In the city of the Petronas Towers

News4u-Travel Desk- As you enter Kuala Lumpur (KL), your eyes scan the city skyline for a glimpse of Malaysia`s Petronas Twin Towers. You`ve read about them, seen them in numerous `Malaysia, truly Asia` ads, but never in all their steel-and-glass glory. It`s impossible to visit Kuala Lumpur and find a space or experience that isn`t affected by them; they tend to overshadow the other, equally fascinating monuments.

As you enter Kuala Lumpur (KL), your eyes scan the city skyline for a glimpse of Malaysia`s Petronas Twin Towers. You`ve read about them, seen them in numerous `Malaysia, truly Asia` ads, but never in all their steel-and-glass glory. It`s impossible to visit Kuala Lumpur and find a space or experience that isn`t affected by them; they tend to overshadow the other, equally fascinating monuments.

Kuala Lumpur Tower

The 421-metre-high communications tower (also called Menara Kuala Lumpur), the seventh tallest in the world, stands out in the city`s skyline too. Standing majestically at the top of a hill, it looks fabulous at night.

The lobby`s glass domes sparkle through the day. After a 54-second ride up to the top (276 m), you step out onto the observation deck (littered with tourist stalls, binoculars and maps pointing out the important sites) to a 360-degree view of the city.

If the good view isn`t enough, the KL towers have other attractions including a 100-year-old jelutong tree. During construction, builders were forced to shift the tower, at a considerable expense, when they realised its construction was harming the tree. Now it stands behind a protective wall, close enough for tourists to be able to touch its bark, but far enough that they can`t disfigure it.

Up in the air

There`s more to Kuala Lumpur than steel and glass buildings glittering in the sun. The Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) has an open green ground and the Malaysian flag is hoisted atop a 100 m flagpole. It stands in front of the heritage Sultan Abdul Samad Building with gorgeous Mughal architecture, built by the British. The Masjid Negara (the National Mosque of Malaysia), situated amidst lush gardens, is a 73m-high minaret with a 16-point star roof, which can hold over 15,000 people at a point. You can get a better view of the city from the nearby Selangor district, home to the Batu Caves. Climb the 272 concrete steps to reach these limestone caves studded with Hindu shrines and paintings.

At the bottom of the stairs is a 42.7 m, gold-plated statue of Lord Murugan, the highest in the world. The best time to visit is in the morning, as by afternoon the place gets crowded with devotees.
-Courtesy Zee News


Petronas Towers

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Bali, a place for sea lovers and ancient temples

News4u-Travel Desk- Bali: Are you a sea urchin who wants to soak in the sun in a serene ambience? Do you also fancy ancient temples and the fascinating stories around it? Then a visit to the island of Bali in Indonesia - a predominantly Hindu enclave in a country with the world`s largest Muslim population - will more than quench your thirst.

Bali`s undulating landscape is a real treat for the eyes as well as the soul. Bali is an Indonesian province where 84 percent of the population is Hindu followed by Muslims and Christians. It has tropical weather conditions and July-August are considered the best months to visit.

The picturesque city of Nusa Dua, 40 km from Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali, points to the aesthetic sense of the its planners. The city is dotted with huge lush green parks. Statues of various Hindu mythological figures and sculptures of dancing women and various tropical animals and birds are spread across the city.

During the religious festivals, the Balinese people dress up the sculptures. Even temples put umbrellas over the heads of the statues.

The people are soft-spoken, friendly and religious. They start their day by offering flowers and fruits to the gods, a common scene across the island.

“Tourists come from across the world. Many people from the West come just to enjoy the sea,” a tour guide said.

People also throng Bali for the beautiful ancient temples; the place is also known as “The island of thousand temples.”

A visit to Uluwatu Temple will sweep you off your feet. Located on the edge of a cliff overlooking the blue sea, it has a therapeutic effect on visitors. Constructed in the 11th century, it is one of the nine directional temples meant to protect Bali from evil spirits. It is a ritual to wrap a cloth around the waist while entering.

But one needs to be cautious about the monkeys in the temple premises! They are present in huge numbers and at times give tourists a tough time.

There is also an amphitheatre-like structure within the premises where Hindu mythological plays are performed in the evening.

Bali is also known for its handicrafts like batik works on dress material, wooden crafted objects, showpieces made of shells, leather goods made of snakeskin, various utility items made of wood and cane and traditional musical instruments crafted out of coconut shells, wood and cane.

One needs plenty of rupiahs to purchase this stuff. With the inflation rate steep, $100 will fetch you 1,135,000 to 1,140,000 rupiah depending on the day`s exchange rate. And, any beautiful object one will lay one`s hands on will cost not less than 75,000 rupiah.

Nusa Dua is a serene and private location with lots of upmarket hotels, but to get a hang of the night life in the city one must go to Kuta. Life starts there after 10 p.m. Here one can find lots of reasonable accommodation and open restaurants. Kuta has innumerable night clubs and the hookah crowd flocks the place.

Beaches in Bali are a hot spot for swimming, surfing and sunbathing. Since the mercury never dips substantially in this zone, one can travel light.

Bali caters to the beach spirit of both the rich and bagpackers alike.

How to reach:

* From India, travel through Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia), Singapore (Singapore Airlines and others) or Bangkok (Thai Airlines). Thence, fly by carriers like Air Asia, Lion and others to Denpasar.

Flight time from New Delhi to Kuala Lumpur/Singapore: 5 hours 30 minutes.

Flight time from Kuala Lumpur/Singapore to Denpasar - less than 3 hours.

* Accommodation: Ranges from Rs.3,000 to Rs.50,000 ($47-$792) per night.

For the really high end traveller, there is the Bulgari hotel, one of only two in the world, where a room costs Rs.150,000 ($2,380) a night.

* A meal for four in a mid-range restaurant will cost Rs.2,000 ($31) without alcohol.

* Cuisine to watch out for: Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles), Opor Ayam (Chicken curry), Tuna Sambal Matah (Seared Tuna with raw Sambal), Sambal Udang (Prawns in spicy sambal sauce) and Beef Rendang. IANS


Bali, a place for sea lovers and ancient temples

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Etihad Airways leads World Travel Awards winners in Middle East

News4u-Travel News-Etihad Airways has retained its title as the Middle East’s Leading Airline for an incredible ninth consecutive year at the World Travel Awards.

The United Arab Emirates’ flag-carrier was recognised during a red carpet ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach in front of hundreds of Middle Eastern tourism leaders.

Also picking up the a coveted trophy was Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah which claimed the Middle East’s Leading Hotel title, while Jebel Ali Golf Resort walked away with the prize for Middle East’s Leading Family Resort.

Speaking during the event World Travel Awards President Graham Cooke said: “It was a pleasure and a privilege for World Travel Awards to recognise the leading airlines, hotels and tour operators from across the Middle East here at the fabulous Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach.

“This stunning property – which itself takes the title of Middle East’s Leading New Resort – has provided us with a wonderful backdrop for this prestigious event.

“Congratulations to all our winners and we look forward to seeing you later in the year for the World Travel Awards Grand Final.”

Also among the winners was Al Mashreq Boutique Hotel, which took the title of Middle East’s Leading Boutique Hotel, Le Royal Meridien, recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Spa Resort, and the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, which took the title of Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board.

Hailed by worldwide media for its role in identifying and rewarding excellence in the travel and tourism sector, World Travel Awards celebrates its’ 22nd anniversary in 2015 and is acknowledged as the ultimate travel accolade.

World Travel Awards global events are widely regarded as the best networking opportunity within the industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries, and international print and broadcast media.Agencies


Etihad Airways

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Jumeirah Bodrum Palace opens for business

News4u-Travel News- Following a management agreement signed with Targets Investment, which was announced in March this year, Jumeirah Bodrum Palace has opened its doors with a range of new services and special offers for discerning travellers.

The property offers 135 rooms made up of generous suites, villas and a six-bedroom palace, all with sea-facing views and spacious terraces, a wide selection of restaurants and bars and eight family pools in addition to 49 private pools for the villas.

As well as relaxing on the Aegean coastline, guests can also take advantage of a wide range of water sports, including parasailing, windsurfing, water skiing, fishing, sailing and scuba diving.

The 110,000m2 resort also has a signature Talise Spa with 12 treatment rooms and a range of luxury hammams, a fully equipped fitness centre and also a Kids Castle play-centre.

Speaking at a press conference at Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah in Istanbul, Gerald Lawless, president of Jumeirah Group, said: “Jumeirah Bodrum Palace is a truly spectacular luxury resort.

“We have worked closely with the owner to ensure that the full Jumeirah experience is delivered through the hotel and I am delighted to say that the improvements to the hotel have exceeded our expectations.

“I am confident our loyal guests from around the world will be impressed not only with the location and design, but also with the service standards for which Jumeirah is famous.” Agencies


Jumeirah Bodrum Palace opens for business

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LA RINCONADA

News4u-Travel Desk- La Rinconada in Peru is an old gold-mining camp in the remote Peruvian Andes that has grown to ‘major city’ status. Over 50,000 people live in this mountainous city at an altitude of 16,732 ft or 5,100 m.

It lays claim to the title of the ‘highest city in the world’. Despite having an economy fuelled almost entirely by the nearby gold mine, its infrastructure remains poor. The city has no plumbing and no sanitation system, and there is significant contamination with mercury due to mining practices.

Almost all the residents of this city are workers who emigrated to the remote location hoping to secure work and stake their claim in the riches. They work through a peculiar system of payment called cachorreo. Employees work for 30 days without payment, and on the 31st day, they are allowed to take as much ore from the mine as they can carry.

Whatever the miners are able to extract from that ore is theirs. Despite companies utilising such a non-traditional system of payment, miners continue to flock to the region. The population of La Rinconada has skyrocketed over 230% in the last decade.Agencies


LA RINCONADA-PERU

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World’s 10 best spots to see the sun rise

News4u - Travel desk- Here are the list of the Top 10 spots to see the Sunrise.

1. Haleakala National Park, Hawaii, USA
Boarding a bus in the wee hours of the morning is a pain, particularly on vacation when the greatest indulgence is sleeping in. But the alarm-clock acknowledgement is worth it if the payoff is watching a sunrise from above the clouds, on the top of a volcano. Various van tours offer the trip through Haleakala National Park in Maui, picking visitors up at 3 am and dropping them off to see the event from the summit. The view is worth the travel time!

2. Svalbard, Norway
The sun rising here holds an almost magical appeal for visitors. Situated north of the Arctic Circle, the northernmost inhabited spot on the planet features the midnight sun, a phenomenon where the sun stays continuously in the sky for 24 hours a day. Glaciers and mountains clutter Svalbard’s horizon, painting a landscape that merely enhances the event.

3. Angkor Wat Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat any time of day is powerful, but arriving early enough to watch the sunrise offers visitors an even greater spectacle. The preserved temple attracts travellers from around the world, providing them insight into Khmer and Hindu mythology and history. It’s advisable to dedicate more than a day to explore the sacred grounds.

4. Fiji
Smack dab on the 180-degree longitude line, Fiji is one of the first spots in the world to see the sun rise every day. The South Pacific destination is a favourite among lovers of turquoise seas and white-sand beaches. Tip: Follow an sunrise up with a morning exploration; the ‘soft coral capital of the world’ offers some of the best scuba diving in the world.

5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a fun attraction for adventure travellers. You have one of the most enchanting sunrises in the world here. From Kili’s summit — 19,341 feet above sea level — dedicated souls can soak up the sights.

6. Stonehenge, England

Equinox devotees gather here every year for the Vernal Equinox. A place of sun worship still, Stonehenge is a mysterious destination that holds deep spiritual value for travellers. Stonehenge is also known for its magical sunrise.

7 TRES CRUCES, PERU
A six-hour bus ride from Cuzco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, Tres Cruces is undeniably worth the long trek. It presents a mind-blowing sunrise to visitors. The view boasts celestial hues and camera moments from above the clouds.

8. Tulum, Mexico
The coastal oasis of Tulum draws spiritual travellers and yoga-types year-round to soak up exquisite culture, history and scenery all in a single spot. Visitors are up with the sun (and often in bed shortly after the sun goes down). No need to set an alarm in Tulum, where sun worshippers gather at the shoreline daily to watch the sunrise.

9. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
The most impressive sunrises in the United States occur every day across the Grand Canyon. Cool purples melt into shades bronze and orange against the inspiring scenery, arguably Maricopa, Hopi, and Mather points and spots along the South Rim are recommended as places to catch the best sunrise.

10. Mount Sinal, Egypt
First a history refresher: Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe that Moses received the 10 Commandments at the biblical Mount Sinai, as said to be mentioned in the Torah, Bible and Koran. An important religious destination, Mount Sinai today draws believers who scale the route by foot for religious purposes, and for the chance to see one of the most inspiring sunrises in the world.Reuters


spots to see the sun rise

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Arabian Travel Market opens in Dubai

News4u-Travel Desk- Arabian Travel Market has opened its doors at the Dubai International Conference & Exhibition Centre, bringing together some of the biggest names in the travel and tourism business for the Middle East, showcasing their latest news and developments.

The 2015 show is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai.

Now approaching its 20th year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.

This year’s four-day event is set to highlight tech growth within the industry, as online travel bookings in the MENA region increased by ten per cent in 2014.

According to YouGov data, 31 per cent of those surveyed booked all of their travel requirements online, an increase of ten per cent over 2013.

Of those surveyed a quarter used their smartphones to BOOK HOTELS online while mobile usage to access online travel guides or to book leisure activities rose by six per cent.

“Throughout the region, we are witnessing major growth in online bookings as airlines, tour operators AND HOTELS develop ever-more sophisticated digital platforms and social media strategies to ensure they reach out effectively to both existing and potential guests,” said Nadege Noblet, exhibition manager of Arabian Travel Market.

“The industry as a whole is embracing technology like never before, to compete in a digital market place where accessibility and speed are critical to the demands of today’s tech-savvy travellers, especially mobile compatible sites FOR HOTELS, tour operators and leisure attractions,” added Noblet.

Recent figures unveiled Dubai-based Arabian Travel Market generated over $2 billion worth of business deals at annual 2014 May event; total World Travel Market Portfolio contributes $6.5 billion of additional revenue to the global travel industry.

Research conducted by Reed Travel Exhibitions in London, has revealed that the annual Arabian Travel Market, which takes place in Dubai each May witnessed more than 2,700 exhibitors sign business deals worth more than $2.1 billion with 23,500 visitors at the 2014 event.

Family centric travel, which accounted for more than 12.5 per cent of the $1.07 trillion global tourism market, has been selected as the official show theme for this year’s event, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 4th-7th May 2015.

Arabian Travel Market is a part of The World Travel Market Portfolio, consisting of four leading business-to-business travel trade events, which has facilitated more than $6.5 billion (£3.9 million) the latest research has revealed.Agencies


Arabian Travel Market opens in Dubai

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Argentina’s Train to the Clouds

News4u-Travel Desk- Located 4,000 m above the sea level in the Andes, Tren a las Nubes or ‘Train to the Clouds’ is one of the highest railways in the world. It begins its journey from the city of Salta in Argentina at an altitude of 1,187 m, passes through the Valle de Lerma, enters the Quebrada del Toro and finally ends its journey at the La Polvorilla viaduct (4,200 m). During the 16-hour trip, the train travels 217 km and climbs a staggering 3,000 m. It crosses 29 bridges, 12 viaducts, 21 tunnels, swoops round two gigantic loops and two switchbacks.

Train to the Clouds got its name from the numerous clouds that are often seen under bridges and around slopes. American engineer Richard Fontaine Maury, who was in charge of the project, laid down the route in the 1920s. He designed a singular system supported by bridges, tunnels, viaducts, spirals and zigzags. The zigzags allow the train to climb the mountain by driving back and forth parallel to the slope of the mountain. Maury did not use funiculars or cogwheels normally used on steep slopes, instead relied on switchbacks to gain height.

The train was originally constructed to serve the borax mines of the area, transporting goods from the coast of Chile through the Andes Mountains to north-western Argentina. The route started taking tourists from 1970s. The train leaves early in the morning from Salta city, crosses Lerma Valley, then Toro Ravine and finally, the large territory of the Puna. The train makes only two stops—almost at the end of the trip. The first one is at San Antonio de los Cobres, an old town with low-built houses and a tiny market. Here tourists will find picturesque stalls offering handicrafts, items of clothing and souvenirs to take home from the train trip.

The second stop and the end of the route is the spectacular La Polvorilla viaduct. The curved viaduct is 224 m long and 70 m high from the valley. Train to the Clouds glides across the viaduct and stops before reversing back, poised for the return journey. At the final destination, passengers can get off the train, feel the pure and cold air on their face, walk slowly in order to get their bodies used to the altitude, and take photos. The trip back to Salta is completed in the dark and reaches Salta just before midnight.Agencies


Argentina’s Train to the Clouds

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Antarctica: a new dream destination

News4u-Travel Desk- As the sun sets, the cloudy sky melds with the glaring white of the frozen terrain. Tourists trudging in single file line marvel over blue glaciers in Antarctica, a hip new vacation destination.

The group paid a small fortune — $3,000 per head — for a quick five-hour visit to the frozen continent, arriving by plane.

“Coming to Antarctica was a dream for me and my wife,” American John Reiss, 81, said as he stood beside his wife Sharon, 73.

“We signed up a couple years ago, but we couldn’t get on it, so we went on a waiting list. This year we signed an year in advance and we made it.”

The couple boarded a cruise ship in Florida, where they live, to head to Punta Arenas in the south of Chile, where they caught a two-hour flight to Antarctica.

The tourists visited the island of King George, in the South Shetlands archipelago and the neighboring Russian station of Bellingshausen with its out-of-place Orthodox church. They also saw the small Chilean hamlet of Villa Las Estrellas home to just 64 people and colonies of penguins. Another option is to tour Half Moon Island, a habitat of seals and penguins that is home to the Argentine base of Teniente Camara.

There they can sip a hot cup of coffee, send a postcard and get their passport stamped with a picture of a krill, a kind of small shrimp that is the symbol of the base. “It was a fantastic experience. The first thing that makes this trip special is being able to visit such a well-preserved, untouched continent,” said Canadian Maureen Malone, 69.

Read: Unexplored coastal spots you must visit

“The second is being able to see the penguins. Everybody loves the penguins. Also, I was able to see around the bases, see how the different countries are sharing the region.” Tourism is one of the few economic activities allowed by the Treaty of the Antarctic and the Madrid Protocol, which bans mineral extraction on the white continent.

The Antarctic draws more than 30,000 tourists per year, from November to March, when there is no problem landing on the frozen sea. Most arrive on ships that cross Drake Passage in the Southern Ocean, which has some of the world’s worst weather, setting off from Ushuaia in southern Argentina and from Punta Arenas.

“Ninety percent of the tourists from around the world who come to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia. The cruises last an average of 11 days. The cheapest ones cost $5,000. The most expensive, which last 15 days and go to the South Pole, cost $12,000,” Brazilian Gunnar Hagelberg, owner of Antarctica Expeditions, told AFP.

More than 35,350 people will have visited Antarctica by the end of this year — 1,000 more than last season and 8,000 more than in 2011-2012, according to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.

“We carry from 120 to 130 people per season. We have seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of tourists who want to see the continent,” said Nicolas Paulsen, deputy commercial director of the Chilean airline Dap, which offers logistical and tourist flights. Paulsen said tourism in Antarctica is rising three percent more per year than tourism to Chile, which is up seven percent. Most visitors come from the United States, Australia, China, Russia and, more and more, from Brazil.

“Antarctica is vital for us. It affects the climate, the sea currents. Tourism is important because the more people get to know it, the more they will want to protect it,” said Paulsen.AFP

Antarctica: a new dream destination

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London turns world’s most expensive city

News4u-Travel Desk- London: London has overtaken Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city to live and work in, as a new study has suggested it has turned nearly twice as pricey as Sydney and four times more expensive than Rio de Janeiro. India’s Mumbai was found to be at the bottom of the 12 most expensive cities report.

The combined typical cost of renting accommodation and leasing an office to work for a year in London had risen to almost 74,000 pounds per employee. That puts the British capital city well ahead of other global hubs such as New York, Paris and Tokyo, the Guardian Tuesday quoted estate agent Savills as saying.

Savills’ 12 Cities report is designed to help companies assess the costs of relocating employees. It measures the total cost per employee in US dollars of renting living and working space in some of the world’s global hubs.

The annual cost per employee in London was put at $120,568 (73,800 pounds), with Hong Kong close behind at $115,717. New York and Paris were in third and fourth place, at $107,782 and $105,550 respectively. Sydney came eighth at $63,630, Shanghai 10th at $43,171 and Rio 11th at $32,179. Mumbai was bottom of the table at $29,742 (about Rs.18,13,000).

London’s rise to first place in the rankings was blamed on the big increases in office rents, plus the pound’s strength against the dollar, prompting Savills to warn that it risks becoming less competitive as a result.

Whereas falling residential rents and a weakening currency contributed to Hong Kong, which had previously topped the ranking five years running, dropping to second place. IANS


London

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