In the 1550s, Portuguese traders and missionaries established an outpost along the South China coast. They named it Macao after the Chinese goddess of seafarers. Since then, Macao has become a world-class destination with glittering casino-hotels, many owned by the Sands resort and gaming empire, which also built the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. But Macao’s appeal goes far beyond its baccarat and roulette tables.
It’s not what I expected For a moment, I am reminded of all those descriptions I have read about India’s Darjeeling. My first thought is of tea, which I discover is just a very small percentage of the charm of this former British colonial outpost. I knew to expect the lure of old traditions, but it’s much more.
I’m fascinated by the sights I see as the car climbs the 6,710-feet to get to this place above the clouds. A place that has been calling my name for years. As the road winds perilously closer to the top, I look out one window to see the Darjeeling Himalayan Railroad train (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) blowing its black smoke. Out the other car window, I see the local inhabitants, some warming themselves with small coal fires in tiny pans on the edge of the mountain. When I finally reach my destination, I am remarkably enchanted.
If you think Taiwan is just like China, then you haven’t dined at the funky Five-Dime Restaurant, visited Taipei 101 (one of the world’s tallest buildings) or toured the National Palace Museum. Each place gives Taiwan a unique personality. But there are still similarities. Think of it like difference between the U.S. and Great Britain.
Taiwan is small, about the combined area of Maryland and Delaware. The high steel and glass bamboo-like Taipei 101 stands 1,671 feet above it. Outside Taipei, verdant mountains often shroud themselves in mist and envelop Buddhist monasteries and chasms that dig deep into the earth. In between are rice paddies, tea farms, Starbucks and 7-Elevens.
New Zealand is an impressive country with much to offer visitors. With staggering scenery, fascinating history and culture combined with plenty of opportunity for adventure, it is a destination that will not disappoint. When choosing a country to visit, it can be difficult to choose what regions to see, and therefore what regions you will also not see. Visiting these spectacular National Parks provides a great way to see this country’s splendor. From the New Zealand Tourism website (www.newzealand.com) we have selected an article about making the absolute most of an active New Zealand vacation.
Traditions like a marriage dowry remain in Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the country. My Borneo guide, Nor Noridah tells me, “I got married when I was 15. My husband paid 5,000 MYR (Malaysian currency about US$1,122) and a cow. It was a very big cow.”
Though Malaysia has leapt into the 21st century, its culture hasn’t modernized as quickly. My visit to both KL, as Kuala Lumpur the capital is known, and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo lets me sample both.
As I gazed at the Hazard Mountains across Great Oyster Bay, the rays of the setting sun cast a glorious glow on the pink granite peaks of the range above and the azure sea below. Sitting by the fireplace, a glass of wine in hand sure felt like heaven to me. Welcome to Saffire, Australia’s luxurious coastal resort perched on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula where pristine air, unspoiled nature and gastronomic cuisine are the order of the day. The water is so pure yielding seafood so sublime, it’s not surprising that Australia’s top chefs move here.
No matter where you go in Wenzhou (pronounced Win-joe) City, the Chinese paparazzi will accompany you. It isn’t because they think you are famous, but rather because you are a Westerner. This city of 9 million doesn’t have a lot of Western tourists. That and its mild weather are its charm.
Surrounded by mountains and the East China Sea, the locals consider it a “small” city. Compared to Shanghai’s over 24 million locals, it is.
Thailand Travel Mart 2016 commenced with an address by Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, who expressed confidence in the country’s continuing tourism growth. She noted that 60% of visitors are return travelers drawn to the friendly Thai people in addition to the locale’s gorgeous beaches, natural beauty, rich history and superb food. Wattanavrangkul stated that Discover Thailand 2016 reflects the genuine Thai lifestyle, activities and attractions. The annual event took place for the first time in Chiang Mai instead of the capital Bangkok, evidence of the destination’s new focus.
The 2016 Visit Japan Travel Mart (www.vjtm.jp) held September 21-23 at Tokyo Big Sight, included 450 domestic sellers and 358 buyers from overseas. Many of the domestic exhibitors were new, locally-based experiential travel companies offering unique hands-on and off-the-beaten track cultural and adventure experiences that can be packaged by US travel companies.
Think China and you might envision pagodas and farmers wearing coolie hats. Forget that! Today the country abounds with McDonalds, KFCs, Starbucks, Hooters and capitalism. Tiffany’s is walking distance from Tiananmen Square. Next to the Regent Hotel is a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Maserati dealership.
Beijing is honking horns, trucks, cars, bikes, motorcycle and huge chunks of humanity. It’s not the place to have enochlophobia -- a fear of crowds. Just when you think you’ve found tranquility in a garden, fluttering, colored flags appear, bull horns sound, and a maddening crowd of tourists appear.