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Best Places in the World for Animal Lovers

If you love animals, you probably are on a constant look out to make them a part of your holiday experience, and given the variety of animal life on our planet, it is not a challenging prospect. Almost every place in the world has its own wildlife that can sustain in unique atmospheric conditions, and no two places in the world that have different climate have the same animal life. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities to meet different kinds of animals on your journeys around the globe, to be mesmerised by the nature’s diversity.

World-for-Animal-Lovers

We bring you six places in the world, along with one animal that you must go and visit during your stay at these places:

United States for Bison

If you are looking for an alternative to the African Safari in the US, Wyoming is the place for you. The Yellowstone National Park, also known as the first national park in the world, is a great place to spot the Big 5 – wolves, bison, bears, moose and elk-of the US wildlife. The Yellowstone Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. Offering numerous opportunities for hiking, camping, boating, fishing and sightseeing, The Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife lover’s delight.

South Africa for the Aardwark

The only member of the prehistoric Tubulidentata species, the aardvark is a nocturnal mammal native to Africa. These elusive insectivores can be found at Alice Glockner Nature Reserve, Benfontein Nature Reserve, Karoo Gariep Conservancy, Rocherpan Nature Reserve as well as Witsand Nature Reserve. However, if there’s one place where the sightings are guaranteed, it’s Samara Private Game Reserve, a five-star private game reserve, also popular as the home of aardvarks.

The Philippines for Tarsiers

Endemic to the Philippines, tarsiers are one of the smallest primates. Though the populations of tarsiers are also found in the south-eastern part of the archipelago on the islands of Samar, Leyte and Mindanao, it is at the Bohol Conservation Centre that you can easily spot these furry little creatures. The Maripipi Island, Siargao Island, Basilan Island and Dinagat Island are also popular as places where these nocturnal mammals can be found albeit with a little difficulty.

Mexico for Dolphins

A cruise through Mexico’s Sea of Cortez often becomes one of the most memorable experiences for the visitors, thanks to the large populations of dolphins in these waters. Covered by the Wild West shorelines of Baja California, the waters are also home to sea lions, sharks, huge manta rays and the mighty blue whales along with some 900 fish species and 32 types of marine mammals. Swimming with dolphins in what is one of the world’s best natural aquariums is sure to leave your thrilled.

Indonesia for Komodo Dragons

Existing only on the five Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Padar; Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizards.  Dominating the ecosystem in which they live, these menacing creatures can hunt and kill far bigger animals than them including humans, as a result of their toxic bites. The fearsome creatures have been declared vulnerable by the IUCN, and have a national park for their protection under the Indonesian law.

Australia for Quokka

Australia is blessed with abundant plant and wildlife so much so that 83 per cent of mammals, 89 percent of reptiles and 93 per cent of the amphibians found here are endemic to the country, but none are as cute as the quokka, the size of a cat. Some of the best places to find these friendly creatures in Australia are Rottnest and Bald Island near Albany. Considered the world’s happiest animal, quokka is one of the most sought after animals by the tourists who love to get a ‘selfie’ clicked with this cuddly creature.

Time-Honoured Monuments to Visit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling city in Vietnam with a rich history. It is home to some spectacular monuments. Read about them below and include these attractions in your travel itinerary.

Saigon Opera House (Municipal Theatre)

Saigon Opera House is a charming 800-seat opera house constructed in 1897 by a French architect Eugene Ferret. Later, it played the role of South Vietnam’s Assembly House and underwent several renovations. However, soon after, the opera house started serving as a theatre again. The lovely, tree-lined boulevard surrounding the building is impressive. Take pictures here with your family or friends. One of the best ways to experience Saigon Opera House is by attending the shows, events and activities conducted at the venue.

Fun Fact: To avoid the traffic noise, the theatre was built two metres higher than the road surface.

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, officially the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, is an architectural marvel created between 1863 and 1880. This Catholic cathedral features red brick façade, tarnished glass windows, a quiet garden and two towers consisting of six bronze bells. The English-speaking personnel in this holy place offer relevant information to the visitors from Monday to Saturday (9 AM to 11 AM). The mass is held in English and Vietnamese on Sundays at 9:30 AM. There’s a Virgin Mary statue in front of the cathedral which was rumoured to have shed tears in the October, 2005!

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Ho Chi Minh City Hall is a French colonial building with excellent façade, arched windows, modish engravings and a high-clock tower. Its exterior design is inspired from the Hotel de Ville in Paris. You can enjoy a leisurely walk around the open courtyard and observe the arched windows above. The classical motifs at the pyramid-shaped dais are impressive too! The city hall’s popular bell tower, typical to European town halls, is an elegant addition to the structure.

Giac Lam Pagoda

Constructed in 1744, the Giac Lam Pagoda is the city’s oldest pagoda. It has impressive images of Lord Buddha and his different incarnations. Icons of Taoist deities are kept too. The ceremonial hall has a large statue of Amitabha Buddha encircled by five small Buddha images. The nine dragon altar in the main hall portrays birth of Prince Siddhartha, who was later known as Gautama Buddha. All in all, the Giac Lam Pagoda has 118 statues made of bronze, wood and cement. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the city from the top floor of the pagoda.

Ba Thien Hau Temple

Ba Thien Hau Temple is a 19th century Chinese-style monument dedicated to goddess Mazu, the Lady of the Sea. The temple is accessible through an iron-gate and an undersized courtyard. Inside, on the main dais, there are three figures of ‘The Lady of the Sea’ surrounded by the guardians. The dioramas unveil colourful images and scenes from a 19th century Chinese city. The temple’s roof showcases porcelain figurines related to Chinese legends. Ba Thien Hau Temple’s big bronze bell is rung whenever large donations are accepted.

Top Destinations for Beach Lovers in January 2017

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Each New Year should bring a new ‘to visit’ list with itself and we should all explore new places; living life to the fullest!

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If you are looking for new and unexplored territories, here are some amazing beach holiday destinations across the world that you can pack your bags to for the year 2017.

1.    Cape Verde

One of the least explored beach-vacation spots in the world, Cape Verde islands should definitely be on your beach travel list for 2017. This cluster of islands in Africa is among the most beautiful places you will ever visit in your life. The islands of Boa Vista and Sal are especially attractive and invite tourists throughout the year. If you are indeed looking for a place where to find solace in the lap of nature, this has to be it.

2.    St Barts

One of the lesser visited Caribbean islands, St Barts is the epitome of aesthetic excellence and you will have an amazing trip enjoying the sun, sand, and the surf as well as the colorful appeal of the glitzy and glamorous ambience created by frequent celebrity visitors. The place is a hit with Hollywood celebrities and this may also add to your ultimate holiday experience. Exotic food, perfect weather, and warm and friendly locals – it’s the perfect recipe for a memorable holiday.

3.    Nicaragua

Another lesser known gem of a place, Nicaragua in Central America is possibly one of the most underrated places in the world. The constant caress of the tropical breeze; the sun, sand, and the surf; the perfect temperature; and good down to earth hospitality – this is the place you need to head to!

4.    Belize

Another hidden treasure in the Caribbean, Belize is a great January holiday spot. Owing to its spectacular beaches with clear blue waters, mouthwatering delicious local food, and plenty of things to do; Belize is an amazing place. It you are actively looking for a place to spend your January vacation; this can be a great option!

5.    Gold Coast

There is no denying the fact that Australia boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. Collect some amazing memories at the Byron Bay in the company of friends and family, while enjoying the perfect weather. From luxury yachts to private islands, you name it and they have it. This truly is a classic January vacation spot and if you are planning to visit, you shouldn’t waste any time!

Get Set to Celebrate Guy Fawkes Night in Style

The Guy Fawkes Night, also known as the Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, is just round the corner. It is a traditional British celebratory bonfire held on 5th November every year to mark the failed Gunpowder plot of 1605 in the UK.

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The day is observed with bonfires, burning of effigies, and spectacular fireworks shows across the country. The bonfire is marked by celebratory feastings, family entertainment shows and activities, and several fun fairs.

Origins

The Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the failed attempt to blow up the UK Parliament by a gang of men led by a man named Guy Fawkes. After the government made public the foiled attempt, people rejoiced and lit bonfires as their king had been saved. With the passage of years, the festivities became all the more elaborate.

Present Day Celebrations

On the administrative front, even today it is customary for the Yeoman of the Guard to search the cellars in the Houses of Parliament. People observe the day by lighting a bonfire, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes in these bonfires, and organising spectacular displays of fireworks.
Some of the places where fireworks displays will be held this year on 5th November in London are mentioned below.

Southwark Fireworks Display

Visit the Southwark Fireworks Display to revel in the festivities this year. The event, which can be attended for free, is one of the biggest fireworks displays across London. So, enjoy the spectacular fireworks on the south bank of the River Thames. There will be lots of good food and a number of entertaining events and shows will be held as well.

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival

The Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival is considered to be one of the best Bonfire Night events in London. Enjoy amazing panoramic views of London from this spot and engage in fun-filled family activities such as German beer festival, ice skating, and fun fairs.

Blackheath Fireworks

The Blackheath Fireworks display will not only include stunning fireworks in a huge outdoor space but it will also allow visitors to enjoy delicious seasonal treats. The public event is free for all and lets one enjoy memorable festivities with family and friends.

Celebratory Delicacies

Hearty feasting is a major part of the festivities and the highlight is a traditional cake called Parkin Cake. It’s a sticky cake is made with oatmeal, treacle, syrup, and ginger. So, this Bonfire Night, enjoy the festivities as you relish the delicious Parkin Cake with custard poached pears.

Celebrate Folk Music at Cambridge Folk Festival 2016

The Cambridge Folk Festival 2016 is approaching fast. The 52nd edition of one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious folk festivals, the Cambridge Folk Festival is scheduled to be held from 28th to 31st July at Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, UK.

For music fans, it will be an extended weekend full of an eclectic mix of quality music amidst the classy surroundings of Cambridge. The festival features more than 250 performances, workshops and events, with impromptu sessions being an integral part of the entire festival.

Cambridge Folk Festival

Cambridge Folk Festival by Nicholas Smale CC BY

Although the festival arena has an on-site capacity of up to 10,000 people, its international reputation ensures that it reaches and is followed by around 13 million people through major media partnerships and online presence.

Acts

The festival arena has five stages for the musicians to perform – the Main Stages, the Club Tent, The Den, The Ceilidhs and the Children’s Concerts.

This year’s headliners include Christy Moore, Gogol Bordello and Imelda May among others who will be performing at the main stages.

The Den is an Emerging Talent Stage, which allows up and coming artists in the folk scene to showcase their talents. This year’s performers at The Den include American Southern Gothic alt country blues singer and songwriter Amythyst Kiah, American traditional musicians Anna & Elizabeth, London’s ceilidh band Ceilidh Liberation Front, Dori Freeman, Echo Town, Heg & The Wolf Chorus and India Electric Co among others.

Apart from the usual performances by the folk musicians, the Club Tent also showcases performances by five select artists every year. These five artists are thought to be great performers of the future. The five select artists at the Cambridge Folk Festival 2016 are Patch & The Giant, The Rheingans Sisters, Hattie Briggs, Kelly Oliver and Ninebarrow.

How to Reach?

Music lovers who are planning to reach by air should try to book tickets for the closest airport, the London Stansted. From here, they can either take a direct train to Cambridge Train Station, or a direct bus to Cambridge Bus Station.

Travellers can also reach the venue by bus or train. Visitors will be allowed a free bus journey on arrival and a free bus journey on departure between Cambridge City Centre or Cambridge Rail Station and the site of the festival.

Jazz Up your Travel with the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2016

The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, the brainchild of banjo-player and guitarist – Mike Hart, is the biggest of its kind in Britain. Conducted annually, this year the festival will be held from 15th July to 24th July in the capital city of Scotland. The programme features 170 concerts in a time period of 10 days.

For the participants of the fest, there’ll be lots of music, ranging from 1920s traditional jazz to all shades of blues. Not only this, they’ll be entertained by the festival favourites Davina and the Vagabonds, a vintage jazz party with Bratislava Hot Serenaders, Italian super-charged brass from Bandakadabra, and classic Dixieland with Batchelors of Jazz. Some of the past performers include Warren Vache, Buddy Tate, Hot Antic Jazz Band and The Black Eagles Jazz Band. There’ll be 140 gigs at 13 venues around the city. International travellers who have an ardent love of music (…and jazz specifically!) shouldn’t miss this awesome celebration.

Themes

The amazing fiesta reveals all styles of jazz and blues. Music will be from 1920s to the music churned out by emerging artists of the current times. The themes are Brass & Crimson, Cross The Tracks, Europe Jazz Summit, Festival Residencies, Festival theatre Concerts, Firsts, Scottish Jazz Expo, and The Blues.

The Special Feature

European Jazz will be the special feature of the festival. The ‘Europe Jazz Summit’ comprises of concerts headlined by John McLaughlin and Jan Garbarek – the two prominent personalities of the European Jazz from the last five decades. There’ll be musicians from Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Netherlands and Sweden.

Carnival

The incredible carnival includes more than 700 performers from around the world. On 17th July, the carnival parade starts at 2:30 PM from the Mound proceeding towards the West End of the Princes Street. Participants get to observe colourful performances in Princes Street, Princes Street Gardens and the Grassmarket from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM. The music, dance, circus acrobats and puppetry are just super-attractive!

Multiple Venues

The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is planned to be held across different venues such as The Queen’s Hall, The Jazz Bar, and Princess Street Gardens. For the first time, Spiegeltent in St Andrew and George Square, Festival Theatre, La Belle Angele and City Art Centre will be hosting the events of the festival.

Tickets

Interested individuals can buy tickets online from the official website and collect them later at the venue. Those intending to purchase tickets in person should head to the Hub Tickets, Castlehill Edinburgh EH1 2NE. Tickets are available at other locations as well. Communication for the same via phone is possible too.  Kids under 16 years of age are permitted to attend the concert free of cost at the Queen’s Hall and Spiegeltent, if accompanied by an adult.

Join the Seattle International Children’s Friendship Festival

The International Children’s Friendship Festival is organized by a non-profit organization, ‘Turkish American Cultural Association of Washington’ every year in Seattle.

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The prime focus of the organization is to help children of every community overcome their differences and peacefully live together. So if you are planning to visit Seattle shortly, book your tickets and be a part of this annual cultural festival.

History

The International Children’s Friendship Festival was started by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the organization, who believed that the future and existence of a nation was only possible by investing in its children. To emphasize his belief, he declared April 23rd as Children’s Day which is also the National Sovereignty Day of Turkey.

Programs

The festival promotes cultural exchange and friendship among children around the world. It features performances highlighting the ethnic heritage of the participants. Solo singing and group singing, ballet and folk dances are performed by children to spread the message of unity in diversity. Moreover, the youth and children celebrate their friendship by sharing cultural practices.

Participate

Being a part of the International Children’s Friendship Festival is a fantastic experience for volunteers as well as participants. Children aged 6 to 12 can participate in stage performances and children older than 13 can join as volunteers. It also has a specific area for cultural exhibits, which lets people display their talent in arts and crafts. The participants are selected on first come first serve basis.

Support

You can also support this grand event either by donating or offering sponsorship. A small donation or sponsorship goes a long way in helping this great cultural event promote awareness amidst various ethnic groups in Washington. Volunteers can help in setting up the stage or offer backstage assistance to performers.

When and Where

This year, you can attend the festival at Seattle Center in Washington from April 16th to 17th, between 11:00 am to 05:00 pm. The admission to the event is free for the public. For any further enquiry you can check out its official website or contact the department of TACAWA by filling up a simple form.

Merry Times at the NYC Craft Distillers Festival

Get ready to witness the third official NYC Craft Distillers Festival in New York City. On April, 2nd renowned craft distillers as well as spirit lovers will crowd New York City to be a part of this amazing event.

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NYC Craft Distillers Festival will leave everyone delighted. The event will remind you of the pre-prohibition era in New York. You will get the chance to experience the merriment of the jazz band of the 1920s and perhaps also enjoy the fabulous collection of more than 60 varieties of perfectly crafted spirits. Savour the smooth textures and flavours of liquors ranging from whiskey to vodka, beer and many other spirits.

Distillers Diversity

Organised by Craft Hospitality, this speakeasy event will showcase an array of spirits for guests. Meticulously picked brands will grace the event, including Harvest Spirits, Valentine Distilling, Astoria Distilling Co., Cooperstown Distillery, The Manhattan Moonshine Company and Jack from Brooklyn. A splendid range of wines and other spirits will be showcased for guests to taste and enjoy.

Elite Entertainment

Classy entertainment sessions will enthral guests with music and other live performances. Cherish exclusive performances by renowned artists, including Emily Asher, Lady Alchemy, Ida Blue, and Anna Zand. For the convenience of guests, the event is divided in two sessions of entertainment. Interested people can buy tickets to one or both the sessions as per their interests. The Emily Asher’s Garden Party will be held during Session One, whereas Ida Blue and Lady Alchemy will perform in Session Two of the NYC Craft Distillers Festival.

Ticket Tracker

Interested people can buy tickets from the official website of the festival quickly. The ticketing process is powered by Eventbrite and it accepts cards, including American Express, Visa and Mastercard. One can also easily purchase VIP and normal entry tickets.
So, get ready to experience the vibrant and celebratory ambiance of the festival to the core.

Four Terrific Places for Wildlife Photographers in India

Many a shutterbug would agree that wildlife photography is one of the best things about photography. It needs a lot of patience and skill to capture a perfect moment on camera. Some of the main difficulties faced, while clicking photographs of a wild animal are that they may be too swift or ferocious in nature. Well, all this is part of the charm. There are many beautiful places in India that are just perfect for wildlife photography. Have a look at some of our top recommendations.

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Hemis National Park, Ladakh

Snow leopards are some of the most magnificent creatures and look absolutely ravishing in a photograph captured at the right moment. If you are interested in taking pictures of Snow Leopards, Hemis National Park in the Leh area of Ladakh, is a good bet. The park is situated at a high altitude, thus making it the perfect place to start your thrilling photographic adventure. You may find pug marks of the snow leopard on the snow. The convergence of Zanskar River with Indus can also be seen from the border of the park.

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Desert National Park, Rajasthan

Desert National Park in Rajasthan features some of the rarest animal and avian species such as the Great Indian bustard as well as around forty different species of reptiles. Situated near Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert, this park has one of the most rugged landscapes, making it a unique place for wildlife photography.

Hazaribagh National Park, Jharkhand

Located about 130 kilometres from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, Hazaribagh National Park is a wildlife photographer’s delight. With animals like sambar, kakar, nilgai and cheetal, Hazaribagh National Park will give you a lot of opportunities to take pictures of some of the most scenic and dramatic moments in the wild.

Simlipal National Park, Odisha

Simlipal National Park is situated in the eastern part of India in the state of Odisha. The park has an abundance of peacocks, talking mynahs, flying squirrels, 4-horned antelopes, Indian Bisons, and Elephants to name a few. With such an abundance of wildlife, the park sure is a haven for wildlife photographers.

International Cherry Blossom Festival – Popular Annual Event in Macon, Georgia

In a few days, many cities in the US will flaunt extravagant springtime colours. You can explore these colours at numerous annual festivals.

Georgia

International Cherry Blossom Festival is one such event which takes place in Macon, a beautiful city in the state of Georgia. With “Love, Beauty, and International Friendship” theme, this annual festival features a great variety of cultural, social, and recreational activities. The 2016 edition of International Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled from 17th March to 03rd April. Let’s check out what you can experience and enjoy at this annual festival.

The Cherry Blossom Festival Parade

This is probably the most significant highlight of International Cherry Blossom Festival. The theme of this year’s parade is “Rhapsody in Pink, a Southern Melody.” Reach historic downtown on 19th March at 3pm to witness this colourful parade of military units, marching bands, costumed performers, and dazzling floats. You don’t need to buy any tickets to admire the procession.

Sozo Choir Inspirational Concert

This choir group from Uganda adds a magnificent African tinge to International Cherry Blossom Festival. The Methodist Children’s Home will host this event on 23rd March at 6:30pm. Anyone can watch this free family-friendly act, which narrates an inspirational story.

Party on the Green

Presented by the CBF Chairman’s Club, this fun-filled event features a picnic-style environment, complete with fireworks, live music, games, and great food. The Green at Wesleyan College is the venue for the Party on the Green. Visit on 03rd April between 5pm and 8:30pm for an amazing time with your kids and other family members.

Food Truck Frenzy

On the last weekend of the International Cherry Blossom Festival, 2nd and 3rd April, Downtown Macon will feature numerous gourmet food trucks that offer special local delicacies and delicious fare from the US and Mexico. You can find participating food trucks between Mulberry Street and Walnut Street.