Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#TTOT Round-Up: Islands

Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

Q1 via : What is your favorite island and why?
  • : Australia. Not many islands can also boast to being a continent. Impressive
  • : Favorite little island is Wilson on the Great Barrier Reef, stunning coral cay with only six luxury tents, amazing snorkelling
  • : Top of the bucket list for islands, has to be Samoa ~ sheer unspoilt beauty and the people are sooo lovely
  • : Camiguin, Philippines. My second home & my escape. White sand, blue water & palm trees
  • : Iceland because it is an awesome geologically active island with Volcanoes, geysirs, Northern Lights, whales and viking
Iceland is definitely one of MY favorite islands, too!

Q2 via : Which island has the best beaches?
  • Sipadan, off Borneo, gets our vote
  • : Turks and Caicos Islands
  • : Australia has some of THE most amazing beaches - mind u, we have a LOT to choose from!!
  • : Mauritus! it has got such beautiful long beaches! and the sea was really warm
  • : Loved Zanzibar's beach because it was so unique - Islamic architecture views, wooden boats on the water, great sunsets
  • Sri Lanka has fantastic beaches... Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Trincomalee.... who can resist exotic names like that?

Q3 via : What is your favorite island food? (Not available at home)
  • Balinese food
  • : I love the Carribbean flavours of fried plantain and tropical curries
  • : My very UNsophisticated answer is Sticky Rice from Hawaii...I have NOT found anyone who can make it so tasty and sticky here
  • : I love eating fresh seafood - adjust your meal based on what came off the boat that morning
  • : Does a Pina Colada in a hammock count as a favorite island food?
  • : The delicious fig and orange jam from Korcula, Croatia, mmmm

Q4 via : What's your favorite island-related film or book?
  • : Castaway - "WILSON!"
    Book: The Beach. Film: Blue Lagoon
  • Did anyone mention Lord of the Rings yet? Did wonders for NZ tourism
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Of course! Pirates ahoy! 
  • : Eat Pray Love... India, Italy & Bali.. what a combo
  • : Fave island book. Alistair MacLeod, "No Great Mischief" set in Cape Breton Island

Q5 via : Any exciting island adventure(s) to share?
  • : Rescuing puffin babies at night time at the Westman Islands in Iceland and releasing them later out to shore
  • : Sailing around the Caribbean for years was an epic decade long dadventure!
  • : Sailing the Greek Islands. The trip changed my life... for the better
  • : Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands. They literally were running into you, so much fun
  • : Watching a volcano explode on Tanna Island, Vanuatu = pretty exciting
  • : Swimming with Whale sharks & a naughty Tiger shark in Australia
  • : I swam with wild crocodiles in Australia. Adventure enough? Yeah!

And there you have it, "Islands"!  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "New 7 Wonders" submitted by keenecomms. Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to tune follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the Islands travel discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Post: The Truth about South East Asian Desserts

I’ll let you in on a little secret. South East Asian desserts are delicious.

Don’t believe me?

I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t believe me either if I hadn’t discovered it for myself, but Asia can offer a lot more than just mung bean broths and durian fruit. A little understanding is required when it comes to sweets in South East Asia; just accept that a French vanilla slice is not about to magically appear on your plate. Just know that you will not stumble upon a Belgian chocolatier selling lemon soufflé truffles. Realise that a warm rhubarb crumble with Madagascan vanilla custard has no place in this warm climate. Just accept it. That way, you’ll be able to open up your mind to another world of sugary goodness. You may even unearth a few delectable treasures, just like I did.

My Dessert Discoveries in South East Asia

As the author and editor of The Smart Girl’s Travel Guide, I make it my lifelong mission to eat my way around the world; tasting, trying and taking pleasure in everything. From fried tarantulas and fermented shark to mouldy thousand year old eggs, there’s very little I’m willing to try – some people will never understand my curiosity, but an inquisitive mind helped me discover the perfect desserts in what I’d previously branded as ‘The Land of No Desserts’.

South East Asia is a goldmine of sweet treats. You just have to tweak your sweet tooth expectations – just a tad – and try everything. Eventually, you’ll find something that you can’t believe you ever lived without.

My Top 5 Desserts from South East Asia

Ais Kacang with Aloe Vera Jelly
This is an ageing woman’s dream – a delicious dessert that gives you beautiful skin. At the end of a hot and humid day, there is nothing more rewarding than an evening dessert, and Ais Kacang with aloe vera jelly chunks would be my pud of preference. Singapore is overflowing with night hawkers and food courts, selling delicious aloe vera combinations at unbelievable prices, and the street food culture really comes to life in the night.

Ais Kacang is the mouth-watering combination of crushed ice, fresh fruit, tangy sorbets, large chunks of aloe vera jelly pieces, sometimes a naughty scoop of ice cream, finished off with sweet condensed milk.

Leche Flan
This is the Filipino version of the Creme Caramel, and like the chicken and the egg, I’m not really too sure which came first. But who cares when this delicate yet indulgent sweet leaves that special tooth feeling warm and fuzzy from a sugary high.

Leche flan is steamed for the ultimate softness and served chilled in its own trickling caramel sauce. Some restaurants or specialist dessert shops may add their own little touches such as fruit, chocolate sauce and other toppings.

Bubble Tea
“How is tea a dessert?” I hear you say. Trust me when I say that Bubble Tea is like no other tea you have ever tasted. If we really want to be pedantic then we could just call it a “refreshment” – and it really is so refreshing. Bubble Tea can be made in a few different ways and is available in various flavours across Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Brewed mostly with black tea, plenty of milk, sugar or honey, crushed ice and lip-smacking topiaca pearls, this milky dream will feel like a rescue mission in the middle of a parched desert.

Your eyes will light up when you see the exciting exhibition of colors, and your senses will go wild when you let those slippery jelly-like pearls ooze through the straw and down your throat. Sensational.

Lo Mai Chi (Snowballs)
Now, you have to be careful with these little Chinese snowballs. They come with eccentric epicentres such as red bean paste, black sesame paste, and crushed peanut filling, or they can come in the best possible way – plain with a pretty dusting of coconut flakes. Some travellers have compared Lo Mai Chi to eating glue, but I assume they’re the same type of people who think Haloumi is salted rubber and Escargot is garlic infused elastic bands.

I love Lo Mai Chi, anyway. It’s the perfect finger food (if you don’t mind your fingers sticking together a little bit) or it can be served moist after being poached in a mildly sweet soup. If you want to taste the best snowballs around, avoid the packaged supermarket desserts and visit a street stall for a freshly made plate of chewy goodness.

Chinese Sponge Cake
I’ve never been a big fan of chocolate cake myself. I’m more of a lemon drizzle or a plain jam sponge type of girl. So with Chinese Sponge Cake (most often served as birthday cakes), absolutely nothing was missing for me – it was sheer perfection when I tried it for the first time.

If you’re a big chocolate gateau gorger, this may not rock your world like it does mine. But what I can tell you, is that this is the softest, lightest, wispiest and fluffiest cake you will ever bring your fork to. The supple bounce of the moist sponge teamed with the glorious cream and fruit filling will leave you wanting more. But don’t be fooled by that airy texture. The cake is traditionally steamed to achieve such a luscious consistency and it feels barely there as it melts in your mouth, but the calories are.

Mags Yip is a British travel writer with a compulsive obsession with food and travel. She is the
author and editor of The Smart Girl’s Travel Guide, and in her budget travel guide, she writes about
her food experiences in South East Asia, Africa, America, Europe and the UK.

What are YOUR favorite South East Asian desserts?

© Connie Hum 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#TTOT Round-Up: Cruise Travel

Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.  

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

Q1 via : Have you been on a cruise? Why or why not?
  • : Haven't done lg ship cruise- only small ships around/to Greek Isles. I don't think I could handle being on a large ship for a week 
  • : Problem with cruises is all the old people...anyone ever been on "young" cruise? 
  • : Haven't been on a cruise yet, really don't like their environmental impact :( But maybe I'll go sailing one day  
  • : Yes -- cruises are great for seeing multiple locations without relocating your luggage every night
  • : Yes, I've been on many cruises! I esp love expedition-style cruises. Good way to travel to remote & inaccessible spots
  • : Totally yes THANX to my father who took us on a cruise vacay once, which was the best thing ever  happened to me: cruising!

Q2 via : What's the best experience you've had on a cruise?
  • : Watching a sleeping blue whale wake up and cruise round our ship in Antarctica
  • : Cruising in to NYC harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty. A wonderful and worthy UNESCO landmark 
  • : Either docking in Banjul, venturing out at night w/ locals or catching fresh sashimi in Comoros
  • : Being able to visit several of the Scottish Islands on Hebridean Princess - was amazing. Ultra luxury too
  • : Balcony Cabin through the Caribbean. Swimming with stingrays in Cayman Islands
  • : Queen Mary... Slept on balcony one night to fall asleep to sounds of the ocean

Q3 via : What's your dream cruise? Sailing boat or "Steamer"? 
  • : An icebreaking saliboat in the NorthWest passage now that is my kind of cruise, ultimate adventure
  • : It would have to be a sailing boat - chilled out, private, better for the environment
  • : No questions asked: Sailing! So relaxing & quiet & you can play with the winds
  • : A trans-atlantic steamer just like An Affair to Remember: The French Riviera, couture evening gowns, pink champagne & Carey Grant
  • : I would love a cruise to the Galapago Islands and watch all the whales and sea life around 
  • : Sailing perhaps, would like to sail to all 7107 islands we have in the Philippines
  • : A steamer down the Mississippi channeling my inner Huck Finn!
  • : Steamer? Sails? I'll settle for a remake of Titanic wherein Leonardo Dicaprio lives

Q4 via : What features would your dream cruise ship have to have?
  • : We'd like a cruise ship made of glass so you could see right through to to the ocean floor!
  • : A man on a Mast screaming "LAND AHEAD" everytime we approach detination
  • : Hot waiters? Is that too crass?
  • : The big new ships already have a wave for surfing... What else could there be?
  • : Very good lifejackets, that's all.
  • Professors and/or local historians to tell us about the area 
  • : An emergency Kate Winslet. In case of fire
  • : WiFi to participate at the awesome TTOT! And of course a hammock to relax

Q5 via : Which would be your most epic route for a cruise?
  • : LA to Hawaii to French Polynesia to Asia and back
  • : Sail around Indonesia
  • : Really I'd go wherever the wind and currents took the sailing ship
  • : Mediterranean cruise through Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Corsica and Malta
  • : From the South Pole to the North Pole, that would be pretty epic
  • : Can you put both the Galapagos and Antarctica into one cruise
  • : around the Pacific Ocean - Japan, Bering sea, NorthAmerica coast, Peru, Chile, Antartica, NZ, Australia
  • : Sailing UK to Australia, kinda like the convicts

And there you have it, "Cruise Travel"!  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Islands" submitted by boz23. Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to tune follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !  

Have YOU got anything to add to the Cruise travel discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beat the Heat in Hong Kong

July in Hong Kong was arguably one of the hottest and most humid months I have ever endured. Spend even a few minutes outside and you can find yourself drenched in sweat from from the combination of soaring temperatures and incomprehensible humidity levels. And the locals keep saying that August only gets worse. So far, this has held true.

Thankfully, I've found plenty of ways to stay cool in Hong Kong while the temperatures (and humidity) soars.

Here are my favorite ways to beat the heat in Hong Kong:
  • Hit the beach - Bet you didn't know that Hong Kong's got a number of beaches to cool off at! I certainly didn't when I arrived here over eight months ago. Now that the sun's shining, the city's heating up and the sweat's dripping, the beach is the perfect place to cool down. The city provides excellent changing facilities with showers and bathrooms at most beaches, making it easy to go from city center to flat out on the sand in no time. The beaches aren't always the cleanest and unless you head further afield into the New Territories or outlying islands, you won't get much in the way of pristine waters, but it's the beach and it's hot. You can't complain. 
  • Frozen Yogurt treats - Much like the frozen yogurt craze that overtook NYC a number of years ago (Pinkberry, anyone?), it would seem as though just about every street in Hong Kong has at least one frozen yogurt shop on it. That's next to heaven for me! Step into the air-conditioned frozen yogurt shops and order up a refreshing cup of fro-yo to cool down, inside and out! My favorite combination of toppings: fresh strawberries, crushed Oreo cookies and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Nom nom nom! 

Refreshing and cold frozen yogurt is perfect for summertime
  • Plunge into public pools - The public pool facilities in Hong Kong are AWESOME and if you're not using them, then you're sweating for no good reason! For a mere $19 HKD, payable only with your Octopus card, you have access to lap pools, diving pools, changing rooms, showers and $5 refundable lockers for storage! Now that's a luxury everyone can afford!
  • Stay indoors - Perhaps the coolest option to staying cool in all of Hong Kong is to simply stay indoors. The air conditioning is CRANKED UP TO THE MAX anywhere inside so it's easy to escape the heat. Just remember to bring a light sweater! I'm telling you, the air conditioning is really on over-drive!
  • Take your junk out - Hong Kong's full of traditional junk boats, ready to be hired for boozy cruises around the islands. Prices will vary, depending on what type of boat you're looking for and how long you want to hire the junk out, but affordable options can be found/made with larger groups.

Nighttime boat rentals are a great way to cool down

The heat may be unavoidable in Hong Kong, but at least there are some fun ways to keep my cool until the temperatures start to drop!
    Do YOU have any other suggestions to beat the heat in Hong Kong?

    © Connie Hum 2011

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    #TTOT Round-Up: World Heritage Sites

    Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.

    Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

    Q1 via economy_carhire: Suggest your top 3 Unmissable World Heritage Sites
    • : Of those I've seen: Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil, Easter Island in Chile, Galapagos in Ecuador
    • : 1) Ancient Cairo, Egypt 2) Great Barrier Reef, Australia 3) The Mountain railways of India (quite an experience!)
    • : Bukhara (Uzbekistan), Petra (Jordan) and Cappadocia (Turkey)
    • : Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu and Underground River (Philippines) 
    • : Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Drakensberg (South Africa) and Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland) - also one of the original 12 Unesco sites!
    • : Taj Mahal is breathtaking. Hair on neck stands up everytime I see it 
    The iconic Taj Mahal
    Q2 via : Nominate a NATURAL World Heritage Site that isn't already one
    • : I probably would nominate somewhere in Slovenia perhaps Bohinj or Bled, definitely beautiful enough to be a heritage site
    • : The whole of Yangshou.. The limestone karst give Halong Bay a run for their money anyday! 
    • : Route 66 should be a heritage site. It played a huge part in American automotive history
    • : The whole of Cape Town - its so naturally beautiful 
    • : English beauty at its best! Isle of Purbeck for the World Heritage List!
    • : Easy - Taroko Gorge in
    • : The whole of the Antarctic 
    • : El Valle de la Luna (Moon's Valley) in La Paz, Bolivia
    • : Surprised not to see Rocky Mountain National Park (in the US) on this list
    • : Botswana's Okavango Delta -- the largest inland river delta in the world!

    Q3 via : Do you think any destination has been spoiled by becoming a World Heritage Site? Why?
    • : The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. They don't care about protecting it, they just care about the profit
    • : Pompei. It's covered in garbage, collapsing and crumbling
    • : The Taj Mahal - too many people 
    • : Chichen Itza, now you can't climb the pyramid
    • : Vatican City. It doesn't need protection OR more tourist money then it already rakes in
    • : Great Wall of China is getting very commercial
    • : Yes definitely... Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat come to mind... 
    A rare moment of emptiness in Machu Picchu
    Q4 via : Is there a World Heritage Site you think doesn't deserve its status?
    • : In my opinion the Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House don't deserve UNESCO status... sorry!
    • : ALOT of the mountains listed are like huh? I mean, ok but its a bloody mountain!
    • Personally, I don't understand why Brasilia is on the list. It was not that amazing to me, but maybe I missed its magic
    • : Also, although I love it, downtown Bridgetown, Barbados is a tourist trap, not a WHS 
    • : As long as it fulfills the criteria I'm happy for as much heritage to be protected as possible

    Q5 via : Have a favorite World Heritage Site? Let's see it!

    connvoyage: Venice, Italy

    : Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

    Bukhara, Uzbekistan

    : Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    : Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

    : Iguazu Falls

    : Petra, Jordan

    : Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

    And there you have it, "World Heritage Sites"!

    Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Cruise Travel" submitted by guoster. Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to tune follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT!

    As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

    Have YOU got anything to add to the World Heritage Sites travel discussion? 

    © Connie Hum 2011

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Learning to Brew Like a Champion!

    From the moment I heard of Secret Tour Hong Kong, I wanted to join one of their (you guessed it) secret tours. Founded by two self-proclaimed "Hong Kong advocates of backpacking," Secret Tour Hong Kong's main objective is to show tourists and locals alike the hidden side of Hong Kong, the side behind the neon lights, high-end shopping malls and towering skyscrapers.

    Due to several scheduling conflicts, I wasn't able to participate in some of Secret Tour Hong Kong's earlier walks but finally, the scheduling gods smiled upon me and I was able to participate in Secret Tour's most recent foray: a Hong Kong milk tea workshop and tasting!

    Work station for brewing Hong Kong milk tea

    The event started out with a demonstration by Master Law, the 2010 Milk Tea Champion brewer. Master Law divulged the secret recipe to brewing the ultimate Hong Kong milk tea, even demonstrating some of his own special techniques.

    Master Law at work

    We were then given reign over our own brewing stations to try our hand at the somewhat complicated process of brewing, straining, brewing and straining. Unfortunately, in all the rush, I forgot to jot down the recipe. I do, however, remember bits and pieces of the secret technique. The brew consists of a blend of three different black tea leaves, the tea is strained through the "silk stocking" four times and the higher you strain, allowing more air for the brew to breathe, the better.

    Doing my best to recall Master Law's technique

    Once the tea was properly brewed and strained, I was instructed to mix the brew with evaporated milk and sugar to get that authentic Hong Kong milk tea flavor. At this point I was over-boiling (haha, I made a pun) with excitement to taste my milk tea concoction and compare it to that of Master Law's champion brew!

    Tasting our own Hong Kong milk tea brew

    The verdict? Personally, my own milk tea brew tasted better than Master Law's, but that's only because I prefer my tea milkier and sweeter than most and I was able to modify my cup accordingly. But I will say that Master Law's brew was incredibly strong and creamy. It's no wonder that he won the 2010 championship!

    My personal brew was my favorite

    Once the milk tea workshop was over, all the participants hopped on a hired bus and we were shuttled to two of Hong Kong's most-famed milk tea shops, known locally as cha chaan teng, to sample their famous in-house brews.

    By the end of the day, I had drank about five cups of Hong Kong milk tea and I loved every minute of it, all fourteen hours to be exact when I was finally able to fall asleep!

    So I was able to learn how to make my own Hong Kong milk tea, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to remember the recipe. I guess some secrets deserve to be kept hidden, but at least now I know the most popular cha chaan teng to get Hong Kong's famous milk tea!

    Josie and Stephen, founders of Secret Tour Hong Kong

    For more information on upcoming Secret Tour Hong Kong events, follow their Facebook page. 

    And I love puns so if you have any more to add to my admittedly bad pun above, please leave a comment!

    © Connie Hum 2011

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    #TTOT Round-Up: Travel Websites

    Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.

    Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

    Q1 via : What travel site do you rely on the most? 
    • Twitter travel community is probably best source of info & tips out there
    • : I do use hostelworld on a pretty regular basis when traveling! Their iPhone app makes it way too easy!
    • : Tripadvisor.com. Twitter doesn't help me that much
    • : I actually rely on guidebooks more than websites. I'm old school
    • Wikitravel. Not every article is up to snuff, but major info and the phrasebooks are good
    • : As a travel blogger, word of mouth - when I can't grab one, I quiz a few on twitter
    • : Kayak iphone app for flights. I search it all the time, even when I'm not planning a trip

    Q2 via : What's the most frustrating thing you find on travel websites?
    • : More advertisements than content
    • Most annoying are prices that don't include fees and taxes, and deals that wind up not being available when you click on them
    • Lack of personal input and bland content. Spruce it up people! I'm put off by bad layouts
    • : It makes my really frustrated when I press back in the booking process - and everything disappears

    Q3 via : What dream feature would you like to see on your fave travel website?
    • : Legit "You just won free flights for life" banner
    • Current condition at the destination from live webcam would be awesome
    • : Something that could convey all five senses of a particular destination
    • I don't want to see anything in particular just good old honesty is nice
    • : BOGOS for travel. Woot! Woot! 'Buy one plane ticket, get one free!"
    • : A LOT more video. Photography is great, blog posts are wonderful, but video is definitely lacking

    Q4 via : What sets your favourite travel blog apart from others? 
    • : Locals who spill secrets to travellers
    • : Good writing, a personal story and a sense of humor
    • : Personal stories, not just lists
    • : True and honest personal experiences of his/her travels.. and not afraid of not being "politically correct"
    • : Personally written stories combined with useful info and always great photography
    • : Sense of humor, personality, lots of relevant detail (I hate short posts that leave me hanging)
    • : My favorite blogs don't try to sell me anything, I enjoy their perspective and voice

    Q5 via : Which travel blogger would you most like to travel with?
    • : I imagine if I travel with that he'll have a tip for every place we go, and beer all the time
    • : I wouldn't want to travel with another travel blogger. They might contradict my stories. Mostly because I lie. 
    • AndiPerullo - how much fun does this girl look like she has on her travels?!!
    • : I'd choose a blogger who was a great photographer so trip would be well documented & I'd pick up tips
    • : Would also be nice to be shown around a country by a blogger that lives there
    • : I'd want to travel with any blogger that can change my perspective on life and on the world!

    And there you have it, "Travel Websites"!

    Next week's #TTOT topic is: "World Heritage Sites" submitted by KellyDeanOttawa. Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to tune follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT!

    As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

    Have YOU got anything to add to the "Travel Websites" discussion? 

    © Connie Hum 2011

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Guest Post: Disneyland Hong Kong

    Summer Guest Blog Series: Favorite Travel Memories
    One of my favorite things about traveling is the personal growth you gain from the experiences you encounter. But truth be told, sometimes it's also wonderful to put all the personal growth aside and just have a great time! Disneyland is one such place that truly lets your inner child run free. Raghav shares his favorite travel memory of celebrating his daughter's first birthday in Disneyland, Hong Kong.

    I think it's taken for granted that the very first international trip with my daughter is amongst my favourite travel memories. Considering that it was also to celebrate her first birthday, puts it right on top of the list.

    Now, family holidays can pretty much go both ways. Traveling together after almost a decade, this one was going to be quite the experience. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my wife, my daughter, and I, boarded a Cathay Pacific flight to head over to the magical kingdom of Hong Kong Disneyland.

    What exactly made this a favorite travel memory? There was obviously the fact that we were celebrating something special. The whole family was there. Disneyland. Lastly, thankfully, because everything fell into place. There were no lost baggages. No missed or excessively delayed flights. Nothing.

    I recommend Hong Kong Disneyland to everyone wanting to travel with a toddler. It is by far the most toddler friendliest Disney. My daughter was able to ride almost all of the rides and most of the trademark shows and events are all there.

    Another reason why our trip to Hong Kong stands out is because just a month before our travel date Saanvi has started walking. That as you know is a huge landmark for parents, so watching her take tiny steps all around Disney always brought a smile to my face.

    As a kid my parents took me all around the world. As an adult I always complained that I hardly remember anything from those travels. Being a parent now, I realise the importance of traveling with a toddler. They might not remember much, but as my parents said, "the joy and happiness you experienced at that time, be it that you don't remember it now, was worth the trip", and that was something I realised and wholeheartedly acknowledged during this trip.

    Hong Kong Disneyland was also the perfect vacation because we decided to stay in the Disney complex in one of their two hotels. They are both kid friendly and be it playing "find all the hidden Mickey's" or eating Mickey shaped food, or better yet my daughter dancing on the table in the lobby with Goofy, memories like this are hard to come by.

    You want to know a secret? If any guy tells you he hates shopping, trust me he is lying. We just hate shopping with women. Our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland could not have been a success without one thing; Shopping in Hong Kong. My father and I decided to break away from the ladies (my brother-in-law was doing the touristy things as this was his first trip), because if there is one thing for adults in HK, it's the amazing array of shopping available for all budgets. True, we ended up buying mostly for Saanvi (proof of which is in the picture below, as the carton has only her toys), HK is an amazingly vibrant and safe place to walk, shop, bargain, and simply enjoy.

    After five days of tiring fun we were ready to head home and there was nothing that could possibly make this trip more memorable. Wait, do you think having an amazing look at the brightly shining peak of Mt. Everest on the way back from the airplane could be considered the perfect ending? I think so too. Unfortunately, we all were so tired that neither one of us has the strength to get up, open the overhead compartment, and take out one of many cameras that we had. Okay, I was not tired, but i'm a anxious flier
    who prefers to stay put on the seat seatbelt and all.

    Oh, well! You just can't have everything you want, can you!?!

    Raghav is a 32-year-old avid traveler, a film enthusiast, an amateur photographer, a true Sagittarian and most importantly, a proud father. When work does not keep him busy, he can be found doing one of the above unless his wife has dragged him to the mall for some shopping which he despises. He recently started blogging and has turned into a semi-twitter addict. You can read his blogs at www.travelingticker.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter.

    Want to submit YOUR Favorite Travel Memory? Get details HERE!

    © Connie Hum 2011

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    #TTOT Round-Up: Lakes and Oceans

    Every Tuesday it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Follow the #TTOT hashtag to see what all the commotion and Tweets are about! There are two sessions to join, one at 9:30am GMT and the other at 9:30pm GMT.

    Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT: 

    Q1 via : What is your dream water vacation? 
    • : Vacation? Screw that...I want a pair of gills so I can live in it!
    • : Retracing the foot steps of Darwin with a boat tour of the Galapagos or a cruise of the Zambezi
    • : Sailing around the world. Just need to learn to sail. And a boat. And teach my girlfriend to swim 
    • : A summer ride around Alaska would be really good-looking as well
    • : The bottom of the Mariana Trench just off the Philippines, deepest trench on Earth 
    • : I want to go back to Australia and sail around the Great Barrier Reef again! Once wasn't enough! 
    • : I want to do the Mediterranean in my sailboat

    Sorry, , your dream water vacation was MY reality in Turkey =)

    Q2 via : Do you get seasick? How do you manage it?
    • : Try peppermint oil on your lips! Apparently it works
    • : Steering the boat also works, kind of takes your mind of the nausea, may increase everyone else's though!
    • : Tour guide today said to always watch the horizon and stay out of the cabin
    • : Was told by a captain of a boat once to eat Jam. "Doesn't help with the sickness but tastes good when it comes back up"
    • : I heard green apples help seasickness? Apparently cruise ships often have an abundance of them
    • : Dramamine works but knocks me out. Just sit on deck and let the wind blow on your face
    • : Saltines are your friend. Avoid it by watching the horizon

    Q3 via : 3 items that you have to take when visiting the ocean/lake?
    • : Sunnies, sunblock and drinking water
    • : Dive computer, delicious snacks, more snacks
    • : Towel. Beer. Someone to fool around with
    • 2 bikinis and sunscreen
    • : A Captain, a Cabin Steward and an Executive Chef
    • : Camera, Cold Drinks, Good Friends
    • : A friend that swims slower than you is a must. You know, in case of sharks

    Q4 via : Last time you were WOWed at Lake/Ocean view? Where? 
    • : It's got to be Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
    • : Lake Malawi, amazing sunset over the lake surrounded by lovely hills
    • Can we consider Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour as WOW enough?
    • A couple of days ago, actually. I just Came back from Tuscany! Amazing sea views from little villages atop of hills
    • : I'm always wow-ed when I fly over any ocean—like 'wow, that is f*&%ing huge!'
    • : Barbados - blows my mind even after 6 visits
    • : My desktop photo is of Pokhara in Nepal, a beautiful lake with the Annapurna range in the background
    Pokhara, Nepal captured my heart too,

    Q5 via : Where is your favorite lake/ocean spot and why? Any photos?

    : Coast of Corsica

    : The Islands of Dalmatia, Croatia

    : Lake Titicaca

    : San Francisco Bay.

    : InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

    : Olympos, Turkey

    And there you have it, "Lakes and Oceans"!

    Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Travel Websites" submitted by marksmayo. Submit your questions HERE! And don't forget to tune follow the #TTOT every Tuesday at 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT!

    As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

    Have YOU got anything to add to the Lakes and Oceans travel discussion? 

    © Connie Hum 2011

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