A Different Side of Mai Chau

Most seasoned travelers in Vietnam already know the enchanting White Thai communities of Mai Chau Valley in Hoa Binh Province.

But in the same lush valley, a group of ethnic Mong communities have begun opening their doors to tourists in Pa Co Commune.

Boasting the same rigid mountains and rich rice fields as Lac and Pom Coong hamlets, where the White Thai have been welcoming home stays for years, Pa Co also offers a centuries’ old tea forest that’s still cultivated today.

About 73 kilometers southwest of Hanoi, Mai Chau is only reachable via one of Vietnam’s most scenic drives.

After exiting the city, the road hikes up into the green limestone mountains, revealing fresh rice paddies and fruit orchards below. In the summer, each orchard is a different color as the fruits begin to ripen.

Behind the crowded shops that flank certain parts of the road, crystal clear canals and patches of jungle shine in the distance. As you approach Mai Chau Valley, traditional stilt houses can be seen interjecting themselves between the modern homes. As the road descends into Mai Chau Town, the difference is clear: modern homes along the road, stilt houses in the valley’s rice paddies.

A little over a decade ago, Mong locals in the area still lived as nomads. But now, many have settled in Pa Co Hamlet to farm tea or enter the tea processing trade in nearby Tra Day Hamlet. Here, locals offer tourists the local specialty, Shan Tuyet tea, made from trees that have been growing in Mai Chau’s highest mountains for hundreds of years.

According to Pha, director of a local tea processing business, Pa Co Hamlet is famous for its tea trees, about which the Mong communities still tell a local legend. According to the story, the trees appeared on Pa Hang Mountain hundreds of years ago when yellow -beaked phoenixes scattered tea seeds throughout the area because they liked eating tea tree fruit. It is said that the trees in the northwestern mountains of Vietnam were their favorite. The tea trees grew incredibly fast and soon formed a forest thanks to both the superb tea-growing climate and the special seeds scattered by the phoenixes.

Pa Co’s tea forest still has more than 1,000 old trees. These days, tourists can visit Pa Co to walk through the forest and sample the Mong’s centuries’ old tea recipes.

VietNamNet/Thanh Nien

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The Best Summer Getaway In Venezuela

After a long, cold winter one awaits the lovely, warmth of summer. Everyone needs a break from the humdrum of our daily schedules and what better place to relax and rejuvenate oneself than the lovely beaches of Venezuela. A very good choice would be the Margarita Island with more than 60 beautiful beaches to choose from. When one thinks of this exotic destination, the next thought would be the accommodation. Isla De Margarita Island Accommodations will suggest to you a range of places to stay-from rooms to villas-whatever may suit you and your family.

The Choice Of Accommodation Available

The island of Margarita has so much to offer to the tourist who has come to visit, hoping for an unforgettable holiday. The lovely, sunny beaches are not too crowded, so the holiday makers can enjoy a peaceful break. There are many places on rent near the beaches too. The English speaking staff at these Isla Margarita Vacation Rentals will be more than willing to help with any kind of directions or tips. Depending upon the number of members in your group you can rent a one room apartment, one or double rooms, rooms with air conditioning or maybe rent out half a villa or an entire villa. All of them come with baths attached, satellite television, internet connection, refrigerators and even a laundry service. A lovely breakfast taken at your leisure can also be enjoyed in the dining room or on the warm terrace.

Attractive Packages On Offer

Isla Margarita Vacation Rentals offer very exciting packages to lure the tourists to their wonderful island. Some of these offers starting from 1 week to more than 2 weeks will include discounted tickets and stay, food will be provided along with trips to the beach, shopping trips to nearby Porlamar, a tour of the island and visits to nearby islands and places of interest. For those keen on trying some sports activities, a day out to experience scuba diving and snorkelling can be arranged. All these packages are very reasonable and one could definitely enjoy a trip of a lifetime, along with family and friends without feeling the pinch.;l

Tips That Could Help

The island is easily accessible. There is an airport at Porlamar, where you can rent taxis or get a bus ride to any of the hotels. Buses are cheap and safe and it is a very enjoyable ride. If one would prefer to drive, make sure to take your license along. All around the island there are beautiful villages with restaurants selling fresh and tasty fish. When one books through Isla De Margarita Island Accommodations, they could enjoy the lovely seafood the great shopping and the lovely sunsets, being assured of a very economical yet enjoyable vacation.

The Historical Site of The Kelaniya Temple

Kelaniya is one of the small towns situated close to the commercial capital Colombo. The urban village lies on the bank of the Kelani River and is most popular for its great temple.

As mentioned in the Buddhist chronicle, the Mahawamsa, Lord Buddha in the 5th century BCE arrived to Sri Lanka at the site of the temple. His arrival was on invitation by the King of Kelaniya at the time, King Maniakkitha. The Buddha was invited to preach the Dhamma and the throne on which he sat is the relic that is now housed in the temple. The town is of significant historical importance, once being the provincial capital of King Kelani Tissa in the 1st century BCE whose daughter Queen Vihara Maha Devi gave birth to the great King Dutugemunu.

In connection with the epic of Ramayana, the story narrates the instance when Prince Vibhishana of Kelaniya builds an alliance with Lord Rama of India during Vibhishana’s battle with his elder brother, King Ravana of Lanka. Some legends state that the town of Kelaniya was also the capital of the Yaksha tribe. The tribe migrated from its former capital and created many settlement throughout the city during the reign of Vibhishana.

The temple holds many arts, paintings and sculptures by a renowned artisan, Solias Mendis. These masterpieces are carefully preserved and depict events that occurred during the many decades of Sri Lankan history. The Duruthu/Navam Maha Perahera of Kelaniya is the second most prestigious pageant and festival held during the months of November, December and January each year.

The town was of significant importance during the historical periods of the fifteenth century and after the rigorous invasions of the Dravidians from South India, it was restored by the Sinhalese kings who ruled the city in the following years. Although it was severely damaged subsequent to the invasion by the Portuguese, successive developments were carried out by King Keerthi Sri Rajasingha during the years 1746 to 1778 under the supervision of the Chief Vihara, Venerable Mapitigama Buddharakkhita.

Travellers visiting the country during the vibrant and festive seasons or even on a holiday may find exceptional Sri Lanka hotels in the vicinity. For warm hospitality and great service, Jetwing Beach would be the ideal solution for the discerning traveller. One of the most popular Negombo hotels, it provides a comfortable stay in a serene setting.

Zoos to Visit in Torquay

There are many Torquay family attractions that your children should visit when you go on a family holiday. One of the Torquay family attractions that the kids will really enjoy are the zoos. There are both coastal and forest zoos in town. The Living Coasts and the Paignton zoos are great places to see different kinds of plants and animals. Your family will especially love being able to get up close to the animals and see some fascinating plants as well.

Living Coasts

Have an exciting day out in the Living Coasts, a coastal zoo that will show you many fascinating things. Living Coasts is one of the most popular Torquay family attractions for families because of its uniqueness and beauty. The place can be found near the holiday cottages in Torquay. Here at the zoo, there are several amazing animals living in a habitat that simulates their natural environment. Animals are not the only things you will see here as there are lush vegetation and different flora surrounding the zoo are also taking a look at. The Living Coasts also houses 20 different species of mangroves. Mangroves are trees that grow and thrive in salt water which make them unique as they are the only tree species that can do so. One vital role of the mangrove roots is the that they serve as the breeding place and nursery for little fishes. The mangroves grow in the large aquariums. Coming from the upper part walking through the ramp, you will get a magnificent view of the mangrove forest as you go down. There are also amazing fireflies, bats, and flying foxes that live at the mangrove forest.

Paignton Zoo

Another zoo to visit and include in your Torquay family attractions itinerary is the Paignton Zoo. Here you will find thousands of flora and fauna that can be found all over the zoo. You and your family will enjoy exploring the zoo, the savannah, the forest, and the desert. You can go very near the different animals and learn more information about them too. Here are some of the fascinating animals that you can find at the zoo. The Gouldian Finch is a lovely bird with yellow, scarlet, and black color combination. They usually stay in the branches of the trees and seldom come down to the ground. Eastern Bongos are beautifully colored reddish brown animals with clear stripes on its body. They are endangered because people hunt them for their meat. The Senegal Bushbaby are leaping nocturnal primates that are known for having big eyes. They leap from one tree to another and leaves their urine scent in the trees they leap to. They only look for food at night by using their sense of hearing and smell. You can reach the zoo by car or any other public transport. Taking the bus will give you 10 percent price off on the entry ticket to the zoo. When you are on holidays, these are fascinating Torquay family attractions that you must not miss.

Beach Holiday in Dubai With my Wife And my Kids

You know Dubai is not a bad place after all, especially if you are looking for a holiday! In fact, it is one of the best holiday destinations in the world (oh yes, I am not exaggerating). Its malls and that ridiculously tall thing (Burj Khalifa) may enjoy all the limelight but this city also has great beaches. So, it was a year back when I went to Dubai for a beach holiday. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the beaches to be as great as it turned out to be.

Jumeirah Beach is the most notable one. I spent a couple of days beside the beach stationed at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This resort cost me quite a lot (more than my ex-girlfriend would cost me during her shopping days), but I had to relent before my wife’s stern gaze. She does not like those budget hotels (that’s one of the demerits of marrying a girl from elite class). Plus, I thought my kids deserve something nice from their daddy. Oh yes, there are many places to visit in Dubai for children, apart from the Jumeirah Beach! So you dare not leave them behind.

Before I get to that, let me tell you that at Jumeirah Beach, you can laze around (even in shorts) and enjoy the panoramic beauty of the sea. There are some sports as well though I didn’t try them (coz I am a bit of a timid thing). Just at the backyard, there is this wonderful water park known as Wild Wadi. It is really great despite all the claims that it is great :O

My wife is a smart tech geek and had already done her homework well. She had even mugged the address of the malls she had decided to visit (that’s more than I could chew)! Our first visit was the Dubai Mall which is hailed as the largest shopping mall in the world. Yup, it is really large. We couldn’t explore even half of the building.

At the next stop which happened to be Mall of the Emirates, my wallet suffered a heavy loss. This mall is noted for its indoor skiing (Ski Dubai). It is one of the top places to visit in Dubai for children (of rich dads). Though it is expensive, it is really a wonderful thing. My kids were literally star-struck. And since I am a kind of a super rich dad in their innocent eyes, I couldn’t say no to their pleas. Some other top places we checked out are Burj Al Arab, Gold Souk and Ibn Batutah Mall. And by the time we returned home in India, my wallet had become a proud martyr! But I enjoyed.