By Dian Hasan | September 29, 2009
Cars have always played a major role in our lives, as well as in pop culture. Marking certain milestones and historic eras. And we’ll all admit to relating personally to our vehicles.
One such vehicle that is synonymous with the care-free hippie movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, is the VW Combi Van. A vehicle forever linked and etched into San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood, Jimmy Hendrix, and Woodstock on the East Coast. Replete with the Peace Sign and… a flower in your hair!
And while the US population of the VW Combi Vas has dwindled, Europe still has a few. And retrofitted as an RV (Recreational Vehicle) for the modern age too. So anytime you itch for some nostalgia, you can rent one of these RVs that are about the size of an American RV’s cooler box… and hit the road. After all, everything in Europe is smaller and more quaint, making for a truly unique travel experience.
By Dian Hasan | September 29, 2009
As the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is home to over 17,508 islands (the actual count varies between low and high tides!), that stretches an eighth of world’s mid-section, the diversity of her landscape is simply staggering.
Lush tropical rainforest teeming with wildlife, many of which are among the world’s most critically endangered species, volcanic peaks that are never quite dormant, and a choice of tropical isles surrounded by sandy beaches and waters of all imaginable hues. Sailing is therefore a natural attraction, and most activities take those with a zest for adventure eastward towards Lesser Sunda Islands, to the Land of the Komodo Dragons! Komodo Island forms part of Indonesia’s protected Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and only known habitat of the Komodo giant monitor lizards.
Here’s a brief look at look at the beauty of this far corner of the world from aboard the indomitable traditional double-masted Phinisi Schooner, which to this day is still handcrafted by the Bugis people of South Sulawesi (Celebes) . Another day in Paradise, no doubt!
While the average traveler may not be familiar with the name, any SCUBA diving aficionado will tell you that Sipadan ranks as among the world’s best diving destinations. Rated consistently as top-5 dive sites, Sipadan will leave any traveler breathless. Both under water to experience the spectacular coral gardens, and coral reef teeming with over 3,000 species of marine life, and above water. Any water-bound activity you choose will put you in direct contact with sharks (yes, but there are of course good sharks and bad sharks!!), barracudas, hawksbill sea turtles and manta rays.
In the vicinity of Tioman Island lies another hidden gem of an island that’s brimming with beauty. Rawa Island (Pulau Rawa), a privately-owned island is enveloped by sugary-white sandy beaches and translucent waters reminiscent of the Aegean Sea.
There’s only one place to stay on Rawa, but the boat trip to uncover this pristine corner of paradise is certainly worth your time.
The Four Seasons Langkawi
Langkawi Island A string of 99 islands south of Phuket in the Andaman Sea make up Langkawi. The island is a Duty Free Island, and was recently given Geopark status by UNESCO. Langkawi is the easiest to access of all the islands (40 mins direct flights from KL) with gorgeous sandy beaches. Boasting some of the most luxurious hotels, such as The Four Seasons, The Datai, Westin, The Andaman, Casa del Mar, and others. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Tioman Islands The largest of Malaysia’s east coast islands, Tioman is famed for its soft, sandy beaches, warm waters and coral reef.
Most of the resorts are strung out on isolated bays along the western coast. Diving and snorkelling is excellent but also jungle hiking and sunbathing. Best luxury hotel is Japamala resort – to simply die for!
The resort that sits on Pangkor Laut Island steals the limelight from this idyllic tropical island. This island is more famous for the stunning resort that’s on it than the island itself. Pangkor Laut Resort ~ an ultra luxe resort that’s attracted the world’s celebrities and A-listers. The late Pavarrotti helped inaugurate it with an Operatic on its official opening day. Voted as best romantic hotel, best spa, best hotel in Malaysia – Pangkor Island Resort is the ideal romantic getaway.
This hotel on stilts was fashioned after Malay floating villages where fishermen live. For a truly outer-worldly experience, book yourself any treatment from the Spa. The Spa is situated in one of the over-the-water Villas. Close your eyes, it will just be you and the ocean, and the aroma of frangipani, lavender and jasmine wafting through the air. Pure Bliss!
Another diving hot spot in Terengganu, that’s not far from Perhentian.
One of the largest and most beautiful of the east coast islands, Redang is also the most developed. Redang Archipelago is made of 9 islands that together constitute a protected marine park. With crystal clear waters and some of Malaysia’s best coral reefs, the island offers excellent diving and snorkeling.
North East Terengganu of East Coast Malaysia is sublime. Pristine white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters that would make Leo (di Caprio) rethink twice of filming The Beach in Thailand.
Seriously unrivaled diving in the region, the two islands are dotted with rustic beach huts and has become the number one destination for beach lovers and backpackers around the world. The location is so amazing you’ll forgive for the lack of luxury hotels. Just suck it up and dive into paradise.
An eco-cabin near Seattle, WA.
There’s a new trend emerging across the United States – eco cabins. Now, this isn’t what you’re thinking – some tent shack in the woods – it’s more of an experience that blends old with new, traditional styling with modern materials and design. Recently reported in the NY Times, these types of cabins are becoming more and more popular as people search for a retreat from their usual city routine. Author Michelle Kodis was quoted in the article saying: