face is taken away because of their knowledge of the roads and traffic.
For those who seek the freedom hiring a scooter brings, these simple rules will hold you in good steed; always carry your international drivers license (including motorcycle license), always wear your helmet and be aware of your surroundings.
Pedestrians should always be aware of what is going on around them, never expect the traffic to stop for you, even when on a pedestrian crossing. There are no traffic rules, so always assume the vehicle has the right of way.
Scams, Hawkers and Touts
Like many tourist countries Bali is rife with hawkers, particularly in areas of tourist attractions. To avoid getting embroiled in a scam or buying something you don't want, the best advice is to simply ignore them. Not making eye contact, may seem rude, but is essential if you want to avoid hawkers.
Corruption is rife in Bali, so it pays to educate yourself and know your rights before going.
If you are pulled over by the police it is important to know that a legitimate fine can be paid at any police station or the Denpasar Court House. Many police pull unsuspecting tourists over and demand payment upfront or threaten a court proceeding - going to court is not necessary. Keeping the tourist police phone number programmed in your phone, presenting this can often act as a deterrent if the police are insisting instant payment.
Strict drug laws with harsh penalties including the death penalty should be enough to warn anyone off buying or taking drugs in Bali.
It is not uncommon for tourists to be offered a variety of cheap drugs while on the beach, in nightclubs and walking the streets, these can often be stings and even if not, it is best to just walk away.
Lonely Planet notes that clubbers can be hit with random urine tests. In other words, unless you're happy gambling with your life, stay away from illicit drugs when holidaying in Bali.
Ever since the 2002 and 2005 bombings, Bali has received bad press for its dangers including terrorism. It is important to note that while, terrorism is a serious threat throughout the world, Balinese have taken many precautions to avoid such events from happening again. Extra security measures are taken in shopping malls and clubs to maintain a certain level of safety.
Final Word
While travel to Bali does come with a certain amount of risk, following these guidelines mitigates the chances of being involved in your own horror story. Remember, last year 2.8 millions tourists visited Bali in 2013, the vast majority returning with incredible stories of a stunning tropical island paradise.
For luxury accommodation in Bali head to
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Monday, 2 June 2014

Great Tips For Choosing The Best Hotel

For a lot of people, choosing the best hotel can be tiresome. Not to mention, the enormous number of great deals, promotions as well as programs each hotel offers. In fact, even these days it does not help that most hotels have websites filled with alluring photos and slick promotional copy that make you believe you will feel luxurious when you opt for their offerings. The good news is that there are tips you can employ so you can locate the right hotel for you and your family.
Know that every traveler has various needs if they are searching for a hotel. Thus, you must ask yourself what is most important to you. Prior to beginning your search, you have to ask yourself what type of accommodations would you want and what your budget will permit.
Important Factors To Consider
Purpose - First, you have to determine what is your goal or purpose on your trip. Determining such will actually help you plan where you must stay, and this can probably save you money and time also because you can choose the right accommodation that can surely cater to your necessities.
Budget - It is a great idea for you to draw up a budget table with possible projections on how much would you want to spend for accommodation. Take into consideration the services you would want to obtain along with the extra transportation costs if needed.
Parking - A great tip for choosing the best hotel is indeed to make sure that you check out if the hotel has enough parking for its guests. In case there is no space to part, you may want to look into local public transport or any alternative methods of getting to the hotel.
Location - You must be aware that the location of the hotel is very important for you to have an enjoyable stay. You can opt for a hotel located in the city - though it is more expensive, you will surely have a wider range of local dining establishments along with other services.
Services Offered - Determining the services offered by the hotel is often ignored. It is good for you to know if the hotel has a place to wash your clothes during a long stay, if there is a swimming pool or a gym, or perhaps if it offers a free Wi-Fi connectivity in your room.
Family Friendly - You must look for a hotel that is not just great for families, but for everyone. Look for amenities that all the family members can engage in.
For more of these tips, check out this site.
There are indeed plenty of tips you can employ to get the best hotel for your adventure. For more info, click here.