Thursday, 3 December 2009

The wonderful food of Thailand

Thailand’s food is one of the highlights of any visit here, and after many years of travelling to the Country, the staff at Escape Worldwide have their own view of it!

Karen used to be the biggest wimp in the office when it came to spicy food, but over the years she’s developed a real taste for Thai food. “I tend to stick to dishes that I know I like, so I don’t get any unexpected surprises. Everything is so fresh, and the seafood in particular tends to be superb – and so well priced, compared to the UK. In fact, I tend to go a bit overboard in Thailand as the food is really good value – crab cakes or spring rolls as a starter for £ 1, a main dish of a Thai curry for maybe £ 1.50, all washed down with copious quantities of Singha or Chang beer – and you still won’t have hit a fiver!”

Natalie remembers one meal in particular. “I think the hottest meal I’ve ever had was in Bangkok, when I thought I’d try a Thai Green Curry. The restaurant our hotel, the Dusit Thani, suggested was a traditional place a few minutes walk away (there are so many restaurants in this area of Bangkok it’s hard to know where to start!) so I guess the food is fairly authentic – perhaps I should have asked for a less hot version! It got to the point where I couldn’t feel my mouth, but even then the flavours of the food were still there. Even a large bottle of Singha Beer didn’t help much!”

Darren had developed a straightforward theory to Thai food. “If it comes with coconut milk, it’s likely that it’s going to be spicy, as the coconut milk is often used for cooling things down. Therefore, ask for a less spicy version. If it has red bits floating in the coconut milk, you haven’t really got a hope! My standard dish if I’m not sure of what to go for is Phad Thai, or fried noodles – always tasty, always available and always cheap, you really can’t go too far wrong!”

Mark’s been visiting Thailand since 1991, so has tried many local dishes from the regions over the years. “The oddest thing I think I’ve tried was in the Isaan region of Northeastern Thailand, which has its own different style of food. In Nakhon Ratchasima, one of the larger towns in the area, I tried a type of local sausage, which I can only describe as ‘different’ – I still have no idea what was in it! I did a Thai cookery course in Chiang Mai on one visit, so I learnt about the local spices and vegetables – this is something I’d really recommend, and some schools will also tell you what replacement ingredients you can use if you can’t obtain the authentic stuff when you get back home.”

For holidays to Thailand visit www.thaiescapes.co.uk

Thailand not for you? Then checkout some of the other great holidays we offer: www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Happy travelling!



Sunday, 1 November 2009

Latest Holiday ideas from Escape Worldwide

Hi fellow travellers,

Winter is truly here so why not get away. Check out our latest offers and ideas: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Oct09e2.html

This weeks newsletter features some photos and a blog following Karen's recent visit to India. Get to experience the amazing Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Amber Fort and more through Karen's pictures. More blogs to follow!

Or why not a safari in Kenya, now this is a truly memorable holiday. Latest time I was in Kenya, I same a cheetah and her 2 cubs amongst loads of other animals.

What ever you decide to do.......happy travelling!

Darren

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Teaching English in Vietnam



Darren spent a morning teaching English to Vietnamese kids when he was in Central Vietnam!


“It’s alarming what you’ll agree to after a few beers in a bar. I was on the last day of a Vietnam trip and I was in the seaside town of Nha Trang. I’d seen so much of Vietnam over the past week or so that I was planning a relaxed evening of good food and plenty of beer – not difficult in Vietnam! I’d dined well, with scrummy spring rolls for starters and local seafood for a main course, and was now looking for a few beers to finish off the evening.


I’d been recommended a local bar called the Crazy Kim Bar, named after the larger than life owner, Kim. The beer was cold and cheap (as it always tends to be in Vietnam!) but the Crazy Kim Bar was slightly different to the other bars in Nha Trang. During the day, Kim ran classes for local street kids, where visitors could spend a few hours teaching English to them – no experience needed. I signed up on the spot!


Early next day and I was back in the bar, this time at the classrooms at the back. Kim met me, plus two other volunteers, to explain what to expect. My class was a slightly older group, and as most had been attending the classes for a little while, they’d passed the basics. I had around 20 kids in my group for the two hour class – they each had a text book (paid for from the sale of t-shirts and other items in the bar each evening) and we were on Chapter 17. They seemed more interested in their new teacher, though – where was I from, how old was I, did I like Vietnam, which football club did I support, and who was going to win Vietnamese Pop Idol?


Clearly, supporting Crystal Palace didn’t go down too well (note to self – when asked about football in the Far East next time opt for Liverpool or Manchester United and you can’t go too far wrong), and although I’d caught a bit of Vietnamese Pop Idol in a bar in Dalat earlier in the week, I could barely remember what they’d been singing, let alone who was who!


My class and I spent a most enjoyable morning chatting about any subject they wanted to chat about – I did try every so often to stick to the textbook, but either my teaching skills are a little lacking or it was a particularly boring chapter.


The class asked about me and I asked about them – I’d like to think they learnt a little English and a little about me, and I certainly learnt a lot about Vietnam and about the group – all in all, a most memorable – and different – experience. If you find yourself in Nha Trang, look out for the Crazy Kim Bar!”



More holidays can be found at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Great touring holiday ideas

Hi fellow travellers,

Why not check out our latest touring holiday ideas: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Oct09c2.html

Cuba is simply an amazing place and our Comprehensive Cuba Tour is a great way of seeing pretty much all that this great country has to offer. We also have a number of shorter tours if 14 nights is to long for you, check out http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/cuba/destin/tour.shtml

Tanzania is a fantastic place for a safari, I know I was there a month ago! You truly get memories of a lifetime and on this trip I got to see 2 of the elusive Leopard…..amazing! Check more of our great East African safaris: http://www.safariescapes.co.uk

Where ever you decide to go, happy travelling!

Darren
Escape Worldwidehttp://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Visit Thailand in 2010!

Escape Worldwide now have their full Thailand 2010 programme available. Check it our at http://www.thaiescapes.co.uk .

Or see our new newsletter with some highlights: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/special/Thaisep09.html

I’m a massive fan of Thailand and it has so much to offer. I have to own up and admit that the picture of the pool villa was my room….. simply stunning and far more affordable than you might think.

Bangkok is a great…mad place and defiantly worth a few nights….

Why not give us a call! 020 8555 5505!

Happy travelling

Darren

Friday, 25 September 2009

Latest Special offers from Escape Worldwide

Hi fellow travellers, the following is a like to our latest special offers:

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/sep09c2.html

We have a great offer to the stunning Maldives. I was there last year and it is a truly amazing place with powered white sand and crystal clear waters…..paradise!

We also have a good deal on a Kenya safari…. I have been to Kenya before and it is a brilliant place for a safari…..

Have just got back from a safari in Tanzania and also a short stay in Zanzibar so watch this space for my blogs!

Happy travelling!

Darren

Friday, 11 September 2009

More great holiday offers

Hi all,

We have some great holiday offers to Pattaya in Thailand, Cairo in Egypt and a great tour of Vietnam this week. Check them out: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Sep09b2.html

I was fortunate enough to go to Vietnam last year and it is a truly amazing place. The people are so open and friendly, which is surprising considering their checkered history. The food is great and there is so much to see and do. I loved Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), it's a mad place with motorcycles all over the place and it is a true challenge just to cross the road!

Cairo is another great place and when I came up to the Pyramids at Giza was pleasantly surprise to see that they didn't disappoint!

Happy travelling!

Darren

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Pattaya Day and Night

Mark discovered how Thailand’s party resort, Pattaya, is full of excitement and interest, day and night.

“Pattaya is one few parts of Thailand I hadn’t previously visited, so on a recent trip to Bangkok and Phuket I decide to make the short journey across from the capital to see what all the fuss is about! My whole trip to Thailand was only for four nights, so I extended by 24 hours just to get a feel for the place.

Pattaya’s a fairly large place – you’ll often see it described as a city on the beach – and unlike some of Thailand’s other beach resorts such as Phuket or Koh Samui that have their resort areas spread out, Pattaya is all in one location, giving it the feel of a bustling, lively, exciting location.

If you want to chill out and relax on holiday, this place may not be for you, but if you want fun-filled days with water sports, shopping and excursions, and exciting evenings of tasty Thai cuisine and lively nightlife, Pattaya is perfect!

I stayed just to the north of Pattaya’s central area, and this gave me a peaceful base for the daytime but fairly handy access for the nightlife later on. On a return trip I’d choose to stay anywhere from the Hard Rock Café northwards, or in the Cliff area of Pattaya – for me, the most central areas are perhaps a bit too lively, but the great thing with Pattaya is that there’s a location to suit most visitors.

In the afternoon I took a taxi down to Jomtien Beach, Pattaya’s second beach and a more peaceful option to the main beach area. Here, deckchairs sit under umbrellas and beach sellers bring you ice-cold drinks for next to nothing. Behind the beach there are some great small shops and restaurants, perfect for a snack if the heat of the day gets too much.

In the evening I hit central Pattaya, and after a dinner of my favourite Phad Thai (fried noodles, Thai-style) I was in Walking Street, a largely pedestrianised street at the end of the beach that really comes to life after dark. The street is crammed full of bars and clubs, and with loud music and a vibrant buzz, this is the place to be. I don’t think I’d be bringing a young family here, but if you’re in to the party scene elsewhere, Pattaya may just be for you!”

Links:
For holidays to Pattaya visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/thai/destin/pat.shtml
For all our holidays: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Latest Special offers from Escape Worldwide

Hi fellow travellers!

Check out our latest special offers: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Sep09a2.html

This week we have a great tour of China from only £989 per person. The tour is a great introduction to this amazing country and is exceptional value as it includes all your meals, tours and even your visa! (if you're a UK passport holder that is!)

Alternatively why not Zanzibar! This is a simply stunning island with amazing beaches and top quality hotels! Whilst you're there you should pay a visit to fascinating Stone Town! In fact I love the place and am going back again in a couple of weeks!

Why not check out some of the great holidays we offer at: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Happy travelling!

Darren

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Wildlife from the Great Rift Valley

We’ve just received a wildlife for the last few weeks from Loldia House, an old farmhouse converted and run by Governors Camps, most famous for their wonderful Masai Mara properties. Loldia House is located in the Great Rift Valley, so is ideal for exploring this fascinating part of Kenya.

LAKE NAIVASHA
July and early August brought dry weather and a chilly start to the day with early morning temperatures of as low as 17 degrees centigrade but by mid day temperatures had warmed to between 28 and 30 degrees centigrade with a mild north easterly wind blowing in the afternoons.

With no rain falling since June the grasslands on the ranch are drying out and the lake level has been ping forcing the Hippos to move into the deep waters of Lake Naivasha. There has been lots of animal traffic around the shores of the lake with big herds of waterbuck, eland, zebra and buffalo all grazing along the shoreline.
Birdlife has also been good with nice numbers of white/pink pelicans, terns, spoonbills and gulls being seen in the early mornings from the breakfast table. We have also had big flocks of wattled starlings feeding on the fruiting fig trees in front of the house.
We have had some lovely night game drives with leopard, hippo, Spring hares, Dik Dik, bushbuck, bat eared foxes, jackals and the Genet cats all making an appearance.

LAKE NAKURU
Throughout the month large numbers of flamingoes have been seen all around the lake but the number of Pelicans has gone down. The Park is currently home to lots of White Rhinos and the females are currently nursing their young.

The old black Rhino that had disappeared last month has made a re-appearance has relocated to the Croton bushes near the Park's main gate. The park is home to big herds of buffalo, impala, waterbuck, Grants and Thomson Gazelles, large troops of baboon and prides of lion.
We made several trips to Hells gate National Park during the month and enjoyed lovely sightings of Masai Giraffe, herds of buffalo, impala, eland, Cokes Hartebeest, waterbuck, Grants/Thomson Gazelles and warthogs with their young piglets.

For holidays to Kenya visit www.safariescapes.co.uk

For all the holidays we offer: www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Top 5.... Food Experiences

Hi fellow travellers!

Our latest newsletter focuses on various food experiences our staff have encountered during their travels.

From Satay in Malaysia to Lamb and Date stew in Muscat, we’ve had some fun trying out the local grub!

Check it out: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/top/food.html

More details of our various culinary delights can also be found on our website: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/escape/top/food.html

Bye for now!

Darren

Friday, 21 August 2009

Another week.... even more great offers

Hi everyone,

Blimey another week has pasted already, where does the time go? Anyway, check out this weeks great long haul holiday offers:

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Aug09c2.html

Some great destinations this week, with probably one of my fav, Cuba fly drives. Cuba is an amazing place and the best way to do it is on a fly drive!

Also we have a great Bali and Kuala Lumpur twin centre offer, chill out in gorgeous Bali before shopping for bargains in KL!

Happy travelling everyone!

Darren

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Holiday Costs in Singapore

Mark was asked to get some up to date holiday costs from Singapore for one of our guests visiting soon.

“Overall, the thing I found with Singapore is that prices vary depending on where you are, as they do in most major cities, so it's a case of keeping an eye on prices if you don't want to over-spend. Some parts of Singapore (mainly the office areas of the city centre or the expat hangouts) tend to be pricey (I'd equate them to London prices) but elsewhere it can be better value for money.

If you like Indian food I’d recommend staying in the hotel we stayed in, the Parkroyal on Kitchener Road. This hotel is located on the edge of the Little India area of Singapore, so within two blocks of the Hotel are literally dozens (if not hundreds!) of dining options for Indian cuisine.
Our best meal of our stay in Singapore (I'm travelling on this trip with my colleague Natalie, and it's her first visit to the region) was at a local food centre closer to the city centre, which had a dozen or more stalls each serving a few dishes. It was quick, tasty and great value – a starter of spring rolls was S$6 (less than £ 3) and my main course of friend noodles was S$7, and that was for the second size up, which was far too big! The only problem is that the food court didn't have a name, but it's on Victoria Street, immediately before the Allson Hotel, if you walk south from the Bugis Street area.

Beer can be a bit pricey if you're not careful, so keep an eye out for happy hours, as this can make quite a difference. We started at Boat Quay, a trendy area next to the river, where a mug of Tiger Beer was S$5 (about £ 2.50), which isn't too bad for a river view, opposite the Raffles landing statue with views of the skyscrapers. With dinner, though, a large bottle of Tiger (twice the size) was also $S5, at the Victoria Street food centre.

A great way to go sightseeing to my mind is the open top bus, and there are various options in Singapore – we did the Hippo Bus, which has two routes (one for the historic and cultural areas, and one for the city centre and shopping districts) – there are stops by most of the main hotels, so is dead easy. A full day pass is S$23, which is around £ 11 per person, but it may be worth checking out 2 day options if you have a little longer in Singapore than we did, and there's plenty to see from the bus!

The other easy option for getting around would be the underground. We stayed on the north-south line, and this line takes you to Boat Quay and to Chinatown, and we had a really good night out down here. From Chinatown station take the exit for Pagoda Street, which is lined with places to eat, drink and shop – great for a spot of people-watching. From there walk to Smith Street (which is signposted as Chinatown Food Street!) as this sets up with seemingly endless food stalls in the evening. I'm not entirely sure what I had for a main course, but it was delicious! The 10 satay sticks that Natalie & I shared for a starter were S$6.

If you go shopping in Orchard Road and are in need of lunch, there's a really good food centre in the basement of one of the office buildings, Orchard Towers, with an entrance off Orchard Road itself – it's just opposite the Hilton Hotel, and is the SBC Food Centre – I had chicken and rice, which came with soup and veg too, all for S$6, while Natalie's impressive seafood noodle soup, complete with prawns and squid, was only S$5.”

For holidays to Singapore visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/asia/destin/Sin.shtml

Or check out all our holidays at: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Latest holiday offers

Check out our latest holiday offers:

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Aug09b.html

We have some great deal to the Maldives at the moment, especially the 5* Sheraton Full Moon, which Karen in our office loves!

Or check out the deal we have to the Evason Hotel in Hua Hin. I stayed here in June and it is a beautiful hotel, perfect for a relaxing break....and what a deal too!

See you soon!

Darren

Thursday, 6 August 2009

BA Club World and First Class service

Karen recently went to San Francisco with British Airways on a work educational (someone has to!) and flew out in Business Class and back in First Class, to fully test their in-flight service.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of the world since I started working at Escape Worldwide, but never flown in any class other than economy, so this was a completely new experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed, as you can imagine! The difference between Economy and Business Class is very impressive, and I can now appreciate why people are willing to pay quite a lot of money for it - the main difference being the fact you can get a decent night’s sleep!

There are about 20 seats in Club World (British Airway’s Business Class service) in pairs which are next to each other, but the two people are facing each other. There’s a screen in between the two seats if you wish to put this up for extra privacy – personally, my neighbour was such a pleasure to chat to that I didn’t feel the need for the extra privacy! The flight starts with a glass of champagne then there’s a good choice of wines on offer. The meal is excellent, a 3 course meal with a choice in each course. There’s a proper table for when you have your meal, and when you’re ready for some sleep, the seat slides down to become a bed. The entertainment system offers a wide choice of films, TV, music and games. All in all, the combination of comfort, entertainment, good food and good company made the long journey fly by – literally!

So, having got a good night’s sleep (after a couple of glasses of wine!) on the outbound journey I was very impressed, as you can imagine! We had a great time in San Francisco – more of that another time – then flew back First Class. This was a totally new experience for me and I was speechless for a while when I boarded, which is something that doesn’t happen to me very often!

There were just 12 seats in First Class, with a similar style bed and the seats again in pairs, but this time next to each other. The table is bigger and it is possible to sit opposite each other whilst having dinner as you would in any restaurant. The menu was stunning, starting with canapés, and you can order your dinner whenever you like rather than it being at a set time. The entertainment system is similar to that in Club World. The staff (who in both classes were excellent) will make up your bed for you if you wish – the duvet and pillow are really comfy, as are the complimentary pyjamas!

All in all this was one of the best work trips I’ve ever been on, San Francisco was fantastic and it was made all the better by the two flights!”

Check out our website at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Escape Worldwide's latest holiday ideas

Check out Escape Worldwides latest holiday ideas:

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/newsletter/offers/Jul09d2.html

We have some great holiday ideas to Thailand and Egypt. Also Tanzania is a great place for an amazing safari.

Why not stop by: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

London 2012 - Working by the Olympics building site

Escape Worldwide’s offices are located in Stratford, East London, home of the 2012 Olympic Games. Over the past months we’ve gradually watched various venues being built, and with the Olympic stadium being just a 15 minute walk from our office, it’s been an interesting period – if somewhat chaotic! With three years to go, the pace is hotting up.

So here we are, 2 years after the initial announcement was made that the world was coming Stratford in 2012, and we have to admit, from our window we are very impressed with what has been going on. We’ve had a lot of disruption to normal life, with unannounced road closures causing traffic chaos being commonplace, noise from the demolition and reconstruction process becoming quite draining, and a semi-permanent layer of dust and dirt over everything, but the area is undergoing a really major transformation, so it’s nothing we didn’t expect.

Just outside our office block, Channelsea House, is a walkway and cycle path called the Greenway, which weaves its way through a few miles of East London. We are on the section that leads from the nearby underground station to the Olympic area, so this area is currently undergoing a major facelift - in fact the contractor that is doing the work is in the office next door to ours! They seem to be getting on with it well and lots of it has been resurfaced and being prepared for planting. One main problem though, is that we can’t have our windows open most of the time for all the noise coming from just outside - maybe the London Development Agency would like to treat us to some cooling fans!

The most impressive development, however, is in the distance from us - the Olympic Stadium, which we have seen take shape over the past months. It’s less than a mile from the office so we get a pretty good view, and can see the continued progress on almost a daily basis – just last week, the final pieces of the main support structure were put in to place.
At the start of the process, Channelsea House was earmarked to be demolished to make way for new walkways linking the nearby underground station to the Olympic Stadium. On the other side of the building, we overlook the Channelsea River, which links through to the River Lea, and this was to become a recreational area for boating and other activities. After various consultations and revamped plans (one even suggesting we just lost one end of our building including the lift shaft and front door – the planners don’t seem to have thought that idea through too carefully!) it was finally decided to leave things as they are, and scale back the plans for walkways and boating lakes. It’s good news for us as we didn’t really want to relocate, so the less disruption on our doorstep the better.

To be honest, I think all of us in the office were a little sceptical that we would ever see a stadium let alone so well in advance of 2012, especially after it seemed to take months to decided if our building was staying put just for a bit of greenery! For local people like us it has been hard work, the amount of extra lorries etc on the roads and road closures has meant getting to work can be a real nightmare - and it’s only going to get worse! Still, credit where credits due, from where we sit the stadium does look pretty impressive.

http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Facebook - Everyone's in it!

Everyone I know seems to be on Facebook, so not wanting to be left out Escape Worldwide has created a little page there!

Check it out at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/Escape-Worldwide/6825384971

Why not become a fan, we love seeing the numbers go up!

Cheers


http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Creating a twin centre holiday

Creating the perfect twin centre holiday requires the combination of a number of factors, and with our experience we can put together the ideal itinerary.

The first thing to consider is time, and how much of it you have. In many destinations, if you try to do things too quickly your memories will only be a blur, but if you spend too long in certain cities, things may get a bit much. Also bear in mind your total duration, of course. In busy cities such as Bangkok, three or four nights would be ideal to get to grips with it and to take in the main highlights – if you tried to do it all in a day you probably won’t remember much, but stay too long and the traffic will get to you! In Singapore, however, where things are more organised, a shorter trip will allow you to take things in without getting too hot & bothered.

Next thing is location. If you’re only looking at a short stopover before hitting the beach, then the location of your hotel is an important factor when it comes to making the most of your time. In Dubai, for example, stay in Deira or on Sheikh Zayed Road if you’re only in town for a few nights, as most of the city’s attractions can be reached easily from here. Beach hotels may have a more glamorous outlook, but if you spend most of your time travelling to the sights, then you’re not making the most of your time. In Hong Kong, a short stopover in an Island hotel may leave you spending more than you would had you been in Kowloon – many of the Island’s bars and restaurants charge a premium for their central location, in the heart of the business district, where expense accounts normally pick up the tab.

Cost, obviously, is also an important factor. Turing a beach holiday in to a twin centre itinerary is easy if you’re already flying via your second location, but often, adding in a new location involves more flights with different airlines, and costs can start to increase considerably. If you’re flexible, ask us for the best deals. A great example of this is Bali, where flight options change quickly.

The combination of Hong Kong and Bali is cost-effective when the cheapest flight seats are available, but as soon as we’ve sold out of these, prices increase quickly. However, travelling via Bangkok tends to be great value year-round, especially with cost-effective hotels in Bangkok starting at around £ 18 per person per night. There are also great deals with Singapore Airlines from time to time, making Singapore the best value twin centre combination, but at the moment, Malaysia Airlines are the most cost-effective, so if you’re flexible, a Kuala Lumpur plus Bali twin centre works best. It’s all down to the best deal for when you’re travelling, as to which is the best value combination.

The best way to your perfect twin centre holiday is to ask someone who’s been – and that’s us!

Have a look at the places we can offer at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Or some more specialist websites:

Thailand: http://www.thaiescapes.co.uk
Asia: http://www.asiaescapes.co.uk

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Wild man of Borneo and the Beach!

Karen visited the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre when she was on holiday in Borneo.

“Ever since I’ve worked in travel I’ve had a fascination with Orang Utans, and have always wanted to see them in the wild. Every time I’ve booked a holiday to Borneo I’ve got quite excited at the possibility of going myself, so when two of my friends suggested we went on holiday to the Far East together, I persuaded them to include Borneo in the trip!

We spent a few nights at the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru, a lovely hotel set close to Kota Kinabalu town but right on the beach – a perfect combination of high standards and relaxation plus local restaurants, bars and shops close by. One of my friends spent a few days diving while we chilled out on the beach – an ideal way to relax after a hectic few days shopping and sightseeing in Kuala Lumpur!

We’d booked an overnight trip to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, located a short flight from Kota Kinabalu on Borneo’s east coast. The centre is a sanctuary for orphaned and sick Orang Utans from the surrounding area, and visitors can get close (but not too close!) to these amazing creatures. The younger ones seem permanently curious but always sleepy, as they spend time with the centre staff.

As the younger Orang Utans become older, the process of rehabilitation in to the wild begins, and we were lucky enough to visit the jungle around the centre to see the Orang Utansd learning how to live in the wild once more. Seeing them in the centre was very special, but seeing these majestic creatures in the wild was even more so!

We were so impressed with the Sepilok centre and the work they do that we decided to sponsor one of the residents, so now Sogo the Orang Utan has three new friends in the UK, as well as her jungle friends in Borneo.!

For holidays to Borneo visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/asia/destin/Mbor.shtml

View our Borneo photo gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Borneo%20Photo%20Gallery/

Friday, 10 July 2009

A few place that Escape Worldwide has visited!

Just some of the places that the staff at Escape Worldwide have visited:







Exploring Cape Town

Following a recent visit to South Africa, Mark ended up in Cape Town after a week-long drive along the Garden Route:

“South Africa is such a diverse country that a drive through part of it turned out to be really rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable. I’d never done a driving holiday before, but I really liked the flexibility and independence, being able to go where we wanted, when we wanted. Picnics on the beach for breakfast (as dolphins swam past on one morning!), seafront cafes for a quick break, stops to take in the view over False Bay to the Cape of Good Hope or to see the penguins at Betty’s Bay, just because we wanted to!

We’d driven about 1500 km from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, via Knysna, Wilderness, Arniston and Hermanus, arriving in to Cape Town from the winelands at Stellenbosch and the Cape of Good Hope National Park. After the best part of a week on generally peaceful roads and in small towns, Cape Town was a bit of a culture shock! We drove in via the Lion’s Hill pass at Table Mountain, which gives you a spectacular view of the city (coming in on the main highway from the airport makes the city to feel quite industrial) but as it was Friday afternoon and rush hour was kicking in, it was best to get off the roads as quickly as possible. We were staying on St George’s Mall in the heart of the city centre, so we were able to explore most areas on foot.
Cape Town has many different facets, and a good way to take them all in is on the ubiquitous open top bus, which links the city centre with the Waterfront, Table Mountain and some of the outlying beaches – a perfect combination of highlights. First stop was Table Mountain, as the skies were clear and the top was visible – the weather can change very quickly and the cable car only runs when the clouds move away, so we were straight up. Despite my dislike of heights and a cable car that rises at an alarming rate while rotating (close your eyes if you’re anything like me!) we made it to the top for some simple stunning views back down to the city on one side and along the Cape Peninsular, where we’d been the previous day, to the other.

The bus took us on via the Kirstenbosch Gardens to the Atlantic Seaboard, where we stopped off for lunch at Camps Bay. A lovely stretch of sand is a local magnet for fashionable young things, so feeling well out of place we headed back in to the city. The city centre is fairly quiet at the weekend, so we headed to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a development of hotels, shops and restaurants that merge in with what is still a working harbour. After a spot of shopping for a few bottles of wine that we’d spent an afternoon in Stellenbosh conducting extensive research in to, we headed for the nearest bar to soak up the sunshine and the atmosphere in this most delightful, fascinating city.“

For holidays to Cape Town visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/far/destin/AFsosc.html

View our Cape Town photo gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Cape%20Town%20Photo%20Gallery/

For all of our holidays visit: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Bargain Hunting in Chiang Mai Thailand

Karen spent some time experiencing Chiang Mai’s excellent shopping options!

“Chiang Mai is one of my favourite parts of Thailand – I love the mix of modern and ancient, with beautiful temples next to buzzing street markets and funky bars. The shopping here is fabulous – there’s everything from modern department stores and glitzy shopping centres to night markets and the renowned night bazaar – it’s a shoppers paradise!
I was staying close to the night bazaar in Chang Klan Road – each evening this area of Chiang Mai comes to life as the street is lined with shops and stalls selling everything from souvenirs to clothes – there’s a huge range of goods with what I can only presume are less-than authentic credentials, including CD’s and DVD’s, t-shirts, handbags, sunglasses and watches. Prices here seem cheaper than Bangkok – even though Bangkok itself seems remarkably low when you first arrive! This is a good location to stay in if you visit Chiang Mai – it’s a short taxi ride to the old city, and a 10 minute walk to the river, where there are some excellent restaurants and bars – I even did a dinner cruise along the river, which was great fun!
A friend I was visiting in Chiang Mai told me about a new street market that’s recently opened, located in the old city close to the Phra Singh temple, a local landmark. The market only operates once a week, whereas the night bazaar is daily, but the quality of goods here seemed really high, and there were some imaginative souvenirs for sale. There’s also an excellent food area serving cheap and tasty meals and snacks – I had a superb plate of mee grob, Thai crispy fried noodles, with a cold bottle of Singha beer (a personal favourite of mine!) all for £ 1.50!

Next day I headed off to one of Chiang Mai’s glitzy new shopping centres, for some air-con retail therapy. The Central Airport Plaza is only a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride from the night market, but is a world away in terms of style. There’s a branch of Central department store, plus dozens of other shops, an aquarium and a cinema. There’s excellent local food in the basement, although after a little while window shopping I headed back over to the more local – and to my mind more Thai – street markets. Fun, cheap and easy – my idea of perfect shopping!”

For holidays to Chiang Mai visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/thai/destin/cnx.shtml

For all the holidays we offer go to: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Friday, 3 July 2009

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A place we have been....The Maldives


Darren visited the Maldives last year:




“The Maldives is one of those destinations that’s never really interested me, so when the opportunity came up to go, I was fascinated to see what all the fuss was about – and I was so glad I made it! Much as I love beach holidays, I also like things to see and places to visit while on holiday. The thought of spending a week or two on one island, in one hotel, doesn’t really appeal – I need local restaurants to try, local bars to discover and shops to buy souvenirs in. I’m not very good at lazing around and doing nothing, be it on holiday or at home!
As the Maldives doesn’t really offer this style of holiday, I was a little apprehensive – but I shouldn’t have been! The first thing that struck me was the sheer beauty of the place – I hadn’t realised that beaches and the sea could be so stunning. Small islands often encircled by white sand, clear blue seas teaming with coulourful fish – there are no dramatic landscapes, no historic sights and no cultural buildings to speak of, but the simple beauty of the islands is really breathtaking.
Alarmingly, I got in to the whole ‘no news no shoes’ thing very quickly, and found myself chilling out where normally I’d be getting out and about and seeing the sights. I somehow managed to lose almost an entire day without really realising – a short stroll to a sandbank, a bit of snorkelling and a bite to eat, and suddenly the sun is sinking in the sky and it’s time to change for dinner!
Before I visited the Maldives I really wouldn’t have said it was for me, but I could really get used to doing absolutely nothing on holiday!”

Check out Darren’s Maldives photo gallery at http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Maldives%20Photo%20Gallery/
For more details of holidays to the Maldives visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/ind/destin/mle.shtml

See all our holidays at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Natalie Visits Havana

Natalie visited Cuba recently:
“It was my first trip to this fascinating place - I visited Varadero, the beautiful countryside of Pinar del Rio and historic Trinidad, but my favourite place was Havana. I’ve been to various parts of the Caribbean in the past, but nowhere quite like Havana – it seems at times like half of it is falling down, but the charm is immediate and the character is like nowhere else I’ve been.
I loved the atmosphere of the place – some of Havana’s buildings look like they’re about to collapse, and you don’t come here for the shopping, but this all added to the feeling of a city that’s worth exploring. We had a walking tour of Old Havana (I never really did get my bearings, though, as it’s a maze of cobbled streets, lovely squares and touristy markets) and my favourite bit was having a leisurely coffee in Plaza De Armas, just watching the world go by! It’s the kind of city I could spend a lot of time getting to know, so I’m already planning a return trip!
I think my favourite hotel would be the Hotel Saratoga, as I love the combination of colonial charm and modern features. The location is superb, and many of the rooms have spectacular views over the Capitolio Building – the suites ooze character, and a Mojito at the lovely bar is a great way to start an evening!
Havana is the kind of city where you could find different areas to explore each time you visit – one visit isn’t enough!”
Check out Natalie’s Havana photo gallery at http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Havana%20Photo%20Gallery/
For more details of holidays to Havana visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/cuba/destin/hav.shtml

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Rose-Red City of Petra

On a trip to Jordan, Mark explored the famed city of Petra.
“I’m a huge fan of the Middle East’s history, with locations such as Abu Simbel in Egypt and Crac Des Chevaliers in Syria amongst my favourites. Somewhere like Jordan packs so much history in to such a small country – it’s truly fascinating. Petra has always been on my list of places to see (probably as a result of the Indiana Jones movies!) so when I was in Aqaba, there was no excuse not to visit. Being August, though, high temperatures meant that it was going to be hot going!
The entrance to Petra is really breathtaking – you’ve probably seen it on TV, but the narrow gap in the rocks known as the Siq that opens up in to the city itself makes for a spectacular entrance – with 200 metre high cliffs towering above you, the sense of adventure is at its height. Petra itself covers a fairly large area, so I found it useful to break it up in to different areas, to make the most of the location – and to avoid overdoing things in the heat! The first ‘building’ you come to as you pass through the Siq is probably its most famous – thanks, again, to Indiana Jones! The Treasury is a spectacular monument that’s beautifully carved on the outside, but a hollow chamber on the inside – a stark reminder that Petra wasn’t built from the rock – it was carved out of it.
As you pass along the Street of Facades, you’ll come to the Theatre – at this point I was able to imagine how the city would have been when it was at its height, buzzing with people passing along the main thoroughfare, stopping at the theatre or continuing on to other parts of the city.
At the furthest end of Petra is the Monastery – well worth the walk, it’s the largest structure in the City. Also known as the Dier, little is known about it, and as it feels somewhat tucked away, I had the feeling that its history wasn’t entirely peaceful. Its size is overwhelming – the entrance door to the inner chamber is eight metres high, and the façade itself is over 40 metres long.
If your feet can take it (and mine could but only after a long rest under a shady tree!) head to the High Place, located on top of the mountain with impressive views – you can either take the 700 steps (as I did) or a donkey may be an easier option – personally, it looked a safer bet to walk! The High Place was a point of worship and ceremony – try to imagine the 700 steps as part of a processional route.
If you find yourself in Aqaba or one of the nearby Red Sea resorts, make the effort to go to Petra – it really is one of the most fascinating sites I’ve been to, and well worth the effort to go – although next time I may avoid the hottest time of year!"For details of holidays to Aqaba visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/red/destin/aqaba.shtml

More details of the holidays we offer can be found at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

New wedding section added to our website

Hi,

We have added a new wedding section to our website at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk .

The new area of Escape Worldwide's website: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/weddings includes wedding packages to some of our most popular destinations. These include weddings in Kenya, Tanzania, Bali, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and many more. Check out the links for your chosen area:

East Africa: Weddings on safari in Kenya or Tanzania or weddings on the beach in Zanzibar or Mombasa: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/weddings/wedsaf.shtml

Indian Ocean: Wedding in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Zanzibar: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/weddings/wedind.shtml

Far East: Weddings in Thailand, including Phuket, Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Krabi and Koh Lanta. Wedding in Bali: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/weddings/wedfar.shtml

Our staff at Escape Worldwide have travelled to pretty much all of the destinations so we have first hand knowledge of these place.

Happy travelling!

Bath time in Sri Lanka

A while ago Karen visited the Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage as part of a tour of Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka has to be one of my favourite countries – I’ve visited a few times now, and on each occasion I see new places and a different side to the Island. There’s so much to take in, so it’s hard to say where my favourite location would be, but I think I’d put the Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage top of my list! It’s quite easy to get to from the coast, too, so even if you visit Sri Lanka on a beach holiday rather than a tour, try to get here.
If you get here quite early, you can see the elephants in their forested area, a short way from the river and with plenty of space for the elephants to roam around in. The younger ones are fed huge bottles of milk, which are glugged down in seconds!
Then it’s off to the river for bath time! It’s a short walk from the elephants (and for the visitors!) from their fields to the river, and a local restaurant offers a great viewing area – and is also perfect for a cooling drink in the tropical climate. As the elephants step in to the river, it’s the younger ones that take centre stage. Their excitement is obvious, as they start splashing in the water and jumping on to the rocks! The elephant handlers give them a good scrub in the water, making them lie down so that they can reach them properly – even a baby elephant is the size of a car.
It’s easy to build a visit to the Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage in to a holiday to Sri Lanka, and many of our tours include it anyway – but even if you’re planning a week or two simply relaxing on the beach (and I admit that it’s very tempting to do absolutely nothing in Sri Lanka as the beaches are beautiful!) I’d really urge you to find the time to drag yourself away from the beach to visit this excellent elephant sanctuary.”
Links:
Main page: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/ind/destin/sriT.shtml
Gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Sri%20Lanka%20Inland%20Photo%20Gallery/

More from #Escape #Worldwide: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shopping in Hong Kong

“Hong Kong is renowned for its shopping, and we spent a day taking in some of the different options on offer. First stop was the renowned Nathan Road, often called the “Golden Mile” for its shopping opportunities. Starting at the harbour and heading north, Nathan Road is Hong Kong’s commercial heart, and offers everything from jewellery and souvenirs to hi-fi’s and cameras. It’s a hectic, full-on part of the City, although Kowloon Park, located part way up Nathan Road, offers a welcome respite to the hubbub of the shopping.
We weren’t just window-shopping, though – we were on a mission! First on our list was a Sony PSP, so we headed to the shopping centres of Tsim Sha Tsui East, where the cheapest electronic gadgets could be found. This area of Kowloon is built on reclaimed land and is home to various shopping centres – compare prices in different shops before you buy, and be sure to take your knowledge of other shops prices with you to barter the prices down. We managed to get the price down quite considerably, and a free game thrown in too! What’s more, this being the Far East, we got the latest model in a limited edition colour.
Next on the list was Tiger Balm, the Far East’s miracle cure-all – OK, so you can buy it in the UK and on pretty much every street corner across the Far East, but in the spirit of shopping, we headed to the Temple Street area of Kowloon, an area with a traditional Chinese feel. Temple Street itself comes to life at night with its superb night market, but we headed for a department store for our purchase as it was daytime. For a city that’s had such a strong British influence for so many years, Hong Kong can be surprisingly ‘Chinese’ at times, and this area of Kowloon typifies this - we did manage to get our purchase in the department store, but it really felt that we’d entered a different country to the westernised glitz further down Nathan Road.
Finally, I wanted to get a Maneki Neko – a Chinese lucky cat – for our office, as they’re supposed to bring prosperity (even the plastic, battery operated ones!) so it was back down to Nathan Road, where you can buy anything and everything. A couple of shops and HKG$20 later and I’d got exactly what I wanted – a gold, waving cat that now sits proudly on our filing cabinet!
Our advice for a day shopping in Hong Kong would be to treat it as a sightseeing trip, rather than a shopping expedition – take in the different areas of the city to buy different items. It’s good to have specific items in mind as there’s simply so much on offer, and bartering in certain shops is the name of the game – know what you want to pay before you even leave your hotel!”
Links:
For holidays to Hong Kong visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/asia/destin/Hkg.shtml
View our Hong Kong photo gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Hong%20Kong%20General%20Photo%20Gallery/
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Friday, 12 June 2009

Getting Around Bangkok

Bangkok’s traffic congestion is notorious, so on a recent trip to the Thai capital, Mark looked at different ways of getting around!

“The first time I came to Bangkok was 1991, and I can remember to this day taking four hours to get from the edge of town to the city centre – a journey that should have taken half an hour on a good day. 17 years later, things have improved with new forms of transport, but the City’s traffic is still amongst the worst in Asia. Beating the jams is considered sport in Bangkok!
The best thing to happen to Bangkok’s transport system is the fantastic Skytrain, an easy to use monorail network that links most of the areas of the city that are important to the visitor. Frequent and air-conditioned, the high-level tracks give excellent views of the city centre and the stations are well located. An unlimited day pass costs about £1.50 – worth it for the air-con alone!
For a more traditional view of the city, take the Skytrain to Taksin station and walk down the steps to the river. Here, express boats zip up and down the river, offering a bus-style service to points up and down the river – take the boat to the Grand Palace, Wat Po or the Temple of Dawn – a local boat will cost you around 10p. It’s more than just transport, though, as the boats are a way of life, and you’ll see daily life Bangkok-style while aboard.
It’s essential to take a tuk-tuk ride while in Bangkok – not for the faint-hearted, though, and make sure not to put your arms outside of the vehicle, as they’ll squeeze through the narrowest of spaces, whether you like it or not! Typically Thai, tuk-tuk’s are open-sided three-wheel vehicles that wiz around parts of the city that are heavily congested – you’ll get a face-full of fumes and a street-level view of the city – if you keep your eyes open! Bargain hard before you get in, though, as there seems to be two price brackets – one for locals and one for tourists.
To complete my circuit of Bangkok, I took a tuk-tuk to Hualamphong station, Bangkok’s main railway station, and the starting point for the City’s latest transport system, the underground MRT subway. As a London underground user, Bangkok’s MRT is a breath of fresh air, with air-con trains, spacious stations and surprisingly few users. The system is efficient and links Hualamphong to Silom Road, the Convention Centre and the Sukhumvit areas of the city. Personally, I find the Skytrain to be the best form of transport in the city as it has the advantage of giving great views from it’s high-level tracks, so I’d always stay in a hotel that has easy access to the network!“
Links:
Main page: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/thai/destin/bkk.shtml
Gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Bangkok%20Photo%20Gallery/

Visit #EscapeWorldwide for loads of holiday ideas: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Being James Bond

“On a recent trip to Southern Thailand, we were looking for some adventure, but nothing too strenuous – no mountaineering, white water rafting or getting up close to wildlife. We preferred a softer option, with a bit of glamour thrown in.
We decided to hire a speedboat for the day and head out from Krabi to the surrounding islands and coastline of Phang Nga Bay. This has to be amongst the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and as we were visiting in July, when the area was quiet due to it being low season, it felt like we had the whole area to ourselves! This is an excellent time to travel if you don’t mind some rain, generally in the evenings, and can take advantage of the lower prices and more peaceful beaches.
Our day of glamour and excitement started at breakfast, when there was a call to say that our speedboat had arrived at the jetty for us – not your usual start to the day. Our twin engine speedboat, complete with two crew, was going to take us to wherever we wanted to go – we decided to head towards Koh Yao, and to the small islands of Koh Hong and Koh Phak Bia. As we picked up speed and left our hotel and Krabi behind, the speedboat bounced along the water in the sun, passing headlands and islands – it felt just like being in a Bond movie!
After half an hour or so we came to Koh Hong, so-called because of its internal cave (‘hong’ means ‘room’ in Thai), with its picture-perfect crescent of white sand, topped with towering limestone cliffs at both ends. The water was so clear you could see the fish and coral as the boat came to shore! We spend a leisurely hour or so snorkelling and chilling out, feeling like we’d moved from ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ to ‘The Beach’. Eventually, a second boat arrived on the island, so it was time for us to move on to somewhere even quieter – we wanted a whole island to ourselves!
We zipped along once more, passing towering limestone outcrops and small islands circled by white beaches, before arriving at tiny Koh Phak Bia, our very own deserted island! Little more than a rocky outcrop and a finger of sand, we spent the afternoon chilling out and taking it all in. We’d come prepared with a picnic – cold fried rice in a polystyrene tray and a bag of chillis to add some heat, together with a bottle of cheap fizzy wine from the local 7-Eleven – more backpacker than Bond, but a perfect way to spend the day!“
Links:
Main page: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/thai/destin/kbv.shtml
Gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Krabi%20Photo%20Gallery/

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Temples. Rugs and Pigeons

I was recentlyh on a trip to Egypt with #EscapeWorldwide. I’m a big fan of Egypt and its history – to my mind it’s the kind of history that’s obvious. Perhaps I was scarred at school by visits to Roman ruins that looked more like a pile of rocks than the remains of a powerful civilization, but these days I’m not too in to historical sights, but Egypt is different. Here, history comes alive and you can really see how these temples and statues that are thousands of years old would have been in their heyday. What’s more, you don’t have to travel too far, or get too far off the beaten track, to take it all in – my idea of ideal history!
Luxor itself is the main gateway to Upper Egypt’s historical highlights, and while you won’t get to see the Pyramid at Giza from here, most other well-known Egyptian sites are easily accessible for the town. It’s a fairly small town that’s straightforward to negotiate, focussed along the east bank of the Nile, giving the town an impressive setting. The Corniche that runs along the Nile itself is home to many of Luxor’s hotels, while away from the river is the more traditional part of town, with local restaurants and the market area. This part of town is perfect for picking up a bargain, so long as your bartering skills are up to scratch! I picked up a rather colourful rug, made of camel hair (or so I’m told) that cost me £15 – a bargain (or so I’d told) as the seller was losing money himself (or so I’m told). Still, it looks excellent at home and you won’t see anything quite like it on the high street!
Let’s talk temples. If you spend some time in Upper Egypt there’s a risk you may get temple-overload. There are dozens of amazing temples and monuments that, in most locations, would be a major attraction in their own right. Here, where there are so many amazingly preserved temples and monuments, you’ll do well to come away knowing the difference between Nefertari and Nefertiti. To my mind, the Temple of Karnak, Valley of the Kings and Temple of Hapshetsut are the most impressive sights in the Luxor area. If you’re on a Nile cruise, the setting of the Temple of Philae near Aswan is simply stunning, while the Temples of Abu Simbel, in the far south of Egypt are perhaps the single most impressive historical site I’ve ever been to – personally, I rate them above the Pyramids (although Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Java are up there too!) – a bit more effort to get to, but really worthwhile. The great thing about Luxor is that these amazing temples and monuments are easily accessible – the Temple of Karnak, for example, is a few minutes by taxi from most hotels, and the town itself is only a five hour flight from the UK!
Away from the temples, I spent one morning in the market, shopping – other than the colourful rug (and a particularly iffy alabaster carving of Nefertiti herself that’s unlikely to appear on the mantelpiece any day soon) I came away laden with spices at rock-bottom prices - big bags of black pepper, coriander seeds and cardamom, far cheaper that you’d get them for in the UK. I’m always one for trying local food, too, and the market area is good for this – one evening I plumped for pigeon, and while it wasn’t the meatiest of birds, it was certainly a very local experience! That’s the great thing about Egypt – it’s so close and so easy to visit, but it’s still a fascinating place with a huge amount of interest, and you’ll be sure to have a very local experience.

More details of our Egypt Holidays can be found at: http://www.redseaescapes.co.uk

Our full range of holidays: http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk

Friday, 5 June 2009

Lazy Days in the Maldives

Darren recently spent five nights in the Maldives, hopping between islands to check out the facilities on offer, and generally doing very little in the Indian Ocean sun – he’d call it hard work but we know better!
“I’d be the first to admit that the Maldives isn’t the kind of destination I’d normally go for, as I tend to like getting out and about, exploring local places and eating in different restaurants when I’m on holiday. However, after a few days here, I’m smitten! I’m amazed just how easy I found it to do absolutely nothing, and I’m already planning a return trip.
Take somewhere like Kuramathi Island, for example – three resorts on one island stretching over 2 kilometres, with some shared facilities and enough going on to keep me entertained, but plenty of space to chill out. After a leisurely breakfast we set off to the tip of the island, not really realising that we’d be covering the entire 2 km to get there! At the tip of the island is a sand bar that stretches off in to the distance – picture postcard stuff, with the bluest sea imaginable lapping the sand bar and the clearest sky above. We spent a few minutes taking it all in, paddling in the sea and lying on the sand, before heading in to some shade – the sun in this part of the world is very intense!
Next in our active day of doing very little was snorkelling – had we been more energetic diving was on offer, but that would have meant we actually had to do something, and I was getting in to the whole theory of doing very little surprisingly well! The snorkelling in the Maldives is superb – straight off the beach and you’re immersed in another world. As with many islands, Kuramathi has a large lagoon that’s ideal for snorkelling, and at the edge of this is a wall of coral where the sea suddenly deepens. The reef sharks kind of put me off getting too close, although it did seem a little like hard work to get there.
After all that activity it was time to relax, so I took a good book and sat on my balcony, chilling out. Later in the afternoon, a shoal of stingray come to the shore to be fed, while herons look on and tease the fish – or maybe the fish tease the herons, it’s hard to say! And there’s only one way to finish off such a relaxing day of doing very little – in the bar, with a cool beer. Here, though, the bar is on the beach, with bean bags dotted across the sand. Heaven!”
Check out Darren’s photo gallery at http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Maldives%20Photo%20Gallery/
For more details of holidays to the Maldives visit http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/ind/destin/mle.shtml

Friday, 20 February 2009

More of our safari experiences!

Mark visited the Masai Mara in April.
“I was lucky enough to go on safari earlier this year, and loved every minute of it! I’ve been to Kenya several times in the past, but as with many of the trips I do, most of the time is spent visiting the hotels Escape Worldwide features - this time, though, I spent more time on safari, really getting to experience Kenya’s amazing diversity. It’s great visiting different hotels around the world, but sometimes it’s more fun to do what holidaymakers actually do while away!
One morning on the Masai Mara we did a game drive for a few hours, setting off as the sun was coming up. We were staying at the Mara Serena Lodge, an impressive property with spectacular views across the sweeping plains of the Mara from its position on top of a ridge, and the area around the property was rich with wildlife. It was so quiet, and the scenery was stunning. The highlight of the game drive (if not my whole trip to Kenya!) was when we came across a cheetah and her two cubs. She was just as interested in us as we were in her, but she had a purpose in her interest – she wanted to use our vehicle as a lookout point, so jumped on the back of the van, and then on to the roof! It was totally amazing - although quite scary at the time as even the driver admitted this hadn’t happened to him before! After a minute or two scanning the horizon from her new-found lookout post, she hopped back down and returned to her cubs, losing interest in us as quickly as she’d found it.
A few minutes later we were overlooking the Mara River, where a group of hippos were in residence. To us, their loud calls sounded a little like laughter, and as they swam and bounced through the water it seemed like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves – realistically, they were more likely to be defending themselves, as we then came across a baby hippo that had lost it’s battle the night before, and a group of hyenas were taking advantage.
A trip to the Masai Mara, to my mind, is the kind of thing that everyone should do once in a lifetime – I’ve been privileged to visit twice now, and I’m really hoping to return one day too.”
Links:
Check out Mark’s Safari photo gallery at http://www.escapeworldwide.co.uk/saf/destin/safken.shtml
For more details of holidays to Kenya visit http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Safari%2008%20photo%20gallery/

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Elephants on the move in Kenya

On a trip to the Masai Mara, Darren found himself in the middle of a family of elephants – quite literally.
“One of the best things about a safari is that every day is different, and you never know what you’re likely to encounter. I spent one night at the Governors Camp on the Masai Mara, and did two game drives in to the local area. This area of the western Masai Mara is really rich in wildlife, and is particularly well know for its cats – so much so that the BBC film the ‘Big Cat Diaries’ in this area. However, on this particular trip it was the local elephant population that caught my attention.
On the first afternoon of my stay our driver had spotted a herd of elephants in the distance – I still don’t know how he’d seen them as they were well out of my view, and even when they were pointed out to me they still looked like dots on the horizon! As we drew closer, the driver stopped our vehicle and turned the engine off, right in the path of these amazing creatures. They continued with their walk across the plains, barely pausing to pay us any attention, yet they were so close to us – some were merely metres away. I counted 25 animals in the herd – a family unit, our driver told us. There were a few younger animals in the group, including one that the driver estimated to be just a few weeks old, trying hard to keep up with everyone else by holding on to his mother’s tail with his trunk! One elephant paused by our vehicle and checked us out with his trunk, passing over the bonnet to investigate what we were – presumably we were neither food nor threat, so the herd passed us by, heading for a wooded area on the horizon.
Next morning we had a typically early start, and headed off from the camp to a similar area we’d been in during the previous afternoon. Again, our driver spotted something in the distance – and it turned out to be the same family of elephants that we’d been mesmerised by yesterday! Our driver explained that they would have headed to the wooded area to spend the night, and were now heading back to the open plains for feeding. There was one notable difference though – today, there were around 30 animals in the herd, more than the previous day! Clearly, the family unit had met up with others, perhaps more from the same unit that had gone their separate way beforehand, or perhaps they’d adopted other animals that may have been abandoned by their own family group - I’ll never know!”

View our elephant photo gallery: http://www.farawayescapes.co.uk/gallery/Escape%20Worldwide%20Elephants%20Photo%20Gallery/ For holidays to Kenya visit http://www.safariescapes.co.uk/